I’ve been putting off writing this post for a while. I figured now is as good a time as any, seeing as I’m really early for a doctors appointment and have nothing else to do while I wait! This week, there’s also an incredibly important mental health awareness campaign running, that I’ll come back to in a moment…
When I posted this last image to Instagram back in June, there was a lot happening – mostly, I’d found out a few weeks previously that I was pregnant, and that husband and I would be joined by a little apprentice traveller in January 🙂
It was great news and we’re super excited, but unfortunately, even in that early stage, I was already having a pretty rotten pregnancy. I was struck down with hyperemesis gravidarum – for those of you (read: me) who laughed when it was revealed Kate Middleton was suffering from this illness and made comments like “ohh poor princess can’t handle a bit of morning sickness, whatever,” let me tell you, it’s no joke.
Imagine the worst hangover you’ve ever had, one of the ones where the idea of even a cheeseburger turns your stomach and a sip of water makes you throw up, when you don’t even have the energy to walk from your bed to the bathroom, when you can’t envision ever brushing your hair again, much less showering and changing your clothes. Picture those few hours of hangover hell; I felt like that almost 24/7 for about 14 weeks.
Turns out it’s not just “a bit of morning sickness.” It’s a completely debilitating illness that leaves you utterly depleted, very isolated and pretty much confined to bed. And in my case, also unable to work.
The illness, the loss of control over my body and physical health, and the fear of the unknown (I’ve never had a baby before, after all!), combined with the stress of selling our home and buying a new one at the same time, having to move house, and also being bullied relentlessly by the senior management team in my workplace after I announced my “happy” news (if you think Australia is a civilized county where workplace bullying of pregnant women doesn’t happen, you’d be wrong) before finally taking my job away in the first few months of my pregnancy was never going to end well. And it hasn’t.
In the early stages, I had hoped that taking a bit of time away from my writing would give me a chance to get my mental and physical health back on track – it was also really hard to focus on writing anything when I was running back and forth between the couch and the bathroom! I can see now that was wishful thinking. The combination of all those factors breathed new life into my depression and anxiety, and, at least for now, they’ve taken my voice, my strength and my health away.
I voluntarily took a break from writing because I was so sick; I’ve stopped writing completely for now because I have no voice left with which to write. I guess I’m one of the 1 in 5 women who experience perinatal depression. This week is also PANDA Week – a week to raise awareness about perinatal anxiety & depression, which is why I took it as a sign from the universe that I should finally get around the writing this post, as difficult and uncomfortable as it is.
I’m lucky to have a strong man by my side who hasn’t for a second balked at the difficulty of this situation. I have a sister to confide in who is pregnant for the second time around, and understands much of what I’m going through. I have a wonderful OBGYN who is prioritising my mental health and ensuring I have access to all the help I need. And I have the advantage of having come through the darkness of mental illness before, so I know I’ll get through it again.
And when I do, I hope my voice comes back, too, and I can get back to doing all the things I love – including writing here. In the meantime, the biggest thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who’s read along and encouraged me to write here over the last few years – I’ve made some truly wonderful friends and have really enjoyed having a space for me to share what I love – hopefully I’ve been able to encourage a few other people to get out and explore, as well! xoxo