Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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One step forwards, two steps backwards

Hi everyone, just posting as I hadn't for a while, a bit of an update on my illness. Just a warning this post touches on issues around sex so it could be triggering for some.

I've been having a few really good days, where I don't pressurise myself and I have great fun with my daughter, making her laugh and smile and where I feel very connected to her. Usually though these days then seem to be followed by another dip in energy levels, lethargy and not being as engaged with others including my daughter. It seems like I've ran out of steam.

Is this something that others are familiar with on their roads to recovery?

My relationship with my partner has been suffering a lot lately as I'm finding physical intimacy very difficult. I have been sexually assaulted multiple times by different men in the past but now is when my mind has decided to make it a problem, with my loving supportive partner. I feel like screaming and hitting him whenever he touches me. It's so unfair on him, he wouldn't ever hurt me in that way but for some reason my mind can't see the difference with loving intimacy and sexual assault. Can anyone identify with this, has anyone else experienced anything similar?

Thanks

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Hello Nara1

Thanks for your post and warning about triggers. It's good to hear that you have been having a few good days and I think the title of your post sums up recovery very well. I remember those lovely times of finally feeling connected to my sons and interacting with them after being without them and struggling to find my place.

Like you, I wasn't able to maintain this level of connection every day. There were still days when I didn't have much energy and lacked motivation. I'm not sure whether it was the sedating effect of the medication but some days were better than others.

Thank you for sharing the issues in your relationship and previous assaults which must be awful to recall. I will share with you that I was sexually abused, although as a child, from the age of six onwards.

When we were first married, I did find intimacy with my husband difficult although I never shared the reason of abuse with him until years later. Like you, I was very upset to be so unfair to my husband and went to see my GP in that early stage. We were referred to a specialist counsellor / therapist to whom I didn't disclose my abusive past but he was so helpful. Perhaps this is something you could discuss with your GP and partner as it's such a shame that your future happiness together should be held back by your past, awful though it must have been for you.

Thanks again Nara ..... sending you a hug :)

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Hi Nara 1,

I am also having a lot of trouble with intimacy since my PP in August. I have also been sexually assaulted in the past, and the PP brought back memories of that (which I had partly repressed). I guess psychosis brings up trauma, or perhaps is even connected to the traumas we've experienced in some cases. I feel like I am having a hard time accepting male sexuality in general, because I have connected it to violence.

I don't really have much advice except to take it easy/slow and be patient with yourself. I'm sure that as you heal and get stronger, you will be able to distinguish between your memories and the loving touches in the present moment. That's what I'm hoping will happen with me too...

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Hello Nara,

thank you for sharing your honest and deepest feelings on this forum.

I believe what has happened in the past is in the past, and something we can not change. I read my medical file and understand why I am still struggling with fear and anxiety today. Whether those facts will help me to come to terms with what had happened, I do not know. An art therapist told me to put a lid on the past...In my opinion we need to figure out what works for us. Prioritizing and making choices in how we want to pursue our life after PPP.

However, we can exchange our experiences and learn from each other and try to find ways in order to self-help; I am living also with a yoyo effect (mood swings) and can relate to your low motivation level.

When I have had PPP I was sectioned. Unfortunately my experiences in hospital were traumatising. The first 6 month of recovery were extremely difficult and I can not recall much. Yes, I believe medication affected our life style and I was dependent on my partner, who looked after our baby and me (full time carer).

Between 2012 and 2014 I participated in support groups and I am always grateful for 2 very dynamic and humanistic ladies. I struggled with extreme anxiety, where I could not be in the proximity of people yet alone sitting next to a stranger (especially men), nor communicate or be in a new environment. Those were 10 weeks courses...I could not join the group circle, but sat by the back door as I needed the exit and air. Eventually half way through the support course I came a bit closer to the group and managed to contribute a bit ...Self-management and peer support, but also learning to understand and recognise my triggers using a specific toolkit (alternative therapy) has helped me to live with the hear and now and to plan in stepping stones, subsequently being able to enjoy life at my own pace.

Yet, there are triggers, which will recall memories for me. Sometimes they do not make sense and probably go as far back as my childhood. Those triggers affect my well being in a unique way. The question is how do we cope with shame, guilt, lack of confidence, frustration, low dips and lots more?

As human being we come as a full package and our make-up and life experience is reflecting who we are today. Lilybeth has given you her encounter of events, which may help you on your journey of recovery such as trying to communicate about the problems of intimacy with your GP.

Traumatising experiences such as sexual, physical, mental abuse, negligence can affect our relationship with our partner/husbands tremendously. Both parties have to be ready for wanting to change in order to strengthen their love. Often one needs to have professional help. PTS needs time to heal, too.

Yep, recovery comes in many ways and I seek all the help I can get in order to try and enjoy the happy moments...

Thinking of you.

x

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Thank you all for your replies.

My partner is very understanding and we do occasionally have a bit of a breakthrough with this side of things but I always seem to go backwards again. It would be nice if I could just open up to him and stay open with him but I always seem to revert back to being quite tense and closed with him.

I think it's feeling connected in general that I have a problem with. In any sense, not just my relationship with my partner. But I'm hoping that it's improving.

Do you think there is a link between pp and sexual abuse/assault? I wondered this before as I read a few things that might suggest that.

Thank you all again, it helps so much to hear your replies and to not feel so alone in this horrible isolating illness.

