Perinatal depression is a major depressive disorder that happens during pregnancy. Not after pregnancy when the baby is born, not postpartum depression. Perinatal depression—also called prenatal depression—happens during pregnancy; during what’s supposed to be “the happiest time in a woman’s life”.
I have perinatal depression. It’s bad. It’s so bad that—when I get pregnant—my first symptom is intrusive suicidal thoughts.
This sucks BIG time and it is made worse by the fact that I always wanted to be a mother. From my earliest elementary days, my answer to the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up was absolute: a mom and a writer.
Right now, I am unexpectedly pregnant with our second child and I am falling into the darkness fast. We found out I was pregnant at about three weeks along because a voice whispered in my head: “You should kill yourself”.
That day, I had walked to the mailbox and opened it and didn’t take out the mail. I stood there. I looked at it. Then, I closed it and walked away. I usually like getting the mail. I look forward to it. It brings me joy. But that day, I couldn’t muster the energy to take the mail out of the box. I felt nothing about it. This was odd. I called my partner. I was trying to talk to him about the darkness when the intrusive thought came in: “Just kill yourself.”
In that moment, a few things clicked in place. I went home and took a pregnancy test. It was very light, but positive. Two days later, I took another. It was light again, but positive. The next day, I had my blood drawn at the doctor. Positive. hCG 132. 48 hours later, I had another blood draw. Positive hCG 280.
I hope to make this a series so I can tell my story for other mothers or mothers-to-be with perinatal depression. I want it to get talked about more. I know it would’ve helped me the first few times around. But, disclaimer, I do have perinatal depression and today was hard. I hope I’ll have the energy to say more.