Pre-natal Depression is no joke. When I found out I was expecting my first baby I had a mix of emotions. I felt an immediate panic when my test came back positive and I had no idea what to expect next. My partner and I discussed our options and we decided together that we wanted to start a family together. But neither of had a clue on what raising a baby of our own would be like.
After having our first doctors appointment, seeing the baby on the sonogram machine, and hearing the heartbeat for the first time...it was like "Holy Sh*t" this is real. I'm growing an actual human being inside my tummy. We shared the news with our friends and family a few weeks later and everyone was super excited for us, but what no one ever told me was that I could develop pre-natal depression. I had no idea that was even a thing. Here I am in grad school literally studying mental health and still I had no clue about women developing depression around their pregnancy.
So I'm 3 months in and all of the excitement wears off and I'm faced with thinking about what being pregnant really means for me. Will I still be able to pursue my dream job? How strict do I have to be on my eating habits? How am I going to handle a newborn financially? And so on...
All of these worries were consuming me from the moment I woke up in the morning to the moment I fell asleep at night. It got so bad to the point I couldn't even sleep at night. I was averaging about 3-4 hours each night, which made me feel even worse throughout the day. All I wanted to do was lay down in bed. I couldn't even get up and get out of the house for anything. The laundry and dishes were piling up each day. I hardly talked to my friends and everyday just felt like my existence was uselesss. I had no energy to put into anything, not school, work, or even my business.
Finally, one day I decided that enough was enough. There was no way I was going to be able to take care of my baby if I couldn't even take care of myself. I had to take a hard look at myself and think about the kind of life I wanted for my child and how much I wanted to be able to give him a nice life. I knew I wouldn't be able to do that in the current state I was in. So I made the decision to start working on myself and getting better so that I could be the mom I always dreamed about being for my son. I wanted to share a few things with you on what I did to get myself back up and running again.
Here a few tips I did to pull myself out of the dark. Once I started focusing on my values it became easier to focus on my healing journey.
1. Start a Journal
Grab a notebook, pad, or whatever you can and start a journal. I found that expressing my feelings to other people was extremely difficult because not everyone has experienced what I was feeling or could relate. It was easier to be honest with myself and how I was truly feeling about my pregnancy when I was able to put it all down in writing. After re-reading my journal it also helped me see a visual of how horrible I was feeling inside and that something needed to change. I felt so much better after reflecting on my ups and downs of pregnancy that I started striving more for those positive moments.
2. Shift your Mindset
It's much easier said than done, but when you start feeding yourself horrible thoughts you also begin to believe those things are true about yourself. When in reality you're not those any of those things. When we convince ourselves that we're not worthy or good enough, we will be stuck in the same position forever and never feeling like what we're doing is enough. You are good enough, you are capable, and you are worthy!
3. Do You
Everyone is allowed to feel how they feel, and if you don't want to do something then that's completely okay. Sometimes the people in your life feel like they have a say over how you handle your pregnancy and that shouldn't be the case. You have to do what's best for you.
4. Communicate with your Partner
It wasn't until I opened up with my partner about how I was feeling that I was able to receive support. I needed him to step up in a lot of areas and work with me as a team so we could be amazing parents. However, nothing probably would've changed much or my needs would have never been met if I didn't have that open communication.
5. Learn to Let Go
You can't control everything! And let me just say it louder for the people in the back...YOU CAN NOT CONTROL EVERYTHING! This was a hard one for me, because I am a perfectionist who likes things to be done a certain way. When it comes to parenthood there is no right or wrong way, you just have to adjust and do whatever works for your family at that moment.This isn't to say you have to just completely be loosey goosey with how you run your household, but keep an open-mind, you'll be much happier and less stressed.
I hope some of these things help you as much as they've helped me.