Nightmares 3.5 years later

I am still having nightmares about being psychotic and being sectioned three and a half years after having PPP and 18 months after returning to the psychiatric hospital there with a relapse psychosis caused by stress. I've woken up today realising that a lot of the current relationship, stress and sleep issues I am having at the moment are linked to re-activation of my fears around this hospital and what I experienced/saw and did and this is the root cause of my problems. I did have CBT after I came home but this was dealing with the depression I had with my baby at the time and then the second time for stress management. I feel that I probably have some form of post-traumatic stress (an example being that whenever I hear a siren or alarm going off it reminds me of the constant alarms on the ward) and still hate certain colours in my home. I had a breakdown earlier in the week due to many things going on in my life including discovering I have a pre-cancerous growth and was recommended to go for respite in a local community mental health house. Just being inside this house (in the same town as the hospital away from my home town) for five minutes re-activated my phobia about mental health facilities and I checked out and found myself a lovely hotel to stay in for 3 nights.

I am already signed up for weekly counselling (I've got 11 sessions left) and I've decided to finally use this time for 'therapy' about my psychosis and the hospital in the hope that the nightmares can stop and I can heal some damaged relationships.

Does anyone else have experience or advice they can offer while I go through this therapy which is bound to be very painful for me or suggest any books or resources?

(As you can gather I think mental health facilities in this country (UK) are shockingly bad!) On a positive note I've applied for a local grant to makeover the dirty unwelcoming crisis bedroom at this respite house and find out tomorrow if my application is successful - fingers crossed!

13 Replies

  • Hi bluestarlady

    I'm really sorry to hear you're struggling at the moment and have health issues. It sounds like you have so much to cope with. And sorry you've been getting inadequate support.

    I do hope you'll get some replies on here from people who have struggled as you have. It does sound like you have ptsd and I imagine counselling would really help. I had cbt like you which helped me with getting through depression but it's not the same as counselling dealing with memories etc.

    It sounds like you're being amazingly strong, tackling this, going to weekly counselling. I hope the counselling will relieve things rather than just being really hard. My partner had counselling afterwards for ptsd after everything that happened and it helped him so much.

    I still have memories etc of what happened that jump into my mind and sometimes make me emotional / sad but nothing like what you're going through.

    Sorry I don't have much advice for you. .. I have been very open in talking about everything I went through with family and friends, maybe that's what helped me deal with the trauma a bit.

    Take care we are here for you , do write whenever you want xx

  • WARNING - please do not read if you are currently going through mental health challenges.

    Thanks Ellie as always for your prompt reply. 🙂

    I've contacted the co-ordinator for Perinatal mental health in my area (Berkshire) and she is going to find out what is available on the trauma pathway. My Crisis team are also investigating specialist psychology help linked to the hospital as well so I'm getting lots of support.

    It's interesting you mention your husband having ptsd as I believe my partner may have this too - but just won't admit it or sign up for counselling. I saw actions this week and heard things said that were horribly familiar to when I had PPP and he is ultra-vigilant about anything I say or do at the moment telling others that I'd "lost insight" despite an all clear diagnosis from a psychiatrist who told me I had mental & physical exhaustion and suggested anti-depressants!

    I actually don't want to share too much about my experience with my family & friends as I think it would upset them - an example bring that I asked them for bottled water as I thought the tap water was 'poisoned'. They refused as they didn't know the reason why and thought I was being demanding so I resorted to drinking water out of the toilet bowel in the communal bathroom and at one point considered drinking my own urine - I didn't thankfully. 😢 The care I received was shockingly bad including staff stealing money from me (who is going to believe a 'sectioned' patient vs a member of staff?). Too many horrible horrible memories over those weeks. Sorry if any of this upsets anybody as I know others had lovely care. For the record the MBU in Winchester was like a place sent from heaven and I can't speak highly enough about it.

    I'm going to contact MIND & PANDAS too today to see if they have any resources for dealing with specifically with traumas from psychosis and will let you know the outcome.

    I think also I'm going to see if I can find my own therapy writing everything down as this has been useful to me in the past. There may even be a book there of sorts or something that can help mental health facilities as I know this is high on the public agenda with the Royal Family supporting it....?


  • Hello Bluestarlady,

    I do understand the traumatic experiences you have had. I did not have appropriate support at the beginning and a lot of things went wrong in the psychiatric mixed gender unit.

    Somerset partnership is very much aware of this, even though not too openly as the hospital had to close down for 'refurbishment'. There have been severe suicidal cases in that year (2010). I suffered physical abuse.

    However, I am moving forward and try to work with my 'handicaps' and not against it. Surfing with the waves as I call it.

    I am so sorry that you have such a difficult time right now. Despite having had PPP 6 years ago I still use the support of the partnership. The after care has been a positive experience. I am still with my care coordinator , who has been networking for me in order to improve my health and welfare, which often resulted in allocating appropriate group therapies, courses, but also meetings with her & continuously 'fighting' the authorities in order to improve metal health issues not only for myself, but raise awareness and talk to other victims with mental health issues of inequality and unreasonable behaviour.

    Anyhow, I keep carrying on waffling-you are not on your own...look after yourself.


  • Thank you Jasa. It's so nice to know I'm not alone. Even though I live in a very populated part of the country I've only ever met one other lady who has experienced PPP so I find a great deal of support on this forum.

  • Hi bluestarlady

    I'm so sorry you're left with these painful memories and experiences from PP, while you were in general psych care, and mixed feelings about friends / family support too... I was so lucky to be in a MBU within 24 hours (after a short amount of time in A&E) so I don't have any disturbing memories of general psych care which, from everything i've heard from others, often isn't the best place to be when you have PP...

