That Disconnected Feeling.. - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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That Disconnected Feeling..

kaktus profile image

Hello all,

My cat ran away 2 days ago and it's got me crying and feeling just awful. I thought I couldn't feel worse.. but I guess I was wrong. But this post is not about that. I just wanted to ask those who have recovered- if you had the feeling of being disconnected from your life, like things aren't quite "real"- do you think it was caused by the antipsychotics themselves, or is it a symptom of PP? Basically, I was wondering if that feeling gets better when you come off the medication or it's significantly lowered.. or is it a sign of the PP still being around? Or is it just a response to trauma?

I know this is a difficult question to answer but I am going to see my psychiatrist next week and I want to be able to explain in what way I don't feel "right" in case there's some adjusting we can do to fix it. I realize we're all different but I thought if anyone has experience with this feeling and when/how it got better.

I'm currently not on antidepressants (well, I am, but a low-dose tetracyclic for sleep only) but my mood is consistently low. Again- is that PP- or is it actual depression?

On the one hand I don't want even MORE meds.. on the other I worry there's an untreated depression. I feel hopeless basically every day. The best mood I have is neutral. I manage to get out of bed and do things but I'm consistently low. I feel like I'm worse now than I was when I first came out of the psychosis.

Again, I know it's a difficult question.. but I'm just wondering if low mood accompanies PP recovery or if it's the depression (my PP didn't involve mania so I thought I would not have the depression that can follow.. but I feel so's got me wondering).

Sorry if my questions are really nebulous....

13 Replies
Ellie_at_APP profile image

Hi Kaktus

First of all I'm so sorry about your cat :( that is really sad, I'm not surprised you are feeling awful. I used to find that because my emotional reserves were so low, anything difficult I had to deal with would affect me badly.

I'm sorry you're feeling awful, low, and not connected - I think the technical psychological term is 'depersonalisation' - perhaps your psychiatrist will know this term if you describe your feelings like that. As I think I shared on a previous post I really struggled with all the feelings you describe... I really could have written your posts myself...

To answer your question a little bit, I hope, re the depression. Depression is really common after PP, the majority of people seem to experience it, to a lesser or greater extent. Myself, I plummeted into quite a bad depression 6 weeks after the PP. I did take an anti psychotic and an anti depressant which is quite common in treating PP. I also found therapy (CBT - cognitive behaviour therapy) with a psychologist really helpful with tackling negative thoughts and the depression.

You are going to come through this and get better. I hope that your psychiatrist appointment is helpful next week. You may find it helpful to keep a short diary of your thoughts and mood just to show the psychiatrist when you meet him / her as this could help you to get the best treatment from them. I know I would find it hard to describe sometimes how I felt.

Take care, thinking of you, keep writing on here whenever you need to, we are here for you.

Ellie X

Hello Kaktus, Something that I initially noticed is that you are very expressive and articulate and as a suggestion you could ask your psychiatrist for an appointment with extra time so you have chance to relate your symptoms... can you say when the changes happened such as when did the feeling "dissociation" happen exactly ? I hope your Psychiatrist will discuss all this with you.. Stress, anxiety and generally being run down can have a big effect on your mental say you feel low most of the time, which must be difficult to put up with.

How are you getting along with the baby care ? Are you having help with that ? was there any major problem with the birth ? Do you have friends and family nearby to lend a hand?

Its worth considering, if your current feeling of low mood and depression could be linked with the disappointment of having been going through this serious period of recovery from a difficult illness at a time when it is expected that women are the magnificent mother figures of story books? the truth is childbirth is for many a huge uphill struggle of chaotic emotions, rocketing feelings of competence and helplessness,anxiety of being responsible for a vulnerable child,concerns about the relationship affect, bodily changes, tiredness. But it gets better , and we recover in you will for sure ! Please believe it !

Have you thought of keeping a diary ? On the positive side, it is said in self help books that writing down each day a couple of things you feel grateful for can help ... I found writing my anxieties down , often in the middle the night (!) alleviated the concerns , and allowed me to get to sleep..and that was a big help.

A final suggestion Kaktus, are you caring for yourself e.g. eating healthily ? using aromatherapy baths ? going for walks in the fresh air ? Don't neglect yourself !

