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Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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My story

Hello all

I have recently watched the Lois Theroux programme and have been reading more about post partum psychosis. I had a dreadful experience after the birth of my daughter and am pretty sure it was PPP although I’m not sure what my diagnosis was as my memories are patchy.

When my daughter was about 8 weeks my mental health rapidly declined which culminated in me phoning 999 and saying I had shaken her. I hadn’t, I was delusional but had some awareness that I was ill and was crying for help.

Police and ambulance arrived and we were taken to our local a&e dept.

I remember thinking people were trying to kill me in the ambulance.

My daughter was taken away from me and because of the allegation I had made she had to have a series of tests to check for physical injuries. A CT scan showed ‘appearance suggestive of very shallow sub dural haematoma’ ie a bleed on the brain caused by a head injury.

At that point my family and I were called to a meeting with social services and told we all advised to get legal representation and I was no longer allowed to be alone with my daughter and she would likely be taken away.

An MRI (a more detailed brain scan) included the findings from the CT were due to a ‘prominent surface vein’.

I spent time ?a night maybe longer in a general psychiatric ward and slept with medication. My family were given the option of a MBU but they opted for the local psyche unit as it would be easier to visit. I had been exclusively breastfeeding feeding and had to hand express into a sink on the ward. The diagnosis on discharge I think was ‘adjustment disorder’ but I was seen by a crisis team consultant after discharge who told me I was psychotic.

I had to be supervised with my daughter by my father in law (a police officer) for many weeks and had to also go through the horrific experience of being interviewed by the police under caution when I was still very fragile, they took no further action.

Life improved, i returned to work (as a GP trainee) but suffered another psychotic episode where I was sectioned when my daughter was about 8 months old. I was again on a general ward but this time many miles away from my family. Being separated from my daughter was very damaging. I remember bits of it eg thinking I was being injected with potassium to kill me, I was being restrained and sedated.

My daughter is now nearly 5 and life is improving. Sadly my marriage broke down, I believe mostly due to the illness, my husbands frustration at my slowness to recover and ultimately him finding comfort elsewhere.

I have returned to work a few days a week and have a new partner who is very supportive. It’s been a long journey but I finally feel I am making sense of what happened. Have carried so much shame and guilt about what happened but am starting to realise it’s not my fault.

I feel compelled to share my story with you all in an attempt to reach out to others with similar experience.

Love to you all.x

16 Replies
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Dear Krodwell, thank you for writing and sharing what happened to you and your family on the forum, welcome. It’s so good that the documentary has reached people like you, and I hope it’s helpful to write here and feel, and know, that you’re amongst people who understand.

I had PP in December 2016. I too was taken to A&E initially, but didn’t experience a general admission as you did but an MBU. Everyone’s experience will vary.

Goodness for you to phone for help in the midst of being so poorly yourself. That must have been such a scary experience. I can’t imagine a general admission, but from what you’ve described it sounds like a tough place for you. Especially whilst having been breastfeeding, I can’t imagine there would have been support to help you as a new mum.

So sorry that your marriage broke down subsequently, but lovely to hear that things have been better more recently. Being at work, and a new partner. A busy home I’m sure with a five year old. I hope her early days at school have been great so far. And I hope that in spite of what happened, you can recognise the strength you’ve had, and treasure what an amazing person you must be!

Take care. And welcome to the forum.

R x

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Thank you for your reply. It really feels great to know there’s others out there who suffered in a similar way. I really appreciate your comments.x

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Dear Krodwell,

Thank-you for writing about your experience on the forum. What a horrible and traumatic time for you to have gone through. I can't imagine how scary it must have been for you to have all those investigations and police interview, whilst you were still so poorly. You really are a very strong woman to have got through all this!

I am so pleased life has improved for you, but I understand things have been tough for you. I am glad you are starting to make sense of it all, as this is all part of the recovery from this horrible illness too.

I had postpartum psychosis in 2015 after the birth of my daughter. I won't go into too much detail (please do ask anything if you want to), but I believed I had harmed my daughter and I was living in an afterlife and I was admitted to a general psychiatric ward. This was a very traumatic time for me, being separated from my daughter at 5 days old - It fed into my paranoia and delusions. I was poorly for quite some time and eventually I had Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), along with antipsychotics and antidepressants. That was about 3 years ago now and I am so much better than I was. I spent a lot of the time after my initial symptoms had disappeared, working through the shame, guilt and self-stigma and eventually came to realise, like yourself, that it wasn't my fault and that I was just really ill. Unfortunately, PP can happen to anyone, sometimes completely 'out of the blue', which is something that really helped me with my recovery. It helped me to realise that it wasn't my fault and since then I met so many amazing women that have been through similar times.

