If you know me personally, you would call me a Monica. I want to think that my husband has grounded me into a more laid-back person; Still, my Monica tendencies like to poke through. Back in June, I mentioned our whole house needed to follow a balanced lifestyle. I’m happy to report that due to my love of lists, schedules and planning, we’re doing it!

Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve been finding it hard to stay healthy & active. I knew I had to change it but honestly had no idea where to start.

The first thing that I started doing more of was Meal Prepping.
Before I had a baby, I was so good at doing this, and then after she came around, I found I was only doing HER meal prepping, which caused a lot of junk food to land in my mouth.
When my husband comes home from grocery shopping, I take this opportunity to wash/cut up our fruits and veggies. It makes it easy for me to grab a quick and healthy alternative, and I don’t have to ‘think’ of what to make. We also started planning our dinners each week to cut down on unnecessary spending and arguing over what to do for dinner. You’d be surprised how much time you save

Here’s what our current week looks like:

We try to use as many leftovers as we can to incorporate new meals & not every night has to be fancy either. Deluxe grilled cheeses mean you’re winning as an adult 😉

The second thing that I started to do was figuring out how to get more “me” time, either during the week or on the weekends. As a new mom, I’m finding myself bogged down with so much cleaning on the weekends that I said, “Fuck this shit!” I wanted my weekends back and started a Weekly Cleaning Schedule.

I don’t do anything on Wednesdays because we have no daycare options for our daughter – less stress = happy andrea

Granted, this works for ME and doesn’t even include the monthly cleaning that I do (like washing floors, clearing out the fridge, etc.). Still, I found that chopping it up evenly throughout the week meant that I had maybe 20 minutes of cleaning to do a day instead of killing my back for hours each weekend. You may chuckle at putting away my clean laundry on Mondays or decluttering our never-used dining room table, but hey, we’re all human, and sometimes laziness wins!

The third thing that I also started to do was making sure that I am actual MOVING. Since the majority of my job consists of me sitting, I know that I need to be more conscious of getting my daily exercise. This can be hard when you’re glued to a desk, but I made a mini workout schedule for myself that I try to adhere to every morning.

I generally work from 7-3, so around 10, I’ll go downstairs and do my 5-minute workout, grab a bowl of fruit, fill up my water bottle and head back to the grind. I’ve noticed that taking those 5 minutes has elevated my mood. Once I get into a better groove, I’ll be doing more repetitions instead of one.
I used to sit at my desk and eat as I would work, but since I’m now at home, I try to walk around the block before lunch. Gaining those extra steps in a day and getting some sunshine is so beneficial to my mental health.
If I have to take a phone call that doesn’t require video, I tend to walk around the house. I probably drive my husband bonkers doing this. Still, I remind myself that all of these small things do accumulate into something. I’ve been hitting my steps for the last week!

There are so many other things that you can do to get your balance, everyone is different, and not everything I do will apply or work for you. I’m sharing what works for me because I know what it’s like to have zero motivation even to fathom doing a ‘plan.’

How have you been surviving?  

I remember my first group therapy session quite well. It was more of a social gathering at a local community centre with other families who lost an immediate family member. They split us into two groups; all the adults went to a separate room while the ‘kids’ stayed behind. I say ‘kids’ because there was no specific age range, I was roughly twelve years old at the time, yet there were both older and younger people surrounding me.
We all gathered in a circle, and each took turns speaking about our loved ones. The thought of me talking in front of strangers was making me anxious. Still, as we went through the different stories, my anxiety lessened. Knowing that others went through something similar seemed to make my grief manageable. When it came time for me to speak, I wasn’t as ‘squeaky’ as I usually was in situations – I still cried as I reminisced about my mother, but it was a lot softer than usual.

I made a friend that day, who turned out to be so much more. Her name was Jennifer, and she lost her father. We were able to talk openly, and it was welcomed. I was still unable to open up to my adoptive father fully. Little to our surprise, both of our parents hit it off and started dating. When that relationship failed, we lost contact almost immediately. It was a hard blow, especially since I was beginning to consider her like a sister and I never fully understood what happened. Of course, thanks to social media, we recently reconnected, and it was if we never stopped talking. I can’t wait for her to meet my little one once we’re out of this pandemic.

