We all know this scene: a pregnant woman crying over an advert on TV or threatening murder because she has run out of her favourite pickle and jelly flavoured ice cream. Every media outlet we come across shows a scenario in which the pregnant woman behaves in a ‘crazy’ and unstable way due to the hormones raging through her body and we all laugh because it’s just a small snippet in a woman’s life where she can truly become unhinged and no one will say anything.
Everyone but me. Having gone through hormonal imbalances in the past that ended with me taking an overdose, I was terrified of being pregnant. If women with no history of anxiety and depression went ‘nuts’ during pregnancy, what hope was there for me?
Lying in a hospital bed with a drip attached to my arm, I looked down at the fresh cuts all over my limbs. I was 21, a final year law student with a bright future ahead of me, and yet here I was at the lowest point of my life having taken an overdose.
The year leading up this point had been a mishmash of extreme emotional lows to the point I was convinced I was suffering from a serious mental illness. An attempt on my life felt like the only way out of being continuously sucked in to a blackhole of hopelessness.
Years later I discovered that I wasn’t suffering with bipolar disorder or something even more serious such as schizophrenia, both illnesses that are apparently often miss-diagnosed. I had been suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.
But what caused it and how sure are we that a lack of acceptance over hormonal imbalances in the medical profession can actually be linked to mental illnesses among women? And why had it suddenly taken such hold of me?
And would it reemerge with my pregnancy or could exercise be the key to my mental wellbeing?