Anyway, I am so glad you have come to the forum to speak with others who have had similar experiences, I hope it helps you to make sense of what has happened to you.

Welcome to the forum and we are here when you need,

Sally x

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Thank you for sharing sally, it means a lot to me.x

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Dearest Krodwell,

in a way, deep down I feel relief that you found the APP forum. Thank you for being so brave in sharing your traumatising experience.

I lived with my lived experiences inside my head and just kept the lid closed. My experience in August 2010 was also in a Psychiatric Unit, where I was kept in isolation the majority of time. I have had no gynaecological support despite having given birth to a baby boy.

My partner saved my soul after 39 days...only in the sanctuary of my home did I finally improve...However, wrong diagnosis, physical abuse and being kept in isolation slowed down my recovery.

I have had to learn and scaffold my lost skills again and transformed into a different person. Thanks to my partner and my boy I now can live my life in peace and happiness.

There is no guilt, because I know it was Post Partum Psychosis.

Wishing you well,

Wishing you happiness,

take care

x

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Thank you. Am so sorry for your experience. Thank you for sharing. I hope life is good for you now.x

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Yes, a happy life! Take care x

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Hello krodwell

So pleased you reached out here to share your experience which must have been very challenging at the time. I think it's such a relief when you feel you have recovered and can at last enjoy life again.

I can relate to wondering about a diagnosis. You might have read that I had PP twice many years ago, six years apart. I was not aware of my diagnoses until years later when I met Prof Ian Jones of APP. He was very understanding and after sight of my medical notes after our meeting he confirmed the diagnoses of PP. This was such a relief as I finally knew what had been wrong years earlier when I kept my illness to myself and felt ashamed and guilty as my family would not discuss it with me. Like you and many of us here, I have realised that my illness was not my fault and I had no control over my very out of character behaviour.

I'm glad you are in a much better place now and have so much to look forward to with your daughter and family life. We are an amazing, unique band of mothers, all here for each other to lean on :) xx

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Thank you.x

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Thank you.x

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Thanks for taking the time to share your story! I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s so sad you couldn’t stay in a MBU as I believe you would’ve been better supported. I’m so glad to hear you’ve now found a suppprtive partner. When going through a psychosis it is such a scary time, and I cringe thinking back to the things I said and did and could’ve done. I’m glad you’re on the mend and feeling brave enough to share! You should be proud of yourself for getting better, well done super mumma xx

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Thank you, your support is much appreciated.x

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I can relate to the social service visits, evaluation for injury, and supervised visits. I turned myself in to a hospital admitting that I had an impulse to drop my daughter off a balcony. It’s just protocol to check for injury and involve social services. It was to ensure baby’s safety that visits were supervised. But the supervision wasn’t perfect. It was really up to me to tell myself time after time that my thoughts were intrusive thoughts and they didn’t lead to action.

Aren’t girls a blessing. 5 years old is a cute age. I am very close to my baby- now 2- and perhaps spoil her to make up for the times I wasn’t there for her when she was an infant. I swear to her that I’ll be there for her no matter what dark time she ever experiences in life, partly because that’s what mothers do, and because we got through that postpartum crisis together. I think, though that postpartum part was the darkest period of my life, that in a way it endeared her to me even closer.

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Thanks for sharing. Your reflections make sense to me, I feel my daughter and I are particularly close now because of what happened. And you’re right, 5 is v cute! How are you now?xx

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Now I’m 100 percent recovered. I’ll even say thanks to the Zoloft I’m probably better than I have been before. I do sleep a lot at night. Sometimes, and this is always me, I try too hard to be the perfect mom (usually with my older one) and get stressed bc I can’t do it all and then I get cranky and short with everyone (except the baby). But my older daughter is very forgiving. I’m really lucky to have the kids I have. As for my partner.... I think he’s lazy but he’s stuck by my side and I guess we are ok. Nothing’s perfect but everything is good enough.

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You are much stronger than you know

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