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Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Looking for connection, understanding, and hope

Hello,

I experienced a frightening episode of PP back in March, and was hospitalized a second time due to the traumatic effects of it, which triggered old trauma from early childhood.

This happened with my third baby, when he was just about ten months. My husband had been hospitalized with flu/pneumonia when the baby was about 5-6 months, I'd been homeschooling my older two, and doing back to school myself, to finish my MA and help with out finances, which had been stressful very tight for years. My in-laws were another source of stress, critical and worried about choices we made that differed from what they thought they ought to do.

A painful experience with an old friend happened just as I conceived my third son, something I had trouble processing (it was something personally intimate and sort of invasive that triggered old trauma).

I was holding it all so well, I'd thought, being pragmatic and taking everything one step at a time. But my mind bent under all the pressure. The things I thought were happening while I was delusional were so disturbing and frightening.

I dont know what else to say yet, but I'm feeling relieved to have found this forum. I feel as if my life was flipped upside down, and I worry that it will always feel this way, and that my life has been ruined. I know that might not be rational, but I'd really come to rely on my soundness of mind.

Now that I can't, it's really shaken me to my core. I've put my boys in school, I'm not nearly the attentive and connected mom I'd worked so hard to become.

Thank you.

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Oh, darn all the autocorrect typos! Sorry, I will try not to do this on my phone again!

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Hello Riverotter08

Welcome to the forum ..... this is definitely the right place for connection, understanding and hope. Thank you for sharing your experience of what must have been a very frightening time for you. You have done really well to go back to finish your MA which is amazing as your PP was only months ago.

PP is such a traumatic experience and has hit many of us out of the blue without knowing what was happening. It sounds as though you were trying to keep a lid on things and were overwhelmed by so much strain. I had delusions and hallucinations which as you say were so disturbing and frightening. I also had trauma in early childhood. Do you have an understanding GP or CPN to talk to? Perhaps it might be an idea to have some talking therapy so that you can release all your thoughts and have peace of mind?

I think it's early days for PP to be done and dusted. It takes a lot of courage and time to heal from the awful things we have been through. In these early days I can see how you might feel your life is ruined but please be reassured that with good medical aftercare and support you will fully recover. I'm not sure if you have seen the PP Insider Guides "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" at app-network.org/what-is-pp/... which might be helpful to read.

Please be good to yourself .... you have been through so much and it will take time to find your feet but you honestly will eventually feel better. We are all here to support and listen .... there will be other mums to share their experiences. I hope in some way you now feel connected as this is a great safe place to meet. Take care :)

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Hi Riverotter08 it's good to connect with you on here. I had PP in 2016 and have found it affected my confidence and self of self. I certainly found it very hard to be an engaged Mum of a newborn. I had previously been very chatty and sociable but after PP I felt like I had nothing to say and preferred my own company. I'm definitely more like myself now than I was then though I still struggle with depression and am on medication.

I don't know about you, but for me the perfectionist in me has made accepting my illness very hard. I felt like such a failure for having mental health difficulties and not being able to work any more. I keep trying to tell myself to cut myself some slack and flip things on their head. So being at home and not working is good for my son rather than a failing on my part. For you maybe recognising the benefits of school for your older children may help you with accepting the situation you're in?

It's very early days for you so I hope your recovery continues apace.

We're all rooting for you on here and keep talking, it's so important to talk and what I love about this forum is feeling that I'm not the only one.

Hazello

X

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Hi riverotter

From what you have said it seems you've had pp and then on top a lot of other personal stress plus underlying trauma from childhood.. firstly you won't always feel this way you need to take each day as it comes one step at time.. maybe set yourself small goals at first and I'd say talking to someone about all your worrys and deep personal thoughts/traumas etc.. will really help you need to let it all out.. focus on what you like doing plan sometime for different things.. you've only suffered so recently don't feel like your not as good a mum as before a lot has happened and your bound to be shook up.. hope you have support around you.. you will have from everyone here can always talk and let it out to us.. x

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Dear Riverotter08

Thanks for reaching out to the forum here. You are definitely not alone here! I had PP in 2012/3 following the birth of my son (an only child). I had huge expectations of myself and motherhood (I’d always been a “high achiever” academically and so on, maybe part and parcel of what bipolar disorder has given me?). During the pregnancy I read book after book on things like lactation, schedules and all the rest... And probably spent £000s on baby paraphernalia I never needed. I kinda wish (with a lot of hindsight) someone had told me to give it a rest!

Anyways, I can’t imagine how much stress you must’ve been under, having two older children to Home-school, an MA to finish, a seriously unwell partner and then a new baby to care for too. The mind is such a resilient and miraculous organ, but I guess there’s only so much stress any one person can be put under before it “breaks”. It’s amazing that you held your sanity for so long - ten whole months!! - before the psychosis finally hit.

So huge pat on the back and solidarity hugs to you, and do please continue to reach out here for support. And please please be reassured (as professor Ian Jones once reassured me) that your soundness of mind is restored. I used to worry that psychosis could hit me again at any time, eg just walking down the street... I was reassured this would be incredibly unlikely. That is, recovery would be protected by looking after my sleep and overall health, and managing my activities so as not to get over stressed or overwhelmed.,. And it sounds like that’s what you’re doing now, which is brilliant, and exactly the right thing for your family too.

