Postpartum Psychosis – Shedding light on the demon.

 

My eyes shot open.

There it was again… the rustling… the breathing… the scurrying.

I scanned what I could of the dark room, and glanced at my sleeping husband next to me.  Should I wake him?  He could not help.  He would not understand.  It was up to me.

I strained in the dark to see the little basinet that held our sleeping son – only eight weeks old.  I prayed that he wouldn’t wake up.  If he did, the crying would never stop.  I became more and more certain that it was not this mysterious “colic” that was bothering him.  I began to know that the crying, the agitation, the wailing for dear life, was because the baby knew… he could feel it.

The devil was after my child.

We didn’t baptize him.  Perhaps the devil already had a hold on him.  He wasn’t even like a baby – he was always screaming, always red faced, he looked odd and foreign to me.

I gripped the bedsheet tighter.

Something wasn’t right.  Was I losing my mind?  It’s sleep deprivation… if I just closed my eyes these thoughts would go away.  Perhaps I was dreaming that very second…

I closed my eyes and scooted closer to the warmth of my husbands’ body.

Then the baby stirred.

I sat up, ready to soothe, bounce, and sway before the crying got too out of hand.

Before my feet touched the floor, something made a scratching noise.

I glanced toward the dark doorway…

My eyes darted to and fro as I waited for the scratching again.

My breathing sounded heavy and annoying.

Then I jumped as something walked past the doorway.  It was a figure, a dwarfish figure – a dark, person-shaped creature that scurried toward the basinet, saw me, and darted away.

My limbs were frozen, my heart drummed in my ears, and I knew…

this wasn’t a dream…

 

*****

 

The above words partially describe an evening after the birth of my first child.  I did not tell my husband.  I did not get help.

There were more dark thoughts, there was crying, despair, and anxiety.

I remember my husband rushing home from work early one day, after I had sent him the following text:

We’ve made a huge mistake.  I can’t do this.  I’m sorry.  I want it to stop.  Goodbye.

He burst through the bedroom door to find me asleep on the bed with our son asleep in my arms.  I had not hurt the baby.  I had not hurt myself.  He was furious at me.  He did not know that something was so broken in my thinking, that I thought once I closed my eyes… I would just die…

I still did not get help.

I was ashamed.  I was anxious.  I was exhausted and wired at the same time… and the psychosis came in infrequent waves.  It felt real and crazy at the same time.  I didn’t want to admit that my world was shredding everywhere I turned.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized (or admitted) I was suffering from severe Postpartum Depression and Psychosis.  The psychosis part I only came clean about a few weeks ago, almost four years after our first sons’ birth.  My husband and my family never knew.  My doctor never asked any mental health questions.  I never hurt my child or myself, but I should have gotten help immediately.  I was very very lucky.

The depression began to creep in again a couple months ago, now that our second son has been born.  I wrote about it not too long ago here.

At this moment I am doing well, and so are both my children.  Each day gets better and better, and I’m familiar with the sound of my own laughter.

I think back on those first several months after my first baby and it feels like a strange, half watched movie.

It was a smothering, dark time, that I couldn’t see through to ask for help.

I write about it now because I was too ashamed to then.

 

 

PS- If you feel you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, or Postpartum Psychosis, DON’T REMAIN SILENT LIKE I DID.  For a list of support organizations you can go here – Postpartum Progress.  If you are seeing/hearing things that no one else is, thinking of harming yourself, your baby, or suspect you may have Postpartum Psychosis, call your doctor right away, or walk yourself into the emergency room.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel – you just may not be able to get there alone.

You shouldn’t have to.

 

Discussion

  1. I remember those dark times too well. Good to get the message out that all must GET HELP.

  2. Thank you for talking about these thoughts, and you are SO brave for finally speaking them to those around you. You inspire me, and validate me, with your honesty.
    Frelle recently posted..Sharing a Proud Mommy Moment at The Kir Corner

  3. you are so brave. thank you for writing and using your voice.
    nic @mybottlesup recently posted..the stuff i do not want to forget

  4. KEEP talking until you can get the support you need. Wishing for the hard months to go buy more swiftly and peacefully, so you can have some peace and feel like you again.

