Pinch, punch – first of the month. Which means it’s time for the next installment of #OurYesterYear, a linky that invites everyone to take a look back at this time last year and have a good old reminisce. I’m taking a look back at July 2016, when Pickle was only a tiny little squidge and I was still rapidly trying to get my head around this parenting malarkey.
At 30 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with antenatal depression (you can read my diagnosis story over at Mumsy Midwife). I can’t describe what a crushing blow it was. Even though on some level, it was a relief to hear that there was a reason behind my debilitating mood, hearing those words made me feel like a complete and utter failure. I thought it was my fault. I cursed myself for already being a ‘bad mother’ and was determined – for my sake and Pickle’s – to turn things around as quickly as I could.
Although any form of perinatal depression is more common if the patient has a history of mental health concerns, it wasn’t something I had ever experienced before. I didn’t really know how long it was likely to last, and how I’d feel on the medication I’d been given. I wanted to feel like there was a light at the end of a tunnel, but without having an accurate measurement for how long the tunnel was, it was difficult to feel hope was coming any time soon. However, I knew what I could do to help myself feel a bit more like myself again. I knew I needed to make myself feel a bit more proud of my achievements (however small!), I knew I needed to get some better nutrition and I knew being honest and open with my friends and family would make me feel less alone…. So I made myself an action list of things I wanted to do – some daily tasks, some weekly or some one-off – that I hoped would pull me out of the depression cloud quicker.
I have several blog posts sitting in my drafts folder about my experience of antenatal depression. Every now and then I try and get one finished, but it’s really tough to write about. Not only because it’s so deeply personal, but because I don’t feel like I’m really qualified to talk about it. What I’d love to do is offer support and advice to other women affected by perinatal mental health but how can I when I really know nothing except my own experience? That’s why I was really intrigued to find out about a new project being implemented by NCT: Parents in Mind.
Parents in Mind is a new scheme that aims to train up women who have experienced mental health issues during pregnancy or early parenthood, allowing them to offer one-to-one and group support to other women. They are currently recruiting for volunteers in Coventry and Warwickshire, so if you’re able to volunteer two or more hours a week and can commit to a ten week training course: keep reading!
It’s something I’ve alluded to for a while but not openly admitted: I suffered from antenatal depression whilst pregnant. Thankfully, now that I’m feeling a million times better, I’m ready to be more open and honest about my perinatal mental health and I’m looking forward to sharing more about my experience.