Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Bipolar revoked?

Hey there...Im just wondering how many of you had PPP or very severe PPD (mixed episodes etc) and were given a "bipolar" diagnosis only to wean off of your medication and remain well with no other incident?

I do not think I have bipolar, before postpartum I literally showed no signs of this, I only ever had an anxiety disorder.

Im not even sure of the legitimacy of bipolar 2, and how much of that is just high emotional reactivity and anxiety.

Bipolar 1 was never suggested for me. I did not have PPP truly, I had a mixed episode of agitated depression postpartum.

Thanks!

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Hello Ripley

Good to hear from you. I think I mentioned in your previous thread that I had PP twice, six years apart. I wasn't given a diagnosis of bipolar so I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. Have you discussed your feelings with your Consultant or is there a support group in Canada where you might find advice? I hope you can find the answers to give you peace of mind.

I'm sure other mums will be here to share their experiences with you.

Best wishes, take care.

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Thanks for the reply...may I ask how long you took meds for, and what you experienced coming off of them? Were you scared to be med free after such a terrible experience? How did you cope? I think I have PTSD from my PPD. Every time I feel a shred of anxiety I feel this sense of despair like Ill always be looking over my shoulder.

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Hello Ripley

My first PP was a long time ago and I was sectioned to general psychiatric care, without my son, for his first six months. I was very anxious when I returned home after being confined for such a long time. I had meds in tandem with ECT while in hospital and took meds for a year afterwards at home.

My second PP followed a similar pattern, six years later, having meds and ECT. I was treated by the Home Treatment team and during my recovery had a relapse as I was fed up taking meds and stopped! This was the wrong thing to do and I went back to square one very quickly. I was also actively suicidal and went into the psychiatric unit in times of crisis. Unfortunately I was hit with an enduring deep depression and again had ECT and meds at that time. From my notes, my depression lasted for just over a year and It took me a long time to come back from this. I think I was on meds for two years.

I was anxious to be meds free but my husband at the time and family were very supportive. There was a time I took my baby son to the doctor as he wasn't well. In his referral letter he had written that I was an anxious mother who would bring her son to surgery for the slightest thing!

Have you discussed your anxiety with your GP or Consultant? Perhaps talking therapy might be helpful to release your anxiety and talk openly about how you feel? I can relate to your feeling of despair when I was ill so please find help for yourself as it is an awful feeling. Take care.

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Hi Ripley ..... Ive had PP twice and I was led to believe that I would never psychosis again in the future unless I had another baby, and then the risk was 50%......unfortunately I had a psychotic episode a few years back (brought on by peri menopause/sudden death in family/no sleep/INCREASE of anti depressants!!- I found out later this was totally the wrong thing for my GP to have done ) I was sectioned and given a diagnosis of Bi Polar based on the fact that I’ve had PP twice and a non pregnancy related psychosis..... I firmly disputed this and still do now, I do however know my own vulnerabilities and have adjusted my lifestyle, ie having enough rest, sleep, enjoyable things, paying less attention to the ‘shoulds and musts’ a lot of us think, exercise, diet ..... and I’m only taking a low dose anti depressant ..... the psychiatrist wanted to put me straight on to sodium volporate but I refused as I felt that it would take away my ‘spirit ‘ ..... I suffered crippling anxiety ( diagnosed with episodic paroxysmal anxiety ) when I weaned too quickly off Olanzapine ( big mistake ) but felt better after about 6weeks .... I hope this helps give you some reassurance, take care x

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Hi Ripley66.

I have been diagnosed as bipolar 1 three years after my postpartum psychosis episode. I'm not sure how I feel about the diagnosis but I am pleased to be enjoying my family again.

