People talk about coping with sleep deprivation and struggles with breastfeeding. They talk about body image issues and coping with labour.
No one talked to me about what to do when everything feels overwhelmingly hard and you can't see a way out.
Without my midwife encouraging me to accept help, I don’t think I would still be here today. She warned me in our first meeting that it's not unusual for mums who have struggled with their mental health in the past to need extra support in pregnancy - if asked for a reason, she explained.
My midwife very genuinely told me there was help out there and all I had to do was ask. She would arrange a referral if things changed. As I had been in good mental health for many years I truly thought this would be the last we talked about it.
By 12 weeks pregnant, I knew something was wrong. By 20 weeks I was falling apart, not coping with work and having recurring negative thoughts towards myself and my baby. It took three referrals to get help from the Mental health team.
Because of the triage system, by the time I was assessed the crisis moment had passed and when asked how I was coping and how much I was struggling I responded on autopilot with the polite, ‘I’m ok’, and completely understated how bad I felt.
It wasn't until I was honest about how I was feeling in the worst moments, and how often those moments were happening that my midwife’s referral was accepted and I was offered an appointment with a psychiatrist.
I had never had panic attacks before pregnancy - depression and self-harm, yes, but never panic attacks. Suddenly I had suffocating anxiety and simply couldn’t function.
I have told mums who are struggling since that the best advice I can offer is, to be honest about how bad the worst moments are and talk about how often those are happening.
They can't offer help if you don't show them the full picture.