Let's Talk About Prenatal Depression...
Hello friends! I am sorry for being absent these last few days. To be completely honest, I have been in a bit of a funk. I have been trying to wrack my brain about why I am feeling so out of sorts, and then remembered that this time last year, though (as I mentioned in my previous post) I spent it at the happiest place on earth announcing my pregnancy, I was actually experiencing a pretty dark moment in my life.
*Cue record stratch*
Wait did she just saw dark? Wasn’t she pregnant? Isn’t that supposed to be one of the happiest times in her life?
I actually looked back in my journal to see if I could find anything from that time and found the excerpt below.
March __, 2015
“Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.” - Karen Salmonshon
The last month has been one of the most difficult things I have had to endure in my life. I think I dip lower and lower every day.
Driving around with my sister, sunshine softening my skin like brown sugar on a hot stove, windows open, letting the breeze whisper things into my hair, has been the happiest I have felt in a long, long time. It’s easy to forget what those things feel like in the darkest hours. It’s easy to forget what red lipstick was invented for.
I have lost all sense of what used to matter, of who I was. Most days, I am so exhausted that I don’t have the strength to fight it, all I can do is watch as sleep slips out of the room, a quiet stranger. The only thing that I have to look forward to is M’s arrival from work. Making dinner, even dessert, making sure the house is as tidy as can be. It’s no surprise that my “Feminist as Fuck” phone case is tucked away in a dark recess of the house.
I feel like I am at the bottom of a well looking up, no ladder or rope in sight. I know that I’m the only one that can get myself out, but it is so, so difficult. Sometimes it’s just easier to stay down, and let the cool dark wetness wrap me up.
I am not one to usually open up about, well, anything. I am an introvert to the highest degree. However, since you guys are my amigas, and the whole reason I started this blog was to be as honest, open, and transparent as possible about the realities (the beauty, yes; but also the challenges) of motherhood… I want to talk about prenatal depression.
Prenatal depression, also known as antenatal depression, is a real thing, and it affects more of us than you’d think. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it affects between 14-23% of women during pregnancy. Signs of depression during pregnancy include the following symptoms, of which women usually experience one or more for two weeks or more:
- Persistent sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Change in eating habits
Possible triggers of depression during pregnancy include the following:
- Relationship problems
- Family or personal history of depression
- Infertility treatments
- Previous pregnancy loss
- Stressful life events
- Complications in pregnancy
- History of abuse or trauma
I will share more of my story another day. For now, though, I want to open this conversation up. I want to stand up and say that this is real. That we definitely DO NOT TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ENOUGH. Latin@s avoid mental health issues like the plague. The message I received during my pregnancy was that I should not be feeling the way I was. That I should have been happy. That I was wrong to feel the way I was feeling.
I sought treatment. Therapy helps. Talking and taking long walks and long sips of coffee with my friends helped. Other treatment options can include:
- Support groups (Check! It was around this time that I found About Families.)
- Private psychotherapy (Check! You won’t regret the opportunity to release with someone unbiased and removed from whatever is going on in your life.)
- Light therapy
I would also add the following (unofficial) treatments/therapies:
- Yoga (If you are able-bodied. Part of my depression stemmed from being confined to bed-rest. But you better believe that after it was lifted I found myself a prenatal yoga class. And actually, I made mommy friends there who I remain in contact with to this day!)
I will end by saying this: You matter. Whatever situation you are in is relevant, and your feelings are valid. Of course there are people that have it worse - there always will be. But you right here, right now matter. Do whatever it takes, whatever you need to do, to be and feel you, again.
Anyway, I welcome any and all questions and comments about this difficult subject. You can comment below, or reach me on my Instagram, Twitter, or even email. Please see the list below for additional resources and know that you are not alone!
Sending you all warm hugs. As always, thanks for following along.