Action on Postpartum Psychosis
2,076 members1,391 posts

Recovery journey

I feel that I need some help. Had PP in Feb this year 5 weeks after my baby was born. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me.

Came off olanzapine one month ago. Feel like I am just scared all the time I will get ill again. I have got only external stressors in my life too which doesn’t help like problems within my external family. Feel like just this week I have really struggled. Initially when I stopped the medication my sleep was being affected but now I have anxious thoughts and I am scared as I am going back to work in one month and I am worried I will not be able to cope.

I know it will probably be good for me to go back to work but I am scared x

26 Replies
oldestnewest

Hello Gemma8888

Lovely to hear from .... congratulations on the birth of your baby :) It's such a shame that the joy of motherhood should be tarnished by such a traumatic illness but here you will find lots of support and shared experiences. I'm sorry to hear you suffered PP in February, it really is a scary experience. Did you have specialist care in a mother and baby unit?

I had PP many years ago but still remember how frightening and real it all was at the time. Do you think you need to ask your GP about medication if you are having anxious thoughts? Have you had guidance about returning to work from Occupational Health on a phased return basis? I can understand your anxiety about returning in such a short space of time into your recovery. Is it possible to return on a part-time basis at first just to find your feet and settle back into the routine?

For me it was all about rebuilding my confidence before returning to work. Have you had any talking therapy to help with your external stressors? Some mums here have benefited from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which I also had unrelated to PP. I found it very helpful to talk about issues I didn't want to worry my family about and changing the way I thought about things. Your GP should be able to refer if you think this is something that might help.

I think when we have had an illness such as PP, it is very important to look after our mental health as we are recovering from such a traumatic time in our lives. I wonder if you have seen the PP Guides, "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" and "Postpartum Psychosis : A Guide for Partners" at app-network.org/what-is-pp/... I know returning to work is good for financial as well as social reasons but it's also important to make sure you are well enough first.

Take good care .... we are all here to support you.

1 like
Reply

Hi Lilybeth,

Thanks for your reply. I have had a look on the internet at the recovery after postpartum psychosis. That’s how I found this online community. I think now I have come off the olanazapine I have felt the need for more support. I feel as though I am now getting more confortable with accessing things online as my PP episode was linked to social media I have avoided it till now

I didn’t go to a mother and baby unit. Luckily my husband was able to really supportive. But he has been working away a lot lately so don’t see him much.

I was open to the perinatal team but they closed my case just before I stopped the anti psychotics. I have been to the GP and suggested him increasing my antidepressants (Escitalapram) which he did about two weeks ago. Not done anything else like CBT or anything related to the PP but maybe I could try something.

Going back part-time, my work wanted me to return full-time so having to move departments to return part-time. Not had anything to do with occupational health. My workplace is has not offered this but does know what happened in detail due to the nature of my job they were informed.

I hope that makes sense. Thank you sooo much for the advice and support x

Reply

Hi Gemma888

Good to hear from you. So glad you found the forum via the Insider Guide! As my PP was a while ago I didn't take Olanzapine but I found a post "Weaning off Olanzapine" where some of the replies talk about insomnia and anxious thoughts. The link is healthunlocked.com/app-netw...

Do you think it might be possible to be re-referred to the perinatal team as perhaps they can signpost you to ongoing care in the community? I think that as you have only been in recovery for a few months, you need more support other than your GP's input.

I'm glad you have arranged to go back to work part-time, as I think full time would be too much. Even returning part-time I think you need to take regular breaks. Your employer does have a duty of care so make sure you are not overwhelmed by working in a new department.

My PP episodes were linked to hearing a commanding voice and also I thought the radio was playing music just for me! After my second recovery I suffered with depression which seemed endless but I made a complete recovery eventually. I found the forum a great safe space to talk and share experiences with other mums who really understood. There is also a brilliant blog "PP Soup" at ppsoup.com which might be helpful to read.

I hope you have company while your husband is away at work. Take care and please pop in here again to talk if it helps. x

2 likes
Reply

Hi Lilybeth,

I look at the link you sent and there were lots of people having similar problems to me which has helped so I know it’s normal and things will hopefully get better.

I have already rung the perinatal team and the have reopened my case. They said they will call me again soon to see how things are going.

I think I am just getting scared at the thought of returning to work and needed some reassurance. So glad that others in my situation have had similar issues. As I was worried I would get ill again.

I feel reassured I am doing all the right things. It’s just a scary time. Thank you sooo much for you support and advice x

Reply

Hi Gemma8888

I'm so pleased the link was reassuring with mums having similar problems and knowing it's normal and will get better. I felt the same when I found the forum ... I had felt so alone but was so surprised and relieved to find other mums who had experienced delusions!

