I had some very low periods and dark thoughts during the first trimester of pregnancy. The myth of pregnancy as a calm, exciting and enjoyable time is still pervasive – but there were times when I felt unable to take pleasure in anything, distant from Al and scared I wouldn’t be able to feel anything for the baby either.
- Nausea and exhaustion were draining and left me more vulnerable.
- Pregnancy was constantly pushing all my eating and weight ‘triggers’ and making that much harder to manage.
- I couldn’t do almost anything I used to enjoy or that helped me manage my mental health – challenging myself with long runs, tiring myself out with speedy bike rides in the hills, skiing with friends, winning races, revelling in that gorgeous post-exercise feeling – even drinking tea and having a long steaming hot bath.
- Nowhere felt like home – my supercharged sense of smell means that the smell of the house made me sick. It’s exhausting to have nowhere comforting to retreat to.
All of these are manageable individually but they made a toxic mix when combined with existing mental health problems.
I have a diagnosis of clinical depression and anxiety – but it’s tended to be anxiety I’ve struggled with over the last couple of years. Anxiety get’s its claws into whatever is going on and warps it out of all proportion. In the first trimester, there is a LOT for it to hook onto. Al always tells me to try not to think ‘big thoughts’ when I’m anxious but for a lot of those first 14 weeks or so I just felt like one big anxious thought.
But I also felt that dark, flat, stifling darkness of depression again. It was actually pretty scary at times – mainly at night when things often feel the most overwhelming. I’m certainly glad I kept up the Sertraline.
I’m feeling a lot better now. I have a referral to the obstetrician who specialises in mental health – but my appointment isn’t until June. In the meantime, I spoke to an amazing midwife who really seemed to understand and agreed that 27 weeks was very late for starting any additional perinatal mental health support. She referred me to see a psychologist a little earlier. I’m not sure how (or if) these appointments will help but I’m keeping an open mind and making sure I have as much support in place as possible in case things get harder again.
Read my other blogs about the first trimester: