Struggling so much - are these sympto... - Action on Postpar...

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Struggling so much - are these symptoms normal?

Loopy86 profile image
31 Replies

Hi all

I’m so sorry to post so soon after my other post, but I’m really struggling with feeling vacant, passive /like a spectator with no access to my personality.

I don’t seem to have any idea of what I like or don’t like anymore and I’m so socially unaware. Im so flat and seem to lack any emotion (I used to be quite bubbly and always pretty happy). I have no get up and go to help people with things like I used to (I used to do anything for anyone). I also don’t feel like I know where my moral compass is - like what would I usually say in a certain situation. I’ve always thought I have good morals but now I just feel so lost in who I am.

Because I feel like I’m a bad person, I seem to almost be almost off or distant with people because of that belief and because I think everyone must hate me. I can’t access that nice, warm part of me. I think this is because when I was at the acute stage I thought the nice me was bad and that I had been faking being nice all my life.

I don’t know if any of this is “normal” under psychosis or if I’m just now like this. 

Also, I feel like I’m going through the motions with my baby. I feel so awful about this. When first born I was head over heels but then when my psychosis hit about 6 weeks, I feel like I’m just trying to be who I was before it happened as when I don’t try I feel so distant and like I just want to sleep all day. I’m desperate for the feelings to return 

I’m so sorry for rambling, I just don’t know where to turn!

31 Replies
EmiMum profile image

Hi Loopy86,

I am sorry to read your update and how distressing these feelings of detachment and flatness are at the moment. Please do not feel sorry for posting so soon. It is a good idea to open a new thread, I find it easier to search when I look at My home in healthunlocked and new posts pops right up to the top.

How are you sleeping at the moment? I go through periods of being a night owl when the events of the day are playing in my head and I have trouble switching off. Unfortunately for me, that can sometimes be linked to ruminations and harsh judgements of myself.

I need to reassure you that what you are describing is very common during recovery from pp. I mentioned in your other post that that has been my personal experience and from talking to other mums as well I see many similarities. Partly it is the effects of medication and partly the natural healing process of the brain, that's my unscientific explanation.

It is frustrating to have to fake it till you make it, I agree, and I used to question whether the faking it was the right thing to do in the first place (the keep calm carry on attitude worked only partly for me, I took many duvet days too and I also asked for help, lots of times, and all of that together mixed in with the passing of time and support from friends and family - and this forum, brought me back). This won't be forever, it will most certainly pass. I know it is not much help in the here and now, of course, but it does end, 100% sure of it. Recovery also was not a straight path for me, I went up and a bit down and also stayed stuck, but got there at the end. As you will too.

Take good care, here if you need us

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to EmiMum

thank you so much for ur reply. I really appreciate it and so sorry I didn’t see ur reply on my other post (thank u for that also) x

I am taking a little while to get to sleep but when I’m asleep I usually stay asleep for a long time. you have given me so much hope for recovery. It means so much! X

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer in reply to Loopy86

Hi Loopy86,No problem, I am glad that talking on this forum is giving you so much hope. It was a lifeline for me too when I was recovering. Otherwise the illness is incredibly isolating. Only a couple of our friends one a psychotherapist and one a gp had heard of pp before I became ill with it. Talking here to other mums that get it is such a pleasure.

Is good that you are sleeping some good hours. My psychiatrist tends to say what's most important is that you wake up properly rested. I take olanzapine at the moment to manage a bout of mania I had over Christmas (I have bipolar as well) and I am careful most nights to take my medicine and be in bed by 9. When I deviate from my routine or have some wine during the day or in the evening I know I will pay with insomnia so I try to measure myself. Routine, essential oils like lavender, nightime tea or a hot chocolate, relaxing music before bed and completely avoiding the news has improved my sleep patterns a lot.

Take good care, let us know how you are getting on, will be thinking of you

Jocelyn_at_APP profile image

Morning Loopy86,

I completely understand how you feel and had very similar feelings. I sort of likened it to feeling like I had this plastic mask on all the time that I was hiding behind.

I hated going out and being around people, which was completely out of character for me.

You've been through a huge trauma and it will take time for you to process it all.

Be kind to yourself, you are doing amazingly!!

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Jocelyn_at_APP

thank you very much for your reply. Yes it is like a plastic mask isn’t it. It is helpful to c my experience is relatable and that I’m not alone, thank you x

Pikorua profile image

Good morning Loopy,

You are not rambling, you are expressing how you feel. I am not sure whether you realise, but you have a gift. You are very eloquent with your words. Journalising would be a great idea, maybe a bit of mind mapping or writing a diary where you write to your baby.

I've been writing diaries for my son since he was born. Creative writing is so therapeutic. Do you like poetry?

