A few months ago, I had a panic attack.
I think it followed an argument about planning our future wedding. I wanted to elope, but my fiancé wanted a big party, and the costs seemed insurmountable, and KABOOM!
Shortly afterwards, we found out I was pregnant, and I became convinced that having a child would ruin my life – no more social life, financial instability, sleepless nights, never having an opportunity to travel, never pursuing my dreams of obtaining a Master’s degree, nothing. I was nauseous and exhausted, and we fought constantly. Everyone else was excited, and I hated everything about being pregnant (still not crazy about it, to be honest). I wanted to terminate the pregnancy, and I couldn’t explain my feelings – they made little sense.
After a friend opened up about her own anxiety and depression, I realized that many of the symptoms common to both illnesses were components of my personality. After a bit of online reading, I came across “prenatal depression,” and the intense feelings of sadness, exhaustion, and guilt made a bit more sense.
In hindsight, I think I’ve been battling anxiety for years, but I hail from a family that doesn’t openly discuss mental well-being. Depression is a farce, and why would I be depressed or anxious, right? I have a well-paying job, maintain good health, have a supportive partner, and I live in one of the most incredible countries in the world. I just needed to stop being so negative – here are some inspirational quotes. Don’t forget to smile! Hearing those platitudes from family members, even when expressed without malicious intent, only made me feel like a larger bag of smashed assholes.
Following Transformation Weekend, an event in Banff, Alberta, where there is whole slough of self-reflection, self-love, and planning for the upcoming year, I knew this was something I needed to tackle, because I’m also more likely to experience postpartum depression. Acknowledgement was one of the most difficult steps, because it means swallowing my pride. It means being vulnerable. But, this time, it’s not about me – in five months, I’m going to have a human-shaped raisin, whose existence will depend on me. My mental well-being is critical to the raisin’s development, and I would never forgive myself for simply making a wide berth around the obstacles in our path.
This weekend, I have my first appointment with a registered psychologist. Wish me luck.
This post was inspired by Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, where efforts are made to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, and funds are raised for mental health initiatives throughout Canada. This year, the company raised $6.3 million dollars. Join the conversation. For more information, please visit http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/.