*Trigger Warning: this post mentions miscarriage*
Depression and anxiety can hit you at any stage of life. For me, I was pregnant with my second child; a rainbow baby after a loss that crippled my entire outlook on pregnancy. All considered, you would’ve thought I’d be ecstatic, but nope, I felt quite the opposite…
Before I miscarried, I took pregnancy for granted. I didn’t have to try to get pregnant with my first born and I was blessed with a relatively straightforward pregnancy (albeit the morning sickness lasted much longer than desired!). However, my second child involved more planning; not only was I broody, but I wanted my eldest to have a sibling and three and a half years seemed like the largest age gap I wanted my children to have. So, it worried me when I stopped taking birth control and I didn’t get pregnant straight away. I was scared. What if something was wrong? Were the maternal issues within my family hereditary? Thankfully, these worries were eased after a few months when my pregnancy test was confirmed positive. The doctor checked for an ectopic pregnancy because I hadn’t missed a period yet and was occasionally spotting, but the scare was over…or so I thought.
Three days later, I got out of bed and felt something dripping down my leg. I looked down and saw red. Bright red. FRESH BLOOD. Tears fell down my face. With each tear I felt my hopes and dreams for my new baby, my daughter, and my family slip away too. Almost immediately, I started to blame myself. What did I do wrong? Was it my fault? I begged and I pleaded with the hospital for a check-up but there were no emergency appointments for the next five days. I needed hope that my little baby still had a heartbeat. Instead, I was told, “what will happen, will happen”.
I prayed. I prayed so hard. I begged and I pleaded with God too, making so many promises and covenants to Him if he saved my baby. I thought the bleeding had finally stopped. Another three days passed and I sobbed my entire heart out in the toilet. Clots. In that short period of time, I had googled enough to know clots were not a good sign. It was the beginning of the end for my baby.
Fast forward to a month later, it was five days into the New Year and I had a positive pregnancy test. However, this time I wasn’t elated. In fact, I was scared, if not petrified. I no longer had confidence in my body’s ability to carry a child. As much as I wanted my baby, months went by and I could not allow myself to be excited because I expected something to go wrong. Everything felt too close to home and it didn’t help that my friend had a stillborn midway through my pregnancy. So, even till the day she was born, I found myself holding my breath every time I went to the bathroom. I was confident I was going to see red.
My anxiety continued to increase. Things had been too good so far and I was waiting for something bad to happen. I couldn’t sleep at night because I thought, “what if someone breaks into my house whilst I’m asleep and kills my daughter”. I tried to be rational; I would tell myself the house is locked and secure…but what if somebody was hiding under the bed and I forgot to check? I needed to stay awake to listen out. I needed to stay awake to keep us safe. I needed to stay awake. Sometimes, I convinced myself I could hear footsteps and ran to my daughter’s room to check on her. There I was, heavily pregnant, unable to sleep because I was listening out for invisible threats.
The catastrophising became worse still. What if I get into a car crash driving to work? What if I die and leave my daughter motherless? Is her Dad capable of raising her like I can? So many dark thoughts filled my mind. This anguish was compounded by the loss of my Grandad on the day of my 20-week scan. Yet I didn’t realise just how much my anxiety was crippling me. I stayed home after work and on weekends. I had no energy to clean. I didn’t want to socialise with anyone outside of my house. All I wanted to do was hold my first daughter tight and not let go.
Everything seemed fine after having my second daughter. My heart melted every time my eldest held her little sister or when she’d help her daddy change the little one’s nappy. As expected, on her first day home, I did the customary “stare” while she slept to make sure she was still breathing. But this continued and intensified. After breastfeeding (which, in itself, impacts your body and sleeping pattern), I would stay awake to make sure she continued breathing. I stopped doing housework. I only cooked quick meals. I avoided and despised going out in public. I stayed in my bedroom at any opportunity. I wanted to stay in my bubble, where I felt safe. The problem being that, even in my bubble, I didn’t feel protected. Something bad was going to happen. I could feel it.
I carried on living like this for two years. That was two years too long. I realised I couldn’t continue living in a constant hypersensitive state of fight or flight. It was exhausting. I was exhausted. My doctor mentioned the words anxiety and depression, and then recommended cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Like many others known to mental health services, I was disappointed by the waitlist for psychological treatment. I carried on fighting that invisible demon that only I could see for another year as I waited for CBT. But I no longer wanted to be a victim of this condition. Enough was enough. I knew I needed to actively take part in my healing journey if I wanted to emerge from the darkness. So, I started to meditate, which at first, felt weird. Eventually, not only did meditation help improve my sleep but it offered me clarity on my life. I was finally able to see through the lingering fog that once overwhelmed me.
Then, I paired my meditation with positive affirmations. Every day when I woke up, I looked in the mirror and repeated aloud, “I am safe. I am blessed. I have everything I need to live a happy life”. I’m not going to lie, actively changing my mindset was not easy. In fact, it was very hard. It was difficult to contradict everything I had become accustom to, if not accepted. Indeed, there were some days where it felt easier to stay as I once was, but I had to remind myself that it was not healthy for me or my family. Eventually, going to work became easier. Going to sleep became easier. Going to the park became easier. Living my life, being the best mum I could be, became easier. Slowly but surely, I learned to accept life for what it was and learned to only focus on what I could change. Now, nearly eight years down the line, I am standing up to say it will become easier.
Focusing on my mindset allowed me to be in control of both my mind and my life. Yes, I am human and sometimes I can feel the depression worming its way back in or the anxiety creeping up on me and, you know what, that’s okay. My experiences have made me wiser and now, I can identify those negative thoughts and feelings slithering into my subconscious. Now, I have all the tools I need to get back to where I need to be mentally. Now, I am more resilient.
LUV Ladies is a plethora of women with different experiences and different coping mechanisms. We’re here to support women and offer guidance on whatever they have been or are going through. We want to listen to your story, uplift you when you’re low, and provide that space for you to vent when needed. No matter what life has thrown at you, we’re here to help you through. We’re here for you.
Our Positive Affirmation Book is now available via www.amazon.co.uk/IAM-Afirmations-Miss-Sara-Maynard/dp/B08CFSNBMG/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sara+maynard&qid=1594569962&sr=8-1 It contains positive affirmations to support you on your (healing) journey. The ebook is available to order on our website: www.listenupliftventcic.com the paperback includes an interactive journal that uses CBT techniques to help you identify your triggers, take ownership of your feelings and enable you to become an active member on your path. Ultimately, this book aims to assist you on the road of becoming the best version of yourself.
#IAM not just an illness
#IAM better for the experiences I’ve had
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