Postpartum psychosis help for a distr... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Postpartum psychosis help for a distraught husband and father seeking answers

Shellshockedhubby
Shellshockedhubby

Can anyone fill me in on how I begin helping my wife recover from this horrendous disease

She gave birth to our second child 14 days ago and since then has been frantic, unsleeping, incessantly talkative and delusional

We tried keeping her at home and managing the symptoms, on advice of the mental health team, who offered support that we found later to be seriously lacking- a 20 minute visit each day was far from support

I was lucky to have my mum shielding with us or I would have been alone, trying to manage a new born, daughter, an inexhaustible 2 year old and my 35 year old, erratic wife

On the first night at home she vanished into her delusions and asked me with complete sincerity if it was time for her to smother the baby!!

Needless to say I hit the panic button and after another 4 days of non stop, heart wrenching symptoms she was finally hospitalised. That was the hardest day of my life. I watched as she realised, momentarily, what was happening and saw the betrayal she felt as she did not remember agreeing to be admitted. She threatened divorce, said she hated and would never forgive me, and in the end I needed to leave as my presence was making her so distressed.

She has since reverted to the previous erratic state we had struggled with at home and I’ve tried to help with care packages of snacks, toiletries, home comforts and a stack of family photos, but still the love of my life is not improving, and seems lost.

To make matters worse we live in Northern Ireland where there is no mum and baby unit so my already distraught wife has now also been separated from our babies.

She is a wonderful mummy, and our kids are her life. I now need to know how to help her find her way back to us, we are waiting, and hopefully the wait will be a short one

I just don’t know if that’s likely as nobody had told me anything

26 Replies
EmiMum
EmiMumVolunteer

Hello Shellshockedhubby,

Welcome to the forum. I am very sorry to hear that your wife have been diagnosed with pp after the birth of your second child. You will find many mums in this forum that will be able to share experiences similar to your wife's, and also many partners that can share their view from this difficult position you are in at the moment.

I had pp in 2018 after the birth of my daughter and the behaviour you describe sounds very familiar to me. Like your wife I was treated in hospital, where I was sectioned after a psychiatric assesment. The 10 days I spent in a general psychiatric ward were very difficult, I went from moments of mania to almost catatonia, no sleep, quite strong delusions and acting so unlike myself. As days passed and the medication started to work, I started to come back to reality. I was then transferred to a mother and baby unit where I stayed for a few more months.

I am so sorry to hear that a mbu is not an option for your wife, but she does need specialised medical attention at the moment, and it was the right decision to drive her to the hospital as heartbreaking as it was for the 2 of you.

This is a very difficult time for you both, and I am sorry this terrible illness has struck at a time when visits to hospitals are so restricted. But bear in mind that the recovery from postpartum psychosis is very positive, and your wife will come back to herself.

I thought that it might be helpful for you to check the guide for partners that can be found on the app site

app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

It has been written with input from other partners who found themselves in your position at one point in time. The guide has a section on looking after yourself, which I think can't be emphasised enough. This illness takes an incredible toll on the partner and family, you are suddenly faced with being the sole carer for your children while supporting your wife through her illness and recovery. Try as much as possible to carve out some time for yourself during the week, either a hobby or a sport you enjoy or a phone chat with a close friend, it is important to let go a bit.

Take good care, write here whenever you want to talk, we are all here to listen

Thank you so much for the reply

What gets me is that I had never heard of this, and nobody had ever mentioned it until my wife’s symptoms were so bad I called the mental health team

Somebody clearly new there was an issue - they had referred her and I only had the number on had as earlier that evening the team had arrived to introduce themselves. They handed me a card with their number and I took it thinking ‘I won’t need that.’

I will checkout the link you sent for at this time information is as important to me as it is to my wife, who is currently keeping a journal of everything positive in the day so she can remember

Pikorua
PikoruaVolunteer in reply to Shellshockedhubby

Good morning Shellshockedhubby,

I am so relieved that you found the APP forum!

For us it all happened in 2010. I was sectioned as well. PPP was something my partner had to research. When at home the first 2 weeks he had to convince health professionals that there was something seriously wrong with his partner.

It was a very similar situation to yours, I was convinced to go voluntarily by friends and family, including the Crisis team.

We were offered an MBU in Manchester and we are located in the Southwest. My partner declined the offer as it was just too far away.

My partner was looking after the baby throughout my stay in hospital, with support from his parents, who have been amazing, especially in the after care, when being looked after in my own sanctuary by my partner full time.

