No, I’m not coming back to advocacy. And most certainly not back with the announcement that I’m pregnant!

But my niece is pregnant! And I’m super excited… and terrified at the same time.

My niece Kat, lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I felt I could share this excellent account of Kat’s experience given that, like you and I, she lives with a debilitating invisible illness (and she writes very well!).

You won’t relate, as I didn’t, and as she didn’t, to the welcome she received as she began to navigate the medical world — this time with her very visible condition.

When are we going to grasp invisible illness just as we grasp pregnancy, love and other debilitating human experiences?

Being pregnant when you have PTSD

I’m pregnant. Eleven weeks today to be exact.

Yesterday I was 10 weeks and six days, and went to have some prenatal blood tests.

After the phlebotomist took my blood, he recorded on my forms that I was 11 weeks pregnant.

He said the timing was close enough, but I know this one day can be a few millimetres’ difference for the foetus.

I was at the clinic for two hours so we made small talk.

“How are you?”

“Good, thanks.”

“They’re nice boots.”

“Thanks, I figured I might as well treat myself.” Etc, etc.

Truth is, I wasn’t good, despite ‘treating myself’ to a pair of $259 boots only two days earlier. Also his cavalier approach to details about my pregnancy dates made me nervous.

You see, I’m someone who identifies as living with a disability. PTSD to be specific.

The night before my appointment, I’d had a night terror that totally rocked me. My partner was away for work, I was staying at my sister’s, I didn’t have my own pyjamas — cue night terror.

What was unusual about this appointment is that I consider myself to be pretty good at being transparent about where I’m at and how I’m feeling.

After five hospital admissions, multiple suicide attempts, numerous courses of ECT and several stints in intensive care, I’ve learnt that honesty is the best — and only — policy when talking about mental illness. For my own sake and because it helps with the broader national conversation that we’re having (not having/trying to have/think we’re having/that needs to be had?).

So when said phlebotomist asked me how I was, you might have expected that I replied, “Anxious AF, super flat, depressed, and I kinda cried the whole way here because I feel so fragile and vulnerable and not in control right now.”

But I didn’t. Nope. Hypocrite! Absolutely! But, and hear me out — please — I didn’t feel like I could be totally honest.

Because that kind of honesty is just not done, and when it is, from experience, it’s met with discomfort or awkwardness by the person asking the question. Or, worse still, they just ignore your response altogether which, when you’re already fragile and vulnerable, makes you feel even more rubbish.

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