Depression after a psychotic episode - advice/encouragement?

Hello everyone,

I had PP after the birth of my daughter in August 2015. I had horrible depression afterwards but by October 2016 I was feeling okay-ish, and then towards the end of the year I was actually feeling happy. Then, mid January I had a relapse, without having another baby. I was okay until about 3 weeks ago, and then I started to feel grumpy and down, and it's got progressively worse to the point where I am feeling like I can't cope with my life anymore. I am terrified of being left on my own with my little girl who is now nearly 21 months, and she is so full of energy, she needs a lot of attention and I just don't want to give it to her right now, but obviously, I have no choice.

All I really want to do is stay in bed, or not be alive... I just want to stop this awful feeling. I feel like this time it's more anxiety - that I'm not doing things right or well enough, and that feeling of the burden of responsibility of caring for and bringing up a little human, which I chose but I feel I don't want now/can't cope with it. I think the anxiety becomes overwhelming and then makes me depressed.

I went to the GP on Friday and was given some Sertraline (antidepressant) but told that it can take a month or two to kick in. I can't bear the idea of another month or two feeling like this. I'm a full-time mum so on my own Monday to Friday during the day with my little girl and I just hate it. I'm so anxious about tomorrow (my husband is here today as he is taking me to therapy).

Does anyone have any tips for how they dealt with their depression? Or stories of hope?

14 Replies

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  • Hello Peppermint_Pig

    I really understand how low you must be feeling as I was the same after having a relapse many years ago now after my second PP. I had what seemed like an endless depression, dragging me down no matter how much I tried to lift myself. I very much felt hopeless and helpless and my bed was my sanctuary. I used to stay in bed, as a way of keeping my husband at home, as I was also scared of being on my own.

    Did you explain how you truly felt to your GP as I'm surprised he just gave you tablets and didn't refer you to the RAID (Rapid Assessment Interface and Discharge) Team at your local A & E? If you don't feel you can cope later tonight is there an out of hours service at your G.P's to leave a message and someone can visit you at home?

    I was treated as an outpatient recovering from my relapse and in times of crisis, of which there were many, I was admitted to the local psychiatric unit for ECT treatment which made all the difference over time.

    Being a mum is a big responsibility and I always thought I wasn't good enough. It's such an awful anxiety and I really hope you can seek attention as soon as possible rather than waiting for medication to kick in. Is it possible your husband can take compassionate leave from work while you try to cope or do you have family and friends to help you?

    I did eventually come out of that dark place, as you will too but you really need the best care and understanding right now. Thinking of you ....... take care.

  • Hi Peppermint_Pig,

    I'm so sorry that you are struggling after a relapse. It sounds like you are having to cope with so much, being with your energetic daughter all day. I had PP in 2011 after the birth of my son, and suffered a horrible depression afterwards, where I felt like you did. It's so horrible that you've had a relapse and are having to cope with it again.

    First of all - I know it is hard to believe, but it is going to pass. I am sure it is our poor brain's way of coping with the psychosis - that you have been so 'high', that it has to come down but that this is just a stage, and you will come through it and recover. I know there are many women on here who have had a relapse, and I hope you will hear from their experience and it will reassure you.

    I did wonder if there is any way you can get some more support? Do you have family or friends who are able to come and be with you on a regular basis and help out? Have you told people close to you how you feel? I know it helped me to have people who could come on the same day every week so I didn't have to 'organise' it.

    I also wondered if there are any local groups you could join (mental health peer support groups?) or organisations that offer support for parents who are struggling. There is an organisation called Home Start where volunteers can come and help you, I don't know if they are in your area: home-start.org.uk/

    You are a good mum, because I hear in your message that you love your daughter, and want the best for her. I felt I was an awful mum as well, but now I have an amazing relationship with my son, and enjoy him so much, but it takes time. You are doing amazing, to be coping each day with her while being so unwell.

    Please - do tell everyone who is supporting you exactly how you are feeling, don't hold back, it's really important that they know how much you are struggling, don't hold back, it's important they know how you are, and that you need more support.

    Sorry for the long post and all the links, please just take or leave whatever is helpful.

    Thinking of you , you can write here whenever you need to XX

  • Hello Peppermint_Pig

    I hope you were able to sleep last night and that you will be ok today.