I hope there is a flow of communication about your wife's well being with health professionals in order to establish a support network (visits/meds/therapy/aims and objectives for recovery platform etc.). I can reassure you that what you have been doing so far is exactly what my partner did at the time. Your love and kindness and immense care will be appreciated so much once she will be on her path of recovery.

Stay safe and take good care of yourself, too.

EmiMum
EmiMumVolunteer in reply to Shellshockedhubby

Hi Shellshockedhubby,

We were also completely in the dark. The first time I heard the words postpartum psychosis was when I was diagnosed with it. Its not something discussed in antenatal classes, pregnancy forums or at any point during your hospital stay after the birth.

There have to be more awareness in the community towards this illness and we have to reduce the sensationalisation and provide accurate information instead. Other mums and partners in the forum are already pointing you to some good resources. I hope they prove useful to you and also your wife when she feels better and wants to access them.

I am glad to hear that your wife started to produce a journal, I also found that so helpful during my recovery.

Take good care and please ask any questions here or share any comments, we have been through such a similar situation and come out the other side. Things will get better

Frankieb
FrankiebVolunteer

Hello

I would just like to say I'm so glad you found us.

What you so accurately describe is heart wrenching, you could almost be my husband writing that.

I've had Postpartum Psychosis twice, the first time nearly 17 years ago was very similar to how you describe.

Firstly, I want to tell you she will get better, secondly, it will take time and patience on both sides, hopefully we can support you both.

Its heart breaking she is separated from her babies, I was for a short while and know how awful this is.

Hopefully if she is getting treatment and the condition is recognised she will start to get better, they will be able to give her medication to bring down the elated mood and hopefully stop the delusions.

Often, after this extreme high comes a big low, that can be hard to cope with.

For you too this is such a shock, it's so hard to see the person you know and love so much almost turn into a different person.

This is just a short reply but I'm sure you will receive lots of advice and support here, we may even be able to connect you to a male support.

I'm happy to chat at any time, sending you strength and hope, it's a horrible illness but with support you can all get through I promise.

Take care

Barbara

Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Shellshockedhubby

Congratulations on the birth of your baby. So pleased you have reached out to the forum where you will find lots of support and great advice already posted.

I’m so sorry your wife is suffering from such a traumatic illness. Although it doesn’t seem likely in these early days, it is a temporary and very treatable illness. PP has been described many times as a rollercoaster, with some days better than others.

I had PP twice many years ago and was sectioned to mixed general psychiatric care as there were no MBUs in the UK at that time. I would be very argumentative with my husband and suspicious of everyone, so try not to take things she might say to heart.

I was lost for quite a while but as soon as medications and treatment began to work, my delusions and hallucinations slowly faded and I was back in the room, slowly recovering.

There are some good APP resources which might be helpful, for example “What to say to someone with PP” which is a clip from a blog “PP Soup” - a nourishing mix of all things postpartum psychosis at ppsoupdotcom.wordpress.com, put together by a mum who suffered PP with input from other mums and professionals.

I’m glad you have support at home for yourself and your treasured children. Keep talking openly about your feelings to family and friends. It must be very stressful with restrictions on visiting.

You are being so thoughtful sending home comforts and family photos. Your wife is fighting to be well at the moment but with good medical care and your support she will eventually slowly improve. For now she is under hospital care and safe.

Please take care of yourself .... we are all here to lean on and listen. With best wishes to you and your family..

Jenny_at_APP
Jenny_at_APPAdministrator

Hello Shellshockedhubby

Welcome to the forum. I’m so sorry your wife has been struck by PP and you’re all going through this. It’s an awful illness but please be reassured that PP is very treatable and the fact your wife has been diagnosed and is in hospital is very positive.

I had PP after the birth of my son in 2012 and I, like you and so many of us, had never heard of postpartum psychosis - it was such a huge shock and frightening experience. It must have been so difficult watching her be hospitalised but PP is a psychiatric emergency and hospitalisation is usually necessary, she’s in the right place. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you trying to cope at home with your only professional support being a 20 minute daily visit.

How long has she been in hospital for? It can take some time to find the right medication but hopefully once that’s in place you’ll start to see some improvement. Recovery can take a long time but your wife as you know her is still there.

It sounds like you are doing all the right things. I wouldn’t look at my husband when I was acutely unwell, it was all part of the delusions I was having and if I looked at him something bad would happen. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him. But I was always aware of him being there, and he became the one person I trusted and I spent each day waiting for visiting hours. I didn’t know who or what was real and what to believe but his presence was a very comforting force. Are you able to see her at all? It must be so incredibly difficult at the moment with restrictions, and it’s such a shame you have no mother and baby unit facilities. Will you be able to visit with the children at all? I know it must seem hopeless at the moment but things will improve.

