Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Memory loss 18 months PP

Has anyone else experienced this? How do you get past it?

Docs say it's loss of confidence but it feels like more than that!..???

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Hey Beckles - I’m not sure I’ve experienced explicit memory loss, but certainly my time line of events (for example) is hazy in places. I’ve got fairly vivid memories of a lot of the psychosis but not sure exactly what happened when. In terms of long term impact of PP on memory function... I just don’t know if there’s been any research on that. Would be interested to see if anyone at APP has a view!

I do remember my consultant psychiatrist saying to me “the brain forgets things for a reason, Kathryn...”

Maybe bring up this concern with your doctor and see what they say?

Take care xxx

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Hi beckles

What do you mean by memory loss? Do you mean that you forget day to day things, like forgetting to buy something in a shop that you went in there for? (Something I do all the time!) Or do you mean you don’t remember events that happened in your past, you have blackouts about certain things that happened ?

I think depression and medication can affect day to day memory, I certainly found that. I have to say my memory is terrible now, and mentally / emotionally I am well. if I don’t write it down I rarely remember. I have to write things down that I want to do at home / personally, that always helps.

I guess I’m trying to say try not to worry... I think it’s a natural side affect of being unwell , my mind felt like a foggy mess when I was depressed...

I hope that you’re ok, somehow coping alright... . Thinking of you a lot xxx

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Hi Ellie and Kat

Thank you...I'm not sure memory loss is the right thing but don't know how else to describe it.. I feel like I've forgotten how to look after children and my own daughter...looking after little people is what I did for a living for 16 years! I have to really think about everything I'm doing and it doesn't come naturally...it's so frustrating as don't know if it's the depression or more! I remember day to day things just not anything to do with my job and childcare...it's like it's all disappeared!

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Hi Beckles, reading what you've written I felt like I can really relate to what you've said- I worked with children too and feel like I've lost a part of my identity after PP. I definitely can understand why the doctors have told you it's low confidence as I think that's a part of what my problem can be, sometimes I doubt myself automatically and even relatively simple things can put me into a quandary. However if i think back to when I started in my career I felt low in confidence and it took some time to build this up so I'm sure the confidence can and will return with this new "job" which is definitely the hardest one of them all! After all we can't take annual leave or time off from being parents, and we're on call 24 hours a day.

Hazello

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Hello Beckles30

I think after all the trauma of PP, recovery and the effects of medication it's not surprising that memory can be sporadic. When I was depressed or under pressure I think some things appeared magnified and were overwhelming. I was frustrated if I couldn't recall things as easily as I had before I was unwell. Perhaps your doctor's suggestion that it might be lack of confidence is worth considering as you have been through so much?

It's not easy but try not to worry. I think we sometimes have memory lapses as there is so much going on around us. Try not to rush yourself, especially if you're depressed. In time you will feel better and reassured that your career in childcare is still in your memory and will be easier to recall over time.

Take care .... I hope you have a restful sleep.

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Hi Beckles30,

I just wanted to share my experience of this with you as a lot of what you have written also struck a chord with me.

In terms of memory loss (in the sense of having a blank for a period of time in your life), I did have this in my PP episode and it accounts for almost a month, of which I have no real recollection. Part of this may also have been due to my treatment which included ECT. At first I was terrified that I had no idea what had happened but this was the period of the worst of my illness, the manic and psychotic behaviour, that really I believe my brain has protected me against as I don't think remembering it would serve much purpose to me. I know that some ladies can remember all of their illness and that must be really tough. People ask me if I am sad about the "blank" (as I call it) but with time, I am actually grateful for it. My son is fine, my family and friends are fine, I am well and those are the main things. I believe that we have to keep moving forward, as we can't change the past, no matter how much we want to. Talking about it is really important though, so I'm glad you've written here, and I hope others will also have experiences to share.

In terms of the loss of memory of how to do things, I also experienced this. I think perhaps things were buried in there, but I almost didn't dare to think about them too much as I was very wary of trusting myself, my brain, my capabilities (in almost anything) and my sense of judgement about what I could and couldn't do. As others have said, PP is such a massive shock and trauma and takes time to recover from, so perhaps it's natural that although they are issues around mental thinking, it also then has a physical knock-on if that makes sense? I think that for me it was around a massive loss of confidence and loss of myself - not just becoming a Mum, but learning how to do that in the recovery after a major mental illness, and I longed to be the person I once was, at times never believing it would happen.

I also think that our work ethic, knowledge and competence is a very natural area to be affected by this memory loss that you describe. For me at least, I know that my job was something that I knew I could do and when I went back to work, I suddenly struggled to know how to do it. There were some changes, but I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get my head around it, when the "pre-PP me" would have done. The same also applied to a certain level with socialising and functioning on a day to day basis, which I could do well before I had my son, so when I struggled with them after PP, it felt really cruel, that all my competence and ability to do things had been taken away from me. But this was temporary, and it did return, as did my confidence which I do think was tied up with it too. The other element of course is medication, which has also been mentioned. Functioning and doing anything through what felt like a "fog" of medication was really hard. Perhaps you could ask for a medication review if you feel this might benefit you, and you describe how it is affecting you? I know how vital meds were to my recovery though, although it didn't feel like it at the time. I guess it was a short-term pain for longer-term gain.

