Did anyone else write compulsively whilst ill & if so have they re-read what they wrote once fully recovered? Did it concern you/shock you?

One of my symptoms of PP, whilst I was sectioned & being diagnosed, was to write compulsively. When I finally could write no more I handed the books over to my friend who visited me for safekeeping, because I was paranoid the hospital staff would find them and use the contents against me or another patient would steal them (well things that were mine in my room went missing and things that weren't mine appeared in my locker so maybe I wasn't paranoid?!). I told her these were as important to me as Anne Frank's diaries were to her.

When I was discharged from hospital she returned them to me and confessed she had read them and been concerned with the contents and had therefore shown them to the hospital staff.

These have been in my attic ever since and I am now wondering whether I should take them down and relook at them as I have been well for nearly a year now... hence my question.

By the way, when I was most ill I refused to believe I was ill and that my sectioning had been a terrible mistake, the result of a nightmare that was so horrific that I couldn't tell it had been a nightmare even when I'd woken up. After that I believed I was ill due to the side effects of the drugs they'd given me and the shock of being separated from my baby and the stress of him being in special baby care.

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  • Hello there, I will forever be fascinated to read the accounts of PP. I could not stop writing and my brain felt totally charged. I have a box in the house of the things I wrote and the cards that people sent to my whilst I was in the psychiatric unit. I don't particularly want to open the box and read them but I know I don't want to throw them away as it was part of my life. Like you I also felt my sectioning was some awful nightmare and I could not work out where I was, who I was and had I had a baby? or had she died, and then perhaps I had died? . I think once you find yourself in the unit and the baby is not with you, then there is total and utter confusion. My good news is that I went on to have two more girls without PP and that was amazing. I am so glad to read that you are well now.

  • Wow that's fantastic news that you went on to have two more girls without PP. I'm now 42 and feel too old to try for another and if I was younger I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to try again.

    Thanks for your reply, interesting to know you don't particularly want to open the box but don't want to throw it away either.

  • Hi Talk2LMH

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Like you, I too felt like I was not poorly and that the sections they put me on were a mistake. I felt like I was in control and knew what was happening. The reality was though I was very poorly and required urgent medical assistance. Everything that I was experiencing felt so real to me, from my thoughts, my beliefs and my actions. I now know that it was the psychosis which took over me and the only way to overcome this was to get the right help and support. Remember you are not alone and people on this forum understand.

    Luckily, I received the medical assistance I needed and help was given to me - it took a while to get better and fully understand that the sectioning was the right thing to do.

    I too wrote excessively when I was poorly. My friend’s mother gave me a little pad (which everyone now wishes she didn’t) and I wrote down everything that came into my mind and believe me there was a lot of things in there!! I never knew what happened to my pad but found it a year later in my sister’s old flat. I think she thought she was protecting me by keeping it from me. I did want to read what I had written to make sense of my illness but I found it very difficult to read some of it. I didn’t read it all as I found it brought up traumatic memories for me. I threw the pad away but wish I had kept it, if not to read it, just to know it was there. Like HelenMW said it is a part of your life.

    My advice would be to think carefully about whether you want to read your books, as you may find some of it very distressing. If you do start to read them then remember that it wasn’t ‘you’ it was a ‘poorly you’ that wrote those things.

    If you need to discuss any of the things you wrote or need anything further please get in touch with us. We are all here for you.

    Em. x

  • Thanks Em for your reply and support, much appreciated :-)

  • Hi all, this is a difficult question isn't it? I agree that keeping things could help but reading can bring back painful memories. For me personally, I don't think I wrote obsessively, although having to write times of feeds was perhaps not helpful in the early days and led to another obsession... PP can take over even every day things it's so awful.

    On the flip side, whilst in the MBU I had letters from very good friends who live a long way and couldn't visit, so we corresponded like penfriends, something we used to do when kids/ teenagers! I used to live for the letters it really helped me through the early days of recovery. When moving house recently, I came across the letters and re-read them; those from a particular friend made me cry buckets! It was so nice to see the concern and read the encouragement again. Something that probably would never have been written down if it hadn't been for that awful, dark time.

    I hope you get some advice through here, and don't make the decision to get rid of stuff if you're not sure. Perhaps someone can keep the writing for you so it's not immediately accessible but still available if you want it at some point. Take care.