I wish you all the best for a good discussion with the doctor, and for improvement in how you are warm wishes... Denise

Thank you for your replies. The pervasive feeling I have is different from depersonalization/derealization that I had years ago that was trauma/anxiety related. I healed that with good sleep and taking care of myself and just time. This feels less intense/acute but more all-pervading and almost constant. I'm thinking it's just my brain, affected by the meds, but at the same time trying to grasp what happened to it. I also think it's the trauma itself that makes me want to believe that none of this is real, that it didn't really happen. I guess forms of dissociation are typical of trauma, because we want to escape the unpleasant reality but then the escape itself becomes a problem.

Thank you for the support. --'-@

Lilybeth profile image

Hello kaktus

Just wondering how you are? I hope the psychiatrist will take time to listen to your worries next week and plan your future care.

So sorry to hear about your cat running away and how upset you were.

Take care.

Hello Kaktus,

thinking of you, too. I have been reflecting on your question. Thank you for summarising your intense feelings and delving so deep.

In my opinion traumatising experiences can affect us all differently and in a way is deeply "impregnated/rooted" and can easily come to the forefront with "a trigger". Behavioural patterns of others, loosing something you love, upsetting news (social media, tragedies, grief...), conflicts, misunderstandings, misconceptions, expectations from others or oneself or your own frustration, anger or other emotions and lots more presents itself as a challenge. External and internal influences can affect your health and life style and could just put you back right there where you do not want to be...this can go as far as childhood experiences in those crucial developmental stages; whether it is a flash back or an associated similar and often just circumstantial situation reminding you of that negative experience. (I dislike certain smells, nor do I like being in a confined room or in crowds-trigger)

I have had to develop a support system and my specific toolkit consists of self management and coping strategies. It is all part of the recovery process. You have been doing absolutely amazing with the reduction of your meds. I always have asked for help and researched what maybe suitable for me to get again one step forward.

It is good to brainstorm your worries, to journalise and explain to the once who care, how you feel in order to reduce anxiety and have a care path way, which is suitable for you.

- what is available in your locality for after care and recovery

- could I contact charities (via website) and see what sort of support is on offer

- any therapeutic holistic support for mums and babies

- me-time : swimming, painting, online courses, meditation, yoga, arts and craft for Christmas, anything one enjoys

- who can step in in order to give mum a rest

- regular up-date with professionals and being informed about therapy and courses, so that

mental health can be further improved

- communicating and socialising is important (risk of isolation & loneliness can affect your emotional well being)

- creative writing and journalising in any form

Anyhow, that is all for now,

take good care


kaktus profile image
kaktus in reply to

Thank you for such a detailed reply. One of the big issues is that I live in a country where I'm a foreigner and don't speak the local language very well. So that makes it harder to find support/charities/groups/etc and care in English has to be paid for. But I did make contact with a local woman who had severe postpartum anxiety and have been communicating with her although her experience was very different and she recovered much more quickly (I guess she didn't have PP, or it was caught really early).

On Tuesday I'm finally seeing the psychiatrist again (I have appointments only every 6 weeks or so) and I will ask about an antidepressant because I think that it's not just the shock of PP that makes me cry and feel hopeless every day. I don't know how much more of this I can take.

If I'm put on an SSRI, my hope is that it would also help with anxiety so I can stop taking the addictive benzos I am currently taking.

I'm living with my mom and she has paid for daily help so I don't have to take care of the baby by myself, but on the other hand it makes me feel even more useless/disconnected as the woman who is helping has taken over completely, both the care of my daughter and the kitchen (a space I used to love). I know I shouldn't be complaining because I'm lucky to have such help and I know others are left alone with their babies long before they are perhaps ready....

I find it hard to go out and socialize because of the anxiety and depersonalization. Again, I'm hoping an adjustment in meds could help with that. I will see....

Thank you again.

Hello Kaktus,

you are more than welcome. I am pleased that you found the forum and you are able to talk about your experiences.

I have great compassion for you, because I am a none-native in the UK. If you have not got the command of the target language coping mechanisms are so much more difficult, - here the emphasis is only on cultural and linguistic integration. When poorly and abroad, life becomes extremely difficult and can be frustrating, stressful, scary...

My partner had a dreadful time when I became acutely psychotic. I spoke 2 other EU languages and some sort of "double Dutch" with some English.

I had been cared for by my partner and his family when I came out of the Psychiatric hospital. I could not take care of the baby in the first 6 months, I needed to heal and recover...I have had to learn again the basics and simultaneously my partner taught me how to take my own medicine, how to look after my baby and to look after myself.

