Looking for Jenny

Hi , I suffered from PPP and severe Depression and now have a Bipolar diagnosis. At the start of this year I had watched the painful but important documentary my baby psychosis and me and was struck by the similarities between my experience and a lady called Jenny who was featured. Four years on I am still in recovery but unable to fulfil my professional role to the standard that I used too and unable to manage stress. For the first time I am starting to acknowledge that I will never be able to return to my career or perform to the best of my abilities- it feels like another loss if my identity. I have accepted that it is too risky to have children; this seems like another blow. Does anyone else understand. I'm hoping to make contact with Jenny as I know she had to change her career and any others who can share their experiences.

Thank you for reading x

21 Replies

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  • Hello Harmonygirl

    Welcome to the forum. As I'm sure you know from being here before there will be lots of mums to support you and share experiences.

    I don't have any experience of bipolar but can relate to PP and depression. I also watched the documentary "My baby psychosis and Me" which was quite harrowing and I identified more so with Hannah in the film, being actively suicidal and receiving ECT. I was very ill and on another planet for months; not communicating; behaviour very out of character.

    I'm sorry to hear that you are still recovering four years on. It did take me a long time to find my feet again and regain my confidence to even think about returning to work. I'm not a professional so it was probably easier for me to pick up where I left off in my NHS role. Perhaps a gradual return would be helpful to you rather than a full return to your profession?

    I'm not sure if you know that Bipolar UK has an e-community, similar to this forum, which might be helpful to you, the link being bipolaruk.org.

    I can understand your reluctance to have another child. I had another son six years after my first PP and suffered second time around but that was a long time ago and treatments have changed. There are mums here who have had second babies without PP returning but it is a personal choice.

    I do understand how stressful recovery can be, especially with added depression. Please don't judge yourself too harshly, PP is such a traumatic illness to overcome. Allow yourself time to heal ..... sometimes we are so anxious to let others see how well we are but it can be too much too soon. I hope you have a lot of support around you. There will be other mums here to share their more recent experiences.

    Stay safe and take care.

  • Thank you for such a generous reply. Really appreciated. Thank you

  • You are so welcome .... we are all here to lean on.

  • Thank you for taking the time to respond to me, much appreciated - really. Every time I read of other's experiences it is strangely reassuring that we all have been though the same nightmare. It's just so hard when my mind doesn't work in the way it used to and breaking point can appear with the slightest pressure. I have re-read all the replies to my query and have been strengthened with each one.

    Glad you are doing okay now.

    Best wishes

    Harmonygirl

  • Dear Harmony-girl,

    I am sure that many on this forum will be able to relate to your concerns. I think the experience of psychosis itself is sufficient to undermine the most robust of individuals, but when it comes with other unalterably life-changing events such as childbirth and the loss of a promising career, it can be devastating over and above the immediate medical issues.

    I gave birth almost 6 years ago and like everybody here suffered from PP followed by a severe and lenghty depression. I was also diagnosed bi-polar at the same time. While I have had spells of relatively better and worse health, I have never felt well enough to work and am medicated largely for anxiety-related ill-health. All I can say regarding identity, because we are a generation of women who were taught to invest as heavily in their careers as their male counterparts, is to think sideways; think self-employment; think about investing in your identity as mother, as inventive house wife (no don't stop reading there). Goodness knows I never thought it would be me saying these things. For me, I can't say that I feel 'recovered' although I'm sure from a medical perspective I probably am. There is and probably always will be a wound. But physical wounds you learn to live with, if not always comfortably.

    I hope you find some good suggestions, help and support on here and wish you all the best as you find your way.

    best wishes

    JHW

  • Dear JHW,

    Your sentiments, experiences are uncannily close to mine. I shared your response with my husband as we have agreed to face the possibility that I might not be able to work if it continues to be detrimental to my health. I hope that in the next coming year I too may have the confidence to think sideways and come to terms with the version of me that is here today after PPP, and living with Bipolar.

    I can empathise with your sense of not yet feeling 'recovered' and thank you for your honesty and care.

    I hope that I will come to terms with all of this eventually and find a way to feel positive about myself although I feel that the illness and my experiences have diminished my person in someway, I guess we are often our harshest critics.