    Stay safe and take care. xx

  • This post could have been written by me as this is how I am feeling at the moment. I have opened up to my care team and a meeting is taking place this afternoon to discuss ECT. I'm hoping this will be given the go ahead and help to bring me out of the depression I am currently experiencing. Make sure you let people know how you feel and if you wish to talk please message me. As lilybeth has said stay safe x x thinking of you x x

  • Hello Peppermint Pig - but also bethanylj

    I’m sorry that you’re having such a difficult time, no-one deserves PP or a relapse and depression afterwards.

    My history is that I had PP in July 2013, and then depression afterwards. In April 2015 I relapsed with the psychosis – but didn’t get depressed the second time. So I feel as though I can understand some of what you’re going through.

    I will try to concentrate on tips and my story of hope.

    Some of these things might be a bit difficult to face at the moment – I guess start with whatever feels easiest for you:

    •Regular light exercise preferably outdoors

    •Taking up all offers of professional help, especially counselling, and then being really honest with them

    •Be as open as you can with supportive friends / family

    •Self compassion – try and speak kindly to yourself in your head. Especially about your mothering. I found that I didn’t ‘hate’ the parenting as much if I stopped beating myself up about how ‘badly’ I was doing it.

    •Plan very short activities with your daughter – e.g. let’s play shop for 20 minutes – then it can feel like such an amazing achievement!

    •Consider how you could get regular time to yourself during the weekdays. Is there anyone who could babysit for you for a short while, or could you put your daughter into a nursery for a half day? Perhaps there is funding that could help with this (I have no idea – the health visitor may know). I had help from Homestart and that was free and a lifeline. In every job, people get lunch breaks – so should mums. Maybe your daughter has a nap and you could do something nourishing with that time. Not cleaning! Consider whether someone else might be able to help you with housework for a short while.

    •Get as much sleep as you need / as you can manage to get. Take sleeping pills if you need.

    •Don’t worry too much about how your parenting is going. Children are resilient, and attachments bonds can keep developing for years and years and years, so it’s not all about the first 3 years (this was my personal worry)

    •Write a diary about how you’re feeling (or equivalent in art / piano / whatever)

    •Try and arrange something you enjoy like a coffee with a friend

    •Try not to feel guilty for any of it

    I have run out of time! But as for recovery – all I can say is that I’m currently feeling really well. Haven’t been this stable and upbeat since my very positive pregnancy. Certainly I feel as happy now as at any other ‘good’ time in my life. I’m saying all this cautiously because I have a bipolar diagnosis, so in theory I could get ill again with depression or psychosis at any time. But I certainly feel good right now and it’s hard to fully remember every aspect of the depression.

    You do still exist outside of all this illness and you will get back ‘there’! For sure! Just takes time unfortunately.

    I’m sorry my email is a bit rushed. Happy to keep chatting about this – I’m sure I could say much more!

    Spaghetti x

  • Hi peppermint_pig,

    I had PP in August 2016 and shortly after fell into a cycle of anxiety and depression for 6 months which was so difficult and I felt exactly as you describe in your post.

    I was readmitted to a mother and baby Unit for 8 weeks and I can honestly say that with medication and time I now feel myself again and I'm enjoying life with my 8 month old. When I was in hospital they kept telling me I would feel better again but when you are going through a dark depression you don't believe It.

    Hang in there, take care of your self and with time it will get easier.

    Lauren

  • Hello Peppermint_Pig

    Just thinking about you and hope you are ok.

    Take care.

  • Hi Peppermint_pig, I had pp in oct 2014 I had 3 stints in the mother and baby unit and 3 weeks in an adult psych ward last march. I had terrible depression afterwards and hearing voices, it took being on olanzapine, lithium carbonate and venlafaxine to help along with time. I almost lost my job last year due to it. I'm glad to say that I've been back at work almost a year and I'm coming off my meds. I used to think things wouldn't get better, but they have. Just hang in there and things will get easier. Xx

  • Hi there,

    So sorry to hear you are having such a bad time at the moment - in some ways I think the depression is worse than the psychosis- the smallest of tasks seem so difficult and it feels never ending. But know that you will get better, you did it once so I am sure you can do it again.

