Depression of any kind is heavy. It weighs you down. It tells you stories that keep you down. It places a stress and restriction on your soul and life like you have never felt. For me personally, ante natal depression is one of the worst kinds. This is my third pregnancy and second time with ante natal depression and although I know what to look for, I have still denied and hoped it wasn’t true. Even though I know how I have gotten through this before, I still question how on earth I will ever cope.
You see, being depressed when you’re pregnant is something that goes against every emotion and expectation you had for pregnancy. This normally happy and joyous time in your life becomes shrouded with fear, guilt and doubt. And it goes beyond any of the normal valid concerns about being a mum, it seems in a way to take on a life of its own. Perhaps the hormones make it worse, perhaps the not sleeping well contributes too, or perhaps the physical tiredness from your changing body has an impact. Yes I’m sure these all do… but the emotional challenge is what I find the heaviest.
I question if I can manage three kids even though I know being a parent is hard and that I can and will do the very best job I know how. And that in itself is enough. Even knowing that, I still question myself and my ability as a mother. Will this be the time that the depression breaks me? How will my eldest respond to my emotions now that he is older and can understand so much more of the world around him. I wonder if the desperation for my husband to get called off work due to bad weather will become even more intense for me, craving for him to be home, needing him to be there to support me, hold me and keep me safe.
My heart aches for not only when this baby arrives, but for the guilt I feel to be over… the worry of what I am already subjecting my child to. No amount of reassurance from anyone will ever ease the guilt of feeling like I owe my baby better, I owe this precious child of ours more than to start it’s life like this. I want this baby to know the real me, the one that exists deep down inside but who is overshadowed and cloaked by this heaviness. I don’t want this baby to first know my depression before it knows my smile, my laugh, my zest for life and the undying love I have for him/her and it’s siblings. All I want is the best start for this baby, but is this the best start I can offer? Is this baby really affected as much as my heart breaks that it is? I guess I will honestly never know.
But there are some things I do know.
For all the times I have cried for hours, ached and hurt, screamed and been filled with rage, I know that I have just as equally given this baby love. I know that those moments of love and appreciation, no matter how small they may seem, will always and forever be more powerful than the anger and sadness.
That this journey, no matter how hard this part may seem, is exactly where I should be. In every moment I am here to learn and to grow. Sometimes finding that sunshine and rainbow at the end of a storm can feel impossible, but when you catch a glimpse of that light and colour… you know you have worked, tried and become stronger all for that one moment of redemption.
My relationship with my husband will stay strong and weather the storm, no matter how wild, unruly and dark it can seem. I’m forever thankful that one good thing to come from depression is the reassurance in our love and the deepest of knowing that we are each other’s soul mate and no challenge will ever be too great. For all the times he has held me safely, reassured me, comforted me and told me the hard truths I have kept each of those in my memory… waiting for the day when I can show him my everlasting gratitude for him showing up to save me.
I know my children will always love me and forgive me no matter what I convince myself of otherwise. I may tell myself they see me sad too often, I may worry that my anger and stress is passed through to them, and I may fear these are the memories they will have of me. But the reality is never how I portray or convince myself in my head. They love me. They always will. Children are resilient. And they also need to see all aspects of human emotion, they need to understand that sometimes people are sad. I hope if anything they will grow up knowing to never hide their emotions and to always reach out for help if they need to.
Most importantly, I know this heaviness will pass. It will not stay with me forever because I am stronger than this, my will and determination to live a happy life with my family is brighter than this darkness. I have the most incredible gifts in my life to live for, dream for and be well for. That in itself is where my courage comes from, that is what fuels my fire, what embraces me in the darkness and helps me survive the heaviness. With them I know everything will always be okay.