Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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depersonalization/derealization

Hello all. On top of the suicidal depression I'm struggling with (hoping the meds will kick in soon/work), I have near--constant feelings of depersonalization/derealization which make me feel like I am in some horrible dream or I'm about to completely lose the plot. It's like nothing makes any sense anymore, I just exist moment-to-moment with no sense of continuity and no sense of self or the past or the future, and it makes me fear that I'm actually psychotic and don't realize, or am about to become again, or something... I don't know.. Just wondering how many had DP/DR after PP and how long it took to get better? This is hell..

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Hi Kaktus

I'm so sorry you're struggling. What you're experiencing sounds really horrible. I'm not sure if I had depersonalization / dereaslization after PP, I didn't have it diagnosed by a doctor. I did have times when nothing felt real, and a great panic would set in too and make the feeling of things not being real worse. I would kind of 'detach' from reality. I'm not sure if that happened due to the panic or almost as a kind of coping mechanism to try to distance myself from it all. I don't know if this is anything like what you are experiencing at the moment. Do you have a trusted person at all who you could maybe talk to about your feelings? I don't know if this would help, but maybe talking to them could help to ground in some way? Or sort of help you step outside, if only briefly, the unreal feelings?

The above is only a thought though so please do take it or leave it.

It sounded like you had a good appointment with the psychiatrist which was so good to hear. Is there perhaps any way of getting an early appointment with them again soon so that you can talk to them about these experiences and get advice?

Feeling for you. Take good care. I really hope that the medication starts to help soon and that the feelings start to get a bit more bearable soon. Sending very best wishes to you

Jen xx

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Hello kaktus

I'm so sorry to hear you're having an awful time at the moment. It must be so hard to have depersonalisation feelings on top of trying to cope with suicidal depression. Do you have good support around you? Is your new psychiatrist available to talk to for reassurance?

I'm not sure what support you have abroad but I have found that MIND has a page about dissociative disorders which might be helpful to read. I think as you're only months into recovery you will need to give yourself more time to cope with all that has happened to you. I think I mentioned in your other posts that my PP was a long time ago and I was in and out of hospital for months so you have done really well to be recovering at home.

I remember feeling helpless and hopeless and not in the real world. Perhaps keeping a diary about your feelings until the next time you see your psychiatrist might be an idea? As you say, it must be hell for you but with good medical care you will slowly emerge and feel better in time. It's very hard to be patient but please try and make sure you have support around you.

Stay safe and take good care. We are all here to support you.

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Thank you for the nice replies. The doctor said she thinks my current state is "neurotic" rather than "psychotic" (i.e. dissociative rather than psychotic) which was a relief for a brief moment but doesn't change the awfulness of the feelings I guess. She said she thinks it's a reaction to the depression which went untreated for a long time due to the other doctor not putting me on antidepressants after I repeatedly asked. She said once the depression lifts it should help with this too. I'm just afraid escitalopram isn't working for me (I started it on 21.12). I will be given Effexor if this doesn't work but the wait feels eternal. The dissociation is a little better today (I got my period so I think PMS was making things 10x worse) but it's still there, together with the depression. I keep telling myself "just make it till bedtime.." and so on every day.

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Hello kaktus

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Is it possible your care team can offer talking therapy as this can be very helpful to vocalise your thoughts and feelings? Also I think Mindfulness has also been helpful to some mums here and is another outlet perhaps you could try? I found listening to music, even today, lifts my spirits on a grey day.

I know when you're depressed as well it's hard to find the energy to bother with anything but therapy might give you a focus. When I was depressed the days were endless but with the right medication and treatment I began to get better. I think I've said before that sometimes it can be one step forward and two back but you will be well again and deserve to be after going through so much.

Be kind to yourself and take good care. We are all here for you.

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Hi Kaktus,

I had this feeling of detachment from reality after PP. I also lost my memory, which is another symptom of disassociation. From what I understand it is a coping mechanism.

I found this quote online: The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis. I really worried after PP I was getting ill again but with the help of medication and counselling I am well on the way to recovery, and you will be too! It’s a long road but you’ll get there.

I have a psychiatrist that I see who is fantastic. I found it was way out of my GP’s remit. Hopefully the tablets will start helping.

Remember we are all here for you on APP.

Take care

Anna

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I wrote a reply but it got lost somehow.. I've started weekly therapy. I hope it will help. Every night after we bathe and put our daughter to sleep, I watch Stark Trek with my partner. That little routine helps. The days are hard though.. but I will try and do something uplifting today if I can somehow force myself to.