    So sorry it’s been so very hard. You’re helping so many people by sharing your story. Again :)

  5. YOU ARE AWESOME. This post is awesome. I know it was scary to write it, to press publish, but you DID IT. People will see that postpartum psychosis can happen to anyone. Such courage. I’m so proud of you.

    I hate that you didn’t feel you could talk about it but I also understand completely. We are working hard so that one day no woman feels ashamed or afraid of speaking openly about what is happening to them. Postpartum psychosis is a very dangerous illness, and I’m just so grateful that you and your family made it through safely.
    - K
    Katherine @ Postpartum Progress recently posted..Developing Depression After Weaning From Breastfeeding

  6. Such a beautiful courageous post. I salute you, its through women like you that some of us are healing. I don’t know what I would have done without blogs and posts of survivors…and you are a survivor momma. Like you I can smile again, my son is now 8months and my journey continues, but the worst is over, the darkness has faded. I seekend treatment very early, and it was due to ppl like you. Thank you.
    Lebogang recently posted..In the midst of it all….

  7. Thank you so much for writing about this. Katherine is right. You are awesome. Though I know you know this (I am a regular lurker). I am so sorry that you didnt have anyone to turn to, but glad things are better for you now. Proud of you for publishing
    imperfectmomma recently posted..Really? It’s on!

  8. Dixie says:

    You are amazing. Sharing this was amazing.

  9. Tammie says:

    I remember those irrational thoughts of something horrible, something demonic, in my postpartum psychosis haze. They’re horrific and scaring; and no mother should start out motherhood fearing for her or her child(ren)s soul. You’re brave, until this day I’ve never written that down, that I feared for demonic possession or capture. I hope others too know that it gets better, that the scary doesn’t last. (And for me lifted within literally 4 days of meds that I took for a year.) Good for you for having courage.

  10. You’re incredibly courageous for sharing this, Jenni. You’re helping someone right now, with your words.

    So glad you’re feeling better now. So glad.
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..My ‘Chair’

  11. Been there and it’s a horrible place to be. I relate to so much of what you wrote. I had hallucinations and delusions too and I didn’t tell anyone. Nobody asked the right questions. Nobody saw the signs- not my doctor, my family or my husband. I felt totally alone. I am so thankful that I never had thoughts of hurting my baby but I did try to hurt myself. Thankfully I failed. I too kept it to myself until recently. I’m just now starting to blog about it and it’s so scary to put it all out there so thank you!
    Semi Domesticated Mama recently posted..The Reason I No Longer Belong to a Book Club

  12. I truly admire your courage in sharing such a personal part of yourself. Thank you for enlightening me! You are an incredibly remarkable woman!

    Much love xoxox
    toywithme recently posted..FixSation Couple’s Vibrator Review

  13. Jenni, I’m in awe of you. Just when I think you’ve done so much to crack open the walls around PPD you do more.

    I’m so sorry you had that experience and so glad you are able to look back on it now and understand enough to share. This will help someone.
    Robin @ Farewell, Stranger recently posted..Writing Dangerously

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this. I went through ppa/ppocd and along with it came intrusive thoughts. By far the scariest thing I have ever gone throusharings is a great post and you are so strong for sharing :)

  15. You are loved.
    You are not alone.
    I am so proud of and in awe of you for sharing this, but am so excited that you did.
    DO you have ANY idea how many people you’ve helped? and will help? just from posting this???

    You are the bee’s knees, darling.
    I love you.
    Hang on.
    HUGS.
    erin margolin recently posted..Road, Roots and Growth

  16. Deborah says:

    You are so brave! I had PPOCD intrusive thoughts and got good help/meds right away and I was still freaked out for 2 years afterwords. Yet you labored through yours without any help and survived to tell about it. They are so hard to describe and you did a beautiful job with an ugly subject. I am so frustrated that the medical community doesn’t even know the questions to ask new Moms in distress. By writing this post, you are helping so many other mothers. Thank you!

  17. Wow, this is my first time here. This is an incredible post. So achingly, sparingly written. I have a friend who I believe is suffering from post partum depression and I wish she was a blog reader because I think your post is so important. I followed a link from Erin Margolin and I’ll be back.

