Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Post Partum Psychosis Part I

Everyone's heard a postpartum story, even if only on the news. We all the know the story of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children within a short time after giving birth to her last child. Andrea believed that her children were to perish in the fires of hell because she was not righteous. Andrea was in psychiatric care for depression for over two years before this incident.

One or two in a thousand women end up in postpartum psychosis and I happened to be one of them. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl in April of 2007. It had been a difficult pregnancy. Two months into my pregnancy I learned I had Bipolar Disorder. I was relieved to know that there had been something wrong with me all this time. I thought that I could finally get some help. I wasn't given any mood stabilizers while I was pregnant. They weren't sure what the medications would do to the fetus I was carrying.

I spent the entire ten months in a state of anxiety and depression that made me claw at my skin. I didn't know what was happening to me. It was an awful time in my life. A little over a month after giving birth, I went into postpartum depression. I knew I was in postpartum and I even went to the doctor. I was put on Lamictal and Zyprexa. I just don't think there was enough time for it to work. My mood fluctuated from mania to anger to anxiety to depression. I remember obsessively cleaning my house in the middle of the night.

I began thinking that I was a horrible mother. I dreamt of how I would kill myself. And then one day I began having horrible thoughts. I became resentful of my baby. The baby wouldn't sleep long enough. The baby cried too much and I felt overwhelmed. I was alone all day with the baby and a three year old. My husband commuted to his work over an hour away.

I became a person I didn't recognize. I shouted for my baby to shut up and had an urge to shake her. I managed to resist the urge. The next day the urge was worse. I called my doctor and left her a message because I knew I needed help. I sobbed and laid my baby back in her bassinet. I couldn't stop crying. I called my husband to come home immediately. I called my doctor again and left another message. I knew I was in a bad way and the realization of it calmed me a little.

After rocking my baby, I fell asleep holding her. She was finally quiet and I was glad. I woke up, opened my eyes, and saw two androids/aliens standing at the end of my chair and they were holding out their arms to take the baby away from me. I clutched my baby closer, blinked, and they were gone. I got up and put the baby in the bassinet and sobbed uncontrollably while I waited for my husband to get home. I felt so ashamed.

I finally got a call from my doctor around 5:30 that evening. I told her what was going on. At first, she wanted to give me an antidepressant added to the Lamictal and Zyprexa that I was already taking. I argued that would send me into mania and I didn't want that. To complicate things further I told her about the urge to shake the baby and the androids.

That sent her over the edge and she told me to go to the mental hospital. I argued with her and cried. She asked to speak to my husband and somehow she convinced him of my need to go. After a little coaxing from him, I finally agreed to go.



Mary said...

Oh wow, That reminded me of myself, when I had my first child. I didnt know it then, thought it was just post partum, but now I know it wasnt. I didnt want to be alone with my baby, she cried all the time
(colic), I also had the urge to shake her. would scream for her to shut up. I cried when hubby went to work, sometimes he would take me to his mother's I would give her the baby and I would go upstairs and stay in bed. It was awful. Back then 28 years ago you didnt go to the doctor and tell him ..and now I am still suffering from severe depression,
and realize now that it all stemmed from childhood abuse.
Oh, say a prayer to St. Anthony, he is the patron saint of lost things, I always have said prayers to him and it almost always works, if the lost article is somewhere around, not in the garbage. Good Luck..Mary

Chica. said...

Thanks for sharing, Mary. I think it's a hard thing for people to accept when it's happening to them. I also think most women think it will never happen to them because it's unimaginable. The statistic of one or two in a thousand gets me. It sounds like a little, but when you think of all the millions of people out there that statistic is more like 4,000-8,ooo women a year. I wish there was more awareness about the problem.

Thanks for the comment, Mary!