Blast from the past: dilemma and some figures needed

Hello everyone, I haven't posted here in a very long time and some of you may recognise me from posts I wrote ages ago. Looking for some words of advice and reassurance at this difficult time.

My daughter's dad and I are still in a painfully slow court dispute over custody and the primary school she ought to attend come August. My solicitors believe we are in a strong position for many reasons (I have her half the week midweek already, I work weekends, my local school is much better than his, etc.) but obviously it is a uphill battle as he has had official custody ever since I was ill with PP (and undiagnosed and then misdiagnosed with PD) and judges don't like changing the status quo.

Because he has no real argument to support his ridiculous and impractical proposal (to reduce the contact she has with me by 50% and change it to every second weekend - I have worked weekends for over 3 years), he is using the mental health card: "The said child has been put at risk of harm as a result of the defender's mental health. Should the defender's mental health deteriorate again in the future the child would be put at significant risk".

This is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start.

My PP episode was in late 2011, I did attempt suicide twice due to severe depression in early 2012 but as many of you will know, I had very understandable reasons for being so depressed, having been wrongly labelled and separated from my baby.

I was taken off antipsychotics in March 2013. My ex spoke to the psychiatrist around that time and was assured I did not present a risk to my little girl so could he please stop supervising contact.

I was discharged by the CMHT later in 2013 and bipolar never emerged. I was on a high dose of anti-depressant as a precaution but I gradually phased that out too over the course of 2015.

I am not in a relationship and in fact actively avoid those. I have ruled out having further biological children, not only because of the risk of PP but also because of the symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) I will inevitably develop which will make it difficult to care for my daughter (at times I was in a wheelchair with her and these conditions get worse with age and every pregnancy).

I believe my ex is a playing a very nasty game, using my former illness, our daughter, controlling her relationship with me, denying her the educational opportunities I could offer her to further emotionally abuse and manipulate me. Even people who work in mental health have mentioned the possibility that his emotionally abusive behaviour played an important part in me getting ill. Another layer of difficulty is that during my PP, I made serious allegations of abuse against him. I am now concerned that if my solicitors and myself try and point out during the trial that he was indeed and continues to be emotionally abusive, it will backfire, the initial allegations will be brought up to discredit me or prove I am still delusional in some way. So at every corner of this gruelling legal process, I am reminded of his abuse and my illness, the two being irremediably linked.

So first, I wondered what you all thought of this. All I have read so far is "none of what you or your partner have done will have caused your PP" and nothing on PP and abuse, although as far as I understand, many mental illnesses are more prevalent in people who have suffered abuse - is PP just not one of these?

Secondly, my solicitors are very keen to deny and disprove his mental health argument. I am therefore after some concrete, reliable and official figures or studies to show the court that the likelihood of another psychotic episode in the absence of bipolar and future pregnancies is close to 0. Anyone out there for whom PP appeared out of the blue without bipolar before or afterwards? I think it is great that PP is gaining more media coverage but somehow I feel that the link to bipolar is currently overplayed. Perhaps something about how the vast vast majority of PP sufferers (with or without bipolar) go on to be perfectly suitable mothers to their child(-ren)?

So as to shut him up once and for all.

Thank you for reading :)

Anne

6 Replies

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  • Hi Anne

    What an awful awful time you've been having. I can't quote you any figures unfortunately and can only repeat what my psychiatric team told me. I had pp with my second baby - my first was uneventful - and I have no history of bi polar and non since. My cpn and psychiatrist did warn me of a high chance of a relapse within the first 12 months but im now 13 months on and I'm still ok. I hope this helps in some way.

    Bless both you and your daughter. Take care x

  • Hello Anne

    Welcome back to the forum.

    I'm sorry you are struggling to find peace at the moment. I can't help you with official figures but I can confirm that I had PP, out of the blue in 1975 without bipolar before or afterwards. Also in 1981, again without bipolar before or afterwards and thankfully have been well ever since.

