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