“What am I Going to Do!!!”- Coping with Prenatal Anxiety and Depression

Last year I was joined by several awesome bloggers to talk about maternal mental health together here at HalfKindled.  This year I am passing the torch on to Lydia at Flourish in Hope, today she is hosting a blog hop over at her site.  Be sure to check it out to read her story and others.  

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“Two lines.  There are two lines.  What am I going to do!?!”  And that, unfortunately, was my reaction to learning that I was pregnant with my third child.

In the weeks leading up to that moment, my husband and I both noticed a dramatic increase in my anxiety and depression, but couldn’t determine a cause.  The anxiety had grown so strong that I had developed a muscular “tic.”  Now I knew why: I was pregnant.

Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joyful anticipation but, for those who experience pre-natal depression and anxiety, it can be a time of anguish where the pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on one’s mental state.  Unfortunately, we had discovered during my pregnancy with my daughter that this is what happens to me,

That night in my journal I wrote: “Today I found out I am pregnant.  I see no answers.  I have no hope for any sort of positive resolution for a long time.  I could cope with the exhaustion, nausea, migraines, months of Braxton hicks, restless legs, insomnia and then labor and delivery, but I can’t deal with the thought of the never ending waves of anxiety and depression that are going to beat me against the rocks mercilessly for the next . . . I don’t know when I can expect a reprieve.  Each episode leaves scars on my brain leaving me more susceptible to worse panic attacks.  I see no escape.”

Mostly, I was desperate to escape my constant internal barrage telling me everything I was doing was wrong and what a horrible person I was.  I particularly remember standing over the kitchen sink sobbing as I told myself if I really loved my baby I would give him away since he would be better off without me in his life.  I worried that I would never be able to show him love because of my depression.

So intense were my feelings of failure and of being trapped that I began to fantasize about any option, even bad ones, that could provide escape.

When crossing the street, I would sometimes wish that the breaks on the oncoming car would fail; I would die and it wouldn’t be my fault.  Later on in pregnancy I would fantasize about seriously hemorrhaging in labor, imagining that the baby would be OK, and I would either die or have an emergency hysterectomy and at least be free from childbearing, if not from life.   I was apathetic about whether my life would be saved or lost.  I just wanted a “guilt free” way out.

Then the situation took a turn for the worse.  Instead of just hoping an accident would kill me, it took all my will power to stay between the lines while driving.  Every day I experienced desires to kill myself.

Even though things had reached such a horrible state, I was terrified to go on medicine.  I was so scared of it hurting my baby or causing me to become psychotic.  I knew I couldn’t go on as I was.

My intervention came from my midwife.  When she saw how bad things had become she advised me to see a psychiatrist.  She took the responsibility for making that decision for me so that I wouldn’t be plagued by the guilt and fear of doing something wrong. I am incredibly grateful for that.

The psychiatrist put me on a low dose of Celexa (10mg) to start.  It took all of my strength to put that pill in my mouth.  The first few days were awful as my body acclimated to the medicine, but after a few weeks the symptoms went away.  Gradually, I started to feel better.  I didn’t want to kill myself anymore, I experienced fewer panic attacks.  The depression and anxiety were still there, but it felt like something was helping me hold it in check.  Life was still very difficult, but I no longer wanted to die.

Once my son Alexander was born, the anxiety and depression was GREATLY reduced, even within the first 24 hours.  I was able to feel joy holding my baby and showering him with kisses.  I was able to start laughing and smiling again.  Contrary to my fears, I loved my baby wholeheartedly and was even able to enjoy the postpartum period.

Now when I am having a rough time, he is one of the people who most cheers me up.  His smile is infectious.  As I write this, he is playing with his sister and keeps looking up and flashing me the biggest grin.  He helps to heal me and it is a true joy to be his mother.


Are you or someone you know struggling with prenatal depression and/or anxiety?  Here are some things I have learned the hard way that are a big help:

  1.  Get help.  And then keep getting help.  Too often mothers feel like they should be able to manage on their own and don’t want to burden others by asking for help.  Asking for help is humbling, but it is probably the most important part of managing depression/anxiety.  Get professional help from a counselor and/or psychiatrist, get support from family and friends.  Figure out what it is that you need and then find a way to have that need filled. In my case I went to a counselor, and when counselling wasn’t enough I went to a psychiatrist.  At home my husband helped out a lot, but when things got to be more than I could handle while he was at work, the kids and I went and stayed with my parents for a week.  Do whatever works to get your needs met.
  2.  Don’t isolate yourself.  Nobody wants to have others see them at their worst.  When depression hits, people often keep to themselves, but the isolation usually makes the depression worse.  Instead, try reaching out to close friends more when you are feeling depressed.
  3.  Remind yourself that “this too shall pass.”  What you are going through is hard, give yourself permission to acknowledge the difficulty of your situation, but recognize that it won’t be like this forever.