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Hello Nara1

Thanks for your update. Is this something you can talk to your care co-ordinator about to remove the extra stress you're carrying? I'm not sure if there is a link between PP and abuse although, like you, I have read that it can impact on mental health in general but I'm not a medic :)

I know you're struggling with feeling connected but I think you're doing well so early into your recovery. Try to be kind to yourself and lean on all the support of your loving family.

Take good care of yourself .... we are all here to listen.

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Hello Nara

Thank you (and those who have replied) for sharing so honestly here.

I wouldn’t have thought there is a direct link between PP and sexual abuse/assault but I don’t know. I imagine there must be a link between abuse/assault/trauma and mental health in general, depending on the psychological impact, and your risk of PP may be higher if you have existing mental health problems, but this in itself doesn’t ‘cause’ PP. I think there needs to be a combination of things at play, and it is thought there needs to be some kind of genetic factor involved.

My psychosis seemed to delve into my deepest and earliest memories, finding significance in them all - I can well imagine PP brings up any trauma and traumatic memories from the past as it seems to probe and dissect every corner of your mind (or it did in my case anyway). Also, after months of being examined and the trauma and intimacy of childbirth, I think it’s unsurprising our psychotic minds would ‘go there’ and then sadly there is so much more to process during recovery.

This is just my view.

I hope everything will improve in time for you, I’m sure it will. As lilybeth says, be kind to yourself and keep talking here if it helps.

Look after yourself.

Best wishes, Jenny x

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Hello Nara,

Thank you for such a brave post. It can be very difficult voicing experiences of sexual abuse.

My own experience of recovery from PP has led me to accept that my energy levels are changeable. As Jasa shared I think after PP we all have to be kind to ourselves & enjoy the special, connected moments with family & friends & accept our low energy days as down time & the bodies signal for rest & recuperation.

As far as a link between PPP & sexual abuse, I agree with others here & feel that there is a link between traumatic childbirth experiences which can trigger deeply rooted trauma stored in the body from sexual abuse. This was certainly my own experience anyway.

I encountered sexual abuse as a child & had a very traumatic episiotomy followed by a ventouse delivery during childbirth as my son was delivered in occipital position (back to back). For me my body was not my own during this time & the intrusion & lack of control stirred up feelings & trauma of my past sexual abuse. Consequently, I have struggled with intimacy & sexual relations with my husband & feel saddened at the coldness I feel towards him sometimes.

I am finally after 3 years getting some therapeutic support & councelling for this & am hoping to get specialist help after my initial assessment with my Community Psychiatric Nurse. In my case, I was advised not to delve into my sexual abuse issues during my early recovery & in hindsight this makes sense to me. Everyone is different however, your support services can advise you further.

Well done for coming so far already & I send you love & support on your journey.

Take care

Em x

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Hi all,

It has been very moving to read the support we have all been giving each other on this thread.

I just wanted to write to signpost, and give some information.

I thought you all may be interested to know that, from research, there doesn't seem to be a particular link between PP and experiencing sexual abuse in your past. Of course, some people who have PP also have this experience, but in terms of it making mum's more susceptible / at risk of PP than the general population, this doesn't seem to be the case. PP seems to be completely indiscriminate, in terms of any social / psychological factors. This indicates that other factors such as biological (hormones), genetic factors, and lack of sleep seem to cause PP, but more research is needed.

PND is very different. Research shows that people who have adverse experiences in their past and stress in their lives (for example neglect or abuse in their past, experience of domestic violence etc), are more at risk of PND than the general population. There is no doubt though (as many of you have shared) that in the psychosis many things seem to come out that were buried, and then we are left with the trauma of dealing with it afterwards.

I also wanted to let you know there are many organisations that support survivors of sexual abuse. One example is The Survivors Trust, who you may find helpful to contact:

thesurvivorstrust.org

Take care all, and I hope this information and links are helpful.

Ellie

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Hello Nara1

Just wondering how you are? I hope you have been having better days in your recovery and your care co-ordinator has been supportive.

Take care. We are all here for you.

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Hi lilybeth, thank you for messaging. Yes things are on the up, I've started driving lessons and have found my symptoms are low as long as I don't drink alcohol after I've taken my tablets (which took me a while to figure out but better late than never!)

My care coordinator has been great, although I'm still waiting for therapy 10 months on. But he's done everything in his power to get the ball rolling so it's not his fault it's taking ages.

My little one is growing fast and developing daily, which is hard to keep up with and wears me out but luckily my pp symptoms are lessening all the time and I feel much clearer in my head. Keeping the house clean and tidy is a struggle but that is mostly to do with having a 10 month old as when I have the chance to catch up on cleaning I can and do.

Thank you for prompting an update from me, I hope you are well.

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Hello Nara1

So good to hear your positive update :) I'm glad your care co-ordinator is supporting you but it's a shame you are still waiting for therapy. Is it possible your GP can intervene to prioritise your place in the 'queue'?

Toddlers have so much energy don't they but are such lovely company? It's very hard to keep a tidy house too so it's probably best to make a cup of tea and breathe a sigh of relief that your symptoms are lessening all the time and you feel clearer in your head ...... the dust can wait a while :) I hope you can find space in your day to rest, perhaps when your little one takes a nap? It's great that you're having driving lessons and a good way to build confidence and self esteem.

I'm well thank you ......It's only ever when you feel like updating but in a way I think when it's written down you can see how far you have come and be very proud of yourself.

Lovely to hear from you. Take care.

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Hi Nara,

This sounds very similar to me. I too have been sexually assaulted by a number of men in my past so can relate some what.

