Laura is one of the most sincere and honest people I know. I really love how she writes her story and her emphasis on self-compassion is a valuable lesson. (The illustration is done by my niece, Adrian Krause).
When I was pregnant with my second child, I developed depression and anxiety. I’d struggled with these things before becoming pregnant, but during pregnancy I had to come off of my medication and so the struggles came back. I’d heard a lot about postpartum depression, and I’d logically known that depression during pregnancy was a possibility, but somehow I just hadn’t thought it would happen.
I knew something was wrong when I started crying all the time. I’m talking full-on sobbing, multiple days a week. Pregnancy is an emotional thing—hormones are taking over, yes, but it can also just be overwhelming, growing a human. And my life was overwhelming at the time; I was taking tough classes, I was serving in a demanding position of leadership at church, and I was taking care of my 18-month-old daughter, who needed to be watched constantly, lest she somehow get into the kind of trouble that only a toddler can manage.
I remember being outside with my husband and my daughter, watching them play in the leaves as I sat on the bench nearby, because I was well into the waddle-because-everything-hurts stage. As I watched my little girl shrieking with laughter as my husband showered her in leaves, tears filled my eyes. I had to fight back the inexplicable misery I felt. Something that should have made me laugh was instead making me cry.
The anxiety was bad, too. I’d struggled with anxiety while pregnant with my first, so I was more prepared when it hit, but it was still rough. I worried about my husband and daughter dying. Every time my husband left the house, I worried obsessively about him getting hurt. I also had this anxiety about gaining weight. Logically I knew it was good that I was gaining weight; it would have been unhealthy not to. I was pregnant. I was sustaining myself and my unborn child. But I couldn’t help my emotions, no matter what my mind was telling me. Every time I stepped on a scale at my doctor’s appointments, I would have to hold back tears.
I remember eating a donut one day, and then halfway through, feeling this overwhelming sense of disgust with myself. I threw the rest of the donut away (it was chocolate coated and it was so good) and then I began sobbing. I felt so guilty for eating it. I called my mom, and like the wonderful mother she is, she gently told me that it was okay to eat donuts, that I was perfectly healthy, that gaining weight was okay, and that she loved me.
These things were hard to deal with. It was really, really, REALLY hard. No one likes crying. No one likes not eating donuts. Donuts are amazing. But I did it. I was blessed to be pregnant, and I was glad I was able to recognize that my feelings were being caused by depression and by anxiety. I knew I wasn’t going crazy, although sometimes it definitely felt like it (I threw away a DONUT. A DONUT).
I made it, because I am strong. And to anyone suffering from these things—you’re strong, too.