Recovering from PPP

Hello all,

I suffered with PPP after the birth of my beautiful first daughter in July this year. The birth was long, sleepless and quite traumatic and it was actually during childbirth that things started to go strange for me. I had an epidural after about 36hrs and whilst I was having the epidual put in and on gas and air something happened in my brain, it was like I heard and felt it happen and my mum and partner noticed something wrong with me from then, has anyone else has this experience? I can't actually remember the delivery and my time frame from after the birth is hazy, I can remember a lot of it and had delusional thoughts but can't really put an order on events. I spent 5 days in hospital and 3days in a psychiatric hospital, before being discharged to a home treatment team. The time on the psychiatric hospital was the lowest point for me, I didn't understand why I was there and was away from my daughter who was in NICU and the staff lacked any compassion. I have a really supportive family who have been brilliant and couldn't have got through this without them but sometimes it feels very lonely and I would like to talk to people who have been through the same thing. I was on olanzapine for 3 and half months which I have just stopped this week, I don't know if it is the tablets or what happened but I feel like my feelings are massively dampened and that gets me down, is this normal and does it get better? I was a really happy confident person before and It's hard coming to terms that this happened to me, my confidence has been so knocked. I also felt so guilty about what happened towards my daughter at the beginning, and think she deserves so much better, I often think I focus too much on what has happened to me rather than her and worry I don't love her enough, did anyone else feel like this?

Thanks for any advice and support

Helen

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11 Replies

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  • First LOVE to you! Second, I had those feelings of guilt towards my son and the Why did this happen. It does slowly get better. As for the Love Her Enough it does come and get easier. You are still healing from this awful event and your brain and heart are trying to play catch up. I hope that helps a little.

    I was on Seroquel (Im in the USA, I think in the UK Olanzapine is used more) and felt like everything was in a haze and a consistent state of "dampened" emotions as you wrote. It did get better with slow gradual step downs from the drug until I was able to come off fully.

    I too have an amazing family and friends and the psych ward was the WORST! I did feel completely alone with PPP even though my hubby was experiencing it and helping me through. This forum has been so helpful and a form of therapy for me.

    I hope you feel better soon. It does slowly get better. All the platitudes as cliche as they are can help. One minute, one hour, one day at a time.

    Hope that helped a little.

    ALL the best

    K8Stack

  • Hi, I can relate to quite a lot of ur story. I too had a very long birth with my son back in November 13. It was 38 hours long with no sleep, was given pandinate and unfortunately had a retained plactea so had to have emergency surgery. I think that's the moment ppp started to kick in. I spent 6 days in hospital as he was in neonatal, then 2 nights at home which my husband wouldn't let me be alone with my son. Then 2 weeks at a mother and baby unit. I lost all of my confidence with my son but the staff were amazing. It took along time to feel like a good mum and I still now regret getting ill but it wasn't my fault so u can't blame urself. I found CBT was amazing at helping me work tho negative thoughts. U will recover and be normal again but it does take time xx

  • Hello Helen

    Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your experience which sounds very traumatic. We have all felt as you do now and are here to support you in any way we can.

    I have to say that you are doing really well to have recalled your experience in great detail after such a short time. I think after the first few months of my PP recovery I was barely able to string a sentence together.

    I had PP twice (unknown to me at the time) many years ago, with a gap of six years between my sons. Thankfully I fully recovered on both occasions but it took me a while to find my place ... regain my dignity and respect for myself. I was sectioned to general psychiatric care, in and out of different units for the first six months of my first son's very early days, mostly without him. A similar pattern followed PP with my second son, although I was treated at home, except in times of crisis when I was admitted to hospital.

    Many of us here have had frightening delusional thoughts which are very real at the time but which family and friends do not understand. Before I read a post here a few years ago entitled "Delusions of Grandeur and religious thoughts" I was under the impression that I was the only mum to have ever had such delusions. So it was such a relief to find that I wasn't on my own after all.

    Like you I felt that being in a general psychiatric ward wasn't the best place for me but at the time I wasn't aware of my surroundings as I was very ill. I do remember feeling lonely and lost ....although apparently my family visited every day. I was on different medications throughout my recovery too.