    It's really good that you have spoken to your GP. I had depression which started about 4-5months after delivery/psychosis. I was also put on sertraline and it started to kick in within about 2 weeks. So although it's difficult know that you will start to feel better really soon. I had very similar feelings to you - the overwhelming responsibility and just wanting to stay in bed. I found writing myself a list for the morning really helped. This would be for the everyday tasks. Get up, get washed, get dressed, get baby dressed, give baby breakfast, give myself breakfast. Etc. Then you can see what you achieve in the morning and also have something to tell you what to do. I always felt worse in the morning,

    It's really hard on your own - do you have anyone who could help for a couple of weeks until the sertraline kicks in? Could your partner take some leave or do you have family or friends who can help?

    Also have you had any therapy? I found this really helped. With the overwhelming responsibility I had this feeling of having to do everything right, and therapy really helped with that.

    I hope you start to feel better soon, let us know when things feel a bit better xxxx

  • Hello, it has been a while since I posted on this forum but now feel that this is the only place where people understand what I am going through. I read the post above and it very much describes where I am right now. I had PPP three months after the birth of my beautiful baby daughter last year at the end of June. I was in hospital for two weeks and I still don't remember all the detail of it. A good year onward, we moved, I started a new job in May and my daughter is in creche. She very much enjoys it there, which is good. I am struggling with my job as it is very stressful and there are many new things and also it is a new industry. Had sleeping problems last week and this week because I feel like I am not on top of my work. I am feeling very fatigued and tired all the time and I wonder if I am heading into a depression or if I am feeling that way because of work. Just feel like a complete failure, afraid of being at home alone with my daughter and small tasks do seem like a lot of effort. Would just like to stay in bed and sleep, which reminds me of the phase when I was on a lot of medication after PPP. My husband is amazing, looks after dinners and our daughter a lot. I just feel very useless right now and wonder how to "snap" out of this phase. It is truly awful. I am thinking of resigning from my job as it is too stressful, but then am afraid of being at home again... Any advice please? I have a therapist appointment on Friday.

  • Hi Cangra,

    Do feel free to post your comment as a new thread if you want, as that way more forum users should see it?

    I just wanted to say how well you are doing - starting a new job in a new industry is very stressful for anyone, but for a new mum not long recovered from PP it is superhuman!

    Could you think about confiding in a manager at work? You might be surprised about how supportive they could be...

    I also just wanted to link you to my friend Eve's blog all about stress: smalltimemum1.wordpress.com...

    She writes so openly, with humour and warmth, about it. She is also a PP survivor who sometimes comes on the forum too.:)

    Hope this helps

    Kat xx

  • Hi Kat, thanks for your reply. It means a lot. When I wrote the post I just felt like hiding... I read the blog and found it enlightening, it's so good to know that I am not on my own. I will have to quit the job as it is making me very unhappy and I need to move past this feeling. It just didn't turn out the way I hoped or expected it to be. Tough luck, can happen that's life I guess...

    I spoke to my therapist earlier today and he said that maybe it is possible to change the work so that it is easier to digest, but it just isn't and I need to accept that...

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond!

    xx Cangra

  • Hello Cangra

    Good to hear from you ..... you're definitely not on your own and as KatG said you might like to start your own post to gather support for yourself.

    You have done so much since June last year ..... moving house; starting a new job and moving forward with recovery from PP so you should be very proud of yourself.

    Years ago following PP it took me over two years to find my feet. I didn't have a job to return to as my recovery took so long. When I felt more confident I opted for temporary work, the variety of which gave me an idea of what suited me. I was able to choose the hours and days I worked and slowly regained my confidence.

    A few years ago I was struggling with work related stress which I knew wasn't good for my mental health. So I weighed up the options and managed to find a completely different job with less hours and far less stress. It made such a difference as I was able to sleep! I know we have financial commitments but I think when we get our mental health back we need to look after ourselves as we are more vulnerable than most.

    I hope your therapist will be able to guide you on Friday. In the meantime, try to find space in the day for yourself and take good care. PP mums are amazing :)

  • Hello Cangra

    I hope the appointment with your therapist on Friday was helpful and work is not too stressful.

    Take care. xx

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