How Postpartum Psychosis made me the stronger person I am today and everything before:
I came in to the world in 1990, I was a pretty out going child, I had a lovely upbringing and have lots of happy memories, nothing too out of the ordinary. However when I hit puberty I began struggling with my feelings, the littlest of things got me stressed out.
I went to the doctors as it was starting to affect my social life, no one wanted me around as I was a moody cow. I was put on the contraceptive pill to try to regulate my hormones. When I was 16 I met the one and only love of my life, Karl.
We fell so in love and all was very good, until my moods started to effect our relationship. I would try to wind him up and start arguments then hate myself for it.
I got super stressed during driving lessons and A levels I ended up getting Alopecia. It wasn’t much fun! I decided to pay another visit to the doctors as Karl could only take so much.
I was put on 20mg of Fluoxetine daily. This did the trick, I felt like me again! There were no major mood swings (other than just before my cycle when everyone knew to avoid me like the plague).
A few years went by and we were happier than ever, Karl was 4 years older than me so the talk of having a family of our own became the main topic of most evenings.
When I was 23 we started trying for a baby, it took 4 months to catch on and we were both so happy at the news.
I stopped taking Fluoxetine the day I found out, which I now know I should have visited the doctors about this. At 13 weeks I wasn’t coping. I was so emotional, hated everyone and felt so low.
I went to the doctors and asked to be put back on Fluoxetine but the stand in doctor felt the cons outweighed the pros for me so refused them. I was offered a counselling session where I was told to take time out and paint my nails! Yeah, big help, thanks.
However the remaining months of pregnancy went pretty well, my moods sort of levelled out and I enjoyed the last few months of freedom, I even painted my nails!
The only thing I can think of looking back what may have seemed odd was the sheer panic of not being able to be a good mum and everyone judging me, or maybe that is normal?
On the 12th November 2013 and after a 14 hour labour Kayden came in to the world.
Now this is when it went really tits up, literally! Kayden would not latch on and I was constantly buzzing the nurses for help. I had my breasts pushed and pulled by just about every nurse in the building.
I sent Karl to Toys R Us for an electric breast pump costing £100, why?? Because I didn’t want to be a failure from the word go right?! We had to stay in hospital for 5 days as Kayden had jaundice.
I was on cloud 9 one minute then balling my eyes out the next. I was severely sleep deprived, I had a grand total of 10 hours sleep in 5 days.
It was over the next few weeks at home things became a little more serious. I became delusional, manic, I prioritised all the wrong things, I had a strong belief in god and thought about death a lot! I had become a mad woman.
On the 28th of November 2013 I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after a big mental breakdown. I was sent to Leeds mother and baby unit in an ambulance and sectioned under the mental health act for over 2 months.
I was living the dream at the beginning! I believed in god, miracles, and thought I was put on this earth to send messages to people from the big man himself, I thought could save everyone and anyone. All the while my family was terrified.
This is me in the unit, if I looked drugged up its because I am!
Then reality stated to slowly come back. I was on so much medication to sedate me I slept most of the day and night. It hurt me so much having to let the nurses feed my baby as I didn’t wake up to his crying.
The ward had 6 bedrooms, all the women were experiencing similar symptoms at different stages , some less, some much much worse than mine.
New mums would come and go over the 2 months I was there but yet I felt so alone I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. My whole family didn’t know if I would ever get better.
Karl came to see me Everyday for the two months I was in the unit. It was an 80 mile round trip from home, he had to to stop working for a while and keep everything going at home with Lexi our Labrador. He will never know how much that meant to me. He was my absolute rock.
I was slowly allowed to leave the unit for short periods after a few weeks, first with a member of staff, then with Karl then by Christmas I was allowed to stop over at my house for the night. What a luxury! I was discharged around new years, apparently that was a quick recovery!
After leaving the unit my anxiety was through the roof. I was scared that the sodding trees were going to spike Kayden, cars would crash in to him as I walked down the road and many more ridiculous things, but at the time, they were real threats to me. I can remember the first time I went in to town shopping with my mum I had to hold her hand the entire way around.
Time went on and I had a short period of around 3 months of depression. No feelings what so ever. Not a bean. Thankfully this didn’t last too long and the anxiety came flooding back, which unfortunately I did sometimes use alcohol to get through the crippling anxiety in the early days.
As soon as I left the unit I had the amazing support from a lady called Sal, she is worth her weight in gold to the NHS. She saw me at my worst. She taught me the skill of using CBT which helped a hell of a lot. A few months later I was passed over to a lady called Clare . She was a massive help, so down to earth, patience and a good laugh and a friend i’ll never forget!
I was discharged 2 years later from the mental health team and lets just say, I cracked on with motherhood like the rest of you do! I still have mild anxiety occasionally, but honestly I had a lucky escape compared to some.
I’m 99% me again! I hope anyone reading this who may have experienced a mental illness after pregnancy, especially postpartum psychosis can get comfort from my blog, knowing its not forever, you are not alone and you are not to blame.
I was asked by Clare from the mental health team in Doncaster if I would be the main speaker at a NHS conference earlier this year. This was to try to help get funding in Doncaster to provide the services I received in Leeds. It was an honour to speak that day. Here I am 🙂
p.s note to self, if ever hospitalised again Do not, I repeat DO NOT eat a three course meal for each sitting! Or your face will swell like this again!
For further reading, advice and support check out this fantastic website action on postpartum psychosis