    Try not to worry .... it's very early days in your recovery and you are doing so well. Probably the medication is having an effect on your feelings but if it is keeping you well then it's for the best at the moment.

    Looking back I think many of us here would say that at the time PP struck and during the first few months of recovery we were all changed. This is a very big trauma to come to terms with. It will take you a while to accept what happened but with the help of your care team and support from family and friends you will eventually fully recover.

    Give yourself time to heal. You had no choice at the time your daughter was born other than to be guided by the care team, so what happened was not your fault. Please don't feel guilty. As you say, your daughter is beautiful and you have so many happy times to look forward to now, which will far outweigh those dark days in the past.

    In time you will be very proud that you endured so much for the love of your daughter. In the meantime we are all here to lean on.

    Take very good care.

  • Hi Helen,

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your story... I just wanted to write and say YES absolutely everything you feel is normal - I could have written all of that at that stage of my recovery. You are still at such an early stage of recovery, I was still in a mother and baby unit at the stage you are at (I was there for nearly four months).

    I was consumed with guilt, and with no confidence at being a mum. I thought my son preferred my partner. I thought I was a terrible mum and was affecting him. The days at home alone with him were sometimes so long and monotomous I felt so guilty for feeling bored and lethargic (normal probably for most mums, but double/ triple if you have had PP) - I definitely felt I didn't love him enough at times.

    I too felt guilty about the beginning - but I was so lucky that I was in a MBU and not separated from him, except for the first 2 or 3 weeks when I was so psychotic and the staff did have to look after him nearly all the time. But I can assure you my son is the happiest, most confident, boy. He has just started school with no tears, and I felt so so proud, and thought well I didn't harm him much :) well, not at all...

    when he got a bit older (when he was about a year) it became so clear that he loved me so much, and was very attached to me, and that was a great healer.

    I promise, you will become your happy, confident self again, you will have an amazing bond with your daughter (it is so clear how much you love her) and you will be better. You may start to feel a really positive change when the Olanzapine is out of your system, this was certainly my experience, as it does dampen your emotions.

    I also wanted to just check that you have seen the APP website also, and the insider guides that have been written by women who have had PP and professionals. There is a guide to recovery which you might find really helpful to read. app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

    Take care, we are all here for you if you need us, please never hesitate to write.

  • Hello Helen_84,

    Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your story. The way you are feeling can resonate so much with each and every one of us, and I hope you are finding others who have been through the hell of PP as therapeutic in some way, I know it felt like such a relief to me to know that I wasn't the only one - although it had felt like that at times.

    I had PP in 2009 and spent 3 months as an in-patient so you are doing incredibly well to be at home, writing on here. The days can be long and hard, I can relate to that so well too. I remember wishing my husband would get home from work so I could not be alone with my baby, who I too thought wasn't that bothered for me at all. It did get easier when he got older and started doing more, interacting with me, but it was really hard for a good few months and more. Looking back, I can see it now as a blessing that he has a lovely strong bond with his Dad and some of that may be from when I was too ill and was separated from him. I was in general psychiatric wards when I was at my worst in the early days and couldn't be anywhere near my baby as I had completely lost touch with reality... in fact, I thought he was dead, and whilst being apart from him may not have helped my belief, I was so erratic and psychotic that it was probably a good thing, in hindsight, in my case. And now he is a happy (cheeky!) 6 year old who makes me smile so much, which I never thought I would be able to say, whilst in the early days of being ill.

    I too was on Olanzapine and can really relate to the numb feelings you describe, a lack of anything really. This did lift when my dosage was reduced then stopped, and I started to "feel" a bit more. I was also on Lithium so it felt like I was hampered in some way by meds still, even though (again with hindsight) I can see that they were absolutely necessary. I think this also affected my confidence, not only in being a Mum, but as a person generally. I have always been a happy, carefree type, and felt that I was somehow damaged and cursed by what had happened, and my confidence was completely shot. This took time to rebuild and I know I couldn't even make the smallest of decisions for quite some time. All I can say is that this will take time, but your confidence will return, and you will find your way.