In terms of the ups and downs, it's super natural. You will have good days and bad days. How old is your daughter? I felt immense pressure before and after PP to be the perfect mum and it was exhausting. Over time I've allowed myself to be 'good enough' and it's made a massive difference to me and my daughter. It's so tough and exhausting looking after a little one. My daughter has just turned 2 and now really enjoys playing by herself with her dolls or her kitchen. I guess I feel less pressure to make her happy as she has lots of things she can do herself and happily plays. When they're really little they're totally reliant on you for everything, including fun stimulation. I'm sure the times when you can make her laugh feel really good. Just don't put too much pressure on yourself and remember it's completely natural to be a bit up and down.

In terms of sex I've found it very difficult. My partner put a lot of pressure on me and made me feel really guilty when we didn't have sex. I just needed him to comfort me and cuddle me and wasn't ready for sex. When we did have sex I rarely enjoyed it and felt horrible about myself afterwards. I don't think he even noticed how much I wasn't enjoying it. We have since split up, not just because of sex but for a lot of reasons. I think after going through something as traumatic as PP you're going to be feeling sensitive and sex is the last thing you really feel like doing.

Do you talk to your partner about how you're feeling?

Wishing you all the best and glad you've opened up through the site.

Lots of love,

Natalie

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Hello Nara1

Just wondering how you are a few months on from your last update? Is your daughter one now? I hope you are now having therapy after waiting for so long although your care co-ordinator has been great. I'm sure your confidence is growing if you have been able to continue with your driving lessons. Such a positive outlook ...... I'm really happy for you :)

Take good care of yourself. xx

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Hi LilyBeth,

Thank you for messaging, things are a bit slow as I still haven't had any therapy a year down the track. Yes my daughter is now 1! Wow that time has flown!! She's gorgeous and so nearly walking! I still have rough days and days where I don't want to face the day ahead but I would say that I am slowly improving. My depression is really what knocks me most these days, it's not helpful.

Thanks again.

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Hi Nara1

Good to hear from you. You have had such a long time to wait for therapy, I hope you will be offered support soon. I'm sorry you're having to cope with depression. In the early stages of my depression I also had rough days where I didn't want to leave my bed but slowly got better with medication and treatment.

I think children are the best medicine ....... they can lift our spirits with just a smile! Your daughter must be a delight. Although you have been hit by depression I think you have done really well in a year. I'm glad that you have such good family support around you and hope you can enjoy walking to the village or in the countryside as a change from being indoors.

Take care. We are all here to listen and talk. Sending you a hug :) xx

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Hi lilyBeth,

I'm thinking of ringing my care coordinator to ask him if he can chase up my referral for therapy, it has been such a long wait. I really feel like I need something to help me.

The house work is still a nightmare to keep up with, I have just given up on it as it's so hard to do with the little one. It's such a mess! I haven't managed to hoover in ages and the problem with that and having a toddler is that they like to put random bits of crap from the floor in their mouths. I'm sure you probably came across that when your children were little. It's a nightmare!!

Thank you so much for checking up on me, I have been very quiet on here mostly because I'm so busy with baby. I do really appreciate it though, it's so nice to feel cared about :-)

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Hi Nara1

I think that would be a good idea to ring your care co-ordinator. A year is such a long time to wait and you have been coping but it must be very tiring trying to carry on without the support you need.

Try not to worry about the housework although I know what you mean about having a toddler who likes to pick up all the things they shouldn't! They are so quick .... I even remember my first son being in the garden with me and he picked up a shiny white stone .... showed it to me in his hand and then put it in his mouth (what a panic I was in!!)

It's not easy when you're not feeling well to be on top of everything so try to take it easy. At the moment it's more important to take care of yourself and try to get the therapy if you can. Is it possible your partner could chase it up for you?

Posting or replying on the forum is only ever when you feel like it but I'm glad you have taken time out of your busy days to let us know how you are. We do all care as we know how challenging some days can be. So take good care and try to find space in the day for yourself. Sending you another hug :)

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Hi LilyBeth, I spoke to my care coordinator and he is chasing up my referral, I have an outpatients appointment for psychotherapy which I think is linked to my referral coming up too. So hopefully the ball will get rolling soon.

The biggest problem I feel like I now face is with social situations or any times where I have to converse with other people, my brain is so muggy that thinking of what to say is a huge problem and really difficult. My mind just goes blank most of the time. I spoke to my care coordinator about this and he said we'll have to keep an eye on those symptoms but that they are probably nothing to worry about. But it makes me feel like a complete dumbass not being able to hold a conversation! I literally can't think of what to say at all!

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Hi Nara1, Good to hear from you. I'm glad your care co-ordinator is chasing the referral and you have a psychotherapy appointment. Things are slowly coming together, let's hope.

I have to say that all these years on I also have trouble conversing with people. I don't think it's anything to worry about but I know how you feel .... wanting to be sociable but not knowing what to say. Perhaps it's a confidence thing as I always wonder if I speak I might feel embarrassed as I never have liked being the centre of attention, if that makes sense?

I hope you have a relaxing Bank Holiday. Take good care of yourself and please write again if you have time as it's so nice to hear how you are :)

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Hi Nara1

Just thinking about my reply and wanted to add that I hope the psychotherapist will be able to reassure you about your worries as you settle into sessions. Considering you have been waiting for therapy for so long you have done really coping with thoughts and feelings. PP mums are amazing :) Take care.

