Trigger warning: this blog post and the next few contain descriptions of dark times, also if you don't want to read personal details about me then go no further, this is a very honest account of hard times.
Part one: Introduction. So many things have happened since I wrote my last post back in 2015, experiences both traumatic and wonderful, I want to start sharing these things in a format that could help other women and what better way than blog posts! (And maybe vlogs at some point). So what happened? Well I became a mother last February, it was inevitable that this would change me, I love our daughter River more than I could ever imagine and I'm so happy we were able to expand our family by one amazing, inspiring little girl, she's now 16 months old and Im loving this stage, she's learning new things every day and we have such fun together it's like I've got this little best friend/side-kick who is always up for being silly and having a laugh (like most of my good adult friends!) it's all gone so fast though, and I'm sure it will keep going fast from now on! Motherhood is only part of the journey I've been on, the other big event in my life that coincided with River's birth was that I suffered Post Partum Psychosis, it's not something I had ever heard of or knew to be looking out for as I've never had any major previous mental health issues, it's reasonably rare and happens to 'one to two' women in every thousand births. In this short series of blog posts I'd like to write a bit about what it is, how it affected me personally and how I've come to a point where I feel pretty much recovered (whatever that means!).
What is Post Partum Psychosis? "Postpartum Psychosis (also known as 'Puerperal Psychosis’ or PP) is a debilitating form of postnatal mental illness that follows one to two in 1,000 deliveries (Kendell et al. 1987). Episodes onset in the days following childbirth and should be regarded by health professionals as a psychiatric emer- gency. Symptoms include the rapid onset of hallucinations, delusions, mania, bizarre behaviour, severe confusion, elated mood, and depression (Brockington 1996; Heron et al. 2008). PP can affect women from all social classes, education levels, and occupational backgrounds. Many episodes occur ‘out of the blue’ to women without previous psychiatric history, but women with a history of bipolar disorder are at particularly high risk, with PP episodes following around 25% of deliveries (Jones and Craddock 2005)."
But this is just a medical description, a list of signs and symptoms with none of the realness, the harshness, how it actually feels, the way it effects you, the way it can effect your life and turn what is meant to be a joyful time into a very dark and very, very scary time! I've come through what has been the hardest time in my life, I am recovered but it has been such a tough journey with lots of hard work, I have ended up with some residual anxiety and maternal OCD but both are managed well with medication at the moment.
On Saturday 17th of June I did some training for the amazing charity 'Action on Postpartum Psychosis' I'm now one of their peer supporters in an online help forum and will also be giving support through 1-1 emails to mums who might be struggling, I just want to do everything I can to make other people's experiences of PP as easy as possible by giving hope that there is life after PP, that you can get through it no matter how dark or lost you feel.
In my experience it's better to learn about things from a first person account, so in the next few blog posts I will be sharing my lived experience to raise awareness of Postpartum Psychosis, the more people we reach the better chance someone might have of being diagnosed sooner and given the support they need before it gets to a critical level so please feel free to share my blog posts about the illness.