#PNDAW16 My story with perinatal mental health

Most people would assume that pregnancy is meant to be one of the happiest times in your life. Your body is doing this amazing thing and your growing a new life inside of you, and aside from the sickness and the back aches, pregnancy is meant to be wonderful right? Sadly this isn't always the case and it certainly wasn't for me during my second pregnancy.

If you are new to my blog, my name is Natasha. I am married with two lovely children, Elise 5 and Charlie 2, and during my second pregnancy I suffered with mental illness.I wasn't in the best place emotionally before finding out I was pregnant with my second child. I had made a big move away from friends, family and my job. I felt very isolated and had recently gone through a very tough time with anxiety that I was slowly over coming. Fast forward about a month after moving and I felt a bit "off" and knew something wasn't right, so I took a pregnancy test. There I was staring at a digital test that had the words PREGNANT and all I could think was, this is the worse thing that could be happening to me right now. I shared my news with a handful of people and told them my initial reaction and they all said the same thing, its the shock, every women feels like this when its a surprise pregnancy, its your hormones, your get use to it, your be fine. But I wasn't fine...

At 8, 9, 10 weeks pregnant there wasn't a day that had gone by where I didn't cry or wish I wasn't pregnant. It was a constant battle in my head of feeling guilty for how I felt, telling myself I was the worse person ever for feeling this way, telling myself if something happened to my baby it would be all my fault because I didn't want to be pregnant. I would tell myself I was selfish and ungrateful, there were so many women who would give the world to be in my position, and there I was wishing everyday that it would just go away. I didn't really know what I meant by that. I had a few scares where I thought I was loosing the baby and I would panic so I knew deep down I wanted this baby, I just wanted to go back in time and for it to have never happened.

By about 18 weeks pregnant my husband had started to make comments and notice that I really wasn't enjoying my pregnancy and I wasn't myself. I became a hermit only going out for nursery drop offs and do the food shop. I even started shopping online so it was one less trip out I had to do. I didn't want anyone to see me or speak to me, because I didn't know what to say to people. I was ashamed by the way I felt. I didn't want to buy maternity clothes I didn't want to look at baby items I just wanted to shut myself away from the world. I hid a lot of how I was feeling from family and friends because I didn't know if they would understand, would they judge? Would they think all the terrible things I felt about myself too. I got very good at telling little white lies and getting out of social events. It was then that I realised I needed to reach out and ask for help. I spoke to my midwife and she put me in touch with my local Peri natal mental health team who were fantastic! I did a course of CBT and it honestly changed my life. I was diagnosed with social anxiety and mild depression. There was a huge sense of relief when I got given a diagnoses and told I wasn't the only one. It took some time but by about 35 weeks pregnant I started to feel like me a little. I got excited about the idea of going shopping for baby clothes and getting his nursery all ready. I still had my bad days but the good days were popping up here and there and those were the days I focused on when I had my bad days.

After a few weeks of my son being born I felt more like myself and I couldn't love him anymore if I tried. I wanted to go out and about, I wanted to show my new baby to the world and I was proud that I was over coming a very dark time in my life. Id be lying if I said I still don't feel a sense of guilt for the way I felt but I know it wasn't my fault, and if your feeling the same its not your fault either. You can and will get better with the Right help and support. You don't have to battle this alone.

This week is the first PANDAS mental health awareness week and I was honoured when I was asked to share my story and help raise awareness. PANDAS are a fantastic charity who work with women/families who are suffering from peril natal mental health. Having mental heath issues during and after pregnancy is nothing to be ashamed of and is more common than you think. At least  1 in 7 women will suffer from Post natal depression and 15-20% of pregnant women suffer with anxiety and depression. So don't be ashamed to speak out and ask for help. Contact PANDAS or speak with your midwife or health visitor about how you are feeling so you can get the right help and support. Below Is the charity campaign video please do take a few minutes to watch, and share this post with anyone you know that it may help.


:"If you would like to donate to PANDAS (Pre & Post Natal Depression Advice and Support) to help them support sufferers of perinatal mental illnesses please text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 or visit their website for donations or further information and support. Texts cost donation amount plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer's permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485."


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