Perinatal Anxiety and Depression
In My Bipolar Series, I am writing several posts about my personal experience with Bipolar disorder. When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I was so excited. I had gone back to college and met my husband.
Within a few months, I was falling into a depression. I was taking Sertraline but I was still getting depressed. It was so hard to decide to take the medication because it might have affected my child. My nurse midwife and I decided that it would be worse if I couldn’t take care of myself because then my child would be at greater risk. Also, sertraline was considered relatively safe in pregnancy at the time.
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Depression and Anxiety In Pregnancy
As my depression got worse, I found it more difficult to go to class. When I was seven months, I was starting nursing school. After starting classes, it didn’t sound like they would be able to accommodate my pregnancy so I dropped out. My son was due in the middle of the semester.
I had a great deal of anxiety as a first-time mother. I studied childbirth to ease my fears for months and months. I also studied raising children to ease my fear of failing my child. Still, nothing prepared me for being a mother.
Flipped Into Hypomania
During pregnancy, my mood flipped into hypomania the month he was due. Suddenly, I had all the energy in the world, I prepared the house for my child. I got a job as motor route delivery driver which I did even on the day my son was born. So my boss was confused when I didn’t show up the next day. I didn’t tell him I was pregnant.
I’m sure he just thought I was fat. I was afraid he wouldn’t hire me if he knew I was pregnant. I ended up confessing that I had just given birth. I started working again the next day.
Postpartum Anxiety and Depression
After I gave birth, I was a mess of anxiety and sliding into depression. My husband was afraid to leave me with our son and took time off work to be with us. Even though I was quickly becoming depressed, we were making the deliveries on the motor route as a family. This job was now the only job supporting our little family.
We ended up moving far from my family and living with his mother. I was not receiving any mental health care. I was completely off medications and I fought through depression and anxiety for a couple of years.
Just narrowly escaping divorce, we moved and I went back to nursing school. My mood was hypomanic again. Uprooting our family every 2-3 years became the norm.
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