It’s important you get support too, I’m glad your mum is with you. I hope you find the partners guide EmiMum has linked to helpful. We also have a Partners Facilitator, who can chat with you too, and partner volunteers (some who may reply to you here as well). We know it can really help to talk with another partner who has also 'been there'. Do email us if you'd find it helpful and would like to know more: app@app-network.org

Do look after yourself and write here whenever it helps.

Sending very best wishes to you and your family.

Jenny

Hi Shellshockedhubby,

I'm glad you've found the forum. My wife had pp a number of years ago and I found myself in a desperate state trying to work out what the hell was going on, never hearing about postpartum psychosis beforehand and it's fair to say, I covered every emotion possible, from being terrified to the guilt when I drove her to an MBU to be admitted. I know it's difficult to think anything at the moment but with right treatment and support your wife will get better and she will with time get back to being that wonderful mum again.

I know it's so hard to watch your wife being hospitalised and the guilt you can feel but it sounds as though you are doing all the right things. I tried to manage my wife's care at home too, on the advice of the day but it finally got to a stage where it was all too much and she had to be hospitalised. I ended up just taking everything 1 day at time and not thinking too far ahead.

Find support in your family or trusted friend and don't be afraid to ask for help, it's important for you to look after yourself too (I know that is so much easier said than done and I found it almost impossible when the heads filled with everything PP).

The partners guide is a great resource as EmiMum has linked to, as is the APP website and the link below also takes you to the 'Resources for Partners' page app-network.org/partners/

My name is Simon, by the way and I'm the Partner Facilitator at APP and can arrange a call or email link up if you'd like as well, just email us at mailto:app@app-network.org and I'll get back to you, we can also link you up to a partner volunteer as well, all who have lived experience of a partner with pp.

You can always write back here as well, we are here for you and the family.

Please take care of yourself and chat soon, very best of wishes.

Simon

Hi, just want to say I am so sorry for what you are going through. Postpartum psychosis is a horrible illness that affects the full family.

You have done the right thing getting professional help for you wife, as heart breaking as it is.

I had postpartum psychosis is 2019, I felt my husband was out to get me went as far as organising lawyers for a divorce. I hated my full family for dropping me at the psychiatric ward and felt they were all against me however I now realise they did the right thing, I just couldn’t see it at the time. Hopefully as your wife gets the help she needs she will see that too. Be patient, I wish i could tell you there was a quick fix however recovery from PP takes time.

Hazello
HazelloVolunteer

Shellshockedhubby,

So sorry to hear your wife is so unwell, and i really hope things improve quickly.

I was fortunate enough to have heard of PP having watched a documentary about it whilst i was 40 weeks pregnant! Ironically i thought at the time "at least that won't happen to me"... Famous last words, 3 weeks later i was hospitalised in a general psychiatric ward and then MBU soon after.

I found it really helpful that i knew what it was, when my husband told me the diagnosis, i understood and accepted it and actually having an explanation for the weird things happening to me was reassuring. I agree that it's shocking it doesn't get talked about more openly.

The good news though is there are plenty of treatment options, and most people can recover fairly quickly once they get a treatment that works.

I hope that your wife will make a quick recovery, it must have been such a scary time for you.

Best wishes

Hazello

Izzie_25
Izzie_25Volunteer

Welcome to the forum and I hope with everyone help we can help u and your family through this hard time.

My daughter had pp in 2019. It was a big shock to me how bad things got.

I knew nothing about pp and like you didn't know what to do. We where very lucky to have her in a mother and baby unit. This was her second child and was a amazing mother.

Both myself and her husband where told over and over she will get through this and she will come back to us. But at that time I couldn't see how. But she did and stronger.

I used to sit with her for hours talking to her. Sometimes hearing things I didn't want to hear. But I found it help her to speak instead of keeping it all to herself.

She had lots of help from the professionals. I also ask lots of questions along the way. Finding her something to do help her alot. I push her into making bits which has now turned into a small business . Along with this business she tried to help other mothers by telling her story.

It's been a long hard road but with the help of professional and family and friends she is doing amazing now.

It's an hard thing to see someone u love go through this. Keep strong

Pikorua
PikoruaVolunteer

A lot of comforting words Shellshockedhubby by so many APP members.You are not on your own! Hope your wife is receiving the appropriate support and care.

I wish there would have been support for my partner when being so poorly in 2010.

Sending you positive vibes and the forum is always listening and supporting, if you want to reach out...they've been amazing with my recovery.

