Helping sister with PP: Hi, my sister... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Helping sister with PP

Catmobile profile image

Hi, my sister was recently admitted to an MBU for PP. We live 200miles away so I can only visit her weekly in person. Does anyone have any tips on activities/excercise that I could try with her when I visit to make the visit more structured and effective. I am reluctant to just sit by her bedside as I want to help her/provide some light relief. Any ideas for activities that we could try (we both have 8month old babies) would be great. I also considered letter writhing/pen pal but I don't know if that would make her more confused as she would have time to over analyse the language. Thanks!

13 Replies


When I was in Stafford MBU last year with PP I enjoyed creative activities (not something I would normally do!) Depending on the facilities at the MBU you could make cards for mums on Mother's Day with babies hand & feet prints. My friend also bought plain white photo frames from Asda and glitter and crafty bits to decorate them. I then displayed these in my room with photos of my husband, baby & dog! It's also something your sister can continue with when your not there.

We also had the "naughty" foods you would normally only have a treats, such as hot chocolate with cream & marshmallows etc! Dependant on whether she is allowed time of the ward, I enjoyed just the "normal" things that are taken for granted, like a walk to the park etc.

Wishing her a speedy recovery. Take care. X

Lilly53 profile image
Lilly53Volunteer in reply to Libby02

Just to follow up on Libby02 really. Crafts and music were so therapeutic to me in my recovery when I first got PP (singing along to music videos with my growing bump, painting pictures for my son's nursery and sewing at home). I couldn't for example focus on magazines, books or TV and I often saw hidden meaning in those types of things anyway which made my symptoms worse. Arts however really helped to focus and slow down my mind when it was racing during my time with the psychosis. Making cards and handprints etc Libby sound great ideas and something focused on the baby too which is brilliant for bonding further.

I should say that I never actually ended up in a mother/baby unit as my PP (which unusually came BEFORE the birth of my first son, hence why I was singing with my bump!) wasn't picked up until 2 years later when I had another episode of PP with my second son (but that time it came AFTER the birth of him which is more the norm with PP if that makes sense!).

Second time around my family made sure I got support. Mine was in the form of a CPN home visit on/off for 12 months until my symptoms passed. I also listened to lots of music that time etc. But another specific exercise that formed part of my CPN's visits included making a 'Staying well plan' along with a 'List of triggers or warning signs for my PP'. That really helped build my confidence for the future as I could see the build up to my PP. It also gave me a greater feeling of control over what was happening to my mind and reminded me of the sorts of things I could do/steps I could take to help me stay well. I suppose the 'staying well one' could be something you did together with your sister (and that itself could become a craft activity with a collage of pictures or positive words etc??). Things like trying to get good sleep etc could be examples added to that? I think I need to dig my plan out actually!

I wish you all well in this difficult time xxx

Thanks so much for all of your suggestions. I shall get down to hobbycraft and pick up some things. It's amazing how clearly you can remember your times with PP and talk so positively about ways to manage it, I do hope my sister gets to this stage in the not too distant futures. It seems like there's no end to it at the moment. Thanks again.xx

Hi Catmobile

Sorry to hear your sister is struggling. She WILL get better. I know it feels like a long time, and never ending. It's amazing you are visiting her weekly, living so far away.

I agree that crafts were helpful. Those adult colouring books may be good? I really wish I had them, but they weren't around when I was ill. Pampering really helped me feel better. Do you have a foot spa? Paint her nails? dye her hair? anything like that?? It really did give my self esteem a boost, and I felt cared for.

I also thought you may find this blog post helpful

Take care, I do hope you find this forum helpful. And do take a look on our website for all information about PP if there is anything you would like to know


Lilybeth profile image

Hello Catmobile

There are some very good ideas here already. Welcome to the forum where you will find lots of support. I'm sorry to hear that your sister has PP and that you live so far apart. I wonder if you have seen the APP Insider Guides, "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" and "Postpartum Psychosis : A Guide for partners" the link is These might be helpful to read together.

My PP was a long time ago when there were no mother and baby units, so I was treated under general psychiatric care and eventually fully recovered. It does take time to recover from such a trauma but your sister is in the best place for specialist care.

