Sunshine after the rain

I had a very difficult experience of PP following the birth of my daughter nearly 17years ago now. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and given ECT. It was during that time that my husband took control of our finances, he became very controlling and when I eventually left the marriage when my daughter was 10yrs old I discovered that he had committed numerous frauds against me throughout our marriage at the times when I was most vulnerable. When I reported the frauds to the Police they questioned him and he blamed everything on me and my PP - I was devastated and the police were less than sympathetic and I felt they dealt with me differently once they found out I had an historical mental health issue.

Sadly, I did not have good support around my PP from my husband or the NHS, I struggled to find my own way through but I was determined to get through for the sake of my beautiful daughter - I returned to my admin job 14wks after her birth and "put a brave face on" - none of my colleagues even new I'd been ill. My experience, lack of support and understanding had left me feeling very ashamed and guilty about PP.

A few years later I decided to retrain and found myself on an introduction to counselling course - I accessed personal therapy and worked on my self esteem with the help of a private counsellor. My personal experience of PP has had a profound impact on me - and has certainly been a factor in my chosen career now, working as a counsellor in the local college and university.

I am a great advocate of positive thinking/affirmations work which I practice when I'm feeling down or if something triggers those old feelings such as the recent East Enders story line and the birth of my partners grandson.

It has took me a while to put a post on here - I think I still fear reaching out for support with PP and being rejected - part of me feels that I should be "over it" by now - it is at these times I know I need to afford myself some empathy and understanding.

Please know that there is hope and that you are not alone - at times of struggle make your own self care a priority - I have forgiven myself and let go of the guilt I felt - l had PP but it does not define me as a person or as a mother - thanks to PP I have found strength I never knew I had. May you all discover your own sunshine.

12 Replies

  • Dear Butterfly,

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. It is absolutely amazing you managed to get back to work after only 14 weeks. You were always a strong person, your PP only revealed it as it revealed the controlling streak of your ex. My ex is doing his level best to control my child's relationship with me.

    Those who use our PP against us so as to justify their own wrongdoing are cowards. I am glad to hear you had the courage to leave your husband after what he did and now have a new partner. I don't watch Eastenders anymore anyway but made a point of staying well away as seeing Stacey, a character I knew well, go through this was too much. Then my PP was "only" 4 and half years ago.

    Take care,

    Anne x

  • Thank you for your reply Anne - in hindsight I think my going back to work so soon was a mistake, for a long time I pushed myself too hard to "get better" - it took me a long time to accept that I wasn't to blame for my PP, I had no one to talk to about it and it felt like an awful secret. Once I realised that my well being was important it has helped me to manage much better - I allow myself to be vulnerable and cry if I need to I also talk to my partner, he is really understanding and has restored my faith in men.

    You're right what you say about people who use PP against us - to deal with my ex I have kept my focus on my relationship with my daughter, I cant control what he says or does but I can keep my power and live my life well.

    Take care x

  • Hello butterfly 1999

    Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your experience. I'm also surprised that you returned to work in such a short space of time. Now, in hindsight, you recognise that was too soon but I can understand about pushing yourself to be well.

    If you have looked on the forum, you will probably have seen my comments about my two episodes of PP, with a gap of six years, the first over forty years ago. In those days there was a huge stigma around mental illness. My illness became a secret, which my parents thought was best. Of course, for many years I felt so much shame and guilt but didn't really understand what had happened to me, though I can remember all the traumatic events. Like you, I had ECT treatment as medication wasn't having any effect. My husband was not allowed to discuss my illness with me, which sounds silly now and only added to my guilt. I remember how I pushed myself to be well but as I was in general psychiatric care for the first six months and then in and out of hospital in times of crises, it was an uphill struggle.

    Thankfully I fully recovered after both episodes. It took me just over two years to regain my place and rebuild my confidence. I think our wellbeing is very important ...... once we get our mental health back we need to take care of it and be good to ourselves. I have felt comfortable reaching out here for support, as I hope you will be. There is no one to judge or offend.

    Take good care of yourself.

  • Wow amazing that you went back to work so soon afterwards. I would have just been a huge mess at work at that stage! Even 10 months after was pushing it for me! Good on you for reaching out again. We are all here to chat and support each other. I wish there was a holiday retreat we could all meet up at! Would be awesome

  • Dear Butterfly 1999,

    this is so beautifully written and very encouraging to those who are struggling during and after PPP. I am so happy that you found the encouragement to contribute your experience on this forum.

    Thank you!

    I certainly have changed and have become more in acceptance with who I am. I believe it is a different kind of strengths. Loss of dignity and complete dependency! Psychiatric mixed gender unit! Lots of flash backs and ongoing conditions affects a path of life-my life. During PP and on my path of recovery, I have received a lot of love and care from my partner & treasure the quality time with my 5 year old son.

    It is wonderful that you were able to carry on and gained the confidence and self-esteem in order to help and support. Compassion only can be shared, if you have been there where we have been-yet everybody has a different kind of story to tell.

    Love and kindness to you,


  • so glad you've posted on here! Thank you for all the warm wishes to us. I will certainly be on the lookout for 'sunshine' and ways to safeguard my mental health. I think it's a beautiful thing that your difficult experiences led to a career change into counselling.

    Spaghetti x

  • Thank you for posting such an encouraging message x

  • Thank you for sharing Butterfly, what a strong, inspiring woman you are. Your daughter is lucky to have such a Mum. X

  • thank you all so much for the replies to my post - I feel blessed to have found this support network full of acceptance of my experience. It really means a lot.

    I would like to share this verse I found which I always find helpful when I have a wobble -

    Be Gentle With Yourself

    If you are struggling, you deserve to make self-care a priority

    Whether that means lying in bed all day, eating comfort food, crying, sleeping, rescheduling plans, finding an escape in a good book, watching your favourite TV show or doing nothing at all – give yourself permission to put your healing first.

    Quiet the voice telling you to do more and be more, and today, whatever you do, let it be enough.

    Feel your feelings, breathe and be gentle with yourself.

    Acknowledge that you are doing the best you can to cope and survive

    And trust that during this time of struggle, it is enough - Daniell Keopke

    Take care of yourselves xx

  • Dear Butterfly

    I am quite new to the forum and have been struck by your strength and wise words! I suffered with PP 25 years ago, I was sectioned and had ECT. I was moved by your verse for those who are struggling and found it very helpful.

    Thank you


  • Hello butterfly 1999

    It is a relief to find other mums with shared experiences. I struggled with unfounded guilt and shame for years until I had the good fortune to find APP.

    Thanks for sharing the verse. I agree that we do need to give ourselves permission at times to relax and 'just be'. I also like Sandra King's verse, "Be like the single blade of grass. For she too has been trampled on, mowed down, and hit with such bitterly cold stretches that she had to shut down to survive. Yet still she stands upright with dignity, knowing that she endures, and still she dances with the wind."

    Best wishes ......... may we all continue to dance with the wind.

  • Hi Butterfly1999, what a lovely post, thanks for sharing. I particularly like your line of: "I had pp but it does not define me as a person or a mother". Excellent words indeed. Take care, xx

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