This letter was never written to be published, this was a letter to Greg, my partner, trying to tell him I needed help.
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I needed him to know that it wasn't just being tired and hormonal that was causing me to be a bit down, I was pregnant and depressed. I cannot really put my finger on the exact reason, and I felt ashamed, insensitive and selfish I was feeling like this when so many are struggling to get pregnant or have lost a child. I know they would swap with me in a flash if they could. That's why I kept it in, pretended I was okay but as the weeks went by it was getting harder and harder to hide, and it was beginning to creep out.
I lost my appetite, I had no patience with Elijah and spent most of the time lashing out at Greg. Enough was enough I knew these feelings, and knew I couldn't let them get the better of me. Not this time. Not much is out there about mental illness in pregnancy as, after all, isn't this supposed to be a happy time? I wanted to share this in honour of Maternal Mental Health Week, to try and raise awareness, to try and encourage people to, if they are feeling like this, to reach out and tell someone. Do not be ashamed or fear you will be judged, we need to break this stigma.
I have shared more via my writing then I ever have with anyone I know, including Greg. I still could not tell him how I was feeling even after my PTSD diagnosis after the birth of Elijah. Frankly, I was ashamed and felt guilty I was even feeling like this, I was a failure, on the brink of being a mother to two and I couldn't hold it together.
This is the exact letter I sent him before he came home one night, as I couldn't face him reading it with me in the room. As soon as he walked in he picked me up (as best as he could being 7 months pregnant) and held me. I could see in his face he was scared but trying to be strong, trying to convince me it will be all okay. He would make it okay. A plan was made and so far, we have kept to it and I feel better. I do still have an off day but we deal with it together now. I was worried once he had read the letter he wouldn't want me to be around Elijah anymore, or would act differently with me. He didn't, he has been my rock and it gave me the confidence to share this with a friend too.
This isn't about gaining sympathy, and honestly it terrifies me I am putting this out there but, this is about raising awareness of Maternal Mental Illness, depression in pregnancy. This is about sharing my story in the hope it helps someone, or at least, breaks the ideals we have of Maternal Mental Illness. This is about one person reading this, and feeling like they can relate, feeling like at last they are not alone.
Be honest, no matter how much it scares you to be. Remember you are never alone, do not suffer in silence.
Was I just letting them both down?
Everyone has an off day, don’t they? One that calls for a Gin at the end of it, after a trying day of teething, tantrums, potty training or when your kid is frankly just being an arse.
But, what then happens when the one-off day becomes two, then three, then a week and before you know it you are in the grips of something that frankly scares you. When is it you begin to see that you are wishing the time away until bedtime? Or dreaming of when you will finally fob your child off onto someone else. There are times where I can imagine myself jacking it all in and leaving, this was an occasional sleep deprivation thought, and now it has become a daily thought. After all, wouldn’t you all be better off without me? What kind of mother really imagines herself leaving? Or feeling this unhappy without a valid reason for it. Or in the morning when I can’t bring myself to get out of bed, and all I can hear is our child screaming, ‘I want to see Mummy’, again and again.
Yet, I just lay there staring at the ceiling wishing I could just get up and be a happy mother to him.
I want to feel like my body hasn’t failed me, and this is leading me to feel so low. There are times during the day when I shout so loud I scare myself, and by the look on our child’s face I have scared him too. The loss of control is frightening. When I go into the kitchen to cry just because I am so overwhelmed, I don’t know how to tell you how I feel.
When I have no patience, and can’t bear to be around him, or you and where every little thing sets me off. I look forward to people being around to help, but when they do, I want to shout for them to leave. Hopefully taking my child with them. Where all I want to do is scream at you, in the hope it will release the pent-up tension and stress I have been carrying around with me like a bomb about to go off. That you will see something isn’t right.
I think that bomb is now detonating, I know these feelings, I have had them before and they also lead to the same thing, self-destruction.
Self-harm, suicide attempts, eating disorders, drinking too much and abusing pills are things I have all dabbled in before as you know, when I was trying to manoeuvre my way through the depression.
But, when your only release from the darkness inside is to punish yourself what do you do, when it isn’t just your body to do it to anymore? That there is, in fact, someone depending on you to nurture and care for them and ultimately when you punish yourself you are putting their life at risk? When you are 7 months pregnant.
I always blamed myself for what was happening to me, to us, therefore I deserved to punish myself.
Eventually, there was some sort of break or release to it, and things dissolved, the tension went away and things went back on an even keel. We were happy.
Not this time, I cannot do what I want to so badly, as I will harm our unborn baby and you and Elijah again.
Writing helps, but then to read the words on the page makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with me. For you to read them, makes me feel ashamed that I feel like this. The waves of negativity that have a hold on me are like vines, swirling around and trapping me in my own head.
I have you, a loving partner, our amazing little boy and now another who will be arriving in a few short weeks, so why do I feel like an utter failure as a parent? Why am I depressed?
Why I am shouting at our child? Picking a fight as I am so irritable and agitated I can’t enjoy our time together. I can’t relax or rest even when I am on my own, and the guilt of how I have acted, how I feel then creeps up on me. The daunting thought that I am a crap mother smacks me in the face as soon as Elijah has gone to bed, as I replay the day in my head over and over. Honestly, how will I even cope with two? I feel I have no reason to be depressed, yet I am, I am on the brink of being a mother of two and I am miserable.
I have fears, the same I am sure many have, that even you may have, a premature birth, another NICU stay, more health complications, will we adjust as a family of 3 to 4? Can we afford to live when I am on maternity leave?
My main worry was what if I became ill again, one that I think has already come true and I haven’t even given birth yet.
I feel like once again I have let you down by getting myself ill again, that I am even ill again in the first place.
I once again am a selfish, ungrateful, failure, of a mother/partner who cannot seem to just be content and happy.
Just as I tainted the first year of Elijah’s life, I am leaving a smear on the remainder of my pregnancy and our final moments as a family of three. Are things now going so well for us, that I have to destruct and ruin it, because I don’t deserve this?
Am I preparing myself for when something will go wrong, as at least then I am ready for it?
I feel like a failure just admitting that I need help, that no one else seems to speak of this depression when they are pregnant or showing off their glowing bump pictures.
This must mean I am not normal?
This isn’t hormones, tiredness or the stress of being pregnant and potty training a toddler. This is more. This is Alice falling down the rabbit hole and not finding her way back out of it again.
Isn’t being pregnant a time of happiness and joy? Then again, the birth of our son also brought these feelings.
You cannot always see what is going on, I can hide behind my Instagram feed pretending I am happy.
I want to be honest, I want to work through this, I want you to read this and know I am trying.
I want you to know I am not sure how to make it stop, I don’t know how to tell you this all face to face. Again.
I am sorry for being a failure, for living in my head and for letting this effect our family again.
Most of all I want you to know when I say I am okay, I am not and that is alright.
This post was originally published on Vicki's blog. To follow Vicki on her social channels, the likes are right here: Facebook; Twitter; Instagram