It really seems like things are unknown about postpartum psychosis. Here in the States I was placed on a general psychiatric ward and removed from my family. It would have been really difficult, but luckily my husband came to visit me every day. I had ECT and was able to return to my family. Over the course of two years I was able to wean off drugs with the support of my psychiatrist. Unfortunately, three years after my original postpartum psychosis I did have an episode. It was after flying across country to see my mom, going to a high school reunion, and searching in the snow for my father's grave and not finding it. All stressful situations even when done separately let alone over the course of a weekend. It was then that my psychiatrist informed me that patients with postpartum psychosis are not supposed to be weaned off drugs. Now I occasionally attend depression bipolar support alliance (DBSA) group meetings. It doesn't hurt but I'm not sure about the bipolar diagnosis. It really seems like there is very little understood about our emotions.

Hope this helps.

Gina

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Thank you Gina for your kind and very honest comment. I have been reading up on bi-polar as I have been diagnosed, too.

I was like you not very fortunate to have the opportunity of a mother and baby unit.

Gosh, your journey must have been so terribly stressful and so sad, when searching for your dads grave in the snow.

I believe I have not only had traumatic experiences in the mixed psychiatric unit when sectioned in 2010, but also afterwards when flying to Spain twice in 2013 in a short period of time where I tried to support my mum after my father's accident and then again when having to say good bye to him...and then my mum in law...

I just have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar and start to look into case studies, groups and organisations of support and lots more.

My newly acquired label makes complete sense, because my struggles have been ongoing and symptomatic.

I am classed as Bi-Polar 1, because of my PPP experience. However, my condition at this moment is within the Bi-Polar 2 Spectrum.

A lot of research needs to be done within this field and Bipolar is not easily to be identified and there is even less research to be found how women are affected when menopausal after PPP and with BP...

Best wishes,

:-)

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Hi Gina. Can I ask how you manage your bipolar?

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Hi Janellec.

I'm fine with writing about what I do to manage bipolar 1.

While getting treatment (cognitive behavioral therapy), I learned about Arden's SEEDS (Sleep, Exercise, Education, Diet, Social Interactions). For me (and my psychiatrist agreed), I really needed to focus on sleep. I have medications that make this better for me. Full disclosure: I also have antidepressant medications and one medication that is an antipsychotic. Being a member of a group (DBSA) has made being med compliant much easier because it no longer seems strange to me. As for exercise, I focus on doing what I can (yoga, workouts with apps, walking/hiking, or going to the YMCA). In terms of education, I always try to read a few good books of different genres at once (a favorite recently was Lab Girl -by a fantastic scientist who spoiler alert mentions going through postpartum psychosis) and also the news (only what I can handle). For diet, I'm focusing on my health and doing Whole30 with my husband. Finally, my social interactions are in person, over the phone, and occasionally on this forum. My therapist and psychiatrist are also super supportive. If I reflect on my day and realize I have done SEEDS, things are generally much better for me and my family.

I'm focused on what I can control and not on all the other variables. I take it day by day (which is much better than when I was going hour by hour).

My mom reminds me that we all know what we need and we just have to listen attentively to ourselves and make small steps to achieve great things.

Thanks for asking. I hope I was able to answer your question.

Gina

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Thanks for your reply Gina. Can I ask what antipsychotic and dose you are on and if you have any side effects?

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I take Latuda 40mg. Originally, I was taking it in the morning. It was making me feel foggy and I started waking up extra early to take it and then sleep it off. I spoke with my psychiatrist about how this arrangement wasn't really helpful to me. My psychiatrist suggested I take the Latuda at night. I feel much better waking up right now.

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Hi Ribpley66,

I hope my message above to Gina will help you, too.

I was able to relate to her and I am by no means out in the open to everybody with my diagnosis, because in my opinion there is more stigma attached to Bipolar.

I have done a lot of awareness raising with regards to PPP, but somehow feel quite different with BP...I guess it is a very personal matter as I now know that it is a disposition within my family,

There is plenty of evidence and information, peer support, specific organisations etc., but I believe as in our case with PPP one really needs to be able to open up to a perinatal psychiatrist.

My journey of recovery has been long with loads of ups and down, but we all will get there, if willing to open up and happy to ask for help and search for avenues in order to balance our life style and looking after our mental health.

Sending you love and kindness,

:-)

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