So: prenatal depression is a thing. Prenatal anxiety is also a thing. Postnatal depression, tick, that’s a thing. And pregnancy and postnatal OCD. Postnatal anxiety, yep. Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder, yes, that is also a thing. Some women are also diagnosed with bipolar mood disorders for the first time during pregnancy or the postnatal period. Postpartum psychosis – utterly horrifying – is also a thing.
I’ve had prenatal depression, prenatal OCD, prenatal anxiety, postnatal anxiety, postnatal depression and a truly debilitating, disgusting and distressing bout of postnatal OCD which, although very manageable now, has never fully gone away.
The reason it is so important to talk about these conditions is that lives are at stake. The lives of children, the lives of their mothers. Mothers are at risk of killing themselves because of these disorders. Mothers who show symptoms or who are attempting to tell you that they have it need to be treated with kid gloves. We all need to watch new mothers closely. And not just immediately after the birth. For a long time after the birth. These disorders can last for years after the babies have been born.
I could not communicate my postnatal mental disorder to anyone. I tried, but I couldn’t. I was too embarrassed and I was too ashamed. I was terrified that no-one would understand. I was scared that someone might even take my baby away from me. That I didn’t deserve to be a mother.
Thank God for the internet. Googling what was going on in my head and finding out that other mothers suffered from it too, gave me the courage, finally, to tell a doctor what was going on.
I got help. You can too.