When I look back on the group therapy sessions, she’s the first thing that comes to mind. Of course, the therapy aspect was helpful, but finding someone else who was going through the same thing was priceless.

I’m honoured to say that over the last few weeks, I’ve partnered with Pay What You Can Group Therapy.
Their mission is almost identical to mine, to support others seeking mental health care. The concept is simple – it’s free group therapy that is monitored by licensed professionals. If you enjoyed and/or found value in any of the sessions, they ask you pay what you can!
It’s been a pleasure working with the team, and I hope that you all can take advantage of FREE group therapy starting tonight, July 21st.

 

Some of you have noticed my absence on here, and I just wanted to touch base.

As I mentioned in a few posts before, I’ve been in isolation months before this quarantine took effect. I would say that I’ve been a homebody for almost 6 months now. Being home has been a challenge on my mental health, and it’s also taken a toll on my relationship with others.

When things are too much, I generally back away, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying my best to tread in the shallow water while observing the catastrophes surrounding me.

My husband has been unemployed for 10 months now, and the stress of that has been eating away. With no real start date on when things will turn around for the film industry, it’s been a struggle for us to stay positive. My maternity leave will end soon, and I am shrouded with uncertainty even though I am excited to get back to my old routine. It’s hard for me to fall asleep most nights now because my mind is racing with what-ifs. I am exhausted in more ways than one.

My health isn’t any better, and I am entirely to blame for the majority of it.
I’ve gained back all of the weight that I lost months after giving birth. I am not as active as I once was, and that’s given me a slew of secondary issues that make it hard to find the motivation to get up and go. Walking up and down the stairs with my daughter is leaving me breathless, and I’m on the verge of tears, thinking I won’t be able to catch up to her soon.

I’ve also been dealing with jaw problems and perimenopause symptoms, which are the icing on top of everything else.

I can hear people getting annoyed whenever I bring some of these things up, so I’ve just stopped. I preach about opening up and talking, yet here I am doing the opposite. In the grand scheme of things, complaining seems trivial. Who has time to complain about my relationship with my husband, my extreme exhaustion, or the severe daily hot flashes when there are more significant issues? From my perspective, everyone is going through their own shit, so mine seems mundane.

My heart is heavy for the world.
It’s been a challenge to be an empath during these unprecedented times. I’ve tried to limit my social media or news outlets to get a breather, but that is only good for maybe a day or two.

When I watch my daughter play, my chest gets heavy. My anxiety-ridden mind wonders why I would bring a tiny human into a broken world. Her slobbery kisses generally ground me back, but those thoughts can jump back at any moment.

I’m trying to stay hopeful that things will get better soon, but some days it’s hard to be positive. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this, so for those who are also struggling: I feel you.

The last few weeks have been challenging and bittersweet. My daughter has been reaching new milestones, and it’s been amazing to watch her grow as a person. Even though I am beaming with pride, I find myself shrouded with guilt and grief.

When I left my toxic family home at the age of eighteen, there wasn’t much that I could bring with me. Things that I never thought I would need were left behind, which held a lot of meaning. For instance, my ‘baby book’ that my adoptive mother curated. It contained all of my milestones and a golden lock from my first hair cut. Now that I have a child of my own, I am longing for these connections and comparisons.

Over the years, I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t have roots, as many other people do. Although at times it can be painful, I know that I cannot blame myself for what happened. I cannot blame myself for not taking that baby book when the only thing surging through my body was flight mode.

Whenever I get into this mind-frame, I think about my adoptive mother. I think of all the love that we shared in the short amount of time that we had together. I’m so glad that those memories of happiness can still burst through the dark times.

Grief has a funny way of showing up, and I think it’s amplified now due to our quarantine. We grieve for the loss of our freedom, jobs, and normalcy. It’s only natural for the loss of someone important to us to jump in. It doesn’t matter when we lost said person; it could be days, months, or twenty-two years.
I try my best to push through the guilt and grief… but it’s hard.
We need to remind ourselves that we can’t be perfect every day, and some days will be harder than others. I just so happen to be going through a harder day today, but I know tomorrow won’t be the same.

I do wish my mother was still here, and I think on some spiritual level she is. As each day passes with my daughter, I realize that I am my mother. I am everything I ever wanted her to be, and for that, I am thankful.

