by Catherine M
My journey with Perinatal Mental Health includes a pre-existing mental health condition diagnosed in childhood (OCD) that had been managed for decades before I got pregnant. I wasn’t educated on how pregnancy and postpartum could affect my experience of OCD. Nor was I educated to know that in becoming a parent I would experience increasing and challenging sensory overstimulation. It would leave me feeling like my skin was aching daily, and my ears would ring and throb to the point of making sleep difficult. With my first pregnancy and birth, I was fortunate at the time to live in Toronto and receive care after my first was born. When I gave birth to my second in Waterloo Region, I realized how few supports were available once outside an urban community.
I once made a list of all the people I thought could raise my first child for me, because the weight of the responsibility sent me spiraling into a cyclone of intrusive thoughts, every hour of every day. I was certain I had made a horrible mistake and that I wasn’t supposed to be raising him. Instead of sleeping, I listed all the people that I could ask to take him for me. And that if I was lucky, it would be someone in my family so I would still get to be a part of his life, see him grow up. I was heartbroken and lost, more than I had ever been in my life or in my experience of my disorder up until then.
I still struggle. I will always struggle. I know this. That doesn’t mean I’m a mess every day, but some days I definitely can be. I have never loved anything more in my life than my children. And though that is a gift I get to live every day, it can also turn to fear and terror very quickly.
I am a white, female passing, womyn who lives within a circle of privilege – including a strong community and support system around me. Imagine those who aren’t the same position.