Best wishes

Kat

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Thank you everyone, I'm so glad to have found this forum.

I do find I'm scared of psychosis happening again. I am in the US and care for PP here is very different, there is no such thing as an MBU, for example,.

I do have a therapist who specializes in EMDR therapy.

I wish it all had never happened, but it has been a very eye-opening experience as to all the underneath, inner workings and burdens of the psyche. I do think there are some very rigid structures with unreasonable ideas about perfection and goodness versus imperfection and badness.

The experience definitely gave me a lot to write about and I've finally finished a first rough draft of a multi-narrative thread novel I've been wanting to write for nearly two decades now. I never would have chosen that in exchange for missing three weeks of my children's childhood, but there it is.

Thank you again for reaching out and connecting.

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Hi Riverotter08

I just wanted to say hello and add to the replies you’ve already had.

It will get easier. It’s very early days and I completely understand your feelings - PP is hugely traumatic and it sounds like you’ve had such a lot to deal with. I’ve always been a very balanced person (in my view!), no history of any hint of mental ill health and bam, have a baby and my mind broke. I too had all these expectations and put a lot of pressure on myself, especially around breastfeeding, and PP was a huge shock, I’d never heard of it. It took a long time to process everything that happened, but time really does help. ‘Meeting’ others on this forum and reading other women’s experiences was so helpful to me, and I hope it is to you too.

Look after yourself, you’re not alone and you will get better.

Jenny x

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Hello Riverotter08

I'm glad you found the shared experiences here helpful. It must be very satisfying that you have managed to finish your novel in spite of all the chaos of PP happening around you. As you are in the US I wonder if you have heard of Postpartum Support International at postpartum.net? They offer support and resources for mothers and families and there is a section on PP. I think it is possible to connect to support local to you and there is also a Facebook page with more info.

You are very welcome here too and I hope the therapy is helpful. Take good care of yourself .... we are all here to lean on.

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Thank you for the local info! I will follow up on that!!

(I didnt *finish* the novel yet! Just a rough draft, but spending the time to revise and edit and all will really help ke process a lot that will be valuable-- just a disclaimer as I'm far from a finished novel yet! Maybe it will be a part of my recovery though)!!

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Thank you Riverotther08 .... I'm sorry, I did read that your novel was still in draft form, my mistake. It might be therapeutic to spend time to revise and edit the draft, giving you a little space in the day to yourself.

Good to hear from you ... I hope PSI will be a good contact. Take care.

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Hi Riverotter08,

I'm glad you found this forum and can relate to so many on here.

I also had postpartum psychosis and was sectioned when my baby was 10months. This was 21yrs ago and there were no MBU for us. For me, I found the worst part of my illness was being separated from my little boy as at 10months old we had a very strong bond but I had gotten to the point where I was scared to change a nappy because if he cried I thought I was hurting him. I also didn't dare choose what to feed him because if he didn't like it I felt rejected and a failure. So i used to end up choosing baby yoghurt fromage frias all the time because I knew he would eat that! I had only recently stopped fully breastfeeding ( in fact i was still breastfeeding on a night time) as I had returned to work. I think the strength of the bond I had with my baby boy is what kept me on this earth and prevented me carrying out the thoughts of suicide that were tormenting me. When i was in hospital I missed him taking his first steps. I also had a relapse 6months later (not full blown psychosis though) and had to be admitted to hospital a second time. Although the second hospital admission felt a relief as I knew I would get rest and they would get me better quickly. During my second admission I missed my little boys first words. I keenly feel how it troubles you to have missed out on your childrens childhood whilst being ill. Especially as you have two older ones. Just to reassure you though my baby is now 21 and about to start his 4th and final year of a degree reading in Korean Studies. He's a liguist at heart and certainly hasnt been affected by my illness. My other two younger children (I didnt get PP with them thanks to meds and family support) they are both doing well too, despite having to put up with my Bi polar. I just wanted to encourage you with that as we can beat ourselves up unnecessairly. I know I did.

Well done on how far you have come already. It does take a long time to come back from but every few month you will look back and think wow.

T x

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Hello Riverotter08

I hope you were able to find support through Postpartum Support International and that you are not being so hard on yourself. Thinking of you ..... take care.

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Hi Riverotter08,

Otters look really cute, but my partner is a fisherman and he dislikes otters as they love eating carps! I had to write this to you, because your pseudonym/name puts a smile on my face.

I believe I have not responded to you, thus I would like to say hello to you and yes, you are not on your own. It was such a relief when I found this APP social site the end of 2016. I felt isolated and thought I was on my own with my traumatic experience.

Like you, and so many other women on this site share their experiences and thus, help each other tremendously.

I always have been studious and find it absolutely amazing that you managed completion of your MA despite all those obstacles and poor health.

I love creative writing, but especially art...thus totally impressed with your ambitious goals...

Wishing you well,

:-)

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