One Of The Darkest Cases Of Postpartum Mental Illness

– [Voiceover] So today we're gonna talk about Andrea Yates, who is one of the most well known victims of postpartum mental illness She murdered her five children in the bathtub

– [Voiceover] I remember hearing about this story when it happened – [Voiceover] It was like early, it was like June of 2001 Her suffering really began two years before she committed the murders It wasn't until after the birth of her fourth child that she attempted suicide And at that point she was diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis

About a month later, July of 1999 she attempts suicide with a knife And at that point she's prescribed Haldol, which is an anti-psychotic – [Voiceover] So it seems like she's getting some help – [Voiceover] Some help, in the beginning here – [Voicemail] She comes off the Haldol and she becomes pregnant with her fifth child

And very shortly there after her father dies And he psychosis returns in full force And this time her doctor prescribes her Haldol because it was the same drug that worked in her cocktail But after a few weeks he decides that the side effects are too dangerous and he takes her off Two days before the drowning her husband takes her back to her doctor's office and he refuses to try Haldol any longer or return her to the hospital

It was clear that her husband didn't know what to do because he did the one thing he should have never done – [Voiceover] Leave her home alone with the kids – [Voiceover] Leave her home alone with the kids – [Voicemail] Yeah – [Voicemail] And you know, as she tells it now she waited for him to leave for work

'Cause she knew that he would prevent her from harming the children And then she just went and one by one and she laid them all out on the bed next to each other And she called the police immediately because she knew it would be perceived as bad – [Voiceover] Right – [Voiceover] So Andrea's psychosis was extreme

– [Voiceover] Right – [Voiceover] She saw visions, she heard voices When they asked her, during like a video taped counseling session, with the state psychiatrist, did you think it was wrong before you did it? She said she did not And the reason she did not think it was wrong was because if she didn't do it they would be tormented by satan And she called her husband

He told the crowd after the first child the family was let down by the mental health system Which I think is very telling in terms of how sick she was This is the person who first of all, lost the most – [Voiceover] And should be the most unforgiving – [Voiceover] She spends her days now, living her life

– [Voiceover] Just like in a mental institution – [Voiceover] In a mental institution She has like full cognizance about what happened You know, you look at someone like Andrea and you think she's a monster because she killed her five kids And that is a pretty horrendous, monstrous thing to do, obviously, but I look at Andrea Yates and I have a great deal of sympathy for her as a postpartum depression survivor

I think the most important thing to realize about what happened to the Yates family is that it was entirely preventable – [Voiceover] Yeah – [Voiceover] Because 20% of moms suffer from some form of maternal mental illness And obviously, 20% of moms don't hurt their babies So you know, by comparison postpartum psychosis is this like incredibly rare condition

– [Voiceover] Right – [Voiceover] It is point one percent of births You know, it's been six years since my daughter was born I still wanna have more kids, I'm still terrified – [Voiceover] Understandably so

– [Voiceover] You know, the one thing that I know is that like I'm putting my mental health first this time – [Voiceover] Yeah, you have to You really, you do You have to – [Voiceover] You know we need to teach moms that it's okay to ask for help

– [Voiceover] I think moms are the most selfless people on the planet and like sometimes you need to be a little bit selfish (down tempo music) – [Voiceover] There's no happy ending – [Voiceover] No, there isn't – [Voiceover] To this story – [Voiceover] Of course not

– [Voiceover] You know, the kids are gone Nothing's gonna bring them back, but ultimately she should be released Her ex-husband believes that she should be free I think a lot of her doctors probably believe that she should be free But I don't know if the world is ready for Andrea Yates to reenter it

(downtempo music) (electric buzzing)

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