Recovery from PP - what can help and hinder recovery?

Tell us about your experiences of recovering - how long it took (remember to answer our poll question too), what things helped you? what ideas or suggestions do you have for others who are currently recovering? Was anything unhelpful in your recovery?

For advice developed by a group of APP members on recovering from PP, download our guide:

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  • I found having a strong network around me of friends & family was really important - they were my main carers & always had my best interests at heart (at a time when I didn't know who to trust). They could also make decisions, organise my days & took on most of the practical chores when I couldn't. One of the most helpful things for me was a daily phone call from my mum, just to make sure I'd got out of bed & had something planned for the day - if I didn't, she got me out of bed & planned my day for me. It was a case of, 'right, today we're going to the shops...'

    I also found CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) really helpful too, as this seemed to give me practical tools to deal with the depression. I know this may be controversial, but I found breast-feeding, especially in the early stages, definitely didn't help. When I was manic/ psychotic & exhausted, I certainly didn't need the added stress of learning to breast-feed & the problems it can bring, how to use breast-pumps & worrying about the effects of medication on my baby - this just increased the stress & exhaustion & wouldn't have made any difference at all with the bonding, I was just too ill. In hindsight, I wish I'd been advised to get myself well first, before taking on any more stresses.

    I did find mother & baby groups really helpful once I was brave enough to go. I had to find the right one & be taken there initially though. It was really scary at first & I felt like such an outsider but eventually found I really liked the routine of going every week. I started to really enjoy it & it became a life-line & I carried on going until my little one started nursery.

  • Setting yourself small but manageable goals each day can help to aid recovery by increasing your confidence bit by bit (this is after you are out of the manic phase of the illness). Having something planned each day, a day out at the park or trip to the shops with someone close is a great idea. Gradually you confidence will increase and you may then be able to manage some of these things alone with your baby. Also try to have an afternoon nap each day, when your baby sleeps if possible, sleeping can help you to heal more quickly.

    Avoid anything you find stressful, or that makes you anxious, ask for help with these things, such as appointments for you or your baby - ask a friend or relative to go with you for support and to make it easier for you.

    Do whatever you need to do to make each day more bearable and take one day at a time, it will get easier day by day.

  • I think the right medication from a good psychiatrist working together with a good psychologist so that you get both the medicine and the talking therapy. A supportive family/friend is essential also.

  • All of these things strike a chord with me. People just being there for you, personal and proessional, and really listening. Little things like going out for coffee and cake were really important, especially as I had to give up my driving license for a bit so relied on others to get out. I whole-heartedly agree about the pressure to breast feed, even if controversial- it really didn't help me at all. A family member visiting me every day when I would normally be very independent from her led to a screaming match whilst in hospital, a rift and I know things were said that can never be taken back and I know have changed our relationship forever, which is quite sad. Also the right meds are so important, the early ones I was prescribed on a general psych ward after a section really didn't help me and were just to manage my behaviour, not helpful. Confidence building both by those who know you well and are well aware of your situation as well as others who aren't has been invaluable to me. Hope this helps in some way!

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