WHAT IS PRD?
PRD stands for Pregnancy Related Depression. You will see many different terms for this condition - Postnatal depression, Postpartum depression, Perinatal depression, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression.....and so on! Most of the difference in these terms relates to whether the depression is experienced before or after the birth (peri- or post-), and the preference of the person talking (natal or partum).
It's all the same thing - depression and anxiety related to pregnancy, hence my use of the term PRD!
PRD is not the Baby Blues. Often women can experience low mood in the days after the birth, but this only lasts a few days and is due to the changes in her hormones now pregnancy is over.
PRD is not a few difficult days when Bub won't sleep due to teething, or the weather is too hot and everyone is cranky. PRD is not being sad that you can't fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes 2 weeks after birth.
According to Beyond Blue, "Depression affects up to 1 in 10 women while they are pregnant and almost 1 in 7 women during the first year after the birth. Anxiety is likely to be at least as common" https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/research-projects/statistics-and-references
So, don't think you're alone. There's lots of us treading this path.
How does PRD manifest itself?
Support organisations such as Beyond Blue and Panda have great lists of the symptoms of pregancy related depression. There are links to these groups on the RESOURCES page. For now, I'm just going to share how it affected me.
PRD is all-pervasive - it affects every part of your life. I feel I was lucky because it didn't impact my bonding with my child, but I know that for many women it does. It seems like the only thing that wasn't affected was the bond I had with both my children and my ability to look after them (although maybe I would've done a better job without depression to deal with)!
The thing I hated most about that time was the nasty monster that lived inside me. When my stress levels rose too high, it would come out, hissing and spitting, causing tears and angst for us all. If I was quick enough to register its arrival, I would remove myself from wherever the kids were and lock myself away to howl and cry. Sometimes its effects would be felt for a while and I would have to do much to make up for its impact.
Every day was painful. From the moment I would wake up and realise the darkness was still inside, to the minute I would fall asleep - Pain.
The pain of listening to the negative thought-bashing I gave myself constantly, the heartache of trying to smile and be playful with my children when I just wanted to howl, the terror of feeling so alone but not wanting people to be around, the confusion of not being able to work out how to make a meal when the fridge and cupboards are full, the exhaustion of putting on 'my happy face' for everyone because I thought everyone would judge me, and the revulsion I felt at all the images in the media of 'Yummy Mummies' who were doing it so much better than I.
Depression is a dark companion that undermines who you are. It is the Dark Night of the Soul. It feels endless, overwhelming and frightening.
But, it does end. The sun will still be there tomorrow even if hidden behind clouds. Depression builds your soul's stamina. Afterwards, you get the chance to rebuild yourself. Depression teaches you to Be Here Now - and that is a gift.