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Thank you LilyBeth,

Yes it is like that, I want to be social but something gets in the way and stops me from doing so. I was more social before the pp although I have always been shy, I'd got to a point where I could push myself out of my comfort zone a bit and be more social, but now that seems to have gone out the window.

Today I have woken up feeling incredibly flat and quite emotionless, so much so that my partner doesn't want me to look after our baby. He's sent me upstairs so that she doesn't have to be around me. It makes me a bit angry when he is like that as he's not really helping the situation, he's just blocking off from it. I've had some thoughts of harming myself as well today, I don't think I'll act on them but the thoughts are there. My partner just hinted that if my behaviour carries on the way it is that he'll end our relationship. Things are getting in a bit of a pickle.

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Hello Nara1

Sorry to hear you're feeling flat today. That's how recovery is usually .... up and down unfortunately. Is it possible you can ring your care co-ordinator if you are having thoughts of harming yourself? I don't think it's a good thing to be upstairs, in isolation with your thoughts. Possibly if you can go out with your partner and baby into the fresh air to distract your thoughts that might help.

I think your partner is stressed and things are said in the heat of the moment. You need good support around you and not negative comments. You are trying your best to recover from such an awful illness and your partner should be thinking of ways to distract you from your thoughts.

If your thoughts get too much for you, is it possible to ring your GP out of hours service for help? You can even go to A&E at your local hospital which should have a team on site to provide advice on mental health issues. There is also the Samaritans who are there 24/7 on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

I remember that it's not easy to distract yourself from your thoughts but please try. Instead of being up in your room, can you sit in the garden if your partner doesn't want to go for a walk? Try not to be on your own .... these bad thoughts are your illness. Please get help and ask your partner to talk calmly about how you can find more support. Stay safe and take care. Sending you a hug :)

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Hi Nara

I'm sorry you're struggling and feeling flat. PP is such a trauma, for you and your family. I suffered from depression afterwards too, and the relationship with my partner was very difficult at times as well. My experience was recovery was two steps forward and one step back too, and I despaired at times that I would never recover. Like you, I would have some good days, and then really struggle afterwards. What I found was that the windows of better days got longer and longer, and the days I really struggled shorter and shorter.

It sounds really difficult and hurtful with your partner. It must be upsetting to hear your partner talking like that to you. I remember my partner getting very irritated, angry and frustrated at me, especially when I dipped after getting a bit better, as I think he felt like I wasn't helping myself but as we know it's not like that, and not something that we choose. I found my low mood with come upon me, often for no tangible reason.

I'd really recommend, as Lilybeth does, contacting your mental health team / care coordinator. It's really important that they know how much you are struggling, how much you do need the therapy, and whether there may be some adjustments to medication they can do. Also are you able to open up to them about your partner too? it may be that they could offer your partner some support too? family therapy? or someone to talk with him? I know my mental health team offered this (my partner chose not to use it though).

I also wondered if your partner has read the APP partners guide? He may find this helpful? app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

Take care Nara, you really are going to come through this and get better.

Ellie X

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Hi Nara1

How did the rest of your day go? I hope you are ok. I think you have been coping with your depression and recovery for so long without therapy that it must be so stressful for you. Your partner is probably worried about you, seeing you go through so much.

I wonder if mindfulness might help while you're waiting? Mind have a page about it at mind.org which might be helpful to read. I've had a quick look on the pages and under How Mindfulness Works one of the points is that it can 'help you notice when you get caught up in negative thoughts and take steps to change how you're thinking'.

I hope your care co-ordinator will be able to prioritise your need for therapy. Perhaps your GP can also monitor your depression to see if your medication needs adjusting? It must be so hard for you and I hope you found support today.

Thinking of you .... take good care of yourself. We are all here for you. xx

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Thank you for your replies. I had my appointment with the psychologist today and told her my worries and about what my partner had said earlier in the day, she said my notes will be available for my care coordinator to see. My partner apologised to me later in the day and we made up, he told me that he said stuff in the heat of the moment that he didn't mean. I was really worried that he would try and take my baby away from me but he assured me that he didn't mean what he said and that all the times he's said that he'll never leave me are the truth. I guess it was just a heat of the moment thing but it was upsetting to hear. He's usually much more tactful than that which is why I got worried. But I guess the stress on him from my pp is hard to deal with as well. I don't know if he'd go to couples counselling or anything specifically for him. He has read up about pp though and is usually very supportive of my illness and recovery and suggests things I should do to help myself.

Thank you for your kindness and taking time out of your day to message me, it means a lot to know people care.

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Hi Nara

I’m so glad that you made up with your partner, and that he said sorry. He must be struggling too. I know I said it before but my partner had times of getting angry and frustrated at me too.

I hope that you will have more and more good days, its great that you were able to talk to your psychologist.

Take care

Ellie x

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Hi Nara

Good to hear that you were able to open up to your psychologist about your worries and your partner apologised. It must be a worry for you both but hopefully the psychologist has been able to reassure you.

I've read from my notes that I had a few arguments with my husband during my recovery. I think depression is very tiring. I remember that even communicating was an effort at one stage but to my husband it looked as if I wasn't trying, so the frustration builds!

It might be an idea if a family member could look after your daughter so that you and your partner could have a 'date'. Even just time out having a coffee together might give you both a break and a change for a few hours?