With regards to your path of is like going through a vail and re-discovering yourself. You will gain new skills, you re-adjust, because your lived experience will guide you into new directions, which maybe extremely fulfilling in the long run.

I was still very poorly when being released from the Psychiatric Hospital. I've moved on when I accepted the past, not fighting those, who cause harm whether intentionally or unintentionally. I used the lived experience as a new stepping stone to something greater:

From Lecturing Research and Education (till 2010) I then focused on recovery and mental health and found lots of avenues to scaffold skills. Learning and practicing new modalities over the years are being used as part of my toolkit for self healing, but also helping and supporting others.

It is great to maybe focus on something you enjoy, something that gives you pleasure...I need to focus all the time when mind racing due to bipolar...

- creative writing

- painting (often with my son)

- nature walks

- online learning (centre of excellence often offer courses for £29 only/future learn is another link

- meditation, yoga and reiki for balancing my MH

- listening to iPod meditation music, self management programmes etc

- I use an infra red light and aroma therapy

These are just suggestions which work for me. We are all very individual.

Look after yourself, - the sun will be shining again!!!


Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Pikorua

thank you so much for sharing what has helped you to recover. I really appreciate you taking the time to share this with me! X

Lilybeth profile image

Hi Loopy86

I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your earlier post. I think sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to pick up where we left off, without realising what an awful hit our minds have taken. You have had great strength to come back through such an awful trauma and recovery isn’t easy. So ... much like a jigsaw .. we have to take time to find all the pieces and put them back together, rebuild our shattered confidence.

I’m sending you a virtual hug ... try to be gentle with yourself. Don’t let your thoughts put you down. This is how I felt during psychosis, with a voice in my head telling me I was a bad mother. I backed away from social situations and was isolated, so please don’t do that. Perhaps you can write down how you are feeling so that trusted friends and family can understand how you are struggling?

What happened to us and how we behaved was not our fault. We had no choice when PP hit. PP mums are amazing, loving souls, just like you. If you can see the forum page there’s another mum there just 4 months post PP so you might relate to how she feels too.

APP has a number of cafe groups in the UK where you can meet other mums in different stages of recovery. It’s so reassuring to be able to talk openly in their company and have ‘proper’ hugs. The link is if you might consider it.

Take good care of yourself ... we all understand and are here to lean on 🌹

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Lilybeth

please don’t say sorry for not replying, I was struggling when I posted again and should have been patient for replies - it’s me who should be sorry x

I like the analogy of it being like a jigsaw as this is very much how I feel. I also like the idea of writing how I’m feeling and sharing it as I find it hard to say how I am feeling.

I will definitely look into the cafe groups- thank u x

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer in reply to Loopy86

Hi Loopy86

Please post here as many times as you feel .. no need to wait 😊 Sometimes it’s to good to see all your thoughts written down and out f your head.

I think t might be good to share how you feel and perhaps keep a note. This might even help your care team to see how you really feel. I know to professionals I would say I was fine when I wasn’t really. Then I began to trust that they were there to help and I began to trust.

Thanks for writing ... take care x

SJSharks profile image

I can relate. When I brought my son home I was head over heels but then when I came home from being hospitalized that love disappeared. I couldn’t understand it. I felt resentment and why…he did nothing. It breaks my heart so much now.

Then around 3-4 months I started therapy and my therapist said it was okay not to like the “baby phase”. She was the first to tell me it doesn’t have to be sunshine and rainbows. It made me feel so much better.

I feel lucky in that by 4-5 months I felt that connection and love with my son again. So I feel very strongly time does heal.

I also got a med change around that time, I’m not sure if that helped at all but I did feel more like myself and not so drug out.

So do advocate for yourself. I fought so hard to be on something different and my psychiatrist just wanted to keep uping my dosage. But finally he listened to me.

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to SJSharks

I’m sorry you went through the numb / detached feelings too. I am due to start with the perinatal team in a few weeks time and I hope that with therapy I’ll start to improve. I think a medication review will help also x thank u again x

AinslW profile image

Hi there Loopy86! I am new here.

I have been on lithium, olanzapine, sertraline, and temazepam since my episode in June/July 2022. Absolutely the lithium has an effect on my personality, as well as the trauma and the grief. I can feel a huge difference of my personality coming back as my psychiatrist is slowly bringing me off the lithium and my blood levels are falling. I don't think that's the whole picture though...I feel like a lot of it is the physiology of the brain when it goes through a trauma like that. I almost feel like I'm recovering from having a stroke. When I think about it that way, I reframe my recovery as "rehabilitation" and treat myself like an elderly person recovering from a stroke, relearning how to cook, clean, read, be attentive to my children, write, and play piano. It is a slowwww process, but I see progress every day. Some other things that have helped me are being mindful throughout my day and radically accepting any feelings I have, taking things slowly, doing pleasurable things like snuggling the dog, baking bread, or going on a walk, adjusting my expectations, warm bubble baths, talking and laughing with a friend. Be easy on yourself. Love to you. You are the mother God made for your baby. Hold that baby tight; mine is in Heaven...