That's good to hear the perinatal team have reopened your file and will be there to support you along the way. It's not surprising you're getting scared about returning to work, especially in a different department. Hopefully you will be able to take regular breaks even though it's part-time.

So pleased for you Gemma :) You should be very proud of yourself, coming through such a trauma and being ready to return to work. Take care .... we are all here if you would like to talk at anytime. x

Reply

Hi Gemma8888

It's great you have found us, welcome to the forum.

I had PP 7 years ago now, and I was on the same medication you were on, Olanzapine and Escitilipram.

PP is such a trauma isn't it? And I think the fear of getting unwell again is something everyone I have spoken to experiences. I'm so sorry you're feeling so scared and anxious, I do remember feeling that too. It's also really natural that you are a bit anxious about returning to work. They were all things I experienced too.

You mentioned that you were supported by the perinatal mental health team? I wondered if it would be possible to be re-referred to them again, just so they can support you during this transition? With your anxieties around returning to work, and struggling with being off the anti-psychotic? I know that a perinatal mental health team can support up to a year after postpartum. Perhaps you could contact them directly, or ask your GP to re-refer you?

After I had PP I was supported by the Early Intervention in Psychosis team (there wasn't a perinatal team in my area). They helped in my return to work for example, meeting my supervisor to explain to them what happened to me, and what kind of support I might need. I felt very anxious about returning to work too. They also helped me with my anxiety about coming off anti psychotic medication. It sounds like you would benefit from support like this?

I hope anyway that it is somehow reassuring to know that you are not the only one who has felt all the things you describe, they are such normal and natural feelings after experiencing PP. And I hope that you can get some more support with it all.

Take care, don't hesitate to write on here whenever you need to.

Ellie

1 like
Reply

Thank you Ellie for you reassurance. It has made me feel much better about my feelings and thoughts I really appreciate the support this forum offers and I am glad I found it and had the confidence to sign up and post x

Reply

I'm so glad it's helpful. I know that this forum, when I found it about 6 years ago, was such an amazing support and relief for me too. And it's great you were brave enough to post on here, not easy to do I know! Take care, and I hope your fears get less and more manageable, as I know you will. XX

1 like
Reply

Hi Gemma8888,

Wow, you really are doing brilliantly. You've been well enough to come off Olanzapine after only a short time since your PP. Your husband is working away a lot and you are soon returning to work. All that is amazing.

I think everyone on this forum will relate to feeling scared of being ill again. We've all been there.

You ve probably already learned ways to reduce stress.

Returning to work can be a stressor but if you look after yourself it can also provide a welcome change and break from being at home.

Do you need to return to work so soon? If its worrying you could you maybe postpone it?

Its good to hear you will be going part time. For myself I always used to refer to going back to work part time as having the best of both worlds 😆

I'm sure you will do super, as you have so far. If you can stay well tuned to your own body I think that will help. Make a list of what symptoms signal to you that you are stressed etc sleeping problems, low mood/tearful, worrying. What ever are your normal warning signs. Don't worry because as you get better and better you will find your ability to deal with stress increases massively. All the best and keep us posted on how you are doing if it helps to chat on the forum

T x

3 likes
Reply

Hi Teresa,

Thank you so much for your positive words. Your post is Heart warming.

I am hoping that going back to work will be a good thing. I have done the job for 10 years since I was 21 so it’s kind of part of my identity in some ways now 😂. I have always been a really busy confident person. But feeling really vulnerable atm. Also ashamed and embarrassed which I feel has got worse since stopping the olaxapine. I know that it will get better with time tho as I can see from the others posts. I just wish I could be more relaxed and not worry too much. I never want that to happen to me again.

I think before I go back to work I need to do some excercise class or mindlessness class to hopefully ease my anxiety. It’s only three weeks till I have to go back but it might help.

It’s nice to know that there are others have suffered PP and come through it. Hopefully it will make me stronger....

1 like
Reply

Hi Gemma8888

Wishing you all the best on your return to work. Don't feel ashamed as there was nothing you could have had any control over. It certainly doesnt make you less of a mum. I found if anything it made me fiercely protective of my little family and in many ways I grew stronger. Remember, as you return to work to only share information with those you want to. I was very good at baring my soul to everyone and sometimes afterwards would regret sharing so much. But thats me, I ve always been pretty much an open book!

I used to find Pilates helpful (till my instructor moved abroad to set up a pilates retreat-how selfish 😄). Maybe yoga might be helpful for you as there is meditation and the breathing exercises would help with your anxiety.

