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Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Regaining Confidence After PP

Hi All,

I had PP in August of last year, with no previous psychiatric history and it pretty much destroyed my confidence. Over a year later I am still struggling to get my confidence back, even though I was always a confident person before. Any tips to help get this back?

It doesn't help that I find taking lithium has dulled my once sharp brain, worsened my memory and given me acne. My doctor has said that I can hopefully come off this in the spring, which will hopefully help me feel better about myself.

Just looking for a bit of support and peer advice on how to improve this situation.

Thanks

V

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Hi VLK86,

So sorry you’ve experienced this horrid illness. Well done on your recovery so far. It sounds as though you’ve done amazingly to come this far in little over a year.

I can hugely empathise on your feelings of loss of confidence after PP, I imagine that’s a fairly common feeling with others too after such a trauma.

I think time and kindness to yourself is the biggest thing. Easier said than done when you’re a busy Mum, but for me self care, and self encouragement has helped me slowly rebuild. Some days I’m still not there, but on the whole doing good. And you will too.

I can relate in feeling that medication dulled certain parts of you, and equally memory too.

Do your health professionals have any insight on that to help you?

Take care x

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Hi vik86

Thanks for sharing your experience and welcome to the forum. I'm sorry to hear you suffered PP in August, like many of us with no previous psychiatric history. It is such a shock and completely destroys confidence until you come to terms with all that happened and can eventually move forward.

I had PP many years ago and struggled with confidence and low self-esteem. Although the weather's not too good at the moment I think exercise, especially walking, is a good way to help to feel better about yourself. Have you met other mums at playgroup or does your GP have sessions for mums and tots? Perhaps your GP could also refer you for CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) where you can talk about how you feel? During sessions a therapist makes sense of your feelings, offering you a more positive view of yourself. A few mums here have benefited from such talking therapy which I think is good as sometimes we soldier on without giving ourselves much needed attention!

Mindfulness is also a good therapy for building confidence. PP is a very traumatic illness and you have done well to have had the courage to go through it and recover. I think it's no surprise that our confidence is shattered for a while but in time it does return and you will be proud of all that you have achieved. PP mums really are amazing :)

I'm sorry I don't have any experience of lithium but I'm sure other mums will be able to share their thoughts. Take good care of yourself. xx

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Hi V

My daughter suffered ppp nearly 5 years ago. I know one of the hardest things for her was the struggle to regain her confidence and self worth.

My advice to her and also to you now is to believe in yourself and reward yourself with the same love you show others. To have come through such a traumatic illness and recover to the degree you have is absolutely amazing. Take stock of each day, look at your achievements (and there will be many) and give yourself the credit and praise deserved.

I remember my daughter found it particularly difficult in group situations. Not always having the confidence to talk or give an opinion. Even now she finds one to one conversation easier and can be quieter in a group. Whatever you bring to your friendships, you are a very important part. Each one of us is different and true friendship is built around love, trust and support for one another.

The side effects of medication I know, can also affect your confidence. I do hope the acne will calm down. Has the doctor not advised any cream or lotion for you? Perhaps tea tree lotion may help.

Sending you a virtual hug and wishing you a Happy Christmas. Just remember you are an amazing mummy and a beautiful person.

Love June

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Hi vlk86, I am so sorry you have experienced this illness, I think it is such a truamatic illness that we suffer from loss of confidence, especially when we havn't had previous experience of mental health unwellness, it can be very frightening and need to take small steps maybe keep a journal so you can write the thing you have gain confidence in, so you can refer back to see how far you have come..your confidence will come back gradually, what I will say is look after yourself, try to make time for "me time" and seek help from your gp and try to be open as you can with your feelings, so they don't build up,it will be beneficial in the long run. I think medications dull the memory and will improve with time and as you come off them.

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Hi V,

I had PP almost 3 years ago and although I had suffered from anxiety prior to having my son, i had never sought help with it as I found I could cope using strategies such as exercise, relaxation tracks and singing. It took me a while but I became confident in my professional role and also in other areas like singing.

Since having PP though my confidence has taken a real knocking. However I've been getting that back gradually, and in the last year a few people have commented on how like the "old" me I seem again. New Mummy friends have given me a confidence boost through things they've said, and their friendship. It took a long time to establish firm friendships with the right people but I got there.

However I'm realising that it's not like when I had anxiety before when I could just keep going and trust that everything would work out in the end. My priority is my son and so I'm trying to learn how much is enough activity for me without getting stressed. I'm having to put my ambitions on the backburner for now as I know to return to work would challenge me and perhaps knock my confidence back again (and my mental health). However I'm optimistic that over time I'll get even stronger and be able to take on bigger challenges again.

The things that I think have helped me boost confidence are mainly hobbies that I can see improvement in but don't involve too much commitment or responsibility to raise stress levels. Eg running park run, singing in choir.

