Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Half Alive

Hello all. I'm sorry for writing so many posts, I just don't know where else to reach out.

My psychiatrist (with whom I do not have a good connection with and who makes inappropriate comments like "all women are unstable" and even remarks about my partner who has been amazing and supportive, things like "you're only together because of problems") has been reducing my quetiapine so I am now on 50 mg only. It has helped with my issue of night urination (woke up only once last night which is a big improvement). However, my PP was only 3.5 months ago so I feel this reduction is quite fast. On the other hand I feel that with every reduction I've felt more "real" (I had really bad depersonalization for weeks and it seems to be lifting). The other issue is that I am terribly depressed but the psychiatrist is waiting until January to put me on an antidepressant. In the meantime, I have found a new psychiatrist but don't have an appointment until the end of January. I was originally prescribed escitalopram by yet another psychiatrist who saw me as an out patient right after the hospital but when I switched to the current one, he told me I'm "not depressed" and not to take them. So, I have this box of antidepressants and I was thinking to just start taking them and see how it goes. Is that a bad idea? I have that new psychiatrist at the end of January and I thought this will help me survive until then.

At this point I feel more "real" than I've felt since the PP but in another way I feel only half alive if that makes any sense. I can, for example, sit in a cafe and drink a coffee as I did this morning and not have any strange thoughts or perceptions but I feel like a ghost. I look at the people around me and they all seem to be in another world, a world I wish I still inhabited. I literally feel jealous of everyone I see.. I wish I had their life, any other life, but mine.

I don't know what that feeling is. It doesn't seem like depersonalization anymore, is it the depression? I have no experience of depression from before so I don't know..

I feel this post is a bit all over the place. All I feel like doing during the day is browsing posts on here. I can't bring myself to do anything else. My baby is still being looked after by the nanny and at first I was trying to be more involved but now I feel like I don't even care anymore. My daughter is so excited to see the nanny and my mother and barely responds to me. I feel like if I disappeared it would be better for everyone..

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Hello Kaktus and thanks so much for your message and reaching out. I have never taken quetiapine so I don’t know how reducing that specific medication is. But I know when I was reducing Olanzapine, a few months after starting to take it, it definitely gave me feelings similar to those you’re describing. I felt more ‘with it’ and like I was thinking a little clearer, in one sense, but also have the ‘other world’ type feelings you are describing.

Please be very gentle and kind with yourself, it sounds like you are doing so well to be out having a coffee having had PPP 3.5 months ago, if at all possible try to take things step by step. It sounds really good that you have found a new psychiatrist, i’m so sorry you’ve had to endure such unhelpful comments. In terms of the new psychiatrist and your appointment at the end of Jan and the question you ask on the anti-depressants, do you have a positive relationship with your GP? If you do, I know what i’ve done when having very difficult experiences and changing doses of medication, is see my GP perhaps once a week (or have a telephone conversation with them if unable to go in and if that’s offered) and update them on my feelings and experiences. This helped me as ‘stepping stones’ towards the psychiatrists appointment and they may be able to give advice on the anti-depressants.

I can really relate to what you say about having a nanny. I know when I was first out of hospital I know I interpreted everything in so much detail after PPP. It’s so hard after PPP and such a frightening experience. It really shakes our confidence. Could you perhaps sit with your daughter, while she’s with your nanny too, and hold her hand and perhaps stroke her face a little?

You are doing so well to be reaching out on here, thank you so much for your openess and please be reassured that you are doing really well to be writing after just 3.5 months. Your daughter will feel your love for her, let yourself do little things, one day at a time. Do try not to pressurise yourself. Your partner sounds really supportive which is wonderful. Would it help to keep him knowing how you’re feeling? He may be able to help encourage you and may also provide the ‘stepping stone’ support while you also talk to your GP.

Thinking of you

Jen X

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Thank you Jen. I just had a bit of a meltdown I guess. My situation at home is difficult and not conducive to healing (mom who tries to help but doesn't understand mental illness, mom and partner not getting along, nanny who makes inappropriate comments about my mental illness because she's uneducated and thinks mental illness is some sort of weakness, etc.) and the psychiatric care here in the Czech Republic where I live is rather abysmal and outdated. That's why I turn to this forum so much. I'm also not currently in therapy. I guess that would help a lot, having a place to bring all these issues to. My partner is great, really supportive, but I feel he is "cracking" a bit after the pressure of all that has happened and I'm trying not to burden him further. He has been with me through so many dark days of desperate crying and him not knowing what to do to help me. I guess I'm just waiting to have an occasional "good day" and it hasn't happened yet so it's discouraging. I think I definitely need an antidepressant. I don't actually have a GP but seeing as the antidepressant was prescribed to me, I don't see a problem with taking it. At this point I'd do anything to get some relief. I was thinking to start on Monday, on the new moon :)

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Hi Kaktus, thanks so much for your reply and for the information you have shared. It sounds so hard at home, and like you have lots of different input from different people but that it’s not helping. I’m so sorry it’s such a difficult time. I’m glad you’re able to reach out to the forum. it can be really hard trying to explain PPP to others.