Take Care for now and good luck

T x

2 likes
Reply

Welcome Gemma to our APP forum,

it is so useful to be able to talk to mums, who have experienced the same traumatising illness.

You are doing amazingly well, but like Lilybeth said it is important to get still enough guidance and support in the after care & simultaneously learn how to look after oneself.

I believe it is crucial to have the link to a support network whereby professionals are involved. You are at a very early stage of your recovery, even though we are all very different, it is so important that stress factors are kept at a low level.

I wonder whether some of the employers actually understand the seriousness of the illness. It maybe worthwhile to talk to the occupational health, thinking of an integration back to work "rehabilitation process", which should be supported by the line manager, human resources, and occupational health.

You were talking about preparing yourself...you know it is very difficult to work towards a deadline, I believe after suffering from PPP in 2010 I have had to change my life style completely, beside focusing on my new role as a mum.

Ok, what helps and where can you get support-it really depends on your locality

1. mindfulness of breathing via meditation and yoga classes reduces stress and anxiety significantly...but regularity is of importance...

2. talking therapy - loads of options possible where you can pursue activities with like minded people, something you feel passionate about, a project, volunteering, arts class etc...

3. get in touch with Charities like Mind, your GP, or ask the perinatal mental health team, contact health visitors etc. who could find you a support group, if you wish to...sometimes there are specific workshops run in libraries or interesting courses for keeping mental health in check, self management toolkit etc …

4. Journalising or tracking your mood, which could be partly evidence for your own well being, but would be great to use as a tool for data collection, especially when you want to re-cap your well being with professionals, who could help you setting up a health care plan, ground rules and routine for your mental well being.

5. I definitively would suggest a work diary, because this always could be used for evidence, when you are in desperate need of emotional support. It is the obligation of the employer to look after their employees. May I suggest to make sure that you are a member of the Union as well, because the contractual agreements are of great importance in order to protect your employment. Get advise whether your old contract has been adapted to the new job...The new job has to fit your skills and abilities after the illness and in my view you need to have a different contractual agreement for safekeeping your employment, in case you should get poorly...

My health comes first and only I know how much I can take or how much I have to let go and whether I have to re-adjust. Stress management is not easy, I am still using coping strategies nowadays.

Look after yourself and your beautiful child,

hope this helps a bit

wishing you health and happiness.

x

2 likes
Reply

Thank you Jasa. Some real good advice and ideas to take forward. I really do need to make sure I look after myself because that’s part of how I got ill taking on too much. Really love this forum and the advice and support it has given me x

1 like
Reply

Hi Gemma8888, welcome on board the most supportive online community. I’ve reallly benefited from the support here myself having had PP in late 2016.

Congratulations on your little arrival.

Everything you’re feeling is very similar to my own experience at the time. Returning to work after mat leave is a big change, let alone after having PP too. Sleep... the cyclical lack of sleep. It can be so tough, the more you worry, the more challenging it is. Another PP mum recommended an app called the ‘Insight Timer’. That’s really helped me at night.

Be kind to yourself. Simple things, like fresh air, making sure you eat and drink super regularly is my first point. ALWAYS TAKE A LUNCH BREAK AT WORK!

Don’t be hard on yourself. You’re not the same person as you were before. Not just your PP experience, but you’re a mum to little one(s) too now. That changes you and your outlook. So work may just feel different. I’ve gone back part time too. Sometimes I feel I’m not doing either role too well, but you know, I think that’s normal mummy guilt!

Thankfully my work have been very supportive, but I advise you do take it slowly going back. Don’t rush and try and do everything you once did. Especially as you said your role is changing too. Hope you have supportive colleagues around you.

Your health is more important than any job, so if you need more time, that’s totally fine. Keep talking as you are with your health professionals. Keeping a diary is good. Note down what you’re feeling, the good and the bad. It’s helpful to look back and remember how far you’ve come. You’re a STAR. Don’t forget it!

Wishing you and your family well.

Breathe!

Xxxx

3 likes
Reply

Hello Gemma888

I hope you are ok and receiving support from your perinatal team. Not long to go before you return to work so I hope you are not feeling too anxious. Take really good care of yourself. :)

1 like
Reply

You must take steps to reduce as much stress as possible.

Also - other people will not take it seriously unless you do - even mental health teams will not do all they can unless you push them and insist you need support/help.

I'm saying just make sure you dont carry on and try to be normal, as it only makes others think that you dont need support...can you get reduced hours? Talk to your Hr or boss re. illness.

Dont forget, you had a VERY SERIOUS ILLNESS and you are recovering - dont let others belittle that fact, and do not belittle it yourself.

