When to stop saying I had PP?

I'm 4 years out now and Life is Good. However I do have my bad days and still have those moments of What da heck happened! Especially in regards to scary moments in the psych ward.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on mentioning it to people. It feels as though I should just be "over it" (for the most part I am) and not really say anything. However, it is hard when women start discussing birth stories, breast feeding, infants, etc. Also, getting a lot of "Are you going to have another" grr!

Don't want to dismiss PP and don't want to harp on it either.

Lastly, what are these "Mama and Baby Units" you all post about? We don't have them in the US.

7 Replies

  • Hello K8Stack

    Thank you for coming to the forum and also for your supportive reply about APP campaigning throughout July.

    I'm so pleased life is good for you now 4 years post PP. This is a difficult question for me to answer as I didn't know throughout my sons' childhood that I had PP (in 1975 and 1981) until I had the good fortune to meet Dr Ian Jones and some of the APP research team a few years ago. My parents thought it was in my best interests in those days to keep my illnesses a family secret so I was not told any details. I did have a traumatic time so I didn't question this and have not since as it would be upsetting for them.

    So I was always apprehensive about going to any 'meet a mum' group or even chatting about my experience in the playground with mums. I think I was more of a listener than a contributor! Thankfully I fully recovered on both occasions and my sons are now grown men who know about my PP and are very loving and supportive.

    There aren't enough mother and baby units in the UK. They allow new mums to receive the right medical care as well as ensuring that mum and baby remain together. During my PP I was sectioned to general psychiatric care, mostly without my sons; unfortunately such Mother and Baby Units were not around in my day. They are designed to offer a safe, therapeutic environment to ensure that the well being of both mum and baby is maintained.

    I'm sure you will have lots of good replies from other mums whose PP is more recent than mine.

    Take good care of yourself.

  • Hi there! I think there has to be a middle path between "dismissing Pp and harping on it". If you had had bad PND or were diabetic, or epileptic and you dropped it in to conversation people would have some idea what you'd been through. If you drop the term PP into conversation with no further explanation you run the risk that the other person goes home, googles it, and finds some of the more sensationalist stuff. So some further explanation has to come from you, and it sounds like you're mainly feeling robust enough to think out something that works for you. There are lots of resources on the APP site. All best, xx

  • Hello there, lovely to hear that you have come through PP. I can only speak from personal experience, I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and placed in a general psychiatric ward after the birth of my first child in 1982.

    I was in for about 8 weeks and suffered from depression within a few days of returning home. There was no support or counselling afterwards which would have been really beneficial. It was a living nightmare and I wondered what had happened to the person that used to be me. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, very isolated and lost confidence in myself and felt inadequate in the company of other Mums and like you found it hard when women talked about thei 'normal' experiences.

    I'm not sure that you ever get 'over it' as it such a devasting condition and a major life event. It does become easier though. I told myself that I was lucky as I had a wonderful healthy daughter and was just unfortunate to get the condition. I found it too painful to talk about so avoided it, just buried it and got on with my life but it has always been in the shadows of my mind. I had no problems with my second child or any mental health issues since.

    I think you just follow your instincts in terms of whether you are able to talk about it or ignore it. However, thanks to all those wonderful brave women who contribute to this forum you need never be isolated.

    I found this forum by chance and it has been fantastic to be able to 'talk' about it at last and finally come to terms with it. Although the stigma of mental illness is a lot less these days I think the profile needs to be raised as much as possible and take my hat off to the APP team.

    All the very best to you. Vee X

  • Hi. I remind people every now and again by sharing articles on Facebook. I want everyone to know that I had pp so that if they know anyone in the future, they can point them at me.

    I rarely ever else discuss it as people change the subject immediately!

    I am in uk but family refused mother and baby unit, there are so little. Our nearest is two hours (which is quite a long drive as its a small island)

  • Hi K8Stack

    Thanks so much for your post. I think a lot of people will relate to the issues / things you raise and will have things to say.

    I had PP 4 years ago too, so we are probably at similar stages of recovery from the illness.

    From my experience on here, I think how much to talk about PP etc is such a personal thing as each person has different personality / circumstance etc and I think everyone just has to do what is right for them, and what they feel ready for. I have always been someone who has been very honest about things in my life, and I am definitely an extrovert so like chatting to people a lot! So I have to say I do talk about PP very openly, whenever the subject naturally comes up, or things related to it, including to complete strangers, but that is what feels right to me. I am also determined not to collude at all with the stigma, and really believe that by sharing my personal experience of PP I can raise awareness of the illness.

