Having a baby is something you are meant to feel overjoyed about, right? I spent so long asking myself that question when I found out that I was pregnant. So many well-meaning people told me that it would be ok and that once she was born, everything would change. I would instantly fall in love. She was my daughter after all. How could I not?

When I found out I was pregnant, I cried. But not because I felt joy. I cried tears of anxiety and hopelessness. Having been diagnosed with endometriosis, I had accepted long ago that having a baby would be hard. But the harder part was accepting my reality. Here I was, pregnant, with the possibility of never conceiving again – but I wasn’t ready. I was blindsided.

Picking myself up was hard. There were days that I could not get out of bed because of the crippling anxiety. My pregnancy wasn’t an easy one. Riddled with hiccups and regular hospital visits, it was hard to find the light. My body was changing too.

At one of my hospital visits, my midwife asked me if I was ok. I wanted to say yes and smile away the pain, but I broke down. That day was a real turning point. My support network was strong, but I had been pushing myself away. I made a promise to reach out. I began talking about my depression. I began voicing my hopeless thoughts. Talking to people. To my psychologist. My partner. My friends and family. It didn’t suddenly become easier, but it was bearable and slowly it got better.

I have a picture of the moment my daughter was born. I’m smiling as they put her on my chest – but in my eyes, I can see my brokenness. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was gradual. I learned to love myself again, and by extension I loved my daughter.

Now, she is my shining light. She is the person I want to see when I’m down. Her hugs could cure the deepest melancholy. But I still struggle sometimes. I still falter and break down. And in those moments, I remind myself of the importance of reaching out. Of seeking support. Of putting myself and my mental health first. It can be hard to take that first step – but once I did, the rest was slowly ok.

This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.

To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/