A while back a reader emailed me to tell me how much the HIM & HER podcast episode with Dr. Alyssa Berlin helped her with her pregnancy anxiety & depression. Her name was Maja & she went on to tell me that she was having such a hard time finding helpful resources for people feeling like her.
Sure, if you dig deep you can find some books, articles, blogs on postpartum depression ( but like, still not enough though, in my opinion ) but there’s nothing out there for women experiencing anxiety, depression, sadness, nervousness & mood swings DURING pregnancy.
Maja said that she is so passionate about this & would love to write a blog post for The Skinny Confidential to raise awareness & hopefully help someone out there who might be feeling this same way. Obviously I was all about it.
How To Deal With Depression & Anxiety During Pregnancy
In this post Maja shares her pregnancy journey which, as she says, was not easy. The ups & downs of pregnancy – from the highs of the positive test, to the lows of mourning your ‘old life’ – can throw us all for a loop. Even if you’re happy you’re pregnant there are still a ton of feelings you can’t always control. Hormones play a huge part of it- I know it all too well.
Anyway, in this post you’ll read all about Maja’s experience with anxiety & depression in pregnancy & the things that are helping her.
With that, let’s welcome The Skinny Confidential community member Maja Marikken to the blog.
Hi there all TSC readers!! My name is Maja Marikken & I’m from Norway, pregnant with my first little baby.
I’m so happy to be writing a guest post for this community. I’ve been reading Lauryn’s blog for about 10 years, I think! I love her way of looking at things, & not fearing being honest & controversial. When I saw that she was doing a podcast on her postpartum depression I was super excited. Exited being the wrong word – I felt really relieved. I felt like now, finally, someone is coming to help me.
Someone I trust & someone that won’t just say that being pregnant is sooo cozy. Although Lauryn talked mostly about her postpartum depression & had a good time being pregnant, her guest on the podcast spoke about pregnancy depression as well. & hormones. ALL THE FUCKING hormones. No one ever told me that your hormones go crazy during pregnancy.
I literally thought that you got pregnant, cried from happiness, felt super cute in floral dresses & a glowing complexion, & then you popped out the baby. Naive? YES.
Let me tell you how it really is ( for some people it might be that easy peasy, but it wasn’t for me ).
My BF & I got engaged on Christmas eve in Miami. Life complete. Literally everything I’ve ever dreamed of. And the ring, oh boy did he do good. It was just perfect. I thought I couldn’t be happier.
Wedding set for 2022 ( thank God for that now – Corona ) & in the meantime we wanted to try for a baby. Perfect I thought, I don’t want to be breastfeeding during my wedding, & the baby will be old enough for a sitter on MY, oh sorry OUR SPECIAL DAY.
I went one month just tracking my ovulation the old fashion way, counted to around 12-14 days after the first day of my last period. I started taking pregnancy tests like four days before my period & really thought I was pregnant. And I cried a little when the familiar cramps & bloating came, finished off by a little blood on my toilet paper one morning.
We started to try for a baby a bit harder & bought an ovulation test. Turns out my ovulation was on day 8, not 12. ( This means something to everyone who has tried to get pregnant. )
Then BAM, I was pregnant.
Took 10080 pregnancy tests & there was no doubt. I got pregnant on our first “real” try. How could it happen so fast?
We were ecstatic. My boyfriend kissed me, & I could tell he was very happy. I was too.
For about 24 hours. Then my hormones kicked in. It started with us going to a dinner with friends where I happily drank my nonalcoholic ginger beer. Until it was time to leave. My BF then had the audacity to want to go meet up with a couple of his friends.
Walking home alone, it hit me – we were no longer a winning team when it came to parties & going to the pub. And it freaked me the hell out. When he got home about an hour later, I was freaking out. But I didn’t say anything. In the following days & weeks I felt more & more astray from my old self.
Everything I loved to do, I couldn’t.
Like working out how I used too- I used to run a mile, now walking up a steep hill had me out of breath. Going to the pub like I used too, parties on the weekend like I used to. Getting all glammed up for fun stuff on the weekends is something I really enjoy & that we did ( a bit too ) often.
We are both super social & love doing stuff all weekend. On the weekdays we chill at home every night with a good movie or a tv show. But when the clock turns 5 on Friday, we are ready to be SOCIAL.
So, this part off my life ended in a blink of an eye & I just wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared for the changes & I sure as hell wasn’t prepared for my mood swings.
I should have been though since I’m super hormonal already once a month. Even one of my girlfriends said to me that she expected me to be hormonal when pregnant. But it just went out the other ear. If you can be the opposite of prepared, that was me. I’m thinking that it might have been a tactic my body came up with to make sure I ended up pregnant, because I’m not sure I would have done it lightly if I had known how hard it would be.
My dear boyfriend tried as best he could.
He told me that this was normal, that this was what he expected & that I didn’t have to worry because he loved me every bit as much as before & that he wasn’t going anywhere. But, like a girlfriend of mine said – he didn’t really have a choice now, did he? That was how my brain was working at that point. He would say or do something nice, & I would tear it apart in my head. I felt like I was never going to be secure or happy again. And that feeling devastated me.