Take good care of yourself. We all care and are here to support you when the going gets tough. xx

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Thank you for your replies,

Today hasn't been any better, I don't know why I have suddenly slumped in my recovery, I thought I'd be better by now. My partner has been looking after my daughter mostly today, I've been like a big lump just sitting there all depressed and unable to enjoy anything. My partner's parents have expressed concern to him about my parenting saying I'm being neglectful of her. I'm not entirely sure where that came from but I think it might have something to do with me zoning out at times and not being very with it. It hurt to hear that they think that though as I do try with her I just find my days can be so dull, repeating the same things over and over. I am a painter but I barely get chance to paint anymore which makes my depression worse I'm sure. I just feel lacking in energy and enthusiasm for anything and it upsets me to think that my daughter is suffering because of it. I wish I'd never got ill, maybe then things would be different. It's horrible because even though the psychosis has lessened to almost being gone I'm left with this depression that makes me feel empty and stops me having the normal responses of love and care for those closest to me. Most of the time I honestly feel nothing.

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I basically feel really judged by my partners parents and like they're watching me and talking about my parenting behind my back. It's making me feel quite paranoid and self conscious, conscious of when I'm with her and them listening in and judging how good or rather how rubbish a job I'm doing.

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Hi Nara1, sorry to hear that you have had another bad day, I think recovery can be a bit like this sometimes; 1 step forward and however many back... I remember feeling like this too and it was really hard to keep myself motivated. It's really common to have up and downs and to feel so numb, like you are a rubbish parent. But you really are not!

How awful for you that your partner's parents have made you feel like you are being judged. Perhaps they don't truly understand what you have been through. I think this is also quite a common thing, we can have good and supportive family and friends to a point, but others don't really understand, or so it feels. It did to me too.

Can you perhaps try and talk to your partner about how you are feeling, and maybe plan to do something together, as a family. I know how hard it is to have the motivation, but you may surprise yourself (as I did!) and enjoy it more than you think you may. Looking after a little one is hard, even without recovery from PP to deal with too, and I hope you can work together as a team. You mentioned painting, is that something that you might like to try and do together too?

It might also help if you are able to talk to your psychologist, as you mentioned how helpful it was to share with them too? I also found that medication reviews were a good point to have a conversation with GP or other health professional to get some support.

I hope some of this is helpful for you. We all know how hard it is, and that you can fight these feelings and recover, in time and with good care. All the best, xx

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Hi Nara1

Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear today hasn't been any better for you. Perhaps you could arrange an appointment with your GP to see if your medication needs adjusting?

It must have been awful to hear the comment made by your partner's parents. When I was depressed I also felt flat and empty. I was frustrated with myself as I so wanted to feel the joy of my young family. I also felt my sons were suffering because of my inability to cope but this was unfounded as my husband and family were taking care of them, just as your partner and family are looking after your daughter. Depression does bring negative thoughts but try your best to challenge them as you are trying so hard to be well.

Has your care co-ordinator been able to fast track your referral for psychotherapy? I hope your partner's parents can appreciate what an awful time you have been going through without much professional support. Do you think they would read the Insider Guide "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" at app-network.org/what-is-pp/... to give them an insight? It's a shame you can't find space in your day to paint as this might be a good release for your emotions and give you a focus. Perhaps you can keep a diary of how you feel each day (just emoji faces if you don't feel like writing) so that your care team will have an idea of how much you are struggling?

You have had a lot of courage to have come this far in a year and you will get better in time with good medical care and support. I know that seems a long way off right now but you will get there.

We are all here .... please keep writing if it helps you. Stay safe. xx

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Thank you for your kind words.

Yesterday was difficult but I had loads of sleep and today I have began to feel better. Baby is with her great grandma today so it's given me a chance to do some housework and to paint, which has been nice. The comment from my partners parents wasn't made directly to me, they said it to him so I don't think they were intending for me to find out that that was what they thought. I feel better about it today though and I know their concern was for my daughter because they want what's best for her but it did upset me to hear. I would never intentionally neglect her, I appreciate that there are times where I struggle to meet her needs but there's always someone else around who can help out in those times. I think my partner was just frustrated with me and blurted it out about what his parents said, if he'd known it would cause friction I don't think he'd have said it. But we've made up now and things are better between us. I spoke to my care coordinator today and he's seeing about a medication review as I don't think the fluoxetine is helping as much as it should be. I don't want to go on a higher dose though as it impacts my libido which then causes problems in my relationship with my partner. And I'm not sure a higher dose is really what I need anyway as my partner has said he's noticed me disassociating a lot when my meds are higher.

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Hi Nara1

Good to hear that you have had loads of sleep and began to feel better. What a treat for your daughter's great grandma! I'm glad it's given you time to unwind a little and paint, as well as do some never ending housework :)

I'm sure your partner's parents didn't mean for you to be upset by their comments. It's just a stressful time for you both and sometimes things are said and can be blown out of proportion.

I hope the right medication will be found to help you. Perhaps when you are further into your sessions with the psychologist you might feel more benefit and your medication can be reviewed again? I was having regular reviews to find the right combination of medication to help my recovery. I think if you can make your worries clear to the care co-ordinator about possibly being on a higher dose, he can make your feelings known to your care team.

