I remember it in the pit of my stomach when signing for the loan to renovate our house.
In my hands, when giving a presentation at work.
In my voice, when raising an issue with the builder.
In the lump deep within when staring at the ultrasound and hearing no heartbeat.
You would have noticed it in me if you looked up. It would be found in the absent days from work. The tired eyes and the shaking hands. At times you would have seen the tears.
Last year was a really bad year.
This is when it happened to me. It can happen to anyone, really.
Perhaps the first visible sign was when I had a panic attack. At least this is what the doctor described it as.
I had finished a presentation at work. My hands were shaking. I went back to my desk and there were a few emails. I read one and couldn’t make a decision. I moved on to the next and didn’t know how to reply and then the next and then the next. I couldn’t respond to any of them. My mind was blank. I could feel my heart tightening and my vision blurring.
I wanted to leave and so I did.
The next day, we signed for a heavy loan and went to the doctor straight after. My husband came too.
The doctor confirmed the news – I was pregnant. Good news. We had been trying. News that explained my anxiety. The panic.
It was the hormones, after all.
But then there was the miscarriage.
The loss and the hurt. I took a week off work. The anxiety got worse. I found that my hands shook a lot. I struggled to sleep. “You look tired,” I was told. The anxiety stayed. I went to work. We lived in our house while being renovated. Living with constant noise, mess and regret.
A permanent role came up for my current position. I pushed through the anxiety. I wrote the application. I got an interview via Zoom. The day came. My computer crashed and so did my confidence. The interview was done with shaking hands and my phone.
It did not go well. I did not get the job. I did not get my job! I was moved to another area where no one knew me. They didn’t know I had anxiety or a miscarriage or that I just failed at an interview to keep my job.
It was then that I discovered I was pregnant again. We had not been trying.
After the first miscarriage, I suffered feelings of guilt. The boys were 8 and 10. There would be a large age gap.
I felt embarrassed. I didn’t tell many. “What were we thinking, after all?”
But as time went on I started to feel more confident.
“Perhaps this time it would work.”
“The boys would be fine.”
It made so much more sense now. It was better timing. Who cares what anyone else thinks anyway.
We had an ultrasound. I knew as soon as I saw the empty womb, the missing heartbeat and the sonographer’s face.
It wasn’t to be.
“Just wait,” I was told. When we came home I looked at my husband. “It’s not good,” I said. He cried that day.
The miscarriage happened two days later. There was too much blood. Ambulance came. I thanked them. I felt like I was dying. But I didn’t.
It felt cruel being given something only for it to be taken away. I hadn’t asked for it in the first place. In the hospital, I felt alone.
When I got home the thoughts were relentless:
“You are a terrible mother anyway.”
“What were you thinking?”
“You can’t cope with what you have.”
Finally the worse lie of all, “The boys don’t need you.”
I would wake up in the middle of the night and tell my husband I wanted to sell the house and realise we couldn’t even do that until all the work is done. There is no money left and no time to be had. I would cry on the train going to work and on the way home. I did not want to go to either.
Luckily, I heard the warning alarm.
Inside my head. Telling me I was not doing well.
So I went to the doctor. I got medication for depression. I went to a psychologist. I took time off work and went on a holiday. A friend offered to make a cake for my son’s birthday and I took her up on that offer.
I would love to say that all of the bad feelings are in the past but I am still battling on occasions. There is still no baby. The renovation is not over. I did not get my job back.
The thoughts pop up every now and then.
Please look up
I am writing this for two reasons.
Firstly, it’s for those who are struggling. Please be kind to yourself.
Watch for the warning signs and get help if you need it. Your family do need you. Do it sooner rather than later. Don’t let it get too late.
Secondly, it’s for those that are doing well. Please look up!
Look up from your desks, your phones on the train, and your busy lives. Notice those around you. Look at your family, friends and colleagues. Are they ok? Please look up! I suspect that someone like me is just in front of you.
The writer chooses to remain anonymous
If you are concerned about mental illness, depression or anxiety, or about someone you love, then speak with your GP or health professional. You can also call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, or your local community or emergency mental health service for advice.
Additionally, the websites below may be helpful.