I felt like I was losing my self ( or my mind ). I could cry for hours for no reason. This usually happened at night & scared the hell out of me, because morning came & I would be normal again. Or at least more normal. Then I had to deal with the fact that I acted like a crazy person the night before & get really sad about that too. Vicious circle I can tell you.
At this point I could tell that my partner’s patience was running a bit thin. Understandably enough. It must be so hard comforting someone who is crying her eyes out for no reason. But he did his best & I’m forever grateful for that. He could have said ENOUGH. But I think that would have just made me cry even more, so he was smart not to.
For me, it was hard to understand why all off this was happening.
This was something we wanted & that really connected us as a family. But at a time where I felt like I should feel the most secure, I really felt so fragile & that our relationship was falling apart because of me. Yet I could do nothing to change it.
It literally felt like I had a bad case of PMS for about 5 months. Like, can you imagine?? This said, I had nice days as well. It wasn’t all bad. The ultrasounds made me really happy, & I often felt grateful for this new family member.
But truth be told, & looking at this time in retrospect, it had been a challenging few months. My happiness felt like it came in small pieces at a time. And those moments were so incredible fragile.
I remember one day I was on the phone with my mom, & I just said to her: “You will have to watch me really closely when the baby comes to see if I get postpartum depression.” I even wanted to give her a signed agreement that she could commit me to a mental facility.
She just laughed & reassured me that she would look very closely after me, & that I didn’t have to worry. My boyfriend said the same thing, & so did my close girlfriends.
That helped so much. The feeling of relief came over me when I put this task of looking after me in my mom & my partner’s hands. My anxiety around that specific subject was gone.
I did figure out that a lot of my crying spells stemmed from being so fucking anxious.
So scared for the future. I was scared that I would never be happy again, scared that my boyfriend & I wouldn’t be able to do fun things together anymore. Scared that my best life was behind me. Because I knew my old life, knew how much I appreciate it, but I don’t know this baby that is coming in just a few months. So for me, my old life still wins over the baby. But I’ve realized that will change after we meet him.
I also read in several places that pregnancy is a time where old childhood memories & things happening in your childhood would resurface. I have a very unproblematic childhood, so for me it was memories from my younger adulthood that came to mind. A lot of my anxiety is fear of being abandoned & fear that my partner will cheat. Those are things that have happened to me in every relationship I’ve had before this & is naturally my biggest fear. These are the thoughts that have been tormenting me & really got my anxiety out of control.
I could write a whole other blog post on the subject, but what has helped me is a saying I read somewhere:
Jealousy & uncertainty is really just making up stuff & scenarios about your partner in your head & believing it.
I would tell my friends & people getting pregnant that it is normal to relive & overthink things that have been really difficult in your past, whether it’s in your childhood or as an adult. It’s normal & I think it’s because getting pregnant & starting a family is such a life altering experience that you rethink EVERYTHING.
Here are things that helped me change my mindset:
( Although I still have a bit to go & my anxiety has just started to calm down, so I won’t pretend like I have all the answers. ) I have:
♡ Talked to my mom, my fiancé & a few of my very close friends about the subject.
I’ve talked until I didn’t have anything more to say.
♡ I started taking both iron ( helps with fatigue ) & evening primrose oil capsules that supposedly helps with the hormones.
( Will keep using them after the pregnancy as well, for my PMS. )
♡ Taking advantage of the healthcare benefits that Norway offers.
I had a really good talk with my midwife, who told me that EVERY SINGLE MOM / PREGNANT WOMAN she met was feeling anxious, scared or sad. For whatever reason.
♡ Talking to people who actually tell it how it is.
One of the things that has been super hard for me is talking to friends or family members who “didn’t even feel pregnant” & just can’t relate.
♡ Crying when I felt like crying
♡ Reading ( the few ) articles I found online.
I mostly found information on pp depression. Not so much about depression during pregnancy. That’s the main reason I felt like I had to write this.
♡ Listening to The Skinny Confidential HIM & HER podcast with Dr. Alyssa Berlin was a real eye opener for me.
One of the things that was super hard for me in the beginning was the feeling that I was alone a feeling like this. She also highlighted that we produce so many extra hormones & that it’s normal to feel however you are feeling.
♡ When life feels overwhelming & I feel like starting a fight with my fiancé, it’s better to just snuggle up on his chest & have him cuddle me until I fall asleep.
Nighttime is the worst time for picking a fight.
After having this experience with being pregnant, I’ve become really passionate about spreading this information to make it easier for all other women out there. Hopefully this will help someone who feels a bit lost, just like I did & still do.
If you have any questions or thoughts you want to share, just email me an firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for reading.
Love, Maja Marikken
It’s so important to talk about the realities of pregnancy AND being postpartum. We need to open up the conversation & talk about what it’s really like for a lot of women.
Be sure to follow Maja on Instagram @majamarikken to keep following her journey.
+ listen to the podcast episode on all things hormones.
++ the pregnancy craving everyone should try.