If your care co-ordinator is able to access psychotherapy for you too that would be even more support which you have waited so long for. It's not easy trying to find your way through depression and we are all here for when the days are not so good. xx

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Hi,

Just thought I'd write on here as today has been pretty stressful and my anxiety levels have been high. It was triggered by having a Skype conversation with a friend who is living in Thailand. I haven't done the cleaning for a while and after my Skype conversation I started getting super anxious about the cleaning and the fact that I hadn't done it for ages. Then my mind just becomes really hard to calm down and all I can see is dirt and the things I need to do. I really dislike doing the cleaning, that's the thing, so I end up putting it off until it gets to a point where it really needs doing and then my mind goes all anxious and I start shaking and things just feel impossible. The thing is my family don't mind me not doing it's the stress isn't coming from them, it's just me getting super overly anxious about it. Anyway I feel a bit better now, I'll try and get some done tomorrow even if it takes my partner to help me do it, which he's offere to do.

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Also, did anyone find it really difficult to be social after having pp? I think that's what triggered my mega anxiety earlier, trying to be social with my friend via Skype but feeling like I'm boring with not much to say but also getting anxious about looking after my daughter at the same time. I feel like this illness has robbed me of my personality, my sense of humour has mostly gone and I feel like I have nothing of value to say. I keep drinking which momentarily helps but in the long run isn't a good solution and it doesn't mix well with my meds. Everything just feels so hard and hard to keep up with. My brain feels slow and my actions delayed, the world seems to just whirl by while I slowly plod along, not able to keep up with the fast pace.

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Hello Nara1

Good to hear from you. I'm sorry you had a stressful day yesterday. Did you manage to see your GP or care co-ordinator about a medication review in case it needs adjusting? I think when you're not well things seem magnified. Try not to drink alcohol when you're taking medication as this will make you feel worse. I understand the effect of depression is that you seem to be plodding along slowly as I was the same.

I think I've said before that coping with depression and recovery isn't easy. Hopefully you can discuss your feelings with the psychologist who will perhaps be able to offer coping strategies for your anxiety. Try to be patient with yourself and not expect too much. Perhaps when you have the right balance of medication it will make a difference to how you feel.

For now, lean on the good support around you as hopefully your partner, his parents and your daughter's great grandma will be able to help. You will eventually feel better as your psychology sessions continue and the psychotherapy sessions start.

Take very good care of yourself ..... you're a great mum. After PP I think it takes a while to 'fix' ourselves and even longer with depression. A bit like a jigsaw at first but slowly the pieces come together and we can see the bigger picture.

I hope you have a restful sleep. xx

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Hi Nara

Sorry to hear you're struggling a bit the last couple of days. The description of how you feel, in terms of socially and moments of anxiety etc, really chimes with me, as I felt this a lot when I was struggling with depression too. I remember feeling like I was boring, with not much to say, a shadow of my usual sociable self. All I can say is it really does get better, I had better days, and slowly my confidence grew, as did my social skills and I felt more and more myself, and more able to be sociable. This part of yourself really will return, I know I felt it never would, but it really did!

Err housework... I know, it's a constant battle. At least I find that. I never have enough time and energy to do it, there's always something that needs doing, the house is never perfect... I don't know if you find that men just don't seem to notice, or take responsibility in the same way! :)

It can feel really overwhelming. I know I found when I was struggling with depression, just making very small plans hour by hour, or day by day, with household tasks was helpful. So I would plan one small thing I would do for the next hour, just small household tasks like hang the laundry, clean the fridge, wash up etc. I found that having planned tasks helped me to feel like I had achieved something, and also gave me structure to the day when the days seemed to drag sometimes. Perhaps doing this might help? just think of one task at a time, not the mountain of jobs that needs doing?

You are getting there Nara, everything you say seems really normal for someone recovering from PP. I know that doesn't make it any easier, but hopefully you can get some reassurance that your mood will lift in time, and you will feel like yourself again.

Take care,

Ellie X

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Hi Nara,

Reading your messages I just kept saying "Me too" to a lot of the things you're worried about. I had PP in 2016 and recovered well through my mat leave but going back to work set me back loads and I've struggled ever since with depression, insomnia or anxiety. I think the real challenge with mental health difficulties is that you're never "fixed", you have to keep up self-care to ensure your wellbeing and it can feel so much like hard work.

I often worry about my interactions with my wee boy however I'm trying to tell myself that nobody is a perfect parent and not to beat myself up every time I do something "wrong". It's so hard to keep up energy levels when you're looking after a toddler, even if you're not depressed/ anxious.

My guilty secret is that I've quite enjoyed my boy having a fever the last couple of days because he's just wanted to cuddle which was kind of what I was needing too!

I have found my husband getting impatient with the pace of my recovery at times which is unhelpful, but I suppose he's only human and he's been through a massive trauma too.

Oh and housework, I do the exact same thing you do procrastinate until it's inliveable... I try to break things down because if I have unrealistic expectations I feel worse when I've not met them. Eg some days just getting dishes and washing done is enough then if I get a chance try to just Hoover one room or whatever.

I hope that things pick up for you, it's such a long and exhausting journey especially with a small person in tow. I always find it so encouraging hearing other women's stories and reminding me to have hope.

Hazello

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Thank you for all your words of encouragement and stories of your own pp experience. I don't have much to say at the moment, my mind is blank which happens a lot now since having pp. I feel broken and like nothing I do can fix me. I feel boring, mundane, like there's not much going on in my brain, unable to socialise even with my partner. It's pants.

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Hello Nara1

Some days when I had depression, even on a sunny day, I couldn't lift my mood. It's an awful experience but you will eventually fully recover although it doesn't feel like it right now. Hopefully the psychology input will make a difference as you begin to feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts. I hope your care co-ordinator can follow up the psychotherapy you have been waiting so long for.