The other element around the memory loss you describe (& was for me) was around my child and knowing how to do things for him. So when the two are combined with you, having your own child and previously working with children, I imagine it's really hard. For me, it was time again that improved things and the gradual return of how to do things was helpful to boost my confidence that my recovery was really happening. I know you've had such an awful time recently so it's probably quite natural that you are getting frustrated, 18 months down the line. Please know that things can get better, and we are all here, ready to listen and really rooting for you!

These are just my musings, a "thinking out loud" if you like and I hope they are some use to you. Take care, we are all thinking of you, xx

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Hannah thanks for sharing all that - I found it really insightful, and I hope it helps Beckles too. So much of what you write resonates with me. I wonder if any of the professionals at APP have published any research or have any conclusions about the “cognitive distortions” that might arise from PP? I know I include that when I cover depression and anxiety in mental health first aid courses, but my hunch is that it must happen even more in people with psychosis?

Beckles - I think I see now a bit more where you’re coming from. I definitely had large parts of my brain which no longer functioned or functioned only very slowly. In my recovery from the PP I could only think or do one very simple task at a time. In the MBU for example I would struggle to shower and wash my hair because I couldn’t figure out the right steps, and the things I needed to remember to take with me (shampoo ANd conditioner seemed too many things!?!). With the baby care stuff it took me weeks and weeks to learn how to wash, sterilise bottles and make up formula feeds. I remained petrified of this. Similar with working the pram/car seat system.

I guess all I can say is that it definitely does improve over time. I’m thinking of you and will try and support you however I can to get through this.

Have a lovely weekend

Kat xx

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I know exactly what your talking about and your right. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t go through my experience until I stopped breastfeeding at 16 months and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I swear it screwed up my brain. I could not function or do daily normal things. The only way I could explain it to myself was when your depressed it depresses your brain. Those parts of of your brain don’t light up so I interpreted as those parts are not currently working. Look at pictures online of a depressed brain vs a normal one. I had this very severely. I could barely take care of my son and folding laundry felt like a huge task to accomplish. I just couldn’t do normal things that came natural to me before. I can say that with lots of time, healing and medicine I am back to normal. It did scare the crap out of me and I would never hope for anyone else to go through anything like this..

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Thank you jFournier...it's good to hear others experiences. Mine too hit me after I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months. May I ask what medication you were on and if it helped or made it worse? I'm on fluoxetine 60mg daily, Clonazapam 0.5 and aripiprazole 10mg daily...I just can't seem to get back to normal! I'm trying desperately for my daughter as we have been apart for 7 months now 😪 I get horrible suicidal thoughts about every other day which I think a big part of this (memory loss/loss of confidence) is causing as I start to run out of hope.

You are absolutely right it's the normal things that just don't come naturally, I have to really make myself....tell myself to do them!

It makes me think there is something wrong with my brain but professionals and psychiatrist say it's the depression. May I ask are you bipolar as this is something I am being toldcouldbe possible but they are not certain. I had to get a second opinion from perinatal specialist psychiatrist in August as I didn't get any better! second opinion doc said I was severely depressed off the back of psychosis and I'm not bipolar. My psychiatrist disagreed and did not follow through with recommendation until October when I pushed for it as still feeling no better. 3 wks in on second opinion recommendation I began to feel a little better....surely that says something in itself..??!

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Hi beckles

Sorry for not replying earlier... you’ve got some great replies and shared experience... I do think a lot of it does sound like depression mixed with side effects of meds, loss of confidence etc...

I know when I was depressed I became quite fixated on certain things i couldn’t do and almost became stuck on the negative thought that I couldn’t do it almost (an example for me was doing night feeds, I had big anxiety about it and thought it would make me ill, or that i couldn’t manage to look after my son for more than a few hours on my own) ... to be honest the main thing that combatted the negative thoughts was to actually do it and realise that the reality wasn’t as bad as the fantasy i had built up in my head... that I could do it... and slowly my confidence grew. I have a strong feeling that if you are with your daughter , solely looking after her, to build up your confidence, and in time slowly go back to work, your confidence will slowly return, of course it won’t be easy straight away but you will slowly get better, you are such a capable, loving , creative mummy and you will be able to do it...

Have you been offered cbt/ psychotherapy yet? This helped me so much with confidence and managing the negative thoughts.

Thinking of you xxx

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Hello Beckles30

I hope you have been ok this weekend.

Thinking of you ..... take care. xx

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Dearest Beckles30,

how are you?

I have been reading through this thread and subject matter of memory loss. It has been an interesting read. Our stories have unfolded and indicated the uniqueness of recovery, because of a very traumatising illness. The experience of our treatment by professionals and medication, but also the after-care and ongoing support of family and friends and professionals throughout recovery is of great significance. Our support network.

We alter and we change and we learn to adjust and acquire new skills. Yes, I can not change the past, but carry on with what I have in the hear and now. Each year is improving and I can make sense of my own reality...our needs do vary!

I have memory loss when I do not sleep, occasionally Insomnia still finds its way into my brain and I mind race. Sometimes I struggle with anxiety and it affects my routine...an anxiety attack can affect the way how I think for quite a few days and then I need to allow my body to rest.

I have learnt to slow down and work in stepping stones, I am listening to my own needs and sometimes have got to say NO. I gained help and advise from others and took on board new coping mechanisms, when triggers try to sneak into my world...

Life will improve and your purpose will be clear. It is good to write and we are here to listen.

x

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