I’m afraid we can’t give advice on medication on the forum. Did the psychiatrist who presecribed the anti depressant to you advise on what dose to take? And did they prescribe it and give advice when you were taking quetiapine? I wondered if it would be at all possible to ask for a sooner appointment with your psychiatrist, next week if they have one, but I don’t know how possible that is for you where you live, and i’m really sorry if it’s a silly question given what what you describe of the psychiatric system.

Please keep reaching out to us on here. I really hope you can access some support. Would going for a coffee with your Mum while your nanny takes your daughter be in any way something worth pursuing? Thinking of you Kaktus

Xx

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Hi kaktus

I’m sorry you’re having such a tough time and feeling so low at the moment. It sounds like things are difficult at home and it’s so hard when you’re trying not to burden others - does your partner have support too?

I’m sorry you’ve not been getting good support from your psychiatrist and hope the new one will be someone you have a better relationship with.

I too wonder if you can get some medical advice before you start your antidepressants? Have you spoken to your psychiatrist about your current mood? I’d be wary of starting yourself on them if you’re not clear on dose, including where to start and how/when to increase it. Perhaps you could arrange to discuss it over the phone if you’re not able to see someone?

The good days will come. You’re very early in your recovery but things will get better.

Do keep talking to us here.

Best wishes,

Jenny x

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Hi Kaktus I just wanted to say I’m thinking of you and am sure these awful days will pass. I’m sorry your psychiatrist doesn’t seem the most understanding! Do you have access to any sort of talking therapy? It’s such a confusing time, dealing with your own health problems and all the different family dynamics too. I hope things settle down soon but in the meantime please use the forum as much as you need - we are all here for you!

Take care,

Kat xx

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Hello, thank you all. This illness is just so brutal.. as soon as one symptom subsides a bit (depersonalization), another gets worse (depression/anxiety). I know many have been through this.. after fighting so hard to regain a sense of reality, being hit and knocked down by the depression. It feels so unfair. I know I can't get medical advice here, sorry for asking. The antidepressant was prescribed to me, and I was given a dosage and I was taking quetiapine at the same time so I feel ok starting it myself now. I'm just nervous about the beginning of treatment and possible side effects, especially so soon after my other med was decreased so I may wait a bit longer for that to settle before starting on the antidepressant.

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Hello Kaktus,

I am so sorry about your struggles. I am so pleased that you find some reassurance in journalising and expressing your experience on this forum.

I give you a bit of an inside of my journey with regards to medication: we can not advise on this forum, but listen and pass on our experiences...maybe you can decide for yourself what would be most sensible for your recovery with the help of a GP or other medical professionals.

When poorly I was under close observation in a mixed gender psychiatric hospital. The medical staff have had huge difficulties in finding the appropriate medication. My combination of drugs were very traditional ones and I have had to be injected as I was refusing to take them. Throughout my hospital stay I have had tremendous ups and downs and huge side effects with anti-psychotics and kind of sleeping drugs. (Quetiapine,Haloperidol, Risperidone, Lorazepam) I did not sleep for a long time and members of staff did not know how to cope with the illness. I often was secluded.

After care was so much better. During recovery my antidepressants changed and were gradually reduced. GP, psychiatrist, care worker, health visitor and my partner worked closely together in order to make sure I improve. Each antidepressant was extremely strong, tailor-made for my needs, but also has had side effects.

Despite not remembering much in the first year all those above mentioned professionals have been involved to help me to wean off those drugs. My biggest gratitude goes out to a marvelous psychiatrist and my partner, who kept a close eye on the amount and type of meds and administration once I was back in my own sanctuary (home).

This illness is very unkind, but you see I got out of the deep end and can now tell you my story. In addition I would like to say I was unable to look after my baby at the beginning. My baby boy is now 7 and we are very close...I am writing this, just to reassure you that mums who struggled with PPP are amazing mums...as I learnt on this forum...

Sending you my love.

x

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Thank you for sharing your story. It really does give me hope and I'm sorry you've been through so much, it sounds much more severe than my experience.

I guess I am just impatient and exhausted. I want this to be over. I also don't feel like I have a good support network of mental health professionals but luckily I have a very supportive partner and hopefully the new psychiatrist will be better.

Thank you again. Sending you love back :)

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Thank you for your kind response.

It is good to share your worries and happy times with this forum. It has helped me tremendously when feeling lost deep down and mind racing.

Even though we all have been suffering from the same illness, our journeys of recovery are very diverse.

I am happy to send out my love to you...and yes, I can truly say it is wonderful to have a unique little family and to cherish those special moments with my son.

Bye for now.

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Hello kaktus

Sometimes recovery from PP can feel like one big uphill struggle. I understand how much you want this to be over and it will be eventually. It must be a comfort that you have such an understanding partner. Hopefully you will be able to develop an ongoing care plan with your new psychiatrist.

It's not easy if you are also suffering with depression but with good medical advice and treatment it will become manageable over time. Perhaps you could make a note of how you feel on a daily basis so that your psychiatrist can see how stressful things are for you.

