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Liz on hiding her prenatal depression and anxiety from friends

pregnant woman hiding depression

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

Even though my daughter is already six, and postpartum life has been for the most part, wonderful, I want women to know how I suffered.

Many people look at this picture of a me at nine months pregnant and see nothing unusual or alarming.

If you look at me, I look happy, excited to meet the baby growing inside of me, ready to take on motherhood. But what you don’t see is that secretly (from mainly friends) I was suffering.

Many people had no idea that I had to quit my job because my prenatal depression and anxiety took over my life and I truly could not function.

Many people didn’t know that there were days where I would lay in bed all day until my husband got home from work. I didn’t watch TV, I didn’t read, I didn’t sleep. I just lay there staring out the window thinking of how badly I wished I hadn’t gotten myself into this situation.

I couldn’t eat, so I had to supplement with Ensure protein shakes. I couldn’t sleep, so I would lay in my dark room every night listening to my husband sleep soundly and my brain would be racing.

I canceled more plans than I would like to even admit.

I faked it when people would excitedly talk about my baby.

I could barely make it to my own baby shower.

I couldn’t even pick out a name for my daughter who I desperately wanted for years.

And, the biggest secret of all. I started antidepressants and Xanax when I was 20 weeks pregnant. And I thought I was poisoning my baby.

A lot of women I know have amazing, blissful, perfect pregnancies and then when the baby is born, the switch turns and they start suffering.

Not for me. I hated every second of pregnancy with every fiber of my being. I hated the thought of becoming a mother and losing my past life. I didn’t want this baby to be born.

But, that switch. It went off the second I saw her emerge from my belly. I felt love. I felt happiness, I felt joy.

That little baby, six years ago, gave me exactly what I didn’t think I needed or wanted.

I didn’t understand. How the hell did I have a horrible, stressful, scary, suffering pregnancy but my baby made it all right?

I was convinced I’d have postpartum depression. 100% convinced. There was NO way I would enjoy this baby.

But miraculously, I didn’t. Something happened on the day she was born. I wish I could explain it, but my life changed for the better in every way possible.

If I had the support I needed during pregnancy and didn’t feel deep shame and disgust, then I wonder if I would’ve been able to actually enjoy it.

People talk about postpartum depression more than prenatal depression. PPD is no joke. But I want to bring awareness to anxiety and depression DURING pregnancy. Because so many women suffer in silence way before the baby is even born.

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