How I overcame my postpartum psychosis, and the help/advice I’d give to other sufferers.
I was a new mum, scared and delusional. I was hearing things, seeing things and believing that everyone wanted to hurt me and my baby.
I needed immediate help! I needed medication and support.
With no specialist mother and baby unit in Wales, it was agreed with professionals I was to manage the illness at home.
- I was put on a high dose of antipsychotic drugs
- I was given diazepam to control outbursts
- A CPN (community mental health nurse) was to visit twice a week
- I would have monthly visits to my psychiatrist.
The level of medication I was taking was enough to knock out the worlds strongest man yet I still found ways to try and run away from home.
I kept my distance from my baby. I loved him too much. I didn’t want to hurt him or drop him because I was so drowsy.
My husband had to quit work to take care of me. He alone took care of me and our baby. It was hard on him.
After a few weeks I started to feel more like myself. I started to see things clearer, it was almost as if someone had peeled cling film away from my eyes. The world started to look positive again.
I was still too anxious and scared to go outside and relied on diazepam to go anywhere. I had no form of counselling and instead took it upon myself to look for support.
A charity, Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) had lots of helpful information about the condition online.
I looked for a online friend on Netmums. This is where I met my best friend. Although I never told her I had PP, I connected with her because we had suffered with social anxiety.
Talking to others really helped. I still felt paranoid about people close to me so it was a nice talk to people online.
After a few weeks of talking I started to meet up with my new friend, we would take our babies to soft play. I still relied on my husband, so he would wait in a nearby coffee shop.
This gave me a sense of freedom and before I knew it I was able to meet with my friend without my husband so close.
My recovery took a long time, well over a year. I think the main reason for this was that I did not receive specialist treatment in its early stages and I had to receive treatment at home.
Treatment in a mother and baby unit is on average 12 weeks!
My self help tips
- Talk to someone – Whether online or in person. Be as truthful as you can be.
- Take medication – Take what is stated on the box, don’t forget a dose.
- Get outside – Ensure to have at least one walk a day in the fresh air.
- Practise mindfulness – Mindfulness can help control intrusive thoughts and worry about the future.
- Get organised – Have someone help you plan a week ahead. This will help you keep control of daily activities.
- Rest – It is important to get some rest. Don’t be afraid to ask family for help.
Since my recovery I have become very much involved with perinatal mental health and I truly believe this has helped me accept and move on from the guilt I felt for suffering this condition.
I have met with some amazing people. Meeting others face to face who have recovered from this condition has helped me in so many ways.
I actively campaign with a dear friend of mine Mark Williams for the reopening of the mother and baby unit in Wales. Together we collected over 14,000 signatures through an online petition and campaigning.
I am now part of mental health committees and I am currently on a specialist committee where we are developing a model mother and baby unit for Wales, although I can not comment on what is happening yet.
It took me a long time but in the end my mind was mine again.