Postpartum psychosis | Kathryn’s Mental Health Story


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.

4 thoughts on “Postpartum psychosis | Kathryn’s Mental Health Story

  1. my baby is almost a year old and i still suffer from ppp…. i never got the proper help because i couldnt leave my kids and they dont offer that kind of service is north dakota. i do counseling and take meds but that is as far as my treatment has gone.

  2. My sister had ppp too.. It was really devastating for all of our family.. We had been in a night mare for a year and half.. She gradually recovered .., it was not the only her who suffered, we all suffered with her..Medication is a must for the case and the patient's family need to be patient until she completely recovers..

  3. Thank you for increasing awareness. My beautiful wife suffered postpartum psychosis after the birth of a child and it's been devastating. My hope is to bring awareness to families, particularly to help men understand this medical condition and how to support their wives.

  4. Thanks for posting this. It will be a useful resource for training our Physician Associates at Brighton & Sussex Medical School.

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