Take good care of yourself, too.

Hi Shellshockedhubby,

This rang so true to me. My OH was in a very similar state with PP when I had to section her and convince her into an ambulance. Thankfully she went to an MBU, and it's horrific that there isn't a similar facility for you in NI. The medication and rest that she will get in hospital will help her recover and your wife will come back to you, but it takes time.

One thing I would say is to avoid having a definite time frame in mind, or discussing one with your wife. My OH really struggled with the idea that she wasn't recovering, and felt pressure to 'be better' according to a time frame. She also found it tough when we told her she was improving as she couldn't see it herself.

It's difficult when you've got one small person running around the place, but try and take some time for yourself too. Hopefully your employer will give you some compassionate leave to remove one additional stress at this time.

Hope this helps, and all the best to you and your family.

Thanks for this

It’s this kind of guidance I’ve been sorely missing

My wife has now been in hospital almost a week - and I’m seeing some signs of improvement

She can hold a thought for more than a few sentences now, an impossibility previously as she moved from subject to subject without a breath.

She understands she is sick, but keeps saying that we all think she is mental, and nothing we say seems to convince her otherwise.

She still has the connection with our children and it’s strong, but every time I have to take them home is a dagger to her heart and upsets and distresses her. This resulted in her voluntary admittance being moved to a section under the mental health act yesterday.

I know she is where she needs to be to keep safe and get well, but the lack of proper support services in Northern Ireland is in my own opinion a form of government backed mental torture, and is adding to the pain at an already very difficult time

Naomi_at_app
Naomi_at_appAdministrator in reply to Shellshockedhubby

Hi Shellshockedhubby

Really glad to hear that you have found posts by other dads helpful. Please do get in touch with us by email if you would value some 1:1 support from a partner volunteer at any point.

From my own experience in a general psychiatric unit, I agree it can feel absolutely heartbreaking when visiting time ends. However I wanted to reassure you that time out of the unit as a family will increase as your wife continues to improve. Usually periods of “leave” to the hospital grounds and further afield progress to short visits home, moving on to overnight stays. If you are able to attend your wife’s ward rounds/review meetings leave arrangements should be agreed with you both each week.

It’s such early days, but really positive that you are noticing day by day ‘settling’ in your wife’s racing thoughts. Things will begin to make more sense to her, just keep giving it time.

I also wanted to let you know that APP as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance are committed to campaigning and political action to improve access to Mother & Baby Units across the UK, and as a result Wales will open its first MBU this year. We will continue to campaign for NI.

Take good care of yourself, we are here whenever you need.

Warmly,

Naomi

I'm glad you've found this helpful, there's so much to think about at a time like this, and it's hard to keep everything in your own head and remember/access all the support that is available.

It sounds like she is improving, and if you can see that, then that's good too. It's great that she's still got that connection with your children. As you've seen, this illness can cause some strange questions and thoughts to fly through your wife's mind.

If she can focus, or at least hold some thoughts in her head for longer as she calms down, she will come to realise that she's in the right place, and has been unwell. My OH thought there were cameras in the bathrooms of the MBU when first admitted. She now realises that was the illness talking.

That lack of MBU support needs to change, not just in NI, but across the UK. We were fortunate that we live within an hour of a unit, but the distances some partners had to travel, to potentially see a partner who was very ill and mistrustful of them, were ridiculous.

Again, hope this helps you, and you keep seeing those signs of improvement.

❤️

Hello.

If only you could know how much i understand you.

Everything you described was pretty much the same for me and my wife when she had her first ppp episode.

The first day of hospitalization was as you said the worst day in my life.

She also said that she wanted a divorce. She also felt betrayed by me.

BUT after she started the meds and some days gone by she couldn’t even remember all that she said to me. She had some memories but where abstract in her mind. So i know it’s difficult buy try not to take things heavily as she may say things that she lately won’t even remember.

She stayed in hospital for about one moth. Then she came home. We are currently over a year after the ppp and my wife is getting slowly better. She is still on meds but on lower dosages. She will eventually get off them when the time is right.

But she has come a long way and she is a lot better. She now works and everyday life is pretty much back to normal.

She still has some road ahead but it’s getting better and better.

Man i’ll tell you something from my experience.

First of all your wife with the proper medication and help from the doctors will get better.

There are some things i think we as husbands/dads can do.

Firstly, arm yourself with patience. It’s going to get better but it’ll take time. How much time really no one knows. It depends on so many things.

Secondly, take good care of yourself. The best thing i did while the ppp was that i started seeing a psychologist. We are into this together with our wife’s and we need support to support them.

