Jul 202018
Postpartum psychosis and me

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.

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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.
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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?
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On the 12th November 2013 and after a 14 hour labour Kayden came in to the world.1185662_10152382287757571_208165358_n
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.

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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.
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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 🙂 WP_20170704_11_53_41_Pro
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



Reader Comments

  1. I remember reading about postpartum psychosis when I was pregnant and thinking how terrifying it must be. Well done for getting through it and for sharing your story – I’m sure it will be helpful and inspiring to anyone going through the same thing. I’m so impressed that you were able to stand up and speak about your experience too – I hope they managed to secure the funding.

    1. Thank you. It was very scary for my family at the time. I felt I needed to do this blog to help it become a more recognised thing. Everyone should know about it and what signs to look out for. I haven’t read any, but I do know there are some cases where it goes really really bad and there maybe a death involved. That’s way I count myself as extremely lucky. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, I had no idea this even existed. You are amazing for getting through it and your husband for visiting everyday. I am sure others will take comfort in your post and to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am sure you will help a lot of people x

  3. Thank you for sharing something so personal. There needs to be more awareness about postpartum mental illness. I’m glad that you have recovered and are doing much better.

  4. Oh gosh, you’ve gone through so much. I read every word hoping all would be well at the end of the post and I admire your courage for sharing your story. It can’t have been easy to share this, as I can imagine it would bring back lots of memories of the psychosis.

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