  18. *Big, Huge Hugs* My hat is off to you. I’ve written about some of my PPD, but I don’t think I could ever write about the hardest days. Thank you so much for doing this, for helping others and letting them know they are not alone.

  19. Thank you…I definitely had visions and delusions that I couldn’t control. No one ever asked me about my mental state past “how are you doing?” and I couldn’t bring myself to explain it to anyone. I’m sure that you writing about this will help women. Thanks.
    Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 recently posted..Isn’t it sad…

  20. You are brave to share this. And I know that your words are breaking through the darkness and touching lives.
    Tracie recently posted..Hunger Games and Farting Elephants

  21. You are amazing for sharing this. It’s so hard to come clean about these things, but you will help SO many. Much love and hugs for you.
    Jill @BabyRabies recently posted..I Dream Of Only Cleaning My Own Pee & Vomit

  22. Nique says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Jenny. You may save someone’s life with your advice someday.

    Hugs!

  23. Until I became a mom I had no idea how common these feelings were – so many women stare into the maw and retreat, full of shame and fear, when what they really needed to hear was, “I’ve been there too. And you’ll get through it, just like I did.” By sharing your words you have taken down another brick from the prison wall that surrounds those moms.

    Well done, you. Remind me to buy you a cotton candy the next time I see you.
    Nancy Davis Kho recently posted..Midlife Mixtape Concert Review: Bob Schneider

  24. So very powerful. Thank you for sharing!

  25. I am so glad that you decided you didn’t have to live with the darkness anymore. You are a strong, wonderful and beautiful person.
    Jen recently posted..A Short Lived Hobby

  26. meredith says:

    I applaude your candor and bravery! I too suffered from post partum psychosis 4 years ago after the birth of my 1st child. I had no desire to hurt myself or her or anyone else, but I had constant “magical” thoughts. I didn’t seek help and nobody around me seemed to notice. It was awful. Truly awful. When I became pregnant again, I was terrified and so I sought help thru therapy. I am happy to say that my 2nd is 4 months old now and I have not had any psychotic issues this time. Stay strong, Momma and know you have the support of many!

  27. sarah freeman says:

    I love your comment “I am familiar with the sound of my own laughter”. My joy is my smile. I feel the edges of my mouth turn up by themselves, and its a wonderful wonderful feeling. I am getting better, and the world is a good, safe, kind place to be. Thankyou so much for speaking your world.

  28. I can’t even imagine what it was like to go through that. I’m happy that you are on the other side of it now. And I’m sure your writing about it will help many. You are very brave.
    Jennifer Cullen recently posted..My Hairy-Armed Cocoon

  29. Kristine says:

    Jenni- I have tears in my eyes as I am typing this- I can’t imagine how terrified you must have been to have had your mind in such a state- I keep thinking that by writing this you have probably saved a woman and her baby…..how powerful is that? THANK YOU- Your story is amazing and I am so thrilled it has a happily ever after!

  30. My friend, my dear friend. I have not known the feelings and thoughts you describe, and as horrible as they are, I’m deeply saddened that you had to go thru that time alone.

    Every time we (collective) talk about something, it’s helping someone else. Even if it’s just one “someone”, they will not feel alone reading your words.

    Keep smiling friend. You deserve it.
    MommaKiss recently posted..Almost Wordless Wednesday-Compensating

  31. Oh my God. That is terrifying. I am so glad that somehow, miraculously, you made it to the other side. I hope your courageous sharing helps others to be brave enough to get help.
    Leslie recently posted..Drowning in a Sea of Responsibilities

  32. Jenni,
    You know that I think you are amazing, you are strong, you are brave!Thank you for sharing this story. Our darkest moments are what make us so strong, you and I are alike in this way. We are survivors.XOXO
    Truthful Mommy recently posted..Hell Hath no Fury Like Laundrypalooza

  33. I’ve never had PPD, or if I have its been so long after the birth I wouldn’t have tied the two together. Its 18 months later and all of the sudden I feel that darkness. Gripping me. Pulling me down its hole as I grip to the light. Its such a challenge. Everyday. With depression lingering behind you. Waiting for you to lose your focus, your determination, your happy. I wish we could all be more open instead of feeling weak and ashamed.
    Marta recently posted..Without Words

  34. Holly says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being brave and talking about what happened, it helps to raise awareness and bring light to a dark illness. I, too, experienced postpartum psychosis after the birth of my first child. Fortunately, it was obvious that something was very wrong and I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital when she was one week old. I now am a mother of two and have been healthy for nearly five years. Hooray!