Take care and please keep writing here whenever you feel like it. Sending you a hug :)

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Just a quick message to say I am experiencing exactly the same symptoms and my belief is that it is my minds way of dealing with the trauma we have been through. I am definitely suffering with depression, depersonalisation and my concentration is currently abysmal. I’m sure we will get through this, big hugs.

It is amazing that you have a good support network around you. Try and use them as much as possible. I know first hand about feeling like you are putting on your partner but I’m sure if he was poorly you would do the same for him. Best wishes and feel free to pm me if you want to rant :) xxxx

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Hello all. So the depression got so bad I went to an emergency psychiatric centre thinking I just can't make it to my appointment on January 23rd. It was Sunday and they weren't of much help, said I should really speak to my psychiatrist since they don't know my history. I asked if they could help me get admitted to a different hospital because the one that I went to last time, where I could probably go again, was so horrible. They tried to help but it didn't work out for bureaucratic reasons. We probably could have pushed more but then I decided maybe staying ay home would be better. I contacted my cousin who lives in the US and is a clinical psychologist and she advised me about the medication. So I’m on the second day of taking Cipralex (escitalopram). I know it will take some time for the medication to work. I’m just feeling really low and disconnected from everything. I feel like a ghost. I’m either crying in desperation or laying in bed browsing this and other forums. The depression is also mixed with this feeling which is I guess the residue of the PPP… this feeling that I am “dead”. It’s not a hallucination, just a feeling. I just can’t imagine the way up from here. I thought that the depths of my PP were hell and then I got out of that somehow but this still feels like hell, just a different kind. I guess I am also just so so tired and I don’t remember what being happy and grounded feels like anymore. I also feel like my family is sick of me moping around (everyone except my partner). I'm even bored of myself for writing this whiny post.

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Hi Kaktus,

Thanks so much for reaching out. It’s great that your cousin was able to advise on the medication, that’s a really good thing and i hope it was reassuring for the advice to be from family too.

Please be reassured that the feelings you describe will pass. I know that’s so easy to say and it’s so hard to get through. It really does feel endless and I know when people told me that things would start to get better I couldn’t work out at all how, but just very gradually, in a strange underground way things start to improve. I think we build up ourselves somehow, but For some horrible reason PPP really gets us when we’re in recovery. Everything seems to conspire to bring us way down, i don’t know why. Please please be very kind to yourself and just take small small steps. Make yourself a cup of tea. Focus on the tea. Say to yourself when you drink that tea that you’re giving yourself time out, from everything around you and from your head. Or if not tea something else that might be nice, maybe a bath, or perhaps staring at the pictures in a magazine.

I don’t know why these feelings come to us, but they do and you are very much not alone, but please know you will get through this, you will get your strength back, maybe in a different way, PPP is a very powerful thing and so maybe having experienced it our body and mind have so much to process that these feelings you are having come. I really hope the medication starts to help and in the mean time keep a tight grip on thoughts about your partner who sounds like he’s being really supportive. I write things down a lot, is there anything you could write down to help you? Supportive phrases, things you’d like to remember? Be really really kind to yourself. We’re all here for you. Sending a big hug

Jen Xx

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Hello kaktus I am not sure if I can be of help but I feel you are doing the right thing keeping in touch and expressing what you are experiencing. Sometimes others without knowledge about or without having similar experiences can be difficult for them to understand. The great thing is you have people with you to help you and this is an added plus. Let them help in whatever way they can until you can recuperate. I also felt awkward receiving help but you are being responsible allowing someone to help you. When I went through post partum I did not feel like myself before and after medication. I felt I was somehow outside my body sort of as you say a ghost. Over time I begin to feel realigned after getting the right amount of sleep and eating right. This within itself can be difficult because our schedule changes. Its good you have someone you can relate to on how you feel while taking medication---this is important. Also, remember you are in the process of gaining back your strength after having a baby; healing takes time. Our body goes through changes for nine months and takes some time to readjust. You are much value to your baby and just the sound of your voice can help. You can talk to your baby when changing diapers.

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Hi Kaktus - just checking in to see how you’re doing today? I’m sorry things have been getting so hard. It sounds like you have good family support, which is something, but still it’s such an awful illness. I definitely agree with all the advice from Jen and Aythoma above - focusing on small, “real world” things. If anything I would even try and spend less time on the forums and more time doing hands on practical things, if that makes sense? Even just taking a shower or going for a short walk. I think smart phones / internet can sometimes exacerbate that horrible feeling of derealisation? (I’m not a doctor though!)

Anyway I’m thinking of you and wishing you all the best in your recovery

Kat x

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Thinking of you Kaktus. x

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Hello kaktus

I'm sorry to hear you were feeling really low in your last post. How have you been since? I know it probably doesn't feel like it but you honestly will get better. Depression is very hard to lift yourself up from after being rocked by PP. I can remember feeling helpless and hopeless and some days were hard. Perhaps when the medication kicks in you will feel a difference?

It's good that you have a supportive partner to lean on. We all understand and are here for you. Take very good care of yourself.

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