To My Unborn Baby, From a Single Mom With Mental Illness
Dear baby to be,
My beautiful baby to be… I am going to be your mom, and I am different from a lot of moms around because I live with mental illness: depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That means my brain gets sick sometimes and I feel really worried, sad, or scared. So, I may cry a lot. I may feel shaky and nervous. My mind may go back to a time when I got hurt badly.
I am telling you this because I want you to know your mom will sometimes feel this way due to her brain, but never because of anything you did. Some people who live with these things decide not to be parents; some people feel that those who live with mental illness shouldn’t have children at all, and some people do. It took a lot of thought for me to decide to have you, and although it is scary at times I never regret that decision.
After I decided to have you, my (former) psychiatrist took me off all my medication, and I was off medicine for a year and a half. I had a breakdown a few weeks after I got pregnant with you, and although I have been on medication for my issues in the past, it was a really big struggle for me to go back on medication because I was worried how it would affect you. But I went to the experts who also warned me that being untreated could affect you too, and I made the decision to go back on medication to keep stable for you. So, I am working closely with a psychiatrist who works with pregnant women, and of course, I am working closely with my therapist to keep me as healthy as I can be for you.
I also want you to know that although I did not create you to cure me of my mental illness, I already feel stronger because of you. When I had that crisis, I fought harder and stronger because I was now fighting for two, but especially fighting for you. The biggest thing I want you to know is that you are so loved and wanted already. My mental illness may make me feel badly at times, but it will never stop me from loving you.
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Thinkstock photo via NataliaDeriabina