Take your time, - it is good to receive help, but also to express your feelings to your loved ones, when you do not feel comfortable with a situation, and/or you would like to talk about how to improve routine and looking after the baby in stepping stones, - something which could be addressed with your professional support as well as close family.

I always did a bit of brain storming about the issues I wanted to raise. Can your boy friend help with interpreting and translating what you would like to bring across?

I hope you will be able to communicate with the Psychiatrist. It is important to discuss possible new meds such as SSRI.

Take care-

bye for now,


Lilybeth profile image

Hello kaktus

Good to hear from you. I hope the appointment with your psychiatrist goes well tomorrow and you will be able to talk about how low you have been feeling so that he can help. It must be so difficult for you living in a foreign country but I'm sure, in time, your fluency in the local language will improve.

I think your mum is trying to give you space to yourself without having to cope with routine just yet. Perhaps when you are feeling a little better your mom will reduce the hours of the daily help when you can spend more time with your baby. Or you could explain to your mom how having extra help at home makes you feel, especially as you enjoy time to yourself in the kitchen.

I think getting the right balance of medication is important and hope a review tomorrow will be helpful to subdue your feelings of anxiety and address your low mood.

It's not easy for you at the moment but eventually you will fully recover. In the meantime we are all here for you.

Take good care of yourself. xx


The psychiatrist lowered my dose of quetiapine again and removed the Abilify altogether. I'm hoping that will help relieve the depressive symptoms and also the frequent night-time urination which keeps me from sleeping properly. I asked about an antidepressant but he wants to see how this goes first and then consider putting me on venlafaxine in January if I'm still suffering from low mood. That seems like an eternity to wait but I'm hoping this meds reduction will do the trick and I won't need to go on an antidepressant. All I can do is hope...

Ellie_at_APP profile image

Hi Kaktus, Thanks for your update. I really hope that the change of dose in medication does help your mood.

I'm sorry you're struggling with the depression and motivation.

That sounds hard as well with the daily help your getting - helpful but at the same time I know how hard it is to see someone else looking after your baby, it can knock your confidence. I also found that sometimes being forced to manage on my own, and look after my baby was difficult, but also slowly boosted my confidence that I could manage.

Take care, and I hope you can feel some difference in your mood soon. You are going to get better...


Lilybeth profile image

Hello kaktus

I hope the change in medication will be helpful when it has had time to take effect. I'm sorry you're struggling with low mood. Although you have support with your baby's needs, perhaps you could help at bath time so that you feel more involved?

Is Christmas celebrated where you live? It's a very special time here in the UK especially with a newborn, although due to being under general psychiatric care I missed my first son's Christmas.

In time your confidence to care for your baby will grow as your depression becomes manageable. It's not easy and can seem a long way off but with the good medical care and support you will fully recover. In the meantime we are all here for you.

Take good care of yourself.

Hello Lilybeth,

Christmas is celebrated here as well. :) I am hoping that by the end of December I will be more stable.

I am doing better though. My depression has lifted a little bit and today I saw a specialist who reviewed my medication and said that it's good for me but added something different for sleep and depression. She also said it would help me psychologically to care for my baby more so I told my mother and she agreed that we will reduce the hours of the person who is currently helping with my daughter.

Thank you for the kind support. I don't know where I'd be without this site.

Lilybeth profile image

Hello kaktus

Lovely to hear that you are doing better. It's such a relief when you feel as though the depression has lifted a little bit isn't it? I remember being hopeful ..... It's good that you had a medication review and now have something different for sleep and depression. This was the same for me as finding the right balance of medication and treatment eventually made all the difference.

I'm glad the specialist mentioned how helpful it would be to care for your baby more and that your mother agreed to reduce the hours of the help at home. Keep taking things day by day and your confidence will return as you can spend more time interacting with your daughter. You might be nervous giving her a bath at first ...I know I was .....but it's such an achievement and great fun. Also, singing a lullaby before your daughter goes to sleep might be restful for you too. Perhaps you could keep a note of all the things you do for your daughter until your next meeting with a specialist to, in a way, chart your recovery?

Christmas is a magical time, especially with your newborn. As you say, I hope you might be more stable by the end of the year but don't rush to be well ...... no pressure. You're ticking along nicely and have good loving support at home as well as from all the mums here :)

Take good care of yourself.

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