Prepartum depression is real and it's time we talked more about it.
Shay Mitchell is this close to welcoming a beautiful baby girl—but while she's clearly overjoyed to be carrying out a healthy pregnancy shortly after suffering a miscarriage, that doesn't mean every part of her pregnancy has been fun or easy.
The actress (who announced her pregnancy on Instagram in June) recently got really honest about why she waited six months to publicly share her news and how hard it was to keep her pregnancy a secret.
"The first five months of this pregnancy were super isolating, and I went through a severe depression," Shay told maternity brand HATCH during a recent interview. "I previously had a miscarriage and that experience gave me anxiety about sharing the news of this pregnancy with anyone outside of our parents. With the first pregnancy, I was elated and told everyone at eight weeks. However, I wanted to be sure that this second pregnancy would be viable before shouting it from the rooftops, so I hid it for nearly six months and became very anti-social. Usually, I'm incredibly active and outgoing, but instead, I mainly stayed home to avoid stares and questions. I was extremely lonely."
We hear you, Shay. There's no shame at all in miscarrying, and if you want to share your pregnancy before you've entered your second trimester, that's absolutely your choice. But we understand how the memory of a miscarriage can cloud a healthy pregnancy and how isolating and lonely it can feel when you're harboring this huge secret.
On top of that, pregnancy in general can make you feel like you're just not yourself, and that can be difficult to deal with—and something few people discuss.
The Pretty Little Liars star also opened up about how her pregnancy weight gain affected her mental state. "I was gaining weight without having a noticeable bump. I became paranoid that my team was giving me the side-eye (not knowing I was pregnant) and thinking I should hit the gym—which added to my loneliness," Shay told HATCH.
Shay experienced prepartum depression, which is something we don't talk about enough.
"I think it's really interesting that prepartum depression or feelings of isolation in pregnancy are not more vastly discussed," the actress says. "Feeling that I was alone in my depression compounded my state of mind, but have found since sharing the news publicly that many women feel as I did…pregnancy can be a hard time, especially if you're having to hide it. After I came out publicly, I felt an enormous wave of relief and was finally able to start enjoying the pregnancy."
Shay's right: While we're now having frank discussions about postpartum depression, we really aren't talking much about prepartum depression—but it's a very real thing, and it's time we gave this tough issue some attention.
"My PREpartum depression [was the most surprising part of my pregnancy]! As long as I can remember, I've heard about POSTpartum depression," Shay says. "However, to be depressed at the beginning came as a shock. The isolation and anxiety I experienced was crippling.
"I thought I was going out of my mind and questioned why nobody ever talked to me about this phase. I've been fortunate since sharing the news of my pregnancy to have some amazing conversations with other pregnant women and moms and know that all these feelings are 'normal,' so now we just need to normalize them by discussing more openly!"
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