Rather than Skype, do you have a friend you could meet for a chat? Try to challenge your negative thoughts about yourself ..... you're gifted if you can paint; just by looking at your daughter she will smile back at you and loves everything about you. In the depths of depression I felt helpless and hopeless but slowly and with good medical care and treatment I found my place again.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before but Mind at mind.org.uk have a page on depression and you might find some ideas under 'self care for depression' helpful. You will get better with the help of therapy so try to hold on and let your partner know that you are doing everything you can to lift your mood. Keep talking and please don't isolate yourself. We are all here to lean on too. xx

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Hi Nara

As Lilybeth says how you are feeling is the depression, and a symptom of the illness, I know it doesn't feel like this, but it won't last forever and your mood will lift and you really will recover and feel yourself again. We have been there, and come through it, and you will too.

I hope you can get access to therapy really soon. I found meeting with a psychologist for CBT so helpful when I was depressed, to challenge the negative thoughts, and plan my days if I was feeling overwhelmed and flat.

Have you had your medication reviewed recently too, and are you on an anti depressant? It could be that this needs to be increased, or your anti psychotic decreased to help with your mood too?

You really will come through this Nara, and feel like yourself again. Keep writing whenever you need to, we are here for you.

Ellie X

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Hi Nara

How are you feeling since your recent post? I hope the weather is good where you are so that perhaps you can spend some family time out in the fresh air ..... away from housework which will always be there for later :) In time you will have better days so take it easy and be gentle with yourself. We are all here to lean on. xx

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Hi LilyBeth,

I'm feeling a bit better thanks, my antidepressant fluoxetine has been increased and so far it seems to be helping. I still have periods of feeling flat and periods of high anxiety but there are times where I feel pretty good too. Housework is a never ending battle but I am less bothered by it when I'm more well.

The weather has been nice and we have been taking our little one out a bit more.

The main thing I have now is when I get the crippling anxiety, it strikes and really knocks me. I'm going to specify about that in my next psychotherapy appointment that I would like help tackling it.

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Hi Nara

Good to hear from you. I'm glad you're feeling a bit better and medication is helping. I think I was the same with my depression and anxiety .... it seemed to come in waves, one day feeling better than another.

That's a good idea to ask for help in your next psychotherapy appointment about tackling your anxiety. I remember once when my first baby son was referred by my GP for a hospital appointment and in the referral letter I read a paragraph which described me as an "anxious mother who brings her child to the doctor for the slightest reason ......" Anxiety is awful on its own without depression so I hope you will be given coping strategies to help. Perhaps you could write down your worries and talk about them with your partner so he can reassure you?

I hope you continue to have better days and enjoy family times together. Take good care of yourself and please pop in here again if talking helps as we all understand how hard recovery can be at times. xx

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Thank you LilyBeth,

Today has been an okay day, not great but not terrible so I guess that is ok.

I really want to tackle my anxiety as when it hits it can be so debilitating. I go into a shut down mode almost. I have my appointment tomorrow so I'll talk to her then about how I've been and what I think will help me.

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Hi Nara

It's good that you feel able to open up about how you are affected by such crippling anxiety. I hope your appointment goes well tomorrow and you can make a plan to help you move forward. You're doing really well to challenge your feelings to work out what's best for you.

Thinking of you ..... take care.

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Thank you LilyBeth,

I really appreciate your concern for me. I am getting better, although I am maybe drinking a bit too much alcohol these days. It gives me a buzz though which is a welcome break from either feeling nothing or feeling too much. I'll bring this up with my psychotherapist too though.

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Hi Nara

We are all here to support you. Take your time in your appointment today to share your worries with your psychotherapist. You have been coping with so much and I'm really pleased you now have professional help to talk about how you feel from one day to the next.

Take care ..... sending you a virtual hug :)

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Hello Nara,

I hope your appointment with your psychotherapist goes well. It is important to talk about your anxieties and worries.

I am happy for you that you found the forum. It has helped me tremendously since the end of 2016. I have had PPP in 2010, but struggled with anxiety since the illness.

I have learned to self manage my anxiety more and participated in group therapy. I believe my son always has been the purpose and force for me to confront my fears and to take part in events organised by the school, but also to play and plan for my son's activities. I have connected with other mums, because it is important for my son to flourish in his emotional and social development, - but social contacts is also part and parcel of keeping my mental health in check.

I believe yoga and meditation is great for my emotional balance.

Wishing you well, and always happy to share my experience.

:-)

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Hi Nara1, I just wanted to write to say that I hope the appointment goes well today, and how much of your experiences have had me nodding along as well. I remember my anxiety in recovery from the initial PP being harder to control in some ways, and that "mind blank" was exactly how I felt. It was almost as if there was too much info or demands or whatever for my fragile brain to process so it just didn't. A sort of "computer says no" moment! If I wasn't blank or seemingly vacant, I was really het up and panicked, which was also difficult to control. Deep breaths and knowing my (temporary) limitations was really important to avoid me getting completely wound up or demoralised.

