I’m so happy to welcome Warrior Mom Trisha today, sharing her story of recovery from postpartum psychosis.
We of course had a plan in mind when it came to birthing but unfortunately it didn’t go right from the beginning. After about 36 hours in labor they finally had to give me an emergency C-Section as our baby had the cord wrapped around his neck.
After a stint in the hospital, we found out we had to go to the hospital again because our son had jaundice and needed UV treatment. I stayed up with him all night feeding him and changing him, soothing him in the UV bed as best I could.
Finally, we were allowed to go home and my husband, baby and I had some time together. My parents were over a lot as well trying to make sure we had enough help but I felt great. I had a ton of energy and I was getting more sleep than I ever needed. Being a mom was a breeze, or so I thought.
After a few nights I would find myself awake after feeding my son and having all these thoughts and epiphanies about life in the middle of the night. I would share my ideas with my mom and friends by sending out emails with huge, long rants and explanations of life lessons. I had a friend who had lost her son due to a placental abruption and I was looking up all kinds of grief sites and how to deal with loss so I could better understand her situation.
My parents and husband started to get concerned that I wasn’t sleeping enough and that I was starting to act strange. I wasn’t even finishing my sentences at this point because I had so many thoughts going through my mind at the same time.
One morning I didn’t really want to get out of bed and my husband was telling me we had to go to the hospital but I didn’t know why. I felt fine. Finally he coaxed me into getting showered and dressed and the three of us went to the hospital again.
Once there I was put into a small room with no windows and a security guard in front of my door. Immediately, my mind started whirling. What had I done wrong? Had I hurt my son and not known it or had I done something even worse? Suddenly my mind put together that I must have killed my baby by shaking him and I was now blocking out the memory and the baby I was seeing was just a hallucination. Why else would I be secluded like this?
My mom and husband finally came in with him and I thought they must be holding a doll to try and get me to realize what I had done and wanted to see if I was hallucinating my baby alive. I told them I knew how to grieve and that I must have killed my baby by shaking him. My mom looked at me astounded and said he was right here and he was fine! I didn’t want to believe her though so I kept saying he was a doll.
I was admitted to the psychiatric ward that day. The doctor wanted to use electroshock therapy on me because they believed I would not come out of the postpartum psychosis on my own. My husband refused outright and said he wanted to give the medication a try. I’m glad my husband made that choice for me.
I was in the hospital for about a month. The first two weeks I don’t remember at all. When the medication started to kick in and my brain slowed down long enough to start retaining memories again I started to come out of the psychosis. It took me some time to realize I was missing two weeks of my life but at least now I knew that my son was alive and well.
I saw a psychiatrist for about a year and finally came off the anti-psychotics. We just had our second child and I was on medication before he was born as a precaution. My family and I were very nervous that I might have an episode again but this time there were no issues and I didn’t have postpartum psychosis again.
People are always told to look for depression when it comes to having a baby. I wasn’t depressed in the slightest which is why it was so hard for my parents and husband to figure out there was a problem. My best advice for any woman struggling after having a baby is to please talk about it, do not get caught up in the stigma of being called crazy or worry that you will be looked at funny. The worst thing you can do for yourself or your child is to keep quiet.
If you are having any symptoms that can be linked to psychosis it is important that you tell a doctor. I was lucky that my husband looked up the symptoms and told the hospital doctors what I had. They didn’t even believe him at first saying that I was answering their questions fine and they didn’t know why I was there. If you don’t feel like yourself, get help and make sure you don’t let them turn you away.
It is my sincerest wish that no woman should suffer this illness alone as it was the scariest time in my life.
Photo credit: © Andrey Kuzmin – Fotolia.com
Thank you for being strong enough to share, and I am so glad you had your family looking out for you.
Thanks Tiffany I am very thankful for th wonderful support system I have it helped me through the worst
I’m so glad to hear you got the treatment you needed to come out of that. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much for sharing. Its amazing your story. I love your mom and husband for it too! I wish I would have heard these stories to recognize my PPD.
