Those of you who have been following The Blissful Blog, know that I developed severe antenatal depression during my second pregnancy. It was an incredibly challenging period of my life, and you can read more about it here. I was fortunate enough to get some much needed help and I want to share more about what deciding to go to therapy during my pregnancy looked like.
Reluctantly Walking Through The Doors
My midwife had referred me to the Perinatal Mental Health Disorder Program which is run through our hospital (Health Sciences North). I was reluctant to go, although desperate to feel better. At the time of my first appointment I had been struggling for about two to three months. I felt like I had been drowning with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. My appetite had dwindled down to almost nothing, and I was barely sleeping (thus contributing to my anxiety).
Walking through those doors I was terrified. I’d been certain that I was going to sit down with a counsellor who would confirm my worst fears. I was expecting to hear:
“Why yes, you are pretty messed up”
“That is definitely not a normal thought to be having”
“You are going to be a terrible mother”
“You are an awful wife, and your husband deserves better.”
(Fortunately that is far from reality and didn’t happen at all).
I Bawled for the Better Part of an Hour
Upon arrival, I was greeted by the sweetest Registered Nurse and Counsellor, Jackie Moffatt. Right off the bat I could tell she was delightful and genuine. As we sat down to do my intake, I answered a standard questionnaire to what I thought was the closest to how I was feeling.
After finishing the questions Jackie said that “according to your score your depression and anxiety is very mild. But that is okay, as it is totally treatable.” Jackie and I then continued to talk for an hour, most of which time I was bawling uncontrollably.
I’d shared some of my most intimate fears and vulnerable parts of myself with her. I sat there pouring my heart out. I was so surprised by how much better I felt when talking to her. When I expected her to be appalled by what I was saying, she smiled and told me that it was okay. When I confided to her my deepest darkest most shameful thoughts, she explained to me all about “thought distortions.”
Finally Getting Some Understanding Of What Was Happening With Me
I told her that I didn’t think anything would be able to help, but she assured me that this illness is TOTALLY TREATABLE. She explained the reasons I was feeling this way, and why it might be happening.
She listed the common symptoms and experiences of someone struggling with a perinatal mental health disorder. It was like she had taken notes from my own diary and read them to me. Everything she said was exactly what I had been experiencing. I felt relieved to hear I wasn’t alone. And to my absolute surprise not once did she make me feel anything less than validated.
Turns Out It Was Pretty Bad
At the end of our chat, Jackie said kindly “it sounds like your depression is very severe”. She informed me that often times people who work in mental health, or like minded fields often under rate how much they are struggling. Despite having my Honours Degree in Psychology, I wasn’t able to fully grasp how significant my depression/anxiety was. She said it was very common for the questionnaire and interview results to differ. She thought I would benefit very much from treatment. From there we began Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
That was the first of many visits I spent with Jackie Moffatt. And while it didn’t happen over night, I got better; so much better. I walked out of her office, still very very sick. But I left with something I didn’t have walking in, hope. She promised me that my depression and anxiety was treatable, and I am grateful every day that I believed her.
Join Jackie and I Wednesday October 11 at 10:00 on The Blissful Doula Sudbury Facebook Page for a Live Chat. She will be answering all of your questions about Perinatal Mental Health Disorders.
Did you or someone you know experience a perinatal mental health disorder? What helped you/them? As always we would love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to comment below or over on Facebook or Instagram.