Take each day a moment at a time, and remember that someday you will look back and be so grateful that you didn’t give up.

Linking up with Flourish in Hope, Lydia has so many great resources for those suffering with PPD, be sure to check it out!

 

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Capsuled Style Series: Shopping Day!

 

Sorry about the delay.  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  I was laid low by a bug, but am back now to continue the hunt for the perfect capsule wardrobe with you!  Here is Stephanie to tell us what comes next: 

Now that you have your LOVES all picked out and a list and budget, you get to do some SHOPPING! Depending on how many items you need and the type, this might take you several days of hunting. But don’t get disheartened! If you need help finding a particular item, post in the facebook group and I am sure me or some of the ladies here can point you in the right direction.

Ideally I would make a drive over to the mall to do my shopping, but with two kids in tow, that just doesn’t happen.  I save time and sanity by just doing all my shopping online. But that’s just what works for me! Do what works best for your life.  So what I have done is I found the three stores that fit my style and my budget, and every season I buy a bunch of items online to fill the gaps in my capsule (usually just enough to get free shipping) and then return what I don’t need.  Usually between these three stores I am able to get everything I need for the season. If you want to save a lot money, I recommend buying fall stuff NOW and fill in the rest of your winter capsule in March.

Here are the stores I shop at.

Nordstrom for shoes, loungewear, and underthings  😉 (they also have free shipping and returns)

GAP for basics like tanks, tees, leggings, jeans and belts

LOFT for dresses, sweaters, scarves, and statement necklaces

I recommend you do some research to find some stores that fit YOUR style and budget before you spend hours shopping online. If you thrive on thrift stores, I commend you for your skills and bravery and would love it if you shared some advice on how you go about finding items. 😊

This is a FANTASTIC list of stores with reviews and comments to help you get an idea of where to start. I found it SUPER helpful in narrowing the field. (Also, this subreddit has great tips, ideas, advice, etc for those of you who really want to get into capsule and like the minimalist style).

https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/2ur35d/updated_guide_to_brands_stores/

Once you have a few stores to order from or go to, then plan a day to go SHOPPING! My number ONE tip with shopping is this BE PICKY AND BE OKAY WITH COMING HOME EMPTY HANDED. Remember, your closet is a very special place for JUST the items you LOVE. Not just anything deserves a spot there.

Here are some tips for deciding whether or not to purchase an item. These tips are from this website, which is also really fantastic, and I’ve copied and pasted the tips for you below.

1. does it fit my style concept?

The overall look of an item is what will draw you to it initially when you see it on the rack or online and can definitely be used as a first filter to make sure the item is in line with the look you are going for. Inspect each piece carefully and compare its shape, colour, pattern, texture and details to your style concept for the current season. If you are aiming for a classic French-chic wardrobe for example, consider whether the item would support this look or distract from it. Think of your style concept like a painting – each item in your wardrobe should contain elements that match the concept but at the same time should not contain any that clash and would taint the overall look. Be as specific or general as you like – look for a theme or certain colours, patterns and details.

2. do i like the fit and fabric?

Fit and fabric are the two big non-negotiables. An item that is an inch outside of your style concept is something you can work with, but if its fit does not suit your body or its fabric feels horrible on your skin, you will eventually just stop wearing it. To save you time in the future, it is a good idea to write yourself a little fit/fabric guide on which cuts and fabrics you love/hate, so you can focus your search on a smaller range of items from the start. Garments can often look very different on the rack than on the body, and it can also sometimes be difficult to judge whether you would be comfortable wearing a fabric just by touching it with your hands, so unless you have bought the same item before, you should always try on possible keepers, either at the store or at home (keep receipts!). While trying on items, make sure you move around in them, sit down, etc. As a last step, check the laundry requirements of each piece and, if it’s relatively high-maintenance, decide whether you would be able to commit to wash items by hand or take them to the dry cleaner regularly.

3. what place/function will it have in my wardrobe?