I'm sure your sister looks forward to your visits and sometimes having you there is enough in the early days of recovery as I found my concentration levels were hit and miss some days.

Remember to take care of yourself too.

Hello Catmobile,

(first of all, I love your pseudonym, I am very fond of cats; stroking pets can be very therapeutic, when poorly)

I was hospitalised & I hardly remember; only flash backs. I was diagnosed with PPP , but did not receive the appropriate medication.

However, your sister is in good hands in the MBU. I am just so sorry that you are so far away. My partner had similar problems, there was no MBU within Somerset in 2010.

I am not sure how poorly she is, but reading to your sister would be very therapeutic...something she enjoys or is very fond of. I am doing a course on Literature and Mental Health. Reading aloud, such as poetry is apparently extremely therapeutic.

Before my illness I was a yogist and followed the Buddhist philosophies. According to my partner, I was holding my Buddhist book of poems very close to my chest...unable to read though. My partner gave me things to hold onto, which reminded me of home and my baby.

On my path of recovery I have been painting loads, throughout day and night...My creativity is always on over-drive...

Wishing your sister a quick recover and for you and your family loads of strengths :-)

Sabine x

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPPartner in reply to

Hi Sabine, I love the idea of reading to someone...I couldn't manage to focus on a book when I was really unwell (I did a bit as I recovered more) but I think it would have really helped if someone had read to me. I love this forum for the way we can all share ideas! X

Dear Catmobile,

Thanks for being the sister visiting your sister!

When I was in secure psych ward without my baby, it was my sister travelling 300kms for the occasional weekend visit that was lovely.

Just be the sisters you would be if it werent for the label on the door! Listen to music together, go for a walk if she's allowed yet, letter writing is actually really precious, as are photos. Listen without judging, or worrying, just be there.

Take photos of yourselves together, and of the baby cousin's together. One of the hardest things about her illness and treatment, is that there will be bits that she doesnt remember, but there will be lots she can remember with prompting. So recording in a diary together your visits, and photographing your times together, will help her afterwards to see how much she was trying to get well, and how precious were her caring family.

I had PP twice. these lovely visits I speak of were after my 2nd child.

My first experience of PP, I was also separated from my baby. And there are no photos of my baby and I for that entire period of time. No record of when she rolled or crawled, or got her first tooth. How about you keep a baby diary together for the baby cousins? So that despite their different starts, they will have those memories preserved.

People think you cant take photos in tough times, but its actually really important because its that family's time, that they will never be able to catch up on!


Deb, your written account is beautiful and very supportive. It just highlights the differences of experiences. It is even more contrasting when 1 female had to experience such differences in treatment.

Best wishes, Sabine

Hazello profile image

Hi Catmobile,

I think all these suggestions are great. Personally when I saw anyone I felt the need to talk about everything that had happened to start with but that was quite unhelpful for me so anything to distract I think would be helpful. I didn't have visitors at first other than husband because I knew it would make me feel worse. The idea of taking babies foot print and photos is a great one. My biggest regret is that I did that in hospital and forgot to take it home!

I think everyone is individual. I loved having familar novels to read, but if i didnt remember to take with me early in the morning, they got locked in my room. I got so bored in the hospital. Anything to keep occupied is good . Just talking to anyone helped...just not negative things like in the news. I understood a lot more than i could communicate. I loved getting fresh fruit...i was worried re putting on weight with the medicine. Flowers, soaps, nice clothes...normal hospital gifts are great. Loved when i was allowed to receive texts from family...i think pen pal is a great idea.

The adult colouring books can be quite relaxing and therapeutic for some people. The ones shaped like a circle are supposed be better perhaps than animal ones.

I used to enjoy looking at the cards I received,which I put on my wall and they did brighten the room up. It was a reminder so using a notelet might be appropriate every one is different. Just an idea.

Lilybeth profile image

Hello catmobile

How are you? I hope your sister is recovering at her own pace and you are enjoying quality time together.

Take care ..... we are all here to chat if it helps.

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