Big girls don't cry... or do they?

I have always suffered with my mental health from being a teenager and going through puberty. Long episodes of depression always hidden by the mask of a smile. I never told anybody, because after all, you just have to get on with life don't you?

In the October of 2018, I had hit what I thought was absolute rock bottom. I was still working, and functioning, but barely. In desperation, I opened up to some friends and my husband about how I felt, and they could not have been more supportive. Just admitting the fact felt like some of the weight eased from my shoulders and a little bit more breathing room to gasp for air. So after that bout of courage, I summoned up even more to book myself a doctors appointment and get the ball rolling to finally get some help.

My GP started me on a low dose of Citalopram, which at first made me feel like a zombie, but I dutifully took it and tried to keep a positive attitude. Eventually over the course of the next 6 months it got increased to the highest dose, and I was starting to feel some of the black clouds shift, and I could see a little ray of metaphorical sunshine beaming through. And then I got pregnant.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I booked an appointment with my GP to discuss my anti-depressants as I was always led to believe that they can be bad for the developing baby during pregnancy. The talk I had with the doctor confirmed my fears and she advised me to stop taking them all together. I was worried because I didn't want to sink back into that deep, dark depression, but on the other hand, this baby was everything I ever wanted and I would never do anything to jeopardise it's health!

Everything seemed to be smooth sailing mental health wise, with the expected emotional periods due to increasing pregnancy hormones, until I was around 25 weeks pregnant. That's when everything changed once again. I felt a burden, I felt guilty, as if I wasn't doing enough, but then at the same time doing that much that I was permanently mentally exhausted. I felt lonely even when surrounded by friends and family and the baby inside me. It's hard to describe depression to someone who has never experienced depression, and after so many times of hearing; "just cheer up!" you tend to stop talking about it.

During a routine midwife appointment around 25 weeks, my midwife must have sensed that things were not all sunshine and rainbows after all. She asked me about my mental health, to which I replied that I was fine. She left it a few minutes, changed the subject, and then asked me again, to which I replied "yes, I'm fine". She then gave me a look that I will never forget, and the floodgates opened, and oh boy did the dam burst that day. She comforted me, told me that it was NOT okay that my GP had asked me to stop my anti-depressants and that she should have advised me to continue taking them as normal until I saw my midwife for my booking appointment. She referred me to the Peri-natal Mental Health Crisis Team, asked me to rebook an appointment to see a different GP and booked me in extra midwife appointments for support. Within the next 24 hours, I was back on my Citalopram, albeit at half the dose I was used to taking, but every little helps. The new GP that I was seeing went above and beyond for me, and I felt supported.

That beautiful and kind midwife was everything that I strive to be for my patients too. An advocate, a friend, a port in a storm.

So if you made it this far; I'm fine. I'm coping, I'm safe. Some days are worse than others, some days I don't want to lift my head from the pillow because of the crushing black cloud in my mind, but I am not the most important person in my life, my son is, and everything I do, I do for him. So the show will always go on! And if you were wondering, big girls most certainly do cry.... A LOT! (Sorry Fergie, you're wrong!)

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