    Take good care of yourself.

  • Thank you for your kind words. I was told something similar but I wonder where that "window of potential relapse" fact comes from and when or whether we can ever officially consider it to be closed once we've had PP.

    I no longer have access to my psychiatrist or CPN and GP friends don't know enough about it.

  • Hi Anne - just wanted to echo what the others have said really. I had PP in 2012, and was then diagnosed with bipolar. I havent had a psychotic episode since, though do struggle with anxiety and occasional depression still.

    I'm not a solicitor or someone who could give you statistics, but I have definitely heard that stat about mental health sufferers being not likely to be a victim of crime (eg domestic abuse) than a perpetrator.

    A number of thoughts on your post

    - did you make an official complaint / claim to the trust involved in your misdiagnosis?

    - was the Ex complicit in your misdiagnosis and hence seperation from baby?

    - I'd have thought most family court judges are enlightened enough on mental illness to understand you pose no risk. I'm sure youve been advised by your solicitor to provide lots of evidence about how you care and nurture your daughter, and provide a stable home for her despite the best attempts of the Ex.

    Really wish you all the best xxx

  • Typo - "not likely to be a victim of crime" should read "MORE likely ... "

  • Hi, Kat, thank you so much for your thoughts which prompt me to clarify and refine my own thinking.

    Yes I did complain to the board and had to take it up to the Ombudsman and won in 2014. You can read the findings here:

    healthunlocked.com/app-netw...

    I also complained to Social Work and got multiple meetings, interviews and letters of apology about the way they treated me (basically like a criminal who deserved to be separated from her child).

    Your answer made me realise I skipped a few steps and perhaps I should have been back to this forum a while ago. Here in Scotland, going to full trial for family cases is very rare and a report is usually done by what they call a bar reporter in order to avoid the full trial. This was done in our case and I gave the bar reporter the Ombudsman's findings as well as the letters from Social Work but somehow he ignored them. His report, supposedly objective and centred on our child's current circumstances, focused mainly on the first two years of her life, particularly my illness and the upheaval it caused. The misdiagnosis is mentioned as "unfortunate". To say that the bar report was biased, inaccurate and overall very poor is an understatement. And something your last thought reminded me: the report totally glossed over what I have to offer/been offering to my child. In the absence of this, it looks like what my ex has to offer is better although what he is proposing constitutes a far greater change. The bar reporter, either stupid or tired, did not clock on that. And so his bar report was so inadequate that it was decided to go to full trial.

    There is no trace of my ex being complicit of my misdiagnosis, the medical records were appallingly kept so he could have been contacted but there is no way to prove that. What is striking though is the content of the Social Work records and what he says right AFTER I was diagnosed with a personality disorder. As you can see from the SPSO findings and from my previous posts, people who knew me well were shocked and did not believe I had a Personality Disorder, those medically trained suspected psychosis while the non-medics amongst them just knew that I was not myself. All actively tried to tell the staff and doctors on the ward, in vain.

    Now the plot thickens when you consider that my ex and I loved each other (at least I did) and lived together and started a family so like my friends and family, he would be considered as someone who knew me well. But unlike everyone else, my ex did not express shock or doubt about my PD diagnosis. Instead, he seems to have embraced it, went "I'm not surprised" and added a few fabricated or twisted stories of his own which supported the idea that I had had a disordered personality all along. And so this comforted Social Work in their opinion that I was this dysfunctional individual who had abused him (oh the irony!) and paused a permanent threat to our child.

    What I am trying to say is, I don't think he or anyone could have orchestrated this situation but my illness and misdiagnosis gave him a golden opportunity to play the victim, paint me as evil (with the backing of official agencies no less) and take total control of the situation.

    Thank you again for taking the time to read this. I have some official facts and figures in my private inbox as a result of this post but it is really nice to know there are people out there - and outwith my immediate circle of friends and family - who care and understand on a different level.

    Thanks again.

    Anne xxx

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