It’s hard to ask for help, but luckily in today’s society, there’s an app for that!

Even though I preach of talking to others, its hard to take that first step to open up about what we struggle with. I blog openly about it so others can be inspired to do the same, but if you’re still not brave or bold enough, try some of these apps to help you out!

Please keep in mind that some of these apps do have in-store purchases, so please review them before downloading and using – Make sure you get the app that’s right for you!

CBT Thought Diary
CBT Companion
CBT Nuggets
DBT Coach
Mindshift CBT
Moodpath
Quirk CBT
Sanvello
Woebot
Wysa
Youper

For Mindfulness
Aura
Balance: Meditation
Breathe: Meditation & Sleep
Calm
Headspace
Insight Timer
The Mindfulness App
Mindfulness Coach
#Mindful
Mindfulness with Petit Bambou
Reflectly
Smiling Mind

For Journaling

Daylio Journal
Happy Feed
Moody
Mood App
Mood Panda
Moodwell

Do you have any suggestions to add? Please comment below!

Last year when I wrote my reflections, I left out some huge news that I didn’t make public until February. I was PREGNANT! I was ecstatic but reserved the news for many reasons. It wasn’t until my grandmother was admitted to the ICU that I made the news public, hoping that my good news could at least soften the blow. 

When we lost her days after her birthday in March, I was gutted. My grandmother meant a lot to me; I considered her a mother when I lost mine at 11. I was unable to say goodbye to her properly while she was in the hospital and felt a ping of guilt. The problem was, pregnancy was not kind to me, and I suffered morning sickness constantly. Making a trip over 500 km by myself seemed impossible, so I did what was best for the baby and me and stayed behind until we needed to go. 

When it came time for her funeral, I was anxious to go, but my husband and mother-in-law joined me. We piled up into her car and started our journey, little did I know what was in store for us. 

Not even an hour into our drive, we were hit with a freak white-out storm. We started to hear cars crashing all around us, and even though my mother-in-law slowed down, we were smack dab in the middle of a pile-up. We were hit three times, but I can only remember two of the vehicles. I was in complete shock and feared for my unborn baby. I cradled my stomach thinking it would protect her. 

An 18-wheeler hit the back, causing the trunk to fold like an accordion and smash the glass within. A pickup truck hit my side, the passengers, which caused the mirror to fly off and dent the door so I badly I couldn’t exit. It wasn’t until hours later when everything settled that I realized, if that pickup truck was an inch closer to the left, I might not even be here. The car was a complete write-off, and people were taken away by ambulances. Several days later, I would find out that my ribs were out of place, but that didn’t warrant an immediate hospital visit. I couldn’t believe our luck, but somehow I knew my grandmother was there protecting us. 

I was on high alert and couldn’t even call my family in Montreal to let them know that we would not continue our drive; my husband did it for me. Going to bed that night was difficult as more guilt crept in over missing the service the following day. I was able to call in and hear my best friend read my speech, but it was not the same. I know that if she were still here, she would have been upset if I came in after that ordeal, but that didn’t make the guilt surpass.


My first realization of the year – No matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still hurts.


I was able to say goodbye with a shiva service in Ontario and again at her gravesite in June. At that point, I was close to 8 months pregnant, going through a depression, and trying to find the good that surrounded me. It was hard, and I struggled. People kept reiterating that they were there for me, but they only meant it in a certain way.  


To keep myself occupied, I kept working on my first book, Albatross, and was determined to get it published before Eve made her appearance in August. The story behind Albatross is very personal and tells my story of leaving a toxic family in Montreal. I knew that I had to get this published before I started my life as a mom, I kept thinking, “
Out with the old and in with the new.” In early August, I was finally able to publish it, and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’d been so anxious and doubtful if I should even share my story, but I knew that was the old way of thinking.


My second realization of the year –
“Sometimes you have to accept something for what it is and move on.”
I needed to overcome my past, and I did by making it public. I’m hopeful that someone else who went through something similar can find solace in my words.


The days that followed were filled with a bundled of nerves. I was about to become a mom and felt an overwhelming sensation of nerves, joy, panic and love. Even though I still surged with depression, I was ready for the next step. Part of me knew I was feeling this way due to my hormones, so I was impatient with wanting to give birth to her. I was ready to feel elated, to provide all the love inside of me to a tiny human, to finally put my roots into the ground and start my own family. 