Man i know this is the hardest time of your life and everything seems not so good now but i tell you this.

Be patient.

Take good care of yourself, your kids and your wife.

Give her all the time she needs and all the love you got and she will come back to you!

Know that this shall pass.

And when it’s gone it will only have made you better!

Whenever you feel like talking we are all here for you.

I really wish the best for you and your wife.

Take care

George

Naomi_at_app
Naomi_at_appAdministrator in reply to GeorgeKol

Thank you for replying George. So much hope and down to earth advice in your post. Really grateful that you can describe the light at the end of the tunnel.N

Naomi_at_app
Naomi_at_appAdministrator

Hi Shellshockedhubby

Just checking in to see how things are for you and your wife this week. No pressure to reply, just letting you know that we are here for you at APP whenever you need us.

Warm wishes

Naomi

Hi Naomi

It’s been manic, and my wife’s separation from the kids has been a hard pill for her to swallow, but she is being so strong.

She is still hospitalised, and her voluntary admittance was made more official when she got distressed and tried to leave.

Yesterday, almost a week after that incident, I was able to take her out of the secured ward and walk to a nearby shop, our wee boy was with us and though my daughter wasn’t it felt like normality for a few minutes.

Her medication is clearly beginning to take effect, and she has made massive strides forward in the last few days, though she still has trouble with her memory.

The Doctor thinks that if things continue to improve as they are she could be released late next week and then be supported by a community mental health team. Fingers crossed that that is the case because the separation from family is now one of the worst things she is suffering from.

I mentioned previously that in Northern Ireland we have no mum and baby unit, so the comfort offered to other mums in distress is being withheld from us due to the lack of facilities. It’s been a 15 year battle to try and get one, and the fact that I had never heard of the issue shows it’s one being fought without the support of the media megaphone and government shaming spotlight that is so often needed to get these things done.

I would like to thank you all for your words of support, guidance and offers of help. They have meant more than you know.

Naomi_at_app
Naomi_at_appAdministrator

Hi Shellshockedhubby

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. That first step out into the fresh air and 'normality' with your son and wife sounds really good. The first of many to come! I hope you are able to have some time as a family of four very soon.

Great news that the inpatient team are planning towards discharge, with support from the Community Mental Health Team. It's so important that your journey can continue together as a family unit, and you are right it is extremely distressing for mums to be hospitalised without their children. We will keep in touch about ways to strengthen campaigning in NI.

It can be some time until you feel fully "out of the woods" after PP, and we have produced a recovery guide which I hope will be of help to you and your wife in the coming weeks and months. app-network.org/wp-content/...

Please be assured we are here for each next step of the journey, and thank you for your appreciation of our support.

Warmly,

Naomi

EmiMum
EmiMumVolunteer

Hi Shellshockedhubby,

Such good news about your wife's progress, I am really happy to hear that. Although recovery may have its up and downs along the way, it will make such a difference to her to be back home with her cherished family.

Take good care and write here whenever you wish to share something or have any questions, we are always here to listen

Pikorua
PikoruaVolunteer

Hello Shellshockedhubby,

my partner would be able to resonate with you and your feelings; only that they are in the past and more then 10 yrs. ago. There had been no MBU for us and it was a very traumatising experience.

Please, do take care of yourself. I hope there is some sort of a support cushion for you as well. At the time my partner was extremely strong, but vulnerable in the long run, especially when additional stressors accumulated, beside my recovery.

Sometimes one is just working on adrenalin and is continuously in a survival mood. Without realising we both suffered PTS in the long run. Therefore, it might be great to get support and advise by other experienced dads, maybe on a one to one when ready or look out for therapeutic support within your community.

My partner received carers support as he was looking after me and our baby full time. He got help via occupational health, the Union and therapy.

Look after yourself.

Kind wishes.

Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Shellshockedhubby

I hope your wife is continuing to improve now the medication seems to be working. I’m sure the thought of going home to be reunited with you and your precious children will be an incentive to fight such an awful illness.

I was allowed home in stages, one night leading to two, over weeks. I remember at times missing the hospital environment at first as I felt overwhelmed by the routine at home. Hopefully when your wife is discharged, the community team will be there for support and advice. I’m not sure if you also have support from the perinatal team in Ireland until your newborn is one year?

It must be reassuring to have your mum with you so that you can keep talking about how you feel and be comforted. Wishing you all the best .... we are all here to lean on. Take care.

Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Shellshockedhubby

I hope your wife is slowly recovering and might be hopeful about returning home soon. Take care and stay safe.

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