    I had a bad birth experience too and ended up with an emergency c-section which really traumatised me I think, looking back. I don't think my PP necessarily started then, but I think it was probably a contributory factor, although the causes are still quite unknown and more than likely hormonal I believe. PP itself is a massive trauma, and it will take some time to rebuild, so try to be patient with yourself and recognise the small steps along the way which are showing your continued recovery. And being on here and looking for more information, "chatting" to us about your experiences, are a really big step.

    Please don't feel guilty though, I think as mothers generally, there's a lot of guilt out there (work/ life balance, being wife and woman, as well as Mum) and then with the awful experience of PP, this can be a whole lot more to shoulder. But it is not your fault, nothing you did was causing the PP, and as time goes on, your bond with your daughter will grow and the awful memories will start to fade and be joined by other much happier ones. I try and think about it as something that is part of me, I can't change it, but I can try and use the experience to move forward and not let the PP take over everything. I know I also used to feel like my experience was somehow "bigger" than other "littler" baby-related ones, and I felt bad that I couldn't join in general chit chat about nappy changes or feeding, as I felt they were so irrelevant somehow in comparison to the massive experience of PP that we'd had in the early days. I think it's only a natural reaction, but the balance will change over time.

    Take care, and keep "talking" to us on here or others, as I know it can be really helpful to hear others experiences. xx

  • Thank you for all the replies, it makes it easier knowing others have been through it and come out the other side stronger for it. I have had a set back over the weekend, couldn't sleep for about 4 days and had really negative thoughts.Thankfully my family are getting me through it and I am back on a higher dose of olanzapine again. It was very bad though I thought I was going to die from the lack of sleep and just hated myself. I am still up and down and talking to my phyciatrist think I have PND too. I will post again as I hopefully get better but reading these replies is helping me Keep positive.

  • Hello Helen_84

    So sorry to hear you had a bad weekend; not being able to sleep for so long must have taken its toll, which is probably why you had negative thoughts. I think you might have read here that recovery is up and down, a "rollercoaster of emotions" which is a very good way to describe it.

    I had depression too after my second PP which seemed endless but I did fully recover eventually. It's good to know you are talking to your psychiatrist who will be able to guide you through this difficult time.

    Sometimes we try to rush back into routines when we are not quite ready so try to relax as much as you can. It's not easy to do when you have a new baby but if you can try to give yourself a break (just having a cup of tea / coffee on the sofa) might help.

    I'm glad our support is helping you to remain positive. You will eventually fully recover and in the meantime we are all here for you.

    Take very good care of yourself.

  • Hi Helen,

    Sorry to hear you have had a rough weekend. as lilybeth says I am sure lack of sleep will have been a major factor. just to reassure you my experience of recovery was lots of ups and downs, blips etc, but slowly they get less. It's good to hear you have good support from professionals and your family.

    Take care, we are here for you whenever you need us x

  • Hello Helen,

    Great that you have been able to find this site and post your thoughts, you will receive a great deal of encouragement too!

    My episode is a long time ago (1988) but still very memorable. It does take time to recover and you will have your energy levels and normal feelings back in due course. Best thing is to be easy on yourself and rest when you need to rest. Easier said that done sometimes. I try not to look back and think about the separation from my little girl at the time as it is painful but the good news is that we are absolutely fine and there was never any problem as a result of our separation back then. She is now 27!! I had to take medication for a year afterwards and gradually came off the tablets. As you read the various accounts you will notice that we all have very similar experiences, thoughts and delusions which is fascinating. It does help to know that you are not alone in this and others have been on the same journey. Try not to allow any guilty thoughts in though as there is no blame to be apportioned to anyone in this. Great that you have a supportive family too! Are you in the UK?

    Love Helen

  • Hi Helen - just want to wish you well and say how strong you are! It is still such early days, and really you were out of psychiatric hospital very quickly, so well done you for coping so well at home.

    Recovery and stability will come. Be assured of that. For now, be super super kind to yourself: take the meds (there's absolutely no shame in that), accept all the help you can, and be proud of all that you've been through for your baby.

    Lots of good wishes xxx

  • Hello Helen 84

    I hope the medication is working for you and that you have been able to sleep. It's such a comfort to have family support to help you through the ups and downs of recovery isn't it? Are you having regular reviews with your psychiatrist who will be able to reassure you if you think you have PND too?

    Take your time to heal ..... you have come so far in such a short time to be well for your daughter and family.

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