**If you’ve ended up here through searching for info about antepartum depression, and you need someone to talk to. PLEASE EMAIL ME. (allisonzapata at gmail dot com)
A little over a year ago, just shy of eight weeks pregnant, I shared with you my struggle with antepartum depression and anxiety. Up until then, I wasn’t even aware that what I was battling had a name. All I knew was that I felt completely out of control, like I would lose my mind at any second, if I hadn’t already. In what was supposed to be one of the happiest times in my life, I felt a darkness inside of me that shook me to my pregnant core.
To make matters worse, I was terrified to share what I was going through with anyone. Even those closest to me; especially those closest to me. There is something so terribly shameful about feeling such deep sadness and desperation about something so wonderful, something so planned.
Really though, even more than my health, I was so worried about being judged (story of my life). After all, I was judging myself enough as it was.
And I knew what people would say, anyway.
“You are so selfish. Do you know how many people would kill to be in your shoes? Pregnant with a second child! Get over yourself and stop being so fucking dramatic.”
And I did know. The rational part of me knew exactly how fortunate I was. But, drowned out by the insanity I was feeling, the rational part could do nothing to cork the craziness that was slowly bubbling up inside of me.
So, with no where else to go but down, I took a leap of faith and decided to spill my crazy everything, with everyone. And, much to my dismay, not one single person judged me. At least not to my face. I received love, acceptance, and so many nods of understanding. It seemed I was not the only one holed up in that dark place.
Still, as proud as I am of myself today for having the balls to open up, looking back at what I shared that day saddens me. Not only over the place I was in, but also because I was far from honest about just how bad things really were. I peppered my confession with jokes, and promises that no one need worry about me. Because, I wasn’t that bad.
But, I wasn’t only that bad, I was much worse.
I spent most of my days hysterical, and…
(I know I am going to get shit for this, but I promised myself I’d be real here today, so here goes.)
… praying for another miscarriage.
But, at that moment, even that seemed better than what I was feeling.
Those quiet and horrible pleas of desperation only made me feel like more of a monster, spiraling me deeper into the despair that I was drowning in. How could I pray for the loss of something so precious, something so many people would give up everything to have…something I wanted so badly? I loved being a mom. And, having miscarried twins a few years prior, I knew just how devastating it was. Even still, in my not-me state of mind, I felt that pain would be more tolerable than what I was feeling.
Only a monster would have those feelings.
My house and personal life, mirroring my mind, were in complete chaos. I struggled to function, to parent the beautiful son I already had, and to be a loving wife. Or any kind of wife at all, for that matter.
Each day, I went through the motions, like a zombie. I resorted to spoiling my son with too much ice cream and way too many toys. Because I was failing him in the stuff that really mattered, overcompensation became a way of life.
Most of those nine months, if I wasn’t sobbing hysterically, I was unimaginably quiet. And, if you know me at all, you know I’m normally unimaginably not quiet. Anytime I wasn’t tending to my sweet two year old, I was locked away in my room, panicking.
On top of the depression, there were angry outbursts, usually directed towards my husband, simply because he was there. Today, I cringe, remembering the time I screamed in his face, as loud as I could, “I wish you were dead!” Telling him all the things I felt towards myself.
I stared in the mirror often, not recognizing the puffy-eyed image reflected back at me.
What is wrong with you? Why are you so fucked up?
Over and over and over again.
I mean, I was depressed in my first pregnancy, so I knew things might be rough, but this time around the beast had grown much larger and so much scarier. It was unrelenting and determined to win.
Sometimes, in hindsight, I suspect I bordered on mild psychosis.
Scared for myself, my unborn son, and the one I already had, I finally made the right decision and sought professional help.
With antidepressants, and someone telling me that what I was feeling was way more common than I thought (it even had a science-y name!), the beast became manageable….at least somewhat. I still struggled, to be sure, but at least I knew why. Talking myself down off that insane ledge I was balancing on became just a little bit easier.
Several hours after my son was born, the light came flooding in.
It was like a switch had been flipped.
Just like that.
Whatever had taken over my mind had gotten bored, and quickly decided to give it back to me.
I looked at my little boy and I knew. Every single bad thought, angry outburst, panic attack, all the times I hated being alive…it was all worth it.
Really that instantaneous, I was me again.
I let out the biggest breath, exhaling for what seemed like hours.
Even my husband noticed the black cloud had moved on, and that I was back.
I snuggled my sweet, sleepy miracle, amazed at how I could feel such a connection with him, having felt none when he was inside me.
Something I’m still trying to forgive myself for.
Over a year has passed, and here I sit next to my beautiful Leo; nine months old this very day.
I feel like he’s always been a part of our family, and cannot imagine a world without him and his brother in it.
The road to now was a long, dark, and lonely one, but I made it to the end.
My boys, oh my sweet boys…they are the best things I have ever done.
When people ask me if I want another child, I shake my head and laugh.
Oh, I don’t think I have it in me to handle more than two!
But, the truth is, the two I have now can’t handle it. They need me, all of me. I can’t risk inviting that beast back into my life. It just wouldn’t be fair to them.
My oldest is now almost four, and as happy as anyone I’ve ever met. But, there’s no doubt, I’ll always wonder if I damaged him in some way, during those nine months that I was so damaged.
Eventually, I know I’ll have to let go of this guilt. Because, really, what other choice do I have? But, I’m not yet to a place where I’m ready to do that.
One day, though.
My name is Allison and I struggled with antepartum depression, and I refuse to be secretive or ashamed about it any longer. Because, even if I get a million dirty comments, if one person reads this and feels less alone, every shake of the head and what the fuck is wrong with you is worth it.
If you or someone you know is going through this, I beg of you to be open and honest about it. Do not feel ashamed, because you are not alone. You are not a bad person. Not even a little bit.
Asking for help, though terrifying, was the best move I made. It scares the shit out of me to think how much worse off I could have been, had I not thrown up my hands and cried uncle.
It saddens me that if you type in “antepartum depression” into a search engine, very few resources come up. Perhaps, if more people would talk about it, this wouldn’t be the case.
Above all else, if you are going through this, know that you are not a monster.
It’s the asshole hormones that are.