    I know what you mean about people asking when I'll have another child, this happens so often, including strangers. I am always very honest and tell people exactly what happened, and why it is a difficult decision. Often people will ask a question ('what was that exactly') and then when you tell them they often look embarrassed / change the subject etc. But at other times it has led to quite amazing encounters. Just the other day I was talking to a older woman at the bus stop and she asked if I would have more children, and when I told her what had happened she very spontaneously gave me a big hug and spoke very genuinely about how awful it must have been, and to have missed really that 'baby' time etc, that I shed tears because I was so moved by her response. We carried on talking about other topics afterwards so I didn't feel either that she had then judged / defined me either, and that encounter has stayed with me since. So there are positives in being honest I think, from my personal experience.

    Like you I do feel 'over it' in some ways but in others I think it will always be something that will be with me forever, that forever changed me, not necessarily in a bad way though. It was such a profound, traumatic experience, and also I think the residues are there - effecting whether I would have another child, sadness when I see other mum's being able to enjoy their babies fully and wishing I had had that etc...

    In terms of mother and baby units, I was in one myself for four months. It was an amazing place. It is a place where mum and baby stay and the staff are a mixture of mental health nurses, and also nursery nurses to support you to look after baby, and look after baby when you are not well enough. I would have to say that if I hadn't been in a MBU I don't think I would have recovered as well at all, to have been separated from my baby for four months would have been devastating. So we are campaigning a lot here at APP for more MBU places, as I do think they are essential for recovery. There aren't enough places, I was at one 2 hours from home and this was so difficult for my partner, and us as a family. He could only visit at weekends and had a really tough time with that.

    Take care, and thanks for posting these interesting questions!


  • Hello,

    I'm four years post too and think I'm pretty much back to normal. I talk about it now whenever I can and if its appropriate because I too think we (society) need to be much more open about mental illness. People do get embarassed sometimes and change the subject, but I can live with that. Earlier in my recovery I was more wary of peoples reactions .

    I believe that the families of women with PPP need the support of community around them, so the more people are aware of it the better.

    In some ways I feel I'm a stronger person after PP and PPD, I'm certainly much more aware of ,and try to look after, my own mental health.

    I was in a mother and baby unit in Nottingham which was excellent. I have awful memories of when first there, but some very fond and funny memories too of the other patients and staff.

    At first I didnt want anything to do with my daughter... I'd forget she was there ,however the staff encouraged me and step by step got me caring for her again (with help of course). They are fantastic places ,but not enough money for them - my nearest would have been York but there were no staff .

    Do whatever you feel comfortable with . Love T

  • Hi K8Stack,

    It can be such a difficult balance can't it? I know that (6 years after my PP) I am much more comfortable talking about it now than I would have been even 1, 2, years back. The old "time is a healer" is partly true with PP I think. Yet also it is part of me, I can't change it and I don't see that never talking about it would be helpful either. Like most things I guess, it's a balance, and will depend how comfortable you feel and also who you are speaking to.

    I also completely agree about the birth stories, breastfeeding etc "chat" that inevitably happens with a group of mums. I used to hate this in my early days after PP as I had no idea where to start and felt that I had nothing in common with these seemingly perfect women who'd had a blissful time. But do you know what, no-one is perfect, and I found that they were only telling the bits that they wanted people to hear - mum and baby groups can be the worst for this! But there are some better ones where people are more honest and where I found I could also be honest about the tough start I'd had. And when I took the deep breath and opened up I found that I made some really good friends and it felt better to be able to be honest and not feel ashamed.

    It's not our fault that we got ill and nothing can ever change it, but I know that my ethos is pretty much that by talking we might help someone else, we will hopefully raise awareness of a much-misunderstood and little known illness. I've also had more than one person tell me how relieved they were as they had also had a hard time (if not PP, then just other things relating to having a baby) and I think they were glad not to be alone in feeling that things weren't wonderful when society perhaps told them that was what was expected.

    Be kind to yourself, do whatever you feel comfortable with. And know that we are here to chat if you ever need to offload, we've been there and understand. Take care, xx

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