1 like
Reply

Hi Gemma888

Welcome to the forum, it’s great that you are finding the support useful..... you’ve had some brilliant advice and support from the replies already, so there isn’t much more to add, other than the point you make about feeling ashamed and embarrassed..... I can totally relate to that, in fact having had PP twice is still a very big ‘secret’ and I don’t disclose it very often, if at all.....I think stigmas and stereotypes of severe mental illness are thankfully breaking down, but there is still a long way to go, in terms of people feeling they can be open about their past history.

I can honestly say that since I have been involved with APP, (just over a year) my own shame is eroding and it’s been so amazing to have the support of the other volunteers, knowing that we all share the same ‘secret’.

I cannot emphasise enough how much I believe that attitudes towards physical and mental health need to stem

from an understanding that they are of equal

Importance...... a friend of my mine was recently signed off work for 3 months with severe depression..... how sad it is that when she returned on phased return, she was unable to discuss her vulnerability, that she was still recovering ..... I compared it to the scenario that had she been involved in a road traffic accident, with severe injuries, she would have visible ‘proof’ of being unwell and would most likely receive sympathy, tolerance etc from her colleagues..... instead of lack of understanding and shame.

I really hope you’re getting on well, if you have returned to work, and that you are feeling better...... we are always here to talk and listen.....

Best wishes

Jas

2 likes
Reply

Hi Gemma

I hope you are ok and feeling more confident and relaxed about returning to work although I can remember the anxiety as my return to work was over a longer period and at different companies on a temporary basis. Hopefully as you have been there for ten years but in a different department there will be a friendly atmosphere and welcome for you. If you feel too stressed though, please take a break as our mental health is so important to look after.

Just to chime in with other comments here, please don't feel ashamed or guilty. PP turned me into a completely different person whom I had no control over but as you are doing, I fought so hard to be well and eventually found my place again. My PP episodes were a long time ago and my illness was a family secret, never discussed. So for years I carried a lot of guilt and shame until I found the APP team and Prof Jones who, from my medical notes, confirmed I had suffered PP twice. From that day a great weight was lifted and I realised it wasn't my fault and I had no choice. I really hope that's how you now feel since meeting all the virtual friends here. Please believe in yourself and how strong you have been to emerge from such a traumatic illness :) Take good care.

Reply

How are you Gemma?

Thinking of you...

Look after yourself :-)

1 like
Reply

Hi all,

Today was my second day back to work. I was feeling very anxious and stressed before I came on here and read all of the supportive comments :)

I am glad I came on here. It feels like my job makes it worse. I am a social worker and have moved back into child protection. It has been hard as my health visitor sits in the same office and she has not spoken to me yet. I expect she feels awkward but I feel awkward too. I haven't had much to do with her as I mainly worked with the perinatal team.

I spoke with the lady from the prenatal team after I self referred and spoke to the GP who agreed to up my anti-depressants. My care plan is for me to start other anti-psychotics that do not affect weight so much if needed. But apparently they can affect sleep which is my major trigger. I feel ok but my anxiety is really bad at the moment.

I think my anxiety is so bad as I have been there for 10 years and everyone knows me virtually so I am worried about who knows and who doesn't. It's a shame really as I am usually confident but as I have got older my confidence has subsided in some ways.

On a positive note my husband is working local now and I have loads of friends and family for support. Feeling overwhelmed in some ways at the moment so don't want to reach out too much as I think it will make it worse. I have had a number of friends and family members check in on me. I know now as I am writing this that I have a lot of people who care about me and this must mean I am a good person!

Also my daughter is settling into nursery OK. She gets upset when she is collected but that's because she has missed me and my husband and she is tired.

I have felt disorganised and overwhelmed as returning to work is obviously hard. I am hoping to have a one to one with my manger tomorrow as she has arranged a meeting to discuss cases. I will ask to see her one to one if not just to speak about the HOT POTATO :). I get on well with her but I feel bad as I don't want to burden her.

Long message I know. Hope it makes sense xxx

1 like
Reply

Hi Gemma 8888

Well done on starting back at work, such a huge accomplishment ! I do hope you’re getting all the support you need.

It’s understandable that everything feels overwhelming, there is a lot for you to organise, childcare and just getting back into the routine of work.

I’m sure that things will settle down, it’s an upheaval and you’re obviously still recovering from PP.

Try to only do what you have to do, prioritise the main things and make sure you can factor in breaks at work and have things planned that you can look forward to; try not to put pressure on yourself, plan some form of rest and relaxation in the evenings, if possible.

I found all the above useful in my recovery, which I still practise now, as I believe ‘self care’ is an utmost essential part of my life, as I do not want to relapse again and find myself back as an inpatient.