    Do take care and thank you.

    Harmonygirl

  • Dear Harmonygirl,

    thank you for your contribution and welcome to the forum.

    I have had PP over 6 years ago. I got rid of the Psychosis, but not the memory of its traumatic experience (still blurry) and the long term affects of strong medication I have had to take.

    Yes, it is a truly life changing experience. I used to be a Lecturer of MFL, TEFL and Education. Unfortunately I have not been able to return to work either. I always felt so passionate about teaching.

    I have had to re-learn and reinvent myself-but especially listening to my body and come to terms with a new role identity. I suffer from agora and social phobia as a result of PP and side effects of medication.

    Do not fight against your experience...recovery is a path of acceptance and celebration of rejuvenation. I do not compare, but learn from the diverse path of individuals and their unique experience in surviving PP.

    I paint loads and send occasionally pictures to this forum with some of my personal thoughts. It helps me immensely to talk to women, who have had similar experiences, 'with the same foot print of PP'. It is such a comfort to know that I am not the only one, who has post mental health issues after PP- I do not feel lonely inside my head anymore, but can share my happiness, concerns and other issues.

    Got to stop and get my little man ready for school.

    Do not worry too much, it is OK to be at a cross junction from time to time...just listening and observing and finding inner calmness before making any decisions - which direction to go.

    Look after yourself...

    Sabine x

  • Thank you Sabine,

    I can identify with all that you have referred to in your thoughtful post. I found your words to be of comfort. I guess I need to like you re-learn and accept a new identity, but I do feel very venerable and unsure. It has also been a painful process for me to accept my diagnosis of Bi-polar, and at times frustrating. I am grateful that I have reached the point where I can function with most everyday situations, but that brittle fragility will always be there.

    Thanks for your encouragement.

    Harmonygirl

  • Hi,

    Jenny is a good friend of mine. We were introduced as we both have bipolar. If you give me your email address I will pass it on to her & I'm sure she would love to be in touch with you. She is doing amazingly.

    It's so tough that you have had to consider changing your career. After my first episode it took a long time for me to return to work which was so boring & when I did return I had to do a slightly different position until I was up to my role and fully recovered I then excelled in this role & had a great relationship with my boss & colleagues. I loved working, I am very creative but then went through another episode of mania & mixed episodes which was so so hard. Now a full time mum I am pursuing another creative pass time for myself, which I'm hoping is less pressure/ stress but which I love!!! I'd be happy to email you if you found that any help.

    All the best.

    Bipolar Butterfly

  • Dear Bipolar Butterfly,

    What a beautiful name. Pleased that you are pursuing a new creative role. I've been able to contact Jenny , everyone on this forum is so amazing and it is such a source of support. I just have felt my identity crumble away as a result of my illness and yesterday it all felt like too much to bear. I'd love to be in contact with other bi -polar women, I'm also pretty creative too it seems to be quite a common feature of the condition. Please send me a pm - I'm not sure how to do it!

    Best wishes and thank you for replying.

    Harmonygirl

  • Hi Bipolar butterfly,

    Please would you be so kind and tell Jenny that my partner and I were so grateful that Jenny and her family agreed to share the footage taken of them for BBC One's My Baby, Psychosis and Me! i was diagnosed bipolar as a result of my presentation during post partum psychosis which was followed by severe depression.

    jenny in that documentary was behaving so similarly to i had been so it was good for my partner to witness (even if my partner commented that i was a lot "worse"). i could relate to jenny's riddles and way of expressing herself/thinking (whilst not a qualified soliicitor i obtained my Masters in Law while at the MBU after handing in my disseration just before giving birth, which by the way i did whilst working full time in trade finance). especially jenny's comment "i might be prime minister by the end of the day" struck a chord with me. early on during my psychosis i thought my nct group and i were forming government ;-) i developed the idea that the world was going under as humanity had taken it too far and it was my job to save the world..anyway lots more but won't go into detail. suffice to say thar jenny's appearace in the documentary was immensely helpful to others like me and i think even more importantly my partner who couldn't quite believe how "mad" i had become.

    just to let you know I had my last session with my psychiatrist yesterday and am completely off medication.

    take care and please send my best wishes to jenny!