Hope you find your confidence soon and get back to feeling like you. Coming of medication (when you're ready) is bound to help. It certainly did for me... Though I did hurry off prematurely once and end up back on.

Hazello xx

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Hi vlk86,

Sorry to hear about your experience of PP. I had it after the birth of my son is 2016 and it turned my life upside down. My confidence was shatttered and my perception of myself and who I was changed.

I don’t have much in the way of advice but wanted to say that time does seem to help and while I don’t feel my old self I feel like a new version of me and I’m happy! Talking therapy was a huge help to me and continues to help me make peace with the experience. If you can access this I’d really recommend it. I chose to find my own counsellor rather than wait for it on NHS.

I ballooned in weight on olanzapine which on top of everything else felt like insult to injury, so I can relate to what you describe on lithium.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and things like finding a forum such as this were a huge help to me. I don’t often post but take a lot of comfort from reading peoples experiences and their recovery journeys.

I really hope you find what works for you and all I would say is be gentle with yourself and take small steps.

You’ll get there, im sure.

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Hi vlk86, I've just been reading through all the lovely replies you've had here and don't have much I can add other than to say - "me too". Your experience perfectly describes how I felt, after I had PP, 9 years ago now. I felt like the illness shattered me into millions of tiny pieces and I had no idea how to rebuild, with confidence being a massive part of that. More than anything I didn't trust myself, which was an awful feeling. But I got there, and you can too. The meds I was on (Olanzapine and Lithium) were something I struggled with (& to be honest hated taking) but in hindsight I can see that they really helped me.

You are not alone in this and I'm glad you've found the forum to gain these shared experiences. For me, it was about celebrating the small things, trying not to push myself and accepting that it could take some time to get back to "me" - nevermind the changed role of Mum thrown in there too. I guess we are all constantly evolving as people too and throw in the PP it's an extra "layer" of what feels like a struggle at times, I know. But before long, the smaller things were really building for me and looking back, I could see how far I'd come. And you will too, you can do this and we are all standing alongside you, cheering you on! Take care, xx

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Thanks everyone for all your support and encouragement. It really means a lot. I was feeling low because I missed out on my chance at an opportunity I really wanted because of my current low confidence. It's really hard when you feel like it's something you could have done so much better at before PP came and all but destroyed your self esteem. I think it will just take more time. That sort of patience and resolve in the face of what feels like slow progress is something I have always struggled with. But I will try and be strong and go easy on myself, inspired by all of you.

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Hello Vlk86

I'm glad the replies here were helpful. It's a shame that you missed out on your chance of an opportunity you really wanted due to lack of confidence. It is hard when you tend to keep judging yourself as not being good enough. I know it probably doesn't feel like it at the moment but your self esteem will return in time. PP certainly is a game changer but you have done really well to be strong enough to battle your way through it.

You might have missed the boat this time but I'm sure there will be other opportunities for you to shine. Take it easy for now ..... there's a verse by Mary Engelbreit which I have found helpful in the past when I've felt low. It's called "Don't look back" and here are a few lines:

"As you travel through life there are always those times when decisions just have to be made;

When the choices are hard and solutions seem scarce and the rain seems to soak your parade. Perhaps you'll find comfort in knowing your friends are supportive in all that you do and believe that whatever decisions you make, they'll be the right ones for you ...

So keep putting one foot in front of the other and taking your life day by day

There's a brighter tomorrow that's just around the bend

Don't look back .... you're not going that way!"

Take care .... I hope some of this is helpful. xx

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Hello Vlk86,

Such lovely replies! Confidence and self esteem is certainly something we all have struggled with when recovering from this traumatising illness.

I was sectioned & my experience was not appropriate in the Psychiatric hospital in 2010.

I had to practise life skills again, from making a cup of coffee to getting dressed. I could not communicate well and I struggled walking.

My road to recovery was longer than expected, but I never gave up, because I wanted to be there for my child.

I’ve got to thank my partner, who believed in me and is still helping me today when my confidence needs boosting up.

Sometimes I can do the task well and then the following day I get frustrated. Mental health challenges have forced me to think differently...

...somehow I am much happier when short term planning, focusing on small steps and trying to be flexible, meaning to be honest and just to say no, if I have to. I like to be true to myself and others without expectations.

Look after yourself.

X

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Hi V, its ironic because recovering from ppp takes huge courage and unbeleivable strength in itself, and continuing to care for a child at the same time. So remind yourself that you are already achieving incredible things and your mind and body have climbed huge mental mountains. Careers and earning money are all great challenges, but none will ever be as tough as the one you are already overcoming. So have a break, a cup of tea, and congratulate yourself for a few minutes.

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Good morning vlk86,

all in stepping stones! ...thinking of you and wishing you energy and vibes and a positive outlook for this year...knowing that advise and support is always there...

I have had a great learning curve and now know I am not on my own and peer support is there via APP forum.

Look after yourself.

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Thanks for the support. I will try to be kind to myself.

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