Love, A

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer in reply to AinslW

Hi AinslW,

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to give you a warm welcome to this forum. I can't say how sorry I am for your loss and for having to go through pp as well. You are so right it is a relearning process, and going through the motions is rehabilitation, I had not read such a good analogy before. You read as a very compassionate, empathetic and self aware person, treasured qualities. It is so nice to meet you virtually. Do write here if there is anything you would like to share, sending you big hugs

AinslW profile image
AinslW in reply to EmiMum

EmiMum, thank you so much. I will. xx

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to AinslW

thank u for sharing how things have been for u. It is helpful to have insight into how other mums have been affected. So pleased that ur personality came back as the doctors reduced the medication. A couple of u lovely ladies have referred to PPP as a trauma and I’ve never looked at it that way before. It makes sense that ur brain needs to adapt back as u process what u have been through. Thank u again x

Emero profile image

Hi there

Rest assured that this is entirely down to the meds. I would assume you're taking olanzapine or some other heavy hitting antipaychotic. Olanzapine did this to me. You describe it so well, it really takes me back to the worst time in my life.

The good news is that the flatness and emotional numbness goes away after you stop the meds but this takes time (for me over 2 years).

You can't fight against the side effects of olanzapine and similarantipsychotics. My psychiatrist used to tell me what I was feeling/experiencing was just a side effect of my psychosis and the traumatic experience id had. Psychiatrists will put it down to everything but it's root cause, I.e. the meds. I wish someone had told me all this back then and that my feelings would return in time - which they eventually did after I came off the meds. I was told running would help bring my motivation back so I'd run 8k four times a week, which just left me exhausted and so upset that nothing helped. Olanzapine made the usual 'excercise high' impossible.

A book has been written about anti psychitics . It's called The Bitterest Pills by Joanna Moncrief who is a lecturer and a psychiatrist in London and who speaks out against the overuse of anti psychotics. Maybe one day you will be able to read it and it's gona resonate so much!!!

Best of luck

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Emero

hello, thank u for ur reply.

Yes I’m on Olanzapine and sertraline. The psychiatrist at the MBU has kindly been in touch with me recently and suggested the medication is possibly numbing me so has reduced me a little and said we can reduce further when I’m supported under the perinatal team. I am hopeful the more I come off that the better I will feel, thank u for giving me hope and the book sounds very interesting - I will look into it xx

Laneybug1710 profile image

Hi there Loopy86

You're in the right place for support and multiple posts encouraged!

I can relate to your feelings of detachment. I struggled in my emotional bond with my baby who was born in 2019. I ended up having my medication adjusted, perhaps worth a chat with your care provider?

I hope you can find a way of expressing yourself without fear of judgement.

All my best

Ailania ak Laneybug

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Laneybug1710

thank u for ur message. Yes I am due for a medication review and am hopeful that a reduction or potentially a change will do me some good. I’m sorry to hear u went through this too and am glad u r doing well now x thank u again x

Control1234 profile image

Hi Loopy86,

I replied to you before as I think we had similarities in our psychosis with feeling like a bad person. I actually at one point asked the ward staff was a narcissist because I felt like I too had been faking my whole personality!

Like you after my psychosis I wanted to avoid people, fearing I would hurt others however it is only now when I have put myself back out there and I actually am going out of my way to help people that I can see that all is ok! And of course I do get the creeping thought that I am faking it but do you know what even if that was true isn’t that better than not helping anyone!!!! And I know in my heart I have so much love to give and I enjoy helping people and giving them my love!

Also I totally get the flatness, no personality feeling, wanting to sleep all day - I described myself as a zombie when I came out of hospital. For me I felt it was the medication and just like the come down of feeling like my mind had been scrambled.

Regarding your baby, I am sure you are doing a better job than you think and again with time and healing you will find yourself doing more and more. It is now my boys who bring me the most joy in my life - just watching how they approach everything in life with such joy and wonder! It is watching how alive they are that also helped me come back to life!

