Child having hallucinations - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Child having hallucinations

Isabella5991 profile image

Hello,

I had ppp 2 years ago, but have had hallucinations most of my life.

Pretty soon after I was poorly my then four year old would be scared of scary monsters/ people/ faces etc that she’d see when she closes her eyes and when it’s dark. I have never spoken about my hallucinations to her so it’s not from anything I’ve said. I used to experience the exact same thing when I closed my eyes so it totally is happening. She’s now nearly 6 and still has what we call ‘vision power’. They are always scary, she has only ever had one fine one.

Today she told me she saw a man in the garden. Wearing a black beanie and black clothes dressed like a robber. He had a long beard and scary black eyes with white pupils. I went to check, but no one was there. Our garden is walled anyway and locked. She said she saw him again and I said are you sure it’s not a vision power? She said no they are usually 2D, this is 3D. I can see his skin and legs and neck walking carrying bin bags. Anyway, it kept happening again and again, he was walking towards her, then away etc etc.

it has been about 33 degrees today in London so I’m thinking the heat has got to her a bit as well. But I am worried to a certain extent. Mostly that they are always scary. She wants to see a doctor this weekend, but I’m worried the out of hours doctors with totally pathologies her when that is the last thing we could want. I did speak to my psychiatrist about it a while back and she said she’s not concerned and it’s more common than you think that children hallucinate which is good. But today was pretty intense. But obviously being through what I have, I can’t even say it it makes me feel sick. I never want her to suffer. She wasn’t gone mentally like when you’re ill, cos she’s not Ill, this is a variation of normal, she was still present and would go back to being fine when she didn’t see him anymore.

She is an amazing, incredibly intelligent and happy child other than these short moments.

Does anyone else have children who hallucinate? Please NO horror stories xx

10 Replies
hgallo profile image
hgalloVolunteer

Hi isabella5991, I'm one of the volunteers from APP. I have 6 year twin girls and had pp after their birth. I had hallucinations as part of the pp but not since. I'm sorry you struggle with them, they are horrible and confusing. I can only speak as a mum of 2 young kids that they have an incredible capacity for imagining things. But I'm not qualified to say about your daughter. Young Minds are a charity for helping young kids and may have some helpful info for you. But hopefully it's just part of her normal development so maybe just keep an eye and read up a bit but try not to worry too much. I know that's hard as a mum. It could be just her idea of creative play with you. As you said she's an intelligent happy child, and clever kids can have big imaginations! My daughter said she's seen the Easter bunny twice and has named and described him in detail. Anyway, please keep in touch with us and take care x

alisonrw profile image
alisonrwVolunteer

Dear Isabella5991

Thank you for getting in touch. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter is experiencing scary visions. You must me worried about her, as a mum it's horrible to see our little ones suffer. I hope you are doing OK too.

I'm sorry I don't have any experience of having a child that sees visions to share. I still wanted to write to ask how you are doing and offer some supportive words.

My little boy is 16 months so is still too young to communicate if he has this experience. With my family histories of psychosis I worry about whether he'll experience something similar to me too (I developed psychosis with depression when I was 25 but struggled with mental health for years before this, then afterwards with recovery til now).

You are doing the right thing by noticing this and listening to your daughter and asking her about what she is experiencing. It's great that you are seeking help from health professionals and reaching out other parents whose children may have experienced similar too. I think information is key and really understanding what your daughter is experiencing will enable you to advocate for her and helping her get support in the future, as she grows and if she needs it.

Would it help to keep a record of what she is experiencing and helping her to identify situations when visions become more intense and thinking whether there are any steps you can take to manage these situations? It sounds like the heat could have been a trigger yesterday. Are there any other situations or times that you've noticed that this is happening? Keeping a record might also help if your GP asks for more information about what she's experiencing, I think it's important that your daughters words are listened to, but also it might be difficult for her to put what she's experiencing into words.

I also understand not wanting to pathologise your daughters experiences - that's good to hear your psychiatrist isn't concerned and said these experiences are common in children. I feel too that this can be part of the development of imagination and is an important part of play. If you are worried about anything do keep in contact with your GP.

It sounds like your daughter is doing well and very happy, she is lucky to have you as her mum and as someone who can relate to her if things do ever develop. Sending you both very good wishes and do write again if this helps.

