Some days I feel like I’m totally losing my mind. I get tearful and stroppy and revolting, and I reach such a point of anxiety that I feel like I lose all perspective and can’t tell if my problems are mountains or molehills. I’ve had several entirely feral episodes over the past few months, that have left me feeling (amongst other things) isolated, angry, and generally dissatisfied with life.
On these days I find that the only solution is to completely drop my bundle, have a massive tantrum, and return to bed where, hopefully, I can fall asleep for a few hours. This technique works whether it’s 9am or 3pm. Regardless of the time of day, a tantrum and a nap seems to restore something that resembles equilibrium.
The other evening, someone that I considered a friend made a public dig at me at a social evening with other friends that angered and embarrassed me. The implication of the comments, in my view, was that I talked too much and as a result no one wanted to hang around with me and my presence at the gathering wasn’t desired.
In the end we left early as I rapidly progressed towards completely losing my shit. As we left, I swore that I never wanted to see that individual again and I had no desire to hang around with that group of people again either.
When we got home, The Man made the fatal mistake of suggesting that maybe all the baby hormones floating in my system were causing me to take the comments more personally than was intended. That was the final straw. I totally lost it and spent much of the next 24 hours in tears ruminating over what had been said and convincing myself that people didn’t like me, and then convincing myself that I was imagining problems, and then convincing myself that I was going insane… it became a vicious cycle.
In my desperation to find someone, or something to help me out of what was fast becoming a very deep and dark hole, I e-mailed a friend of mine in Sydney. She happens to be a psychologist. She is the wisest, most bright and shiny woman I know. She is the kind of friend who you may not see for months, or even years, yet when you catch up you still have the same connection and it’s as if no time has passed.
After reassuring me that I wasn’t as irrational as I had made myself feel, and disclosing that she had had similar feelings, not just during pregnancy but also through her motherhood journey, she then mentioned Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
My friend was introduced to MBCT through a seminar that she recently attended. As someone who has had her own emotional ups and downs over the years, and as a psychologist, she decided after the seminar to purchase some resources and undertake some MBCT for herself. She bought an audio book which came with some meditation cd’s and has taken to listening to her audio book in the car.
According to the MBCT website, MBCT is designed to assist people who suffer from repeating or chronic depression by combining the ideas of cognitive therapy with “meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness”. From what I can see it is part “getting in touch with your feelings” (so to speak), part behavior modification, and part anxiety and stress reduction.In her e-mail, my friend went on to mention about the part of the audio book that she had listened to that she had listened to just that afternoon. What she had been listening to that afternoon was talking about the "doing" part of the brain - the bit that takes over and makes our mind race with problem solving ideas, and memories of the past to help to predict the future. While this may all seem rather clever, she said, it was actually a process that undermined us as, of course, no one is capable of predicting the future, and the process often caused us to dwell on negative memories of our own and others experiences.
I have to say that it sounds like the doing part of my brain has been in complete overdrive. Regardless of the reality of the problem, I do realise that trying oneself up in knots for hours on end, ruminating over how to change the past or control the future, is unfeasible and unreasonable, especially at a time when I should be focusing my energy on the little person growing inside me and how I can improve both theirs and my wellbeing.
As a result I have decided to give the MBCT a try for myself. As someone who has struggled with depression in the past, I am well aware of my risk for antenatal and postnatal depression, and I figure that giving this a shot certainly can’t hurt my, or my baby’s, wellbeing. I have downloaded a reputable e-audio book, and I will start listening to it this weekend. Hopefully it will help me find a bit more balance to my moods!
P.S. I have also enlisted the services of a local counsellor to help me check under the hood and make sure everything mental health wise gets back on track and running properly!
Has anyone else out there tried MBCT? Any tips or advice from others with similar experiences? I’d love to hear from you!