Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Coping with antenatal depression

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but haven't felt able. Partly because I'm not over this yet, partly because I'm still struggling with every day life and haven't got the headspace to talk about this and partly because I don't have any good advice.

I don't like to be negative, so I'll try not to be, but I saw this on facebook today and I thought - it's time...


I usually say I had antenatal depression - as I'm British (probably need to start saying English soon - Brexit !) but however you refer to this, it's a real thing. It affects many many people and nobody is talking about it.

I wrote a blog post on here about a year ago - sharing when I was in the throes of it all and then pretty much went silent. I wasn't just silent on here, I was silent in real life. I lost the ability to enjoy the days, to speak to people, even to read books or think properly about what might help me.

I was tired, so tired, not physically tired (as I am now, with a non-sleeping newborn) but tired of existing. Tired of trying to get through the day and tired of just enduring the sickness of pregnancy and feeling hopeless.

My concentration span deserted me. I'm someone who generally gets things done, I usually have a million things on the go at once, and am always looking for what's next. I lost all this and ended up wasting hours on my phone to distract me - looking at pinterest, playing jigsaws - anything which helped pass the time.

There were two things that helped; my crochet (I'll be sharing more about this soon) and gratitude. I saw a counsellor and this was the plan we came up with. Everyday I wrote in my diary three good things that had happened, and what that meant about me as a person.

For example - the sun was shining - which meant I could appreciate nature, my husband made tea and I ate some - which means I was looking after my health and my baby, and I met up with a friend for coffee - which means I must be a nice person to have such lovely friends. They really were such small things but writing it every day helped a lot. There were days when I could only manage to think of one thing but thankfully they were rare.

It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do - endure such a miserable pregnancy and just hope (when hope was rather elusive) that this would pass and would not turn into postnatal depression. I was one of the lucky ones and it hasn't - I think the statistics are something very scary like 70% of those with antenatal or perinatal depression carry on to develop postnatal depression. I was in the good 30% who escaped that fate. I know I'm not depressed anymore but dealing with everything I went through, the fear of it returning on top of the enormous demands of a baby with the way it changes all the other relationships in your life is hard. I don't think I have it worse than others, in fact I feel like I have a lot of positives in my life.

Remember I said I wrote a blog post on here. Well that is the reason I'm writing this today. I shared the scary news of antenatal or perinatal depression and people reached out to me. It was amazing. People who I knew via social media but rarely saw in life, people who were family, friends - all came forward and said, I know what you're going through, I understand, I've experienced similar and while I spoke to those people and read those messages, I felt good. It was wonderful.

I hope someone reading this feels that same glimmer of 'Ok, I can do this too'. You can and you will. Just keep going, try my mantra which I repeated endlessly 'this too shall pass'.