Take care,

Alison.

Hi Isabella5991

I'm really glad you have reached out to us here for some advice and reassurance about your daughter's experiences. Welcome to the supportive community here at APP.

I've had a look at a couple of research papers this morning, and a really helpful Guardian article which talks about hallucinations in young children being very common. A story at the end of the full article contains a fairly distressing description of one young child's hallucinations that were cause for concern so you might want to avoid it at the moment - but these paragraphs provide a useful summary.

"A lot of people get worried when they think about the possibility of their child hallucinating. Recent studies have thrown up some surprising statistics about how common they are. One UK study found that almost two-thirds of children reported having at least one “psychotic-like experience” in their lives. These figures don’t mean that if a child is having a hallucination that they are ill or unwell. In the majority of cases, children’s hallucinations disappear within a few days or weeks and are not a cause for concern. Childhood hallucinations are often sparked by life stresses, poor sleep and periods of low mood that fade when the difficult situations do. If the hallucinations are upsetting or persistent, however, it may be time to ask for a professional assessment.

Renaud Jardri has seen many children with hallucinations in his clinical practice and also researches the area as part of his role as a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Lille University school of medicine. The criteria, he says, for judging whether a child needs professional support are whether the hallucinations are “frequent, complex, distressing and cause impairment”. For Jardri, hallucinations that don’t interfere with the child’s friendships and family life are usually benign."

I think knowing that these experiences can sometimes be a stress reaction can make us feel really guilty as mums who have been unwell with PP - but also mean that it's absolutely OK to reach out for help for your daughter if she is finding the hallucinations distressing or feeling frightened about when they might happen again.

I remember my older daughter aged 5 experiencing a vivid hallucination that she was standing on a sea wall, her baby sister fell into the sea and she couldn't get to her in time. She also had frequent night terrors. She knew that "mummy had a poorly brain" when she was born, and when her baby sister was born I became unwell. She had some low-key play therapy with a school nurse for about 3 months which was really supportive for her. I must admit that I did struggle with my own guilt at the time, but I hope it's reassuring for you to know that she's now a very resilient 16 year old who can talk openly about her own mental health and is much better at self-care than I was at 16 🙂

Feel free to message back if you'd like any of the research links / Guardian article at a later stage, and if you do decide to see your Dr you could go in with an idea of how you might like your daughter to be supported with any stress she is feeling.

Thinking of you - always happy to chat privately by DM if you would like to.

Warm wishes

Naomi

Thank you so much for this dear. I found it really helpful. Really really appreciate you doing some research for me so I don’t have to look at the scary stuff 💖 It’s good to know they are not usually cause for concern! They don’t interfere with her family and friend life, but do happen everyday and yesterday was really not nice at all and the worst she’s had id say. The fact that it was happening with her eyes open and he looked like a real person.

I feel a lot of guilt for being home for so long when I was Ill. It really traumatised my family. I was ill so I can’t blame my self too much, but my doctors did severely let me down not getting me the correct help sooner. My little girl had to live with me for so long unmedicated. It makes me ache thinking about what she had to live with. It’s no surprise the hallucinations coincided with me being ill. Plus I am her mother and there must be some genetic factor. Thanks so much for you help. I think the next step is calling my doctor Monday morning and getting some advice. Hopefully some play or art or talking therapy for her. She says she would really like that xx

Naomi_at_app profile image
Naomi_at_appPartner in reply to Isabella5991

You are absolutely welcome Isabella5992 - it's what we are here for!

I'm so sorry to hear that you were left to struggle on alone at home for a long time until you received the right treatment back in 2020. I'm not surprised you feel so let down by the health professionals.

It's natural to feel guilty about the trauma that our children have experienced - even though we know deep down that being unwell was not in any way our fault. For myself, I think acknowledging and "sitting with" the guilt has been important at times to just help me to grieve for myself and my girls that we had to go through PP together.

Both my children sadly did witness some very traumatic things at home, including the police needing to come and intervene. I hope it's helpful know that they really have both got through this OK. Over the years we have talked about mental ill health experiences at different levels, when the time has felt right for their age. It sounds like you have a fantastic relationship where your daughter can come to you and think about what might help - this will be the foundation for working through whatever comes your way together.