An amazingly brave mama for sure. The stories of other moms teaches me so much about the whole spectrum of perinatal mood disorders. Lost memories, euphoric thinking…no one talks about this stuff….but here at PPP, moms get the word out. So happy you are better. Cheers, Deborah
Thank you so much for sharing your story Trisha so bravely and openly. Its my deepest wish that other women won’t be ashamed if they are suffering and that their families will recognize the problem and get them help immediately. I’m so sorry this happened to you but you had such a great support system, I am glad for that.
I watched my best friend spiral through PPP. The first pregnancy I didn’t I had no idea what the problem was. She ended up institutionalized and over medicated. The second pregnancy, ten years, apart, I knew that when the psychosis hit what she needed was an endocrinologist. Through the care of good doctors and a loving family she is fine today. But I can tell you as an onlooker, without a reference point for PPD or PPP, the general public doesn’t understand the dynamics and has no idea how to respond. I’ve been reading this site as I worked on my latest novel, Mother of Rain, which has a character who deals with PPP. I wrote the book because of the trauma my friend endured during two pregnancies, ten years apart.
Thanks Karen I agree noone knows about this illness I didn’t know what it was until I had it myself my goal is to try to make it more commonly talked about and not hidden away by stigma glad you are writing on it I am writing my full story as well!
So brave of you to share this! It’s true that most people don’t understand what postpartum psychosis is. I was sad to read about the small room with the security guard, though. That must have been scary. Was it really necessary since you hadn’t done anything to put yourself or your child in danger? So glad you are well now.
Thanks for reading my story and I agree it was one of the major things we found lacking at the hospital was the way they treated me like a criminal even though I hadn’t done anything wrong
Thank you, thank you…for your bravery. I am a mom who suffered from PPD for nearly 2 years without help and wished my family and doctor knew what I was going through. Nobody asked! Now 10 years later I am a PPD specialist here in upstate NY who is getting loud about the stigma that needs to be removed. I love that you are talking about how this is a treatable illness. Thank you!!
i just read a similar piece on http://postpartumhealthalliance.blogspot.com/
very interesting when women share this very scary time in their lives.
I’m a NICU RN and have experienced mild PPP myself with my first child….having intrusive thoughts and irrational anxiety, as well as more typical depression / fatigue symptoms….with a touch of OCD for good measure. I was lucky that my OB went beyond antidepressants and addressed the hormonal imbalances as well.
My question is — when I’ve recognized this in our NICU moms — I am sort of in an odd situation as the MOM is not my “patient”. Several of the nurses have been told not to “probe” into moms’ emotions, (asking if they are having anxiety if we have reason to believe they are — or asking about how they are sleeping etc or about their support systems) We are told not to do “evaluations” as it is outside of our “scope of practice”, and that even referring them back to their own ob/gyn is pushing it in terms of appropriate because they are not our patient to assess and refer. Are there any resources that you have that could address this issue? Do you have any contacts that could clarify the scope of practice for a RN in this situation? The NICU nurses are a HUGE resource for our families and they share personal feelings and concerns with us routinely.
We preach family centered care all the time and yet this is a reoccurring situation and we are left not knowing how to protect our license and jobs while still addressing the needs that are obvious. (and yes, social workers were also consulted and aware as well and everyone was tip toe-ing around the fact that some of these people need to get medical / psychological help!) It is so frustrating to feel like we can clearly identify a need and are then asked not to get involved. Thoughts?
What an excellent question. Let me see what kind of answers I can get for you!
Thanks so much!!
ECT (electroshock or electroconvulsive) treatments saved my life when I suffered suicidal depression related to my postpartum bipolar disorder, a.ka. bipolar, peripartum onset. And I made that choice on my own – my husband was there as my support, but he didn’t ask me to do it nor force me. I knew about it already from having read Dr. Martha Manning’s excellent book “Undercurrents years before, which was her memoir about choosing ECT that saved this psychologist/mother’s life.
There are two sides to every treatment option, and nothing is a cure-all. Years later, I’m doing extremely well and had minimal, short-term side effects. I’ll always be grateful to ECT. To read about my experience please visit my blog or you can also read my post that was published here on Postpartum Progress.
I’m so glad you are doing well.