Antenatal depression - Theresa's story

I’ve never had depression before so it was a shock

I never thought antenatal depression would happen to me – because I’m generally quite a happy person and I’ve never suffered from any kind of depression in the past so it was a shock to deal with.

When Tom and I decided to go for the child, we didn’t expect it to happen for a long time but it did. We fell pregnant straight away. 

I was initially completely shocked and ecstatic. I remember telling Tom and he just stayed in the same position, he couldn’t move, he was that shocked.

It was brilliant, but then we started worrying about money and the house, coz we were looking for a house. The pressure piled on and I started to get more and more upset about everything. I was getting very stressed out about everything. Things I’ve never really been bothered about, like moving my stuff when we moved house, were all of a sudden bothering me.

Tom broke one of the cabinets by mistake and I just cried my eyes out. I couldn’t get over it, I was in absolute hysterics.

Literally everything brought me down. We would fight with each other all the time.  We would fight about money and what was going to happen in the future.

I would snap at everybody, including my mum, bless her. I started to think, ‘This isn’t right. I’m really angry, I’m really upset and I can’t cheer up and get over things’.  Normally I get over things easily but I wasn’t able to any more. The things I was thinking were more and more negative, ‘I’ve got a mortgage and a baby and I don’t like him, I hate him. I hate me. Why have I done this.’

I had everything I wanted. I wanted a baby, I wanted it with Tom, I wanted a house, I was getting all of these things and yet I was upset and angry about it.

I should have been the happiest person in the world to get everything I wanted but instead I was feeling so sad.  

To start with it felt to me like it could be hormones that were making me feel the way I did because everybody tells you that pregnancy makes you go a bit crazy.  But then one day I was fighting with Tom and I was sitting on the stairs. I just cried and  I cried and I thought, ‘This isn’t just hormones’. Something wasn’t right.

I went to a routine appointment and my midwife asked how I was feeling. I hadn’t, planned to say anything but I just broke down and burst into tears. I said, ‘I’m not happy, I’m never happy’. She referred me to see my GP.

I went to see my GP and they offered me antidepressants or counseling. I didn’t want antidepressants – though if they were recommended, I would have taken them. I thought counselling would be better, but then I went on a waiting list and never heard anything back from the NHS. 

I spoke to my manager at work and he said that our company offered an employee assistance programme. One of the things they offered was counseling.  

So I signed up. I had face to face counselling, it was six sessions but I only needed five in the end. For me it was such a relief to have someone to talk to, someone who wasn’t going to judge me, someone who didn’t have any information about what I was like before I was pregnant or what was going on in my life. She was able to go right back from the beginning. The first day I saw her I just cried from the beginning.

She was able to say, ‘It’s ok to feel that way’. One of the best things she taught me was to say no to people. She made me be able to step back and think about things and not judge myself.

The counseling made a huge difference to me and how I felt.

I felt a lot less angry.  I wasn’t getting so quick to fly off the rails at things. And if someone did make me angry, I was able to take a step back and go ok ‘why I am I angry?’ and think about it a bit more.

Tom was very supportive once he knew there was something different about me.  He listened to the doctor. We discussed what my problems might be and what I needed from him, which was just not to assume that I’m angry at him, that mentally I just need a cuddle.  And he did that. He listened and when he used to think, ‘What’s your problem?’ he’d think, ‘Actually she has got a problem and I need to support her’. 

For the rest of my pregnancy in general I felt brilliant. I wasn’t in a lost despair.

I never thought it would happen to me – because I’m generally quite a happy person and I’ve never suffered from any kind of depression in the past so it was a shock to deal with. For other people I would just say, you need to know the difference of how you’re feeling. It is normal to get upset over the craziest of things, but if you find you are feeling upset more than you are happy, don’t ignore those feelings.