Growing up, I had never heard of perinatal depression. When I became a parent, even though it was expected for me to be elated and excited for the new bundle of joy coming into my life, I instead found myself feeling very overwhelmed by my new responsibility. My days felt like an emotional rollercoaster ride that was void of any positive feelings.
The physical symptoms were easier to recognize: fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite and irritability to name just a few. This alone was excruciatingly exhausting and it soon became clear that the extreme emotions and frequent panic attacks were signs of depression, likely caused by a combination of becoming a first time parent and the major hormonal change that occurred with pregnancy.
Thankfully, by speaking with friends and family members who had been in similar situations before, as well as getting access to professional mental health support when needed, I eventually returned to feeling more normal. What really helped me more than anything was building an awareness around my mental health issues so that I could be proactive about addressing them head on before things spiraled out of control again.
Having gone through this experience myself has made me appreciate recognizing signs of mental illness early on in order to get the right help whenever it is required. Don’t be afraid if you feel like yourself slipping into depression; speak openly about your feelings and get necessary support right away.