That's a useful quote Anna. I'm definitely more "detached" from reality rather than "losing" it, but it's a fine line sometimes, isn't? I guess it's just been so long since I've felt "normal".. I'm all jumbled up. And my psychosis developed gradually so there was no clear cut. It's very confusing to work out. But thank you, it's reassuring to know that dissociation can also happen after PP, as I've read less about it even searching through the forum. I guess my brain just doesn't want to deal..

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Hi Kaktus

How are you this evening.

I really struggled with depersonalisation and feeling like I was not real while I was recovering from PP. Like you I always worried I was going to go into psychosis again. I am sorry I do not know how far along you are in recovery, it was about eight months before I started to feel just like the old me. To aid my recovery I slept as much as I needed too and had to avoid all drama and stress. I am glad you are seeing someone weekly as I know sharing how I was feeling and what I was experiencing really helped. You will get better, and find your old self soon. Best wishes x

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Thank you so much Theo! I"m glad to hear you found yourself again! I'm 5 months into recovery. I'm also trying to sleep a lot and be stress-free although life is such that it's not always possible. Yes I'm hoping the counselling will help. The feelings of DP/DR are so, so strange. Even though they are not psychotic and thus not labelled as "dangerous" (so often ignored by psychiatrists), they are profoundly strange feelings... I'm actually a little better today. Had a good sleep and have been trying my best to (1)ignore the thoughts that depression sends my way and (2)ignore the perceptions that DP/DR send my way. I just keep saying "ok, whatever, leave me alone). It helps a little...

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hi, I've stumbled upon this chat (apologies for intruding) i'm currently feeling lost....i'd PTSD after by daughter (8 years ago) and now have a 5 week old baby boy

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Hi jlz13

I’m so sorry you’re feeling lost, how have you been feeling since you posted? Are your feelings linked to the PTSD?

The early weeks are so hard, I do hope you have support? Have you told anyone how you’re feeling?

Very best wishes,

Jenny x

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Hello Kaktus,

how are you today???

After PPP I have continuously struggled with my menstrual cycle. I thought I highlighted it, because you mentioned it above.

Depending on what life throws at me (increased stress levels) I can become poorly and especially a week before and after menstrual cycle my mood swings are up and down. I often retreat or disassociate as I find the following difficult:

- lack of comprehending/textualising what has been said

- listening skills are reduced, because of mind racing

- not coping with discussion skills/argumentation

- loss of confidence/self esteem subsequently avoiding people contact

- increased anxiety

- hyper activity, multi-tasking, but not necessarily ending task at hand

My partner probably could summarise much more...it sometimes causes frustration for him, too.

Insomnia always has been my problem. When I do not sleep, the above listed points are more extreme and daily routine becomes more difficult.

I just wonder, if you could journalise the way you feel throughout the weeks. Record keeping does help in order to report back to GP and anybody else, who is supporting you professionally.

I use alternative therapy such as yoga, meditation, walking , painting, talking to friends etc...

It is always good to have a second opinion. I am always interested in support and well being classes.

Wishing you well,

x

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Hi

I'm sorry you're struggling so much suffered with the depersonalisation with Pni (not pp) but found exercise really helped. Somehow the endorphins would get rid of this sensation which for me felt like I wasn't really here or that my body was this she'll that didn't belonged to me.

I don't know if you're able to do any exercise but even a brisk walk which elevates the heart rate might help with this symptom.

Many years on I occasionally get this feeling of detachment usually caused by tiredness. So rest as much as you can.

You are one courageous lady - I really do admire you. Xx

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Hello kaktus

I hope your weekly therapy is helping as you settle into it. Recovery from PP is very hard at times, especially if you are also depressed. I found some days very difficult so you're doing well to ignore your negative feelings and finding distractions to share with your partner.

Take good care of yourself, one day at a time. We are all here for you. xx

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Dear Lilybeth. Yes, the therapy is helping a lot. Also, my antidepressants seem to be working I am significantly less depressed. I still struggle with DP/DR, but I do get many moments of feeling almost "normal", which has given me hope that I am making progress and on the way to healing.

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Dear kaktus

I'm so pleased to hear the therapy and your antidepressants are working. It must be great that you feel less depressed. Perhaps if you mention your struggle with DP/DR to your therapist he / she can find resources with advice? I'm not sure if the Mind charity page I mentioned earlier was any help.

I'm really pleased you feel hopeful and that your partner is supportive after all you have been through together. Take good care and rest as much as you can .... you will find yourself again in time. Until then, we're all here to lean on. xx

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Hi kaktus that’s great to hear you’re beginning to feel a bit better with the medication and therapy, it’s great you’ve found helpful support.

I found with recovery that I had more and longer windows of normality until I felt completely myself again and I am sure this will be your experience. It is just a gradual process.

Take care

Ellie

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