On August 13th, I met the new love of my life and best friend, Eve.
Even though I read all the books, I wasn’t prepared for the first couple of months – and I think that’s normal. You need to learn along with your baby what’s best for both of you, and even though I was tired as hell, I was ready for this chapter.


It’s true what they say about becoming a mother and losing some friendships. I didn’t care, which is a massive step for me. I usually would overthink and be a worrywart, but my perception has changed drastically, and I now have other priorities. I didn’t have the energy to fight or put in the effort when the other party didn’t do the same. 


My final realization of the year –
Everything happens for a reason, and you’re not always going to get the closure/explanation you think you deserve. That has been a hard one to grasp, but once you stop caring, you can truly live your life. 


I am thankful for my real friends who called, visited and stayed on top of my mentality throughout the full year. Even if it was just a quick “thinking of you” message, it was much appreciated in my down moments.


As I think back on this year, I could easily say that it was hard and trying, but I needed to go through the rough times to get to the better ones. I’m still not where I want to be emotionally, but I am getting there and can say that I am hopeful for 2020 to bring more good moments than bad.


To all my readers, thank you for letting me be a part of your life. Writing out my feelings, reflections, and everything in-between has always helped my anxieties, and I hope I have helped in any way, shape or form with yours. Happy Holidays and cheers to the New Year

How to make sure your Therapist or Psychiatrist is a right fit for you

I recently went to see a new psychiatrist. I’m not always keen on seeing someone new, as it usually takes a lot out of me going over what has happened in my past. Even though I don’t feel those emotions today, reliving them bubbles up how I used to feel, and I generally become overwhelmed with emotion and completely drained. I initially put in a referral for this psychiatrist when I was 6 months pregnant and feeling incredibly low. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment that I could get was the last week of October, almost three months postpartum.

Why haven’t you seen me sooner?” was her first question, and I scoffed. I reiterated that I have been trying to nail down an appointment every time I saw my general practitioner and my OB, but no one from her office contacted me. She apologized and said referrals get lost, but I brought along a note from her office, dated in June. I knew it wasn’t lost, but I was waiting for my turn, getting a free service in Canada has its downfalls.

After 40 minutes of talking to her and putting my heart out on the line, she was quick to judge that I was misdiagnosed years ago, and I may be bipolar. She rushed through different dates to come back, what type of things I should expect from the next appointments and briefly touched on medications. I left the office feeling deflated and cried my way to McDonald’s, where I ate my feelings.
After discussing it with my husband and some family, I figured out the reason I was crying was not due to a misdiagnosis but due to her lack of empathy and arrogance over knowing me after 40 minutes. When I talked to my friend (who I know was diagnosed bipolar years ago), she mentioned I should go to CAMH  – Center for Addiction and Mental Health – for a second opinion. After my appointments in November, I will. I don’t agree entirely with her on this quick diagnosis, and if I am genuinely bipolar, I would preferably someone there give it to me straight.

I’ve been festering with this information for a week now, and it made me think of all the times that I went to seek out professional help and how upset I was at not finding the right person for me. It took me over 5 years to find my last therapist!

After talking with some friends and going through my own history, I’ve made a list of reasons why we stopped or changed our therapists/psychiatrists:

  1. They try to push their values onto you or sell things, like herbal remedies.
  2. They get upset when you don’t take their advice as if you’re personally attacking them.
  3. They keep agreeing with every word your saying and not giving you constructive criticism or being objective. Good ones will call you out and hold you accountable for your actions
  4. They call you by the wrong name. (This has happened to me, and I lost all faith in her)
  5. They’re barely attentive and/or keep yawning during your sessions (or even attempt to fall asleep!)
  6. They believe that all of your struggles are due to your sexual orientation
  7. They’re affectionate and want to end sessions with a hug. This is a HUGE red flag. I don’t even shake hands with any practitioners – this is just my general rule and should be there’s too.
  8. They’re too cold/impersonal. A good doctor will provide an empathetic environment
  9. You feel like you’re not progressing. It’s important to establish measurable goals!
  10. They disclose private information to others, including people you know who see the same therapist (IE Family Members or other Doctors)

Even though I’m unsure if she’s the right fit for me, I will still go to those appointments in November. I have no problem revisiting my old trauma and going over my behavioural patterns; I would just rather fully immerse myself in a doctor I know I can see for an extended period. If I am not fully satisfied by the end, I will definitely put in a call to CAMH and get a second opinion.

