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Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Question about recovery?

So I am in the middle of getting my ECTs done. I just finished my fourth one and now I am just feeling depressed and empty. Now that the PPP episode has passed, and I am no longer in the middle of all the confusion, I dont know where to go from here. How do I find myself again? How do I get my confidence back up as a mother?

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It’s not easy making sense of everything as your mind clears. This may be particularly so as you are still having treatment.

I experienced depression treated with antidepressants after ECT and discharge from hospital. Time was a great healer and when I started going about my everyday life I began to recognise myself again and my confidence grew. I found it helpful to concentrate on small steps and while support and advice from others was helpful I knew I turned a corner when I was able to go with my views.

Hopefully the continuing treatment will benefit your mood, it's early days, not everyone needs further treatment but time to process what has happened. I hope you can speak to you Dr about your ongoing worries. Take care x

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Hello TwoUnderTwo,

I'm really impressed how you have the presence of mind to post whilst in the middle of ECT but sorry you feel depressed and empty. On the one hand it's a good feeling that you are no longer in the middle of all the confusion but lost as to know how to find your place again.

I had ECT many years ago and know what a strange feeling it is, especially coming round with a thumping headache! However, it's probably changed for the better now. Please be reassured that with every further treatment you will see things clearer. You are dealing with your illness so much better than I was able to. Your care team and family will continue to support and guide you. It took me well over twelve months to fully recover and regain my confidence, dignity and place although I was in hospital for the first six months.

ECT did the trick for me and I really hope it will do the same for you. In my day it was a harrowing experience but I did find myself again as you will. It's just a waiting game at the moment but you have done so well to reach this stage. Try not to worry .....your motherly instinct is always with you and your confidence will return and be stronger each day. I so admire your courage at this time.

Take very good care of yourself.

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My advice would be to take things slowly. I jumped in at the deep end after my episode and went back to looking after my kids as a single mum and started a part time course at college. I burnt out after 4 months and wanted to end my life I felt that low. I took a months worth of pills that I was taking, went unconscious and came around 2 days later. After that happened my kids went to live with their dad and I ended up living by myself for 2 years. Then I met my husband and 2 years on we're expecting a baby. My kids moved back in with us just over a year ago. Things couldn't be better and I put that down to the time out that I had on my own. I'm not saying that you need to go live by yourself. Just felt I should point out the possibility of going downhill if you try to do too much too soon. And the benefits of taking it easy for a while that can be reaped in the future x

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Hi

I'm really sorry that you are going through a hard time, and are in the middle of the depression. It was without doubt the worst part of PP for me... I would echo a bit what others have said. I think time is a great healer. It took me about a year and a half to start to feel really myself again. After one year I was still having some pretty bad bouts of depression but they came and went, I had times of feeling kind of OK and then went down again for a bit, and then back to feeling OK. You WILL get better, I don't know if you believe that because I certainly didn't, I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, and thought I would never get better. But time passed, and slowly slowly I felt more and more myself and the bouts of depression got less and less. There was a thread recently about what helped people going through depression, a lot of people wrote some helpful stuff, you might find that helpful to read?

The things that helped me... medication. I'm not sure what you're on? I was prescribed escitilapram, which I know is very expensive (the MBU I was in prescribed it and I think my health authority rather reluctantly agreed to keep paying for it after I came out of the MBU), but it did work for me, it took away the worst of the depression (the complete numbness and lack of emotion I had at the beginning). psychologist support (CBT).I know that it doesn't help everyone, but you may want to at least try it. I don't know if you have been offered it, or already seeing someone? I know that it got me out of many bouts of depression, and just got me into the a more positive mindset in the end. It isn't the magic answer by any means, but it was just small steps, small tools to use to fight the depression.

Other things that helped...making myself do things, having a routine, and then just my son getting older and being so affectionate and loving towards me, made me realise I hadn't harmed him in anyway, and well being loved so unconditionally is a great healer...

Keep hanging in there, thinking of you

Ellie

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Hi TwoUnderTwo

Really sorry to hear that you are struggling with feeling very depressed and empty at the moment. It can take a while for the benefits of ECT to build up and I know it took about 6 sessions for me before the depression felt it was beginning to lift. This will get better, I know it's so hard in the waiting bit, but you will get your old self and your energy back it just takes time.

I guess the best advice I can give you for right now is to go very gently with yourself. It's really important to pace yourself and begin to build life up again with very gentle routines. I know when I was first recovering from depression it was a big achievement to have a shower, eat something tasty and nutritious for breakfast, and join my husband on the school run. My psychiatrist advised me that it was OK to take short cat naps in the daytime if I needed this to keep me going, but to try not to retreat to bed as an avoidance thing. It really helped me to give myself permission to nap and listen to my body's needs at that early stage.

Getting your confidence back as a mum too will take time - it's so tempting to want to rush back and be super mum as we feel guilty and want to make up for all the time we feel we've 'lost'. I'd say to focus on doing as many cuddly and soothing things as you possibly can with your little ones. When you're tired and feeling empty, grab a stack of books and curl the kids up on your lap for simple stories, maybe even get under a blanket, whatever makes you feel nurtured and rested too. Cuddling while just watching CBeebies or getting in bed to do bottle feeds can also help with that balance of looking after your energy and giving both you and your kids that physical bonding time.

Do you still see your health visitor at all? - If she's supportive and you get on with her well you could also ask her for advice about building your confidence, and simple activities for bonding. I remember my health visitor showing me to get down on the floor and roll a ball to my eldest when she was 9-10 months old and it was lovely to see her smile and giggle and realise that I had been able to do that!

When your energy begins to return a bit, lots of APP mums have said that they found it helpful to go to classes or groups with their babies/children which had an activity e.g. baby massage, baby yoga, swimming. This can be easier than toddler groups where it's all about the chat and you wonder what on earth you're going to say!

But for now, building you back up is so important - be kind to yourself, be as patient as you can and just go for little steps each day.

Naomi

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Hello TwounderTwo,

I just wondered how you are and how your week has been? Don't worry if you don't feel like replying.

Take good care of yourself.

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Hi TwoUnderTwo

Thinking of you. I really hope the course of ECT is beginning to lift your depression. I remember when I finished ECT it was like there were just glimmers of hopefulness and the 'normal' emotions of being a mum in small moments of the day. I hung on to these as evidence that I would make it back to feeling like my true self. My kids are 8 and 3 now and I can honestly say that we did make it through and I am able to love being a mum again.

We are here for you whenever you need us.

Naomi xx

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