  • Hey Benedict, it's so comforting to know your not the only one who has gone through it. I'm so glad it was a positive documentary & that it helped you and your husband. My husband found that he could see likeness to Jenny & the other lady too. I told my closest friends about the documentary & they all watched it, which was helpful. It has been a blessing to have her as a friend. When I had PP she came to visit me in hospital and was in tears. It's so hard seeing a friend unwell and not many friends feel comfortable visiting a psyc ward. When she had her little girl & got unwell I visited her and it was so hard seeing her not herself but at the same time I could totally relate to her and knew with time she would recover, just as I had. Every time I saw her she improved, she's so talented. I can't believe that we both had to go through it. It doesn't seem fair for anyone to have to go through PP. I'm sorry you have had to. Hope your on the road to recovery. I'll see Jenny in the new year so I will pass on your gratitude & best wishes. I'm sure it will mean so much to her. Have a wonderful Christmas. Bipolar Butterfly xxx

  • Thank you, have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for 2017!

    P.s. i used the neutral word partner but actually she is my wife not husband ;-)

  • Best wishes to you both & your baby 😊 xxxxx

  • Dear Harmonygirl,

    you have some wonderful feedback on this page. It looks like as if quite a few people feel much more in tune with the right side of the brain. Creativity is certainly always buzzing in my case & even more when approaching full moon. :-)

    Who is Jenny?

    Wishing you and all the other ladies inner peace.

    Sabine x

  • Sabine,

    Jenny appeared in BBC One's documentary My Baby, Psychosis and Me. it doesn't look like it is available to watch on BBC iplayer anymore but here is a Guardian article about it: theguardian.com/commentisfr...

  • That documentary really struck a nerve with me, it was on around about my due date and for some reason I chose to watch it although in my advanced state of pregnancy it made me quite upset. I remember thinking at the time "imagine if it happened to me"... and it did! Having seen the documentary did help when after hours of being unwell and assessed by numerous health professionals my husband explained to me that I had psychosis. It was amazing how much better I felt just knowing that something was wrong and that the strange thoughts and feelings I was experiencing weren't normal.

    I ended up in a mother and baby unit for a few weeks and since then have been anxious and moderately depressed but I feel like I'm getting by.

    I'm still on maternity leave but had a half day back at work today and it felt so strange being back in that mode. I still have a couple of months left before I go back to work (as a social worker) but I feel like I've been on such a traumatic journey and most people don't know. I'm concerned about how I will cope with the pressures of the job on top of parenthood, but have just started CBT so hopeful that will equip me to better cope with stress.

  • One step at a time, and eventually you will fully recover like me! best wishes

  • Thanks Benedicte! When I look back I realise how far I've come already. X

  • Thank you so much, Benedicte. I will have a read, -I usually avoid documentary about PP.

    Kind wishes,

    Sabine :-)

  • Hello Harmony Girl,

    It has taken me two years to feel that I'm over the immediate trauma of the illness & im now trying to pick up the pieces & move beyond it. It does take time to heal as others have said.

    I also feel that I'm going to have to change my career as I don't think I could handle my old job now either. Though I don't know your situation - I'm trying to look at it from a positive perspective - as an opportunity to grow into someone more authentic with a life & career more integrated with who I am. I never truly loved my career though I was just going through the motions of what was expected so it may be different in your case. I'm trying to see it as an opportunity for positive change. For me that is how I'm understanding my PP. lots of thoughts I had buried for years all came out at once & it was terrifying but in a way now I see it as cleansing (not that I would wish it on anyone). The thoughts were mostly based on past traumas. Therapy has helped me a lot & trying to be in nature & keeping active. It's hard as our identities shift when we become mothers and the pp on top makes you question everything. I don't think even my perception of reality will ever be the same again. It's truly a life changing experience but I hope one that will make me ultimately a more aware person & better than before not worse as I've been forced to self reflect which lots of people cannot do in this society as everyone is so busy.. Love to you & try be patient with yourself - you've been through so much xxx

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