    Weirdly enough I remember having issues with water too... I became really attached to my water bottle, for several days when I was really unwell I hugged it in bed with me, along with my glasses, and wouldn't let it go... everything outside of the bed just seemed too much, I couldn't get to it somehow, and it was so important to have it with me... so I can understand your need for water in some way though it sounds a bit different from what you went through...

    I'm really glad you're accessing some support now... I am looking into what resources there are out there (if any) around trauma after experiencing psychosis and will let you know too if I find anything.

    Do write whenever you want. Are you back home now? Take care X

  • Hi Ellie,

    How funny about the water thing...I asked my family for my 'bobble bottle' which they brought in but which was then stolen out of my room by another patient and my family refused to buy another. I distinctly remember never seeing ANYBODY drink from the water cooler which I found odd as I had come from a working environment where people drank lots of water and always carried water with me. I was convinced the only water that was safe was the boiling water tap in the dirty kitchen (as psyc patients drink lots of caffeine in my experience) but that the tea bags were poisoned too (unless you knew which ones were 'safe' ) - funny how the mind plays tricks on us. I ended up drinking copious amounts of blue milk from the communal fridge (which I hate as I've drunk skimmed milk all my life - again the skimmed milk had been poisoned) which then angered the residents/patients as they had less for their tea and so I got even more upset & confused! I saw one patient drink 2L of full fat Coke A DAY and could never understand why the staff didn't help him cut down his Cola addiction and get people to drink more water! Also, how nobody even checked whether I was actually drinking (I don't think I drank anything in 24 hours at one point!) remembering the colour of my wee! My degree in Physiology was screaming at the back of my mind that if I didn't drink in 3 days I would die! It's so ironic that they supposedly ban knives and the rooms are designed without ligature points but I could have accidentally hurt myself in a way and nobody would have noticed! Sad 😕 Maybe something to bring up with my counselling today...xx

    I never wrote to the hospital about all this (I did write to the chief exec of my maternity hospital about my poor care there which contributed to my lack of sleep - hence the PP!) but perhaps a letter or meeting is needed??

    Thanks for your love


  • Hi. So sorry to hear what your going through. I had P.P 3 years ago and still suffer nightmares. Not necessarily linked to what happened but all the same not very nice. I was sectioned over Xmas 2013. My babies first Xmas. It was a horrible time for my family. I had 4 lots of ECT which helped me recover almost back to my normal self. After a month of being in a psychiatric hospital. I had lots of local family support which also helped me with recovery. Also talking about it openly to family & friends definitely helps with healing. I have the odd day when I feel like I failed (why did I get this) but then I think of how far I've come now, almost living a 'normal' life! Sorry I have waffled on a bit but there is help out there. I wish you all the best for the future. Warm Wishes, Anna xx

  • Thank you Anna. Well done for coming through your recovery and how horrible to have had this over Christmas. Isn't 3 a lovely age for our 'babies' 🙂. I'm lucky to be blessed with quite a strong & determined character and have recovered to a 'normal' life twice having got over the 'why me' and 'failure' stages that everybody goes through.

    I think what has triggered this has been home disagreements around security on top of my physical health problems (silly things like my partner not organising an electrician to fit a security light) as 'Safety & Security' & having a clean, beautiful home have gone right to the top of my VALUES when I did a life coaching exercise on myself. These things have always been important to me but I think having been sectioned for months in an unsafe adult ward (smuggled in knives, darts games (!), drugs, kitchen fires) with unwell people has made this even more important to me. Although I'm essentially the same person afterwards and off meds I do think my values, attitudes to the world and spirituality beliefs have changed probably forever and I do like to think for the better 🙂

  • Hi bluestar lady

    I'm really sorry to hear what's happening to you at the moment. I had PPP after my second baby in June 2015 and thankfully after about a 10 month wait I got to see a CBT therapist who diagnosed me with PTS and treated me with a 13 week EMDR

    Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy.

    All I can say is that although very draining it was completely amazing at helping to heal my fractured traumatised self. I can't recommend it highly enough as it stopped me ruminating on all the awfulness of the psychosis, hospital treatment and poor treatment back at home. I feel so much better nowadays and although it's still a struggle it's a much more manageable one knowing this therapy has helped me package the awfulness into my long term not short term current memory.

    Hope this helps, big hugs xxx

  • Thank you HelenBL. I've not heard of this therapy so will mention to my team x

  • Hi Bluestarlady,

    I just wanted to write to say that you are absolutely not alone and the flashbacks can be something we have all dealt with at one time or another. Your plans of additional counselling sound like a positive way of combatting and moving through this difficult time.

    Although I did not have it, CBT has also had lots of positive feedback on here and the EMDR is something I have heard others speak highly of too.

    I had not met anyone with experience of PP until I started volunteering with APP, as I live in a fairly rural area, so it's good to know that this forum is here.

    Writing my thoughts and feelings down, even in a slightly corny "diary" style, helped me in the months and years after my PP (which was now 7 years ago, where did that go...) I found that it helped me to remember the good things I had done, and times spent with my son, when my memory did take some time to return. I also enjoyed reading back from last week/ month/ year and to see the changes.

    I hope that things continue to get easier for you and wishing you all the best, take care, xx

  • How are you today bluestarlady? Thinking of you.

    Sabine x

  • It sounds like things have been tough. Take care! Sometimes I find just doing normal stuff like talking to people and enjoying some new scenery helps lessens the trauma. I put it away in my mind to think about the trauma later when I can talk out loud to someone who will listen to me. Other times thinking about the trauma directly helps, like seeing a psychologist. One thing that helped me was being in hospital a third time when I was relatively well. In my country we only have general psych wards. One was excellent, the other was shocking. I want to be able to change the hospital system for better coz I really do think mental health patients should be treated better.

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