Postpartum psychosis | Kathryn’s #mentalhealthselfie

Hello My name’s Kathryn

I’m going to make a little video selfie about me and my mental health So, around three years ago, I gave birth to my son, James and the birth was very traumatic It was an emergency C section, after a very long labour So, I was already quite sleep deprived by the time my baby was born When I was recovering from the C section, having suffered a lot of blood loss and infection, I had my first psychotic episode, where I thought I was dying and I hallucinated that I could see the midwives putting on full scrub sets and face masks to deal with the dead body

And I could hear them talking about why I was about to die and why I hadn’t died yet So, it was all very distressing At first, the doctors on duty thought that I had perhaps had a stroke or some kind of brain haemorrhage because I wasn’t responding to anyone Once they’d ruled any kind of physical cause of my behaviour, my catatonia, they realised it was a psychiatric emergency And luckily enough, because I gave birth in a large hospital, there were also perinatal psychiatrists on duty who could see me and diagnose a condition called postpartum psychosis

My family and I had never heard of this thing called postpartum psychosis and we had no idea what was going on That first night, I actually got better after a couple of hours sleep and when I woke up, I was lucid again and able to talk a little bit with my husband but a few days later, the psychosis returned and again, it was very dark It was a lot of hallucinations about death I thought, at one point, that I was strapped in a hearse, about to be cremated alive I thought that people were watching me, that they blamed me for the end of the world

I thought at one point, that I was the only person left in the world apart from one other psychiatric patient, prowling the corridor outside my room I had a lot of really distressing hallucinations and delusions which caused me to act very erratically and I was in a lot of distress And clearly, and this is not a great thing to be happening when you’ve got a young baby but luckily for me, my family, I was very quickly given a bed in a mother and baby unit at the local psychiatric hospital and this proved to be a lifesaver for me I was there, almost three months but my baby came with me And during the many weeks where I was psychotic and unable to look after him, the fantastic staff at the hospital cared for him, whilst always encouraging me to take a part in his care and to build up a bond with him

And, as my psychosis gradually receded, I was able to mother him more and eventually, we were discharged together and life since then, has been great and I’ve recovered well and my little boy has thrived And I owe all of that to the fabulous mental health care that I received And now, because of that, I campaign to make sure that no family should go without a mother and baby unit bed, if that’s what is needed and that more midwives and health visitors and GP’s should be trained in perinatal mental health conditions Especially the severe ones like severe postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis Thanks

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