For the bulk of this pregnancy, allllll was well.
But eventually I started to feel the all too familiar creeping of depression again. This time, it brought its old pal, anxiety. I started to worry about silly things, working myself into a panic over house sounds, unlocked doors, and my son’s health.
At ~28 weeks pregnant, the symptoms I experienced during Postpartum Depression in 2017 had all returned.
Fortunately, during my pregnancy, I worked with a phenomenal instructor who helped me gain an understanding of my depression and put me in touch with a local Pastor to discuss it.
This Pastor met with both my husband and I, and it was the first time a third party was present while I heard my husband talk about my experience with depression. It was incredibly eye opening.
I have a habit of thinking my family would be better off without me, but it was clear to me that night that they just need me here, even when I’m not perfect or living up to my own standards.
The Pastor encouraged me to make a covenant with God that no matter how low I felt, I would never take my own life. He prompted me to cling to that promise during hard times.
I took my time considering the consequences of such a promise. Was I even capable of agreeing to that? As someone who has repeatedly dealt with depression and in more recent years, struggled with thoughts of suicide more profoundly than ever before, could I truly promise God that my life would only end on his terms?
But especially as I contemplated the hurt that I felt when someone I loved took his own life several years ago, I kept in mind that I would never want my husband or my children to question my love for them. It was my profound love for them that made me want to save them from ME. But If I truly thought I was willing to die for their sake, can I also be willing to live for them?
So I made that promise to God, that no matter how difficult it gets, I won’t be the one to give up.
And that brought me a lot of relief and encouragement.
But my mind found another way to make things interesting.
In my toils with anxiety and depression, I fell into the same old “my family deserves better” and started to wonder if I should leave. This small voice in my head continued to remind me of all sorts of lies: “you’re useless. You didn’t even make dinner tonight. You’re too tired to play with your son, that makes you a bad mom. You’ll probably never beat your mental health issues, and your husband deserves someone much better.”
In my desire to save my family from ME, I wondered if I should disappear after this baby was born. What would happen to my husband? My kids? Surely they would all move on and be much happier.
In the midst of depression, it’s incredibly difficult to see any sort of hope. Every possible outcome is destruction.
And in hindsight, OF COURSE, I know that what I was feeling was ridiculous. Of course I know and truly believe that no one can love my family the way that I do. Of course I do not believe that I am a burden to them.
These are all lies that play on repeat in my mind. I take a small situation, like allowing my kid to watch tv so I can relax(hellllo, super pregnant), and I tell myself that makes me a bad mom. I turn everything into a catastrophe when I am facing depression.
I tried my very best to allow things to work themselves out, realizing that hormones are playing a part and that after the baby was born, I would be able to safely begin taking antidepressants again to avoid my risk for Postpartum Depression.
After 2.5 months, it just was not happening. I couldn’t sleep at night, I was incredibly irritable with my husband and my son, I had withdrawn from most of my friends, and I was stressed out over everything. It was very clear the situation was not improving. So I talked to my Doctor and her immediate reaction was that I needed to begin medication right away.
There are not many studies about antidepressants during pregnancy, because obviously pregnant women don’t want to risk taking them! Makes sense.
But there are a few, and after a couple of weeks, it became clear that the possible temporary complications of medication were not as harmful as the effect of stress on this pregnancy and the increased risk for Postpartum Depression.
I don’t enjoy relying on medication to function. I know that in normal circumstances, I can battle depression by focusing on my health. After this baby is born, I plan to tackle that approach because I know it works. (I’m looking forward to sharing more about that later on)
But until then, I’m doing what’s best for my family. If that includes taking a small dose of medication each day to balance out my serotonin, WELL LETS BE HONEST, it’s better than allowing the devil to win my mind.