I really feel for you, it’s such an awful ordeal to go through. But I promise you you will start to see that light of the end of the tunnel. It won’t be smooth sailing, there will be bumps in the road, that’s life, but I have honestly learnt so much about myself on this journey. So much more self aware, much more grateful, compassionate etc etc. You sound like such a loving, caring person and the world needs you to shine your light! Keep going, you can absolutely do this, I know it’s horrendous but I know you can do it. Xx

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Control1234

thank u so much for ur reply and sharing more about ur psychosis. I am so pleased u r feeling a lot better now and it does sound like we shared very similar fears throughout. Could I please ask if u now/still have good relationships with ur partner, friends and family? Due to the crazy thoughts about being fake and no access to my personality - I’m worried I’ll never connect again in the same way as it’ll always be a doubt in my head which I think is keeping me guarded :(

Thank u again x

Control1234 profile image
Control1234 in reply to Loopy86

Hi Loopy86,

I would say my relationship with my partner is the best it’s ever been. See the thing is I guess the trauma caused me to reassess my whole life and I started thinking about how if I died (morbid I know but I really did feel like part of me did die) what would I want to have done in my life and actually it was all my relationships, how I have helped and loved people etc etc. I am so much more open with my husband now regarding my needs and also I am much more tolerant of his ‘quirks’ things I would have got annoyed at before! And I guess I just don’t sweat the small stuff as much anywhere.

My kids and I have a really great relationship now - it hasn’t been easy to forgive myself for what they had to witness and go through and also the aftermath of coming out of hospital. I had so much guilt and have spent a lot of time worrying I have traumatised them! but you know I can see they are happy, they bring me the greatest joy and again I am so much more present and patient with them! And I also trust that things will work out ok!!!

This all didn’t happen overnight and I still have wobbles but I get over them much quicker and just learning to let go, accept and surrendering to God and accepting Jesus has made my life so much better.

I know it’s scary putting yourself out there but I have made so many new friends recently by doing so and I tell all my friends and family how much I love them because I think that’s why we here and you know what it’s made my relationships blossom. Just trust,- you can do it.

Always here if you want a chat xxx

Astarlove profile image

I resonate with all you have written. I thought i was thr only one emotionless. Its so painful if i had known would not have taken these medication!!! Just want to feel love for my son ahain and the excitement. How long after beinng off meds dies it take to get emotions back? Is it normal that at times i dnt even think he is my son? Is it part of thr healing process?

Rachel_at_APP profile image
Rachel_at_APPPartner in reply to Astarlove

Hello Astarlove,

So sorry you’ve experienced this feeling too. I did as well, and it was a very confusing and sad time for me. I hope you’re ok. PP is a road I wish that none of us had experienced. But writing here helped, and I hope that reading people’s replies helps you too.

Once I was on medication and had the right support I did always know that my son was mine. But I am very honest in saying that I really struggled feeling / knowing whether I’d bonded with him as others mums did. Or seemed to with their children. The medication was definitely the right treatment for me, and I know I would have not got better without it. But I did make my emotions feel lesser, dulled I guess.

I wonder if you’re still feeling like you describe whether you could mention it to your health professionals supporting you?

Rachel x

Astarlove profile image
Astarlove in reply to Rachel_at_APP

Thanks Rachel. Um on this journey alone. Here Psychiatrists are just too expensive and i can't afford thr 80usd per visit any more. So once she weaned me ofc respiradone i just stopped going. I wish there were ones i could visit for free

Rachel_at_APP profile image
Rachel_at_APPPartner in reply to Astarlove

Hey Astarlove, I’m sorry that the cost of care is a barrier for you accessing support at the moment. I can see that would be hugely costly financially for anyone.

Do keep chatting here with us. I’m pretty sure, hoping so anyway, that someone will have mentioned Postpartum Support International before.

They do have peer supporters in the states, so you might be able to speak with someone that way too. They are also there to help offer support to link people into other services that might help them.

Thinking of you.

Rachel x

Loopy86 profile image
Loopy86 in reply to Astarlove

hi I’m so sorry u r feeling this too. From reading all of the wonderful replies from the ladies here - it very much sounds like the medication and the trauma of psychosis is what is causing our flatness. I think it has helped to view it as tho our brains are repairing themselves and with or without medication they would be slow/flat/numb regardless. I am sure u will get there and I’m here if u need to talk as we seem to have very similar worries xx thank u again x

Lilybeth profile image

Hi Loopy86

I hope you are finding things a little easier. As you say in your replies, perhaps when you have the support of the perinatal team and might reduce medication under supervision, you will feel more hopeful.

It does take a lot of strength and time to recover. I think I use music to help if I’m feeling a bit flat. Years ago I heard a song in a shoe shop which resonated to how I was feeling at the time. It was by Sounds of Blackness “I’m going all the way” with lyrics such as “Whatever it takes to make it I’m going all the way ... I may be down sometimes but I won’t be down always .....” So I think music helps to get us through some not so good days.

Do you think you might have a ‘date night’ with your partner, or time together during the weekend while your baby is being looked after, so you can have time to yourselves?

Take care .. we are all here for you. 🌹

Loopy86 profile image

thank you for ur kind reply lilybeth x

Lilybeth profile image

You are so very welcome Loopy86. I’m so glad to read that all the replies here have helped you. Always remember ... PP mums are amazing 🌻

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