If you happen to go through any of those issues listed above, I do recommend seeing a new therapist. Just remember, if you do feel stuck in divulging your past or present, changing a doctor will not likely help. Reliving things are uncomfortable and can hurt in many ways, but it’s the only way you can potentially move forward and heal yourself.

This has been one hell of a week for me, and even though I mentioned this would not be a mom-centred blog, I am breaking my rule this one time to go over how my anxiety shaped my experience of labour and bringing home my baby.

On Wednesday early morning (12:40 am to be exact), my water broke. I wasn’t sure at the time and I called my husband from downstairs to make sure that I wasn’t just peeing myself again (oh yes, the lovely late stages of pregnancy were terrific on my bladder) It wasn’t until I moved around slightly that my curious trickle turned into a full-on gush and the panic started to come full force. THIS IS HAPPENING. Immediately I felt my first contraction and went upstairs to lie down to time it out: 1 hour apart, lasting 1 minute. I wasn’t in active labour just yet, but my anxiety was flaring up with the usual physical symptoms: overheating, rapid heartbeat & dizziness. I did not feel safe at home and thought it would be best to go to the hospital. We packed up the car and went straight there, where I was closely monitored before being admitted.

I told my husband to go home and sleep, so one of us could at least be coherent when it came closer to being admitted – he was relieved. I spent the next four hours lying in bed, trying to get some sleep but the contractions were getting debilitating. Trying to walk around to ease the pain and move things along were not an option for me, and I already felt as if I were a failure. I cried in the darkened room, waiting for a nurse to come so I could ask for some pain medication. The O.B. on call came to see me about it and mentioned I could get some morphine, but I had to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart. It was roughly 6 am at this point, and I knew I was getting close to that time frame. I called my husband to let him know I was scared and I needed him, he told me everything would be OK and to try to calm myself down; he would be there as soon as possible. He arrived, and I instantly felt better, I always do. The pain was getting worse, and several hours went by – I was getting impatient. Around 9 am, I was finally admitted to the hospital; however, I was not dilated. Due to specific procedures that I had back in 2008, I was running into complications that would need to be addressed. The plan that we set at 6 am had now changed; however, I was able to receive an epidural early to help ease the pain. After 7 hours of my anxious mind racing through this pain, I welcomed it. I’m happy that my husband was coherent because it knocked me out, and he was able to fill out all the necessary paperwork.

As I crept in and out of sleep, so did my husband. The nurses came in to check on me as often as they could, but our little one was still taking her precious time getting ready to make her grand entrance. My heart was pounding, remembering what doctors told me years previous that if I were to have a child, I might run into issues. The medication that they administered around noon to speed things up was taking its time, and we spent the next 8 hours waiting impatiently. Nurses needed to come in more often to help out; when I was awake, my mind would race with worry over the length of time that it was taking and I was starting to get more nervous and scared as the time approached for me to push out a tiny human. When I was stuck at 8 cm for several hours, I started to cry out of frustration; I just wanted her to be out of me! That’s when one of the nurses suggested I put this peanut looking ball between my legs, which essentially helps dilate you to where you need to be.

When the moment finally arrived at 8:40 pm, my heart sank, I was unsure how I would feel at this moment, and every emotion possible seemed to course through my body. All lights went on, and I noticed I was placed perfectly under a reflection of what was going on. If I kept looking up, I would be able to see it ALL. The nurse started to explain to me how to push, and I immediately thought I would somehow screw this up. I did my first push and couldn’t hold my breath long enough. I started to cry, again, thinking that this would take longer than usual and already felt like a failure. My husband and I already made a plan beforehand to play music during this process, so he put on my favourite album “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. When the music started to play, I got emotional once again thinking to myself – Holy shit I’m about to be a mom. I’ve been preparing myself for this moment for MONTHS, but honestly, nothing can prepare you for that overwhelming sensation.

The song ‘Us & Them’ holds a lot of meaning for both my husband and me.