Before you buy an item you should at least have a vague idea of the role you want it to play in your wardrobe. Do you want it to be a part of your capsule wardrobe for the current season or even a part of your uniform? Will it be one of your key pieces or could it make a good basic to pair with bolder statement items? Do you plan on wearing it regularly for work or everyday stuff, or would you reserve it for special occasions? Every new addition should at least harmonise with your wardrobe’s internal structure and your preferred outfit building methods. Even if an item fits your style concept perfectly, if you can’t assign it a function from the top of your head, chances are it would not work with the flow of your wardrobe and you would have to ‘work around’ it more than anything.

4.will it fill a gap in my wardrobe or add to an already overrepresented area?

For this question you need to put your sensible hat on and consider whether you actually need this item and whether it would help you build a wardrobe that matches your lifestyle. Besides expressing your visual ideals, your wardrobe should also represent all of your activities, ideally in proportional frequencies. For example, if you spend most of your time wearing casual daytime clothes and only a few nights per month at venues that require evening wear, your daytime wardrobe section should be considerably larger than your stock of evening wear. Try to keep track of over- and underrepresented areas in your wardrobe just so you can make a more informed purchase decision should you suddenly find an amazing item. If it would add to an already jam-packed section of your wardrobe, you might want to reconsider whether you could not make better use of the money and closet space to stock an underrepresented area (and thereby make a greater marginal difference to the functionality of your wardrobe).

5. can i think of at least 3 outfits to wear it with?

If your item made it through all of the above four questions, you might well have discovered a valuable addition to your wardrobe, congratulations :) But before you make a final decision, quickly double-check the versatility of your item by brainstorming a few possible outfits. A strong style concept and a coherent wardrobe structure should already do most of the work for you, but just to be sure, try to come up with three outfits using the potential new item and the rest of your wardrobe. If you can easily think of three or more outfits that you would happily wear, I’d say your item is a keeper!

Remember that it can take a lot longer to shop since you are being much more particular and purposeful about your purchases. Don’t feel like you have to complete your capsule in a week especially if you are new to them. Take the time to find that STELLAR piece, and feel free to use the next few days to post in this group for feedback and successes/failures in your shopping! 😄💕

Today share what places you love to shop and share a recent purchase if you have already started shopping! 😊😊😊

 

Thanks Stephanie!  I plan on doing some in store shopping with my sister later this month.  I do dearly love shopping online though, and thought I would share a trick for saving money online:

One of the first places I go to is Thredup.com (heads up if you sign up through that link you get $10 off!)* Think of it as an online consignment store for name brand items.  It works especially well it you have identified brands you love as Stephanie suggested, since you can filter your search by brand. price range, etc.  I usually save around 70% retail. 

I can’t wait to hear about your awesome capsules soon!  See you here again tomorrow for the last part of the series!

 

 

This is a referral link so know that if you do end up getting something fabulous with your credit, I also get a $10 credit.

 

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Capsuled Style: Day 5 Look at Your Loves

And we are back for day five!  Great job we are in the home stretch now!

Give yourself a GINORMOUS pat on the back. You have done the most time-consuming part of creating your perfect capsule! Take a step back and be proud of yourself, because I KNOW you trashed/donated a bunch of things you have been holding onto for ages. It’s hard at first, but I know in a few days you will feel liberated if you don’t already. And slowly your own unique and personal style will start to come through. Treat your new closet as something almost sacred. Don’t let just anything take up space in there. Be sure it is something that gives you a spark of joy!

So now that you have cut your wardrobe down to your LOVES you might be thinking you need some things to really create a well-rounded capsule. Sometimes adding a simple item like a slim black belt or a colorful scarf can really complete your capsule. Maybe you got rid of almost all your stuff and need to do some serious shopping. That’s fine too!

Here are the next TWO steps to putting the finishing touches on your wardrobe.

  1. Step back and looks at your LOVE pile with fresh eyes. Do you see a common thing among your loves? Style, color, etc? Play a bit with your pieces. Think of the 2-3 “uniforms” that you tend to enjoy wearing. Is your wardrobe missing any pieces that would fill in the gaps in your wardrobe? (It is VERY common to have big holes in your wardrobe because if you buy clothes mindlessly then you often will overbuy in one particular area; that was the case with me and my 15 cardigans! YIKES!)
  2. Make a budget. How much can you afford to spend to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe? Consider selling some of your nicer items you are giving away so that you can buy a few new pieces. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to build a well-functioning capsule. However, you might find you can afford some slightly nicer pieces since you are buying fewer things. 😉

I will post in the comments some uniform ideas, some color palettes, and some wardrobe basics to help you guys get some vision for where to go next with your capsule.

Today share one of your FAVORITE pieces from your new capsule!!!unnamed (1)

Thanks Stephanie!  Can’t wait to see your favorite pieces!