  35. Jenni, you are braver than I ever could hope to be.
    I posted/shared on my moms group and am so glad I did.
    Several have already come forward thanking me for posting because they relate all to well.
    But YOU deserve all the thanks…
    xo, T

  36. thank you for honestly shedding light on this illness. you are a hero! So glad you are doing better. i’m four months pp w/ #2 & still have flashbacks of my first experience, still constantly afraid of falling into the hole again.
    grace recently posted..baby boot camp.

  37. Steffany says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. Several years ago I gave birth to my first child and her birth was hard and traumatic. We had little to no help after coming home, and looking back, we violated all the rules of postpartum…an impending move, a job transfer, major life decisions…all planned to happen within a month of her birth. I didn’t realize that what i was feeling was so abnormal..I remember pure terror. Holding her at night in the dark and crying over simple peds visits. At some point I became sure CPS had my house bugged and could hear her crying. It didn’t help that she was rather opinionated and fussed a lot. I remember hearing babies cry that weren’t there, and waking up and digging in my closet to find them..

    Your story struck home in that regard. Looking back you see how ludicrous it all is, but at the time it is very very real. Nobody had a clue. I finally had my miracle baby! What’s not to be happy about? But inside i was in some kind of private hell. At 9 months postpartum, I stumbled on a book at my local library called “A Mother’s Tears: Dealing with the Mood swings that follow childbirth” and picked it up. It rocked my world, and I suddenly just began to deal with the horror of her birth and the postpartum issues.

    I’d be glad to guest post somewhere and tell my story, if it’d help someone. I’m so glad you posted this. PPD/PPP/PPA is so taboo, and women suffer for it.

  38. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you, thank you. You have no idea.

    It is amazing how just sharing the story of your own life can help others SO MUCH.
    Melissa Vose recently posted..Guest Post on Cesarean Birth

  39. I adore you. I’m so sorry you went through this. In awe of your bravery to share. Amazing how different the ppmd’s can be. And all are “covered” by a one sheet in the hospital. Hmmmm.
    Minky {moo} recently posted..More out than in.

  40. Elle @SeeMomWorkBlog says:

    I can relate! With the birth of my 3rd child last year, I started getting night terrors/psychotic dreams in the hospital. I attributed it to sleep deprivation and I told the nurse but she just looked at me weird and said “oh”. Never followed up. What I didn’t tell many people was that I was having scary dreams about my oldest daughter and of her trying to kill me. I was so disturbed.

    I never sought help but I think I was depressed for the whole year after his birth.Not severely, but it was enough to affect my life negatively. I ended up getting Bells Palsy and an abscess too from being so stressed out.

    Your words are so powerful and vivid..so glad it’s behind you /us now!

    I never got help

  41. Barbara says:

    You are a brave woman. I too had post partum psychosis at 17 years old. It was for sure a living hell. I did not get help. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. Had I seen this post it would of brought me some kind of hope to know I was not alone. God bless you for your courage.

  42. My friend went through this too – not just the PPD (which I experienced to some degree) but the psychosis. Your words and honesty are SO IMPORTANT Jenni.
    Lady Jennie recently posted..Peace Like a River

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Jenny Chiu, who writes at Mommy Nanibooboo, shares her story of postpartum psychosis today on her blog. It’s not often that I see stories of this illness to share with you, so I’m so [...]

  2. [...] my heart and made me cry with her raw recount of her diagnosis of postpartum psychosis in her post Postpartum Psychosis ~Shedding Light on the Demon. Her post exemplifies what blogging is all about – building a community, sharing our stories [...]

  3. [...] It was my postpartum depression… later my postpartum psychosis. [...]

  4. […] psychosis and the completely unreal, not-based-in-real-life things they believed. Women like Jenni, who shared that she […]

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