* It was the song that we listened to on our first visit to B.C., staying up late on our hotel room balcony basking in a moderate snowfall that was gorgeous.

* It was the song that we found an instrumental version of so I could walk down the aisle to marry him.

* It was the song that unintentionally played during our Gender Reveal party when I sliced our cake open sharing that we would be welcoming a girl

so, when it started to loom in the background after 30+ minutes of pushing, I told myself this is going to be the last couple of pushes, she WILL be born to this song. I put so much effort into these pushes that my husband needed to put ice chips on my forehead, which quickly trickled down the side of my face from the immense heat. The nurses cheering me on in the background as the last push brought her out into this world, 42 minutes later. Yes, I saw everything in that reflection. EVERYTHING.

The song ended, and I heard her cry, up to this moment I was so worried that I wouldn’t love her or want to hold her but as soon as I listened to that cry all I wanted to was calm her down. My body rushed with so much love for this little human being that I was overcome with joy and relief. I held her without interaction from anyone else and knew at this moment that I would never want to go through pregnancy again. Her though, she was worth it. We named her Eve Lilly, a name we picked out months prior but wanted to ensure she ‘looked’ like the name.

It wasn’t long before I was wheeled into my semi-private room with her in an adjoining bassinet. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and kept saying, “I made this.” My husband asked if I wanted him to stay the night and even though a part of me did, I said he could go home. I wanted to spend my first moments with Eve together and try to bond over breastfeeding. The nurses tried to help, but it was extremely difficult for both of us, instead of being anxious over this, I told myself that plans never go the way we want them to. I asked the nurses for supplements, and they made me feel incredibly guilty for doing so, I didn’t care. All I did care about was that she was fed and happy.

My anxiety was levelling out, and I just wanted to be home, I was tired, sore and swollen that I couldn’t even put my shoes on! Being pregnant and giving birth has given me a new perspective on what matters and what doesn’t. I made some big decisions during this time, one of them being that I don’t think I can go through this process again for my mental health. After going through months of depression on top of my anxiety was trying. I don’t think that’s selfish of me in the slightest, regardless of what others think. I grew up as an only child and i’m somewhat normal 😉

I want to apologize to my readers for being so distant these last few weeks; I’ve been working tirelessly on getting my first novel out before my daughter makes her grand entrance.

Keeping busy has distracted me from my depression, and I’m thankful for that small amount of effort.

I still anxiously debate if making my story public is the right thing to do, my trauma has and always will make me feel like I’m not worthy of a voice. Luckily, I’ve never been one to go with the flow, and it’s with great pleasure that I can announce that I am now a published author

For those of you who have anxiously waited, you can find my book on Amazon here:

U.S.:
eBook
Paperback

Canada:
eBook
Paperback

 

It’s been hard for me to write this article for the past couple of weeks, for two reasons

  1. I have lost the motivation to do what I generally love, including writing
  2. I’ve been debating whether or not I should share this

The truth is, I’ve been dealing with prenatal depression during my third trimester, and it has not been easy in the slightest. The reason why I’ve decided to share this is because pregnant women don’t divulge what’s truly going on with their mentality during or after their pregnancy – and since I come from a maternal line of different types of depression, I feel there’s a need for me to be open and honest with everyone.

If someone were to ask me right now how I’m feeling, I will generally say “I’m dealing with some depression, but I’m trying to remain positive” instead of the typical “OK” I would typically say during any depressive state. When others ask pregnant women how they are feeling they’re not looking for a paragraph response of ailments, but, I’m hoping that with my concise response that we can change the way society looks at pregnant women instead of thinking we’re all fine and dandy with our belly and glow.

The last trimester of pregnancy is a whirlwind of emotions and a roller coaster of hormones which should be going up and down throughout these last months. However, I still feel as if I’m at the starting point, on the bottom, waiting to feel elated from the adrenaline rush. When I mentioned this to my OB over a month ago, I was given one of those questionnaires that are all too familiar with me. I’ve filled these out numerous times before when I was seeking help through a therapist. When I tallied up my point score at the end of it, I started to shake. I knew that I had been feeling off due to circumstances out of my control, but the answer had been lying in front of me the whole time. I am depressed.

