On 28th December 2017, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. My boyfriend and I were and are estastic about our upcoming arrival.
I’m also mentally unwell and take anti-depressants on a daily basis. I suffer depressive and low-mood episodes, random bouts of anxiety and compulsively self-harm.
And I’m not alone.
According to research from King’s College London, 1 in 4 pregnant women have mental health problems. These issues included depression (11%), anxiety (15%), eating disorders (2%), OCD (2%), PTSD (just under 1%) and other disorders such as bipolar disorder.
I was surprised to see 25% of pregnant women suffered from these disorders, mainly because it’s not a subject that comes up. Though when you see articles titled, Taking antidepressants while pregnant could raise risk of child having psychiatric disorders, says report, you can understand why women might be reluctant to speak out.
But without my anti-depressants, I would risk my life and the life of my unborn child. My medication stops me from having panic attacks multiple times a day (yes, a day); it stops me from dissociating, which can be life threatening when you’re crossing the road; and it helps me live a simple life, which back in September had become impossible.
Don’t misunderstand me though; my medication isn’t a cure. I still have days where I struggle to leave the house; I still find it difficult to focus on my work; and I still have compulsive negative thoughts. If it wasn’t for my parents, my sister, my friends and my boyfriend, there would be days where I wouldn’t eat, laugh or sleep.
So it’s time to start talking about mental health in pregnancy; women like me need support from others, not judgemental comments or rejection.
Let’s face it; it’s already pretty tough being a pregnant woman. Your body is changing to make way for a tiny human. You’re persecuted by work because, heaven forbid, you might have to take some time off to care for your tiny human. Trying to find decent clothes that fit and don’t make you look like a small whale, while trying to maintain your style, can be near impossible.
So between the 30th April 2018 and the 6th May 2017, let’s make sure we support pregnant women everywhere by providing support, allowing them to speak out without judgement and maybe buy them some cake.
To find out more about maternal mental health, visit Mums and Babies In Mind, and to see how you can make a difference during Maternal Mental Health Week 2018, visit: https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/second-maternal-mental-health-matters-week/