  • Thanks spannerb, I think I'm coming to conclusion to leave where it is and if/when I feel the need to read it'll be there :-)

  • Hi Talk2LMH,

    This is an interesting question.

    I recently found a photograph which I took out of my son`s baby album and later discovered I had written some things on the back of it when I was ill. It did bring it all back but in a way it was good because I felt so thankful that I am well now and have come a very long way since then.

    I did write a lot in the early stages of PP when my mind was racing. After about three nights of no sleep one of the midwives on the ward before I became ill said she would take my son into the nursery for the night so I could sleep. She knew I was exhausted and hadn`t slept for days. In the middle of the night when I had the chance to sleep I was writing poetry! Something I`d never done before! I couldn`t switch off to sleep, I was still euphoric and happy after the birth.

    If you decide to look at what you wrote it might help make sense of things, it did with me. It`s good to write things down, I tend to write down anything I`m finding difficult with general things like work and it gets things out of my system and I can see things a bit more clearly.

    I think its a good idea to keep what you wrote and read it when you feel ready.

    Good luck and take care,

    Sarah x

  • Hi Sarah

    Thanks for your reply, it's amazing how this illness can work, what a nice side effect to find you had an inner poet ;-) I too like to write things down. Have you heard of the book "The Magic of Writings Things Down" (http://www.sallyannsheridan.com/books.html)? I have followed their techniques, particularly the affirmations with great success!

    I am going to keep what I wrote and read it when I feel ready thanks :-)

  • Hi Talk2LM,

    I have not been on the e forum for a while and have only just seen your reply! I haven't read the book you mentioned but I will do.

    I think I discovered my creative talent very briefly when I was unwell but no writing poetry for a while now ;) I do still find writing things down helps a lot. Hope you are getting on ok? Take care,

    Sarah

  • Hi Talk2LMH

    I wrote a huge amount when I was unwell in 2005, both on the computer before admission, and then on scraps of paper in the general psychiatric unit.

    I hung on to my notes from the hospital for a good number of years, but interestingly felt it was time to throw them away during my second pregnancy in 2010. What was interesting for me, on reading my notes and diagrams, is that everything seemed so beautifully simple and interconnected in my mind at the time. However the early notes were absolute wild nonsense on re-reading. For me, it was quite upsetting, but also an insight into how fractured my thinking was even though my feelings told me everything was so meaningful and right.

    My notes move on after a few weeks to where I can see I'm trying to make some 'sense' of what the medics were saying to me. I have put things like "delusions" in inverted commas so I was clearly not ready to accept the diagnosis. I was starting to put things in columns to try and impose some order on my internal reasoning and what the 'outside' world was telling me.

    I was desperate to find the computer files a few years back but I think they got deleted. And in a lot of ways that's probably for the best.

    The writing that I have hung on to is the little notebook I was given in recovery. I had an incredibly severe depression once I got home, and a friend helped me to try and write something beautiful about my life or my daughter each day if I could. I'm so proud now when I read back of the strength of my love for her even in the depths of despair.

    Now that my eldest is 7 I can read some of the things to her, and it helps her to understand how much I loved her at the time, despite it all. I've found it also helps us to talk about my depression after her little sister was born.

    I can really understand your hesitancy, but also wondering how it would feel to look at your notes from the attic. The main thing I'd say is that we all have different ways of needing to process our recovery, and it's definitely not wrong to read the things you wrote. If you do decide to read, I'd just make sure you have something really nice to do afterwards, and a chance to chat to someone who was there for you at the time. I know my husband found the written things really distressing and it was his preference not to look at them. I'm glad now that we finally threw them away, but personally I did need to read first just to gain some sort of understanding.

    Let us know how you get on - deciding to chuck them, ignoring them for a while or reading them are all part of your recovery choices!

    N

  • Thanks Naomi for sharing your reply. Good point re "everything seemed so beautifully simple and interconnected in my mind at the time. However the early notes were absolute wild nonsense on re-reading." I feel better prepared for what I might find as a result and thanks for the tip re planning something really nice to do after reading/chance to chat with someone who was there for me at the time :-) I'm going to see how I feel at end of April about reading them, as I'm planning to travel back to Oxon to visit the friend that looked after the diaries for me & take her out for her birthday, as it would be a great opportunity to follow this advice :-)

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