After I got my request to go to a mood clinic, I left the office angry. Why was I angry? Because this whole time during pregnancy, I’ve been anxious about postpartum depression, that I didn’t even think that I could get prenatal depression. I was angry at myself for thinking in the future instead of listening to my present, which, is one of my anxiety symptoms.

I started to look back at my triggers from March onwards: Not only did I go through some stressful life events (losing my Grandmother and the events that followed) but I was also feeling alone in my relationship with my husband. He started on a new production that is being managed a little out of the ordinary, and I’m lucky if I see him once throughout the working week. Add my family history on top of all of this, and you’ve got your recipe for depression.

I was showing the basic signs:

–    Persistent Sadness & withdrawal from others

–    Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

–    Sleeping & crying too much; my exhaustion is pretty extreme at times

–    Loss of interest in the things I usually enjoy

–    Change in eating habits

–    And of course, my lovely sidekick: Anxiety

I have to admit; I was in denial during those moments. Since these symptoms mirror usual pregnancy symptoms, I felt that it was just a bump in the road. What I did realize, after the fact, is that it’s not normal to feel consistently sad/uninterested and I started to feel guilty that I was making my unborn baby feel this way on top of it all. What started to worry me was the fact that I felt as if I couldn’t take care of myself properly, from a lack of motivation to cook and eat. During these moments I turn to my Grandmother’s spirit and think ‘what would she say?’ – the Jewish guilt is still palpable, and even if it was a quick PB&J that I fixed for myself, I knew she would be happy to know that something is better than nothing.

Since I’ve dealt with depression before, I started to do the following to help (aside from Therapy):

  1. Meditation

I remember a time when I meditated every morning, but ever since I got pregnant, it went down to the bottom of my list. I’m trying to put more effort into this, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a week

  1. Going outside

Even though Toronto humidity is killing me most days, I know that being in the sunshine helps me a bunch. I recently bought some frozen fruit bars to enjoy while I sit on my balcony basking in this sweltering heat! Mmm fruit bars.

  1. Napping

Even though I feel unproductive nowadays with my excessive exhaustion, I still manage to try and nap each day to make sure that I’m getting enough rest. My logic is, either my body or baby need it so everything else can be a lower priority

  1. Set up Reminders

I’m terrible at remembering to drink water throughout the day so several years ago I set up reminders in my phone. It’s been an enormous help, and I started to use it again to remind myself to eat throughout the day. Although to be fair, this little Spawn is the best reminder of all since she likes to kick me in the ribs if I don’t eat on time

  1. Spend time with family and/or friends

This one has been hard on me, so I decided my priority is to spend time with my family instead of my friends. I only have enough energy for one visit at a time now, but I make sure that I STICK to it and remind my friends, online, that it’s me and not them. I’m lucky that they understand that.

  1. Hire Help (if you can)

It’s been no secret with my family what I’m going through, I was honest with them from the start about my depression, and I’m glad that I did so. My mother-in-law suggested that we hire a cleaning service for the time being so I don’t have the responsibility or guilt to get EVERYTHING done personally. I’m glad I listened to her – the service is outstanding, and what would typically take me 8 hours to do, they did in under 3. Worth. Every. Penny.

  1. Communicate

There are days that I don’t feel like communicating, and I want to bask in silence on my couch. Then there are others when I need to express what’s going on. Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper routine for when these moods strike me, and they generally coincide with my husband’s schedule – the need to talk to him some nights when he’s working can feel excruciating at times. When I do see him, I try to cut past the moods of silence and force myself to tell him how I’m feeling, even if I can’t make sense of it myself at the time.

Even though I’m still battling this depression, I feel as if I must make this public since most women don’t seek treatment for their prenatal or postpartum depression out of embarrassment, shame or guilt.
To be honest, I feel thoroughly embarrassed that I’m going through this, and the guilt is heavy. But you know what? There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with how I’m feeling or the fact that it even crept up on me silently throughout these last months. I am now more susceptible to postpartum because of this, and the fact that I’m already on the right path of healing and treatment is excellent news for baby and me. Untreated depression can lead to a lot of issues, not only for yourself but for your unborn baby too.

If you think there’s any chance that you’re suffering from this type of depression – ASK FOR HELP. Your baby will need a mother who is healthy, not only in body but also of mind.