I also found that my decision making skills were rubbish, I couldn't even think or plan what to do, what to take if going out, none of it was processing somehow. I think this was also the medication slowing me down and whilst it was really frustrating when I noticed it, in hindsight it was obviously needed. There was also a lot of times I didn't notice and then it was the reactions of others (impatience, not understanding why I couldn't plan/ process) which in turn of course upset me. But I promise it does get easier. It sounds great that you have psychotherapy input and step by step, I hope you start to notice the improvements too. The nice weather also helps doesn't it? Take care, xx

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Thank you all for your messages, my appointment went well and the psychotherapist has offered me a series of 6 CBT sessions to start off with and they will review after those have finished to see where to go from there. I had to really tell her that I was ready for therapy as from my previous two appointments with her I seemed low and not ready for therapy so she wasn't going to offer any originally today. Hopefully there will be follow up therapy after the initial block is finished as I think I will need more.

I didn't tell her about my drinking, I completely forgot to mention it, I told her about my crippling anxiety and low mood but not my drinking. But I will start having sessions with her soon so I can mention it then.

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Hello Nara1

So pleased your appointment went well and you have been offered CBT. It's not easy to ask for help so you have done really well to have the courage today to be open about your feelings. CBT is a good talking therapy and I hope you won't have to wait too long before the sessions begin.

Have a good rest as I'm sure you have had a tiring day. Take good care. xx

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Hi LilyBeth,

It should only be about a month to wait for therapy as its all booked in. Providing nothing comes up unexpectedly for the lady doing the CBT it should go ahead as planned.

I have an appointment with my consultant psychiatrist tomorrow also who will discuss medication with me and will review what I'm already on. I did want to change anti depressants as I didn't think they were working well enough but since they've been increased I've noticed a difference and my mood has lifted.

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Hello Nara1

Some very encouraging words from Hanna and Lilybeth,

I am pleased that you can feel the benefit of the medication and as you said your mood has lifted.

Your support network has been put into place and hopefully you can start your therapeutic path very soon.

Wishing you good luck with your consultation for tomorrow.

x

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Hello Nara1

That's good you won't have too long to wait for therapy. It must be a relief to find your mood has lifted since your medication was increased ..... a big step forward for you :) Hopefully now the therapy is coming together you will have better days and your mood will slowly improve. Perhaps you might find time to relax and paint?

I hope your appointment with your consultant is helpful tomorrow. It might be an idea to make a note of the questions you would like to ask. I know my mind went blank when I was sitting in front of my psychiatrist but you seem to be more positive about moving forward. I think you are doing really well coping with recovery, depression and routine.

Take care .... we are all here for you.

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Hi Nara

I hope the appointment with your consultant went well today. Don't worry about replying as you must be very tired, just hope you're ok. Take care.

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Hello Nara,

we have been thinking of you. No need to reply!

Wishing you a good rest and good night.

x

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Thank you for your messages,

The appointment went well today, she's pleased with how I am at the moment and has left my medication as it is as it's working well for me now.

I actually have started going to yoga on a Thursday evening so have just got back from that. It seems to be helping to calm me and the exercise is good too. I go with a mum friend and started it a few weeks ago. I'd like to do some at home too eventually when I'm more confident about knowing what I'm doing.

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Hello Nara1

Good to hear that your appointment went well today and your medication is working well for you.

Yoga is a great calming therapy isn't it and good exercise. It's great that you have the company of a mum friend. Perhaps you could practice at home using a workout on Youtube "Yoga for complete beginners" although you are a few weeks on from a beginner :) I'm really pleased your mood seems to be lifting and you can enjoy time out.

Have a good rest and take care. We are all here to lean on.

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Hello Nara

Thinking of you and wondering if you went to yoga last week? Hopefully you are continuing to feel a bit better.

I've posted on the forum about a paperback I'm reading by Ruby Wax "A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled" in which she shares her experiences of stress and depression. It's a mixture of humour (e.g. she used to choose her best friends in school by who there mothers were!) and advice about different ways of finding calm in the midst of chaos when our thoughts get stuck. There's also a section about mindfulness for parents, babies and children.

I hope you are able to enjoy family walks and fresh air in this sunny weather. Take good care of yourself ..... you're a great mum :)

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Hello Nara1

It's been a while and I was wondering how you are? I hope by now you have started your CBT sessions. How are your driving lessons going?

Take good care of yourself. xx

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Hi lilybeth,

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I'm pleased to say that things are much more stable for me now, I'm plodding along nicely with my life and coping and managing much better. My drinking is much more under control and I'm being quite creative lately and have felt that amazing buzz of creativity and inspiration.

I had my 6 week course of CBT but they haven't given me anymore as I was assessed to be not ready for more therapy at the moment as my mind won't let me get in touch with my anxiety, kinda like a security default thing. Instead my therapist suggested I self refer to an alcohol clinic to help with my drinking, which I did at the end of last week.

My daughter is growing up fast and her speech development is quite remarkable! She can talk in sentences sometimes and can count to twelve (missing some numbers out!) but still pretty impressive for a 16 month old. The health visitor is very pleased with her progress and sort of joked around that she could do her 2 year review now.

Thank you for your message.

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Oh and driving is going well, my instructor has said I'm not far off booking my test now, I just have to get the theory stuff out the way.

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Hi Nara

Lovely to hear that you are plodding along nicely and things are much more stable. I'm glad you have good support around you for any ongoing care you might need. I think children are the best medicine :) Your daughter sounds a delight and such good company.

Great news about your driving .... so pleased for you. Take care.

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Hello Nara,

I am so pleased for you that you are finding strengths and vitality through a creative focus. I do all the time :-)

It is such a brave step forward that you recognise what kind of support you need in order to help your mental and physical health.

Doing a great job amazing mum.

We are always here to listen. Thank you for your up-date.

:-)

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