Hope your conversation goes well with the Dr on Monday - we definitely found the school nurses a really good resource for some 'light-touch' support in primary school.

Warm wishes

Naomi x

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Isabella5991

It’s awful that you have had hallucinations most of your life. I had them but only at the time of my episodes of PP. They were all very real and frightening to me and thankfully with an added medication they faded eventually.

I’m glad the shared experiences here have provided some reassurance about your treasured daughter. I wonder if BBC Headroom, described as your mental health toolkit might be helpful at bbc.co.uk/headroom. As well as tips and ideas for your own mental health, there’s a section entitled “Looking after your family” where you will find “Let’s talk about child mental health”. This leads to a question, “Is my child showing signs of trauma or is this normal?” With tips from the Anna Freud Centre on spotting the difference between signs of stress and signs of trauma in children.

I hope this is helpful .... little ones are so precious aren’t they? Take care of yourself too.

Thank you so much. I took a look at these pages x

Hi Isabella5991

I've been thinking of you this week - how did your conversation with the doctor go on Monday? We're always here as a sounding board if you need to chat.

All the best

Naomi

Hey Naomi,Thank you for your thoughts.

Doctor wasn’t very empathetic, but he is referring us to cahms. A psychiatrist previously told me to avoid it as can be quite clinical, but the doctor on the phone said it’s the only way. Had a look online and they offer art therapy, play therapy or talking therapy so I think that would be great for her.

He couldn’t say how long it would take until we get a phone call or letter unfortunately. Hopefully we get to top of list. Xx

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer

Hi Isabella I just caught up with this threat!

I have a vivid imagination. Dream world is very important for digesting our 3 dimensional world. Since PPP my right side of the brain has been much more on hyperdrive. In my previous life before being sectioned in 2010 I was very pragmatic, teaching and studying 24/7. My expert field beside MFL and English, was Research and Education. Often busy in higher education, especially Early Years.

When poorly during recovery of PPP and living with undiagnosed BP for further 8 years I discovered that painting was helping. Since then I studied art therapy and completed 2 Reiki Masters. My mind is still busy, vibrant and full of imagination and creativity and so is my son!

Speaking about Education in general: Cultural and social conditioning has a huge impact on our children and of course the unique world of the young person is shaped initially by parents, single parent, guardians etc. and educational opportunities, if available.

Of course, if the child's primary needs are jeopardised due to changed circumstances ( such as mum becoming poorly after giving birth) it could affect developmental stages i.e. emotionally, socially, cognitively etc...

Early years is a vital time of the child's development and will be of great significance. Childhood traumas may be carried into adult life and individuals can be affected for a considerable time and sometimes only find the answer when appropriate therapeutic modality/therapy has finally identified the cause and subsequently explained why they experienced ongoing challenges throughout their adulthood.

Neurological processes are fascinating. My brain shut down when I went through traumatic experiences. The first year after giving birth was a total blur...

I am very much into alternative Education and dislike aspects of the English system. Wales is throwing out the assessment driven ED and will go back to the essential criteria based on the former foundation stage where creativity and the arts are a vital part of creating resilience, happiness and emotional stability. Learning through play will take priority again where children's needs are prioritised. This will apply initially to primary schools in Wales and transitional processes with secondary schools. Deep down I have great hope that England will follow. Without emotional stability learning opportunities are not given their full potential! Maslow's Pyramid is a great example and shows that especially at the moment there is great suffering for children, because of child poverty in this country. Overall an increase of mental health issues due to extrem circumstances for children and teenagers.

Why am I writing all of this??? Deep down I just feel that love, creativity, transparency, honesty and communication will be the answer. There are tons of play opportunities where your child can be expressive. Bad dreams can be converted into role play, art work, modelling...there are great activities for young children, activities & events and such a cultural vibrancy in London for children to let their imagination run wild. Pedagogy is maybe the answer instead of psychological and/or psychiatric intervention.

I was so concerned that my fear and anxiety projected onto my son's life. Over the years I have read a lot about women and their suffering with PPP and other mental health issues afterwards. Mums on here have been absolutely amazing and our children turn out to be the kindest and most gentle rainbow kids. My son is a wonderful carer, and we also have continuous moments of laughter silliness and create incredible worlds of imaginations. Hope this helps...xxx

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