Wishing you a good day Gemma, and hoping that you are coping with it all ok, sending love and very best wishes, Jas xx

4 likes
Reply

Hi Gemma8888

So good to hear from you. I think you are amazing returning to work which must be very overwhelming as you are working in such a sensitive role and coping with routine. I'm sorry your anxiety is really bad at the moment.

I think when we have had PP we just want to move on and forget we were ever temporarily out of our minds :) Please remember it wasn't your fault .... I would hope that your employer has kept your illness confidential so you should not have to worry about who knows and who doesn't. It took me ages to rebuild my confidence so you are doing really well challenging yourself to return to work.

It's good that your husband is now working locally and you have family and friends supporting you. I'm glad your daughter is settling into nursery. I can see why you have felt overwhelmed as there has been so much to think about.

I hope your manager is supportive. Please don't worry about 'burdening' her as it is part of her job to listen to you so that she knows of any issues you might have at work. You are more than a good person, Gemma, having been through such a traumatic illness, dealing with anxiety and returning to work. Can you speak to the lady from the perinatal team who might be able to signpost you to support with coping strategies for your anxiety? You could also mention that the new medication can affect your sleep which is an added worry. Perhaps CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) might help as a way of talking about all the thoughts in your head that sometimes we don't want to worry family with?

Never worry about how long or short your posts are .... we are all here to listen and share experiences. I hope you have a good weekend and can find time to relax with your loving family. Take good care of yourself and please write again if you would like to. xxx

4 likes
Reply

Hi Gemma,

How brave of you starting back at work. Sorry your first week is giving you a lot of anxiety. I don't think you would be normal if it wasn't! That being said a short anxiety course helped me at a time when I had returned to work and my anxiety was through the roof. The breathing exercises alone helped with the physical side of anxiety. Or maybe if u dont fancy an anxiety course maybe a yoga or pilates class with a friend may help.

Certainly don't carry any guilt over your illness. I know its a natural reaction but remember to be kind to yourself as you are a strong amazing lady to have come through such an ordeal. However, you're not invincible so do look after yourself. If you think a particular medication affects your sleep definitley seek other alternatives. For me sleep is a major thing. If my sleep is distrupted I can cope for a short time but any longer and it really affects me in lots of ways. Being a mum to a little one means you have enough distrupted nights without any sides effects from a certain meds affecting things.

I hope you'll soon be in the swing of things with a routine that works for you as a family. I know it feels like being in a spin without time to beathe let alone make time for the yoga class!

Take Care and remember how far you have come

Teresa x

4 likes
Reply

Such wonderful replies Gemma,

I just keep it short and just want to let you know that I am thinking of you, too.

Hope you can prioritise and identify your limitations at work and at home. Asking for help, but also saying no is part of my tool for keeping mostly balanced.

You are a very brave lady, but allow yourself time to slow down!

Bye for now and good night

2 likes
Reply

Hi all,

Thank you for your support so glad I have this place to come and off load to people who understand 😊. I think I might make an appointment at the doctors tomorrow as I have started my period three weeks early which is unusual for me and I know it must be my body’s way of telling me to look after myself.

I wish I could be braver and just tell my team in a team meeting what happened so people know and i don’t have to hide it and pretend everything is fine. Not sure that the right thing to do but that’s how I feel sometimes.

I am also going to look into some anxiety course and/or yoga I did manage to find a yoga course before but didn’t go in the end as the baby wasn’t well.

I think I need to be stronger at work and learn to say no. I want to please everyone but I need to look after myself. I am lucky I have a really supportive boss. She will know what happened but we haven’t spoke about it yet as things have been to busy. We do have supervision booked in though which is good.

I do feel good I some ways that I have started back to work and I am proud I managed to get through my first week.

Thank you all so much for your support and guidance 😀 xxxxx

1 like
Reply

Hi Gemma8888, it’s good to hear you’ve find the replies and shared experiences here helpful. Making a Drs appt sounds like a good way forward. I know when I went back to work after pp I was hugely anxious and determined to carry on - with hindsight it was really hard but it was definitely the right thing for us as a family and something that needed to be done for various reasons.

I wondered if you have an occupational health service? I was referred by my manager (who knew what had happened but wasn’t hugely understanding sadly) and I founding talking to them as a specialist dept was very helpful. They were able to write a plan about my return, including phasing back to my usual hours and having additional support in place if I’d needed it (which I didn’t take up, although perhaps I should have). Going back to work for me was such a massive thing and with my confidence being so completely shot it was tough. But I’m glad I did it and I think you should be proud of yourself too. Take care, and please continue to write here if it’s helpful for you. Xx

1 like
Reply

You may also like...