If you are someone who is interested in sharing your story - or if you are someone who wants more specific information, you can email me (Teresa Twomey) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Postpartum Psychosis: Here is a small part of Teresa's story:
...The day before Edna (my mother in law) left, I was carrying my baby past the top of the stairs when I got an incredible urge to throw her down the stairs. I carried Ariana to her room and sat on the bed, shaken and crying. I was appalled that I could have such an awful thought. It occurred to me to ask Edna to stay. But she was heading off to visit my sister-in-law who was also having her first baby. And besides, what could I give her as a reason? By all outward appearances we were beginning to manage. We were beginning to notice that my physical recovery was not proceeding as rapidly as we had hoped when I had started medication for an infection, but the outlook looked good. And I simply could not bring myself to tell her of my awful thought or the fear it had caused in me. I was afraid if I asked her without an explanation it would look like I thought I couldnt handle motherhood on my own. Which, of course, was exactly how I felt.
These horrible thoughts - or compulsions - to throw my child down the stairs continued. The thoughts were so disturbing and frequent that I tried to avoid carrying her past the stairs for fear that I might not be able to restrain myself. I was too scared to sleep with her in my bed for I was certain I would roll over and suffocate her. I couldnt even sleep with her in the room for every time she made any noise I would worry something was wrong, but if she slept soundly I would be certain she had stopped breathing so I would need to check - which inevitably would wake her up. I remember lying awake in the dark staring at her to see if her chest was moving and lying still with my eyes closed waiting to hear a little sigh, a turn, something. If it did not come soon enough I would be overcome with fear and would have to move her to see if she would awake. I was terrified of SIDS. The thought of it would haunt me at night, which we finally solved by having my husband sleep with her at night. But during the day I could not nap - or do much when she was napping - for I was doubly sure that SIDS would strike then and in my paranoid mind-set I thought my husband would blame me. For in my paranoia I was certain that my husband (who really is one of the worlds greatest men and husbands) was out to get me. I thought he wanted to divorce me and take our child. I thought he was probably sabotaging our efforts to get help. This man, who I trust more than anyone in the world, I felt I could not trust.
I also began having auditory hallucinations. I would hear babies crying all the time (but so did my husband). I would hear people whispering and laughing in an adjoining room when I knew that no one was there. I frequently heard Drew (my husband) come home from work. I would hear the door open, footsteps, shuffling of papers. On the first few occasions I called down to him and there was no answer. I got really irritated - although this was a few weeks after the birth, it was still very difficult for me to go up and down the stairs. I would go down the stairs and look around and no one would be there. I became terrified that a stranger was in the house, so I called Drew to come home. He became very irritated at these intrusions on his workday. He thought I was just hearing squirrels and making a big deal of it.
It is hard to give a complete picture of this time. Much of it is fuzzy now. I can think of no better word than desperate. Deeply, darkly desperate. Yet I know that I smiled and joked. I changed diapers and cooed at my baby. I did dishes and returned phone calls. I dont really remember doing that, but I must have. If I hadnt, surely someone would have noticed something was seriously wrong.
But I hid it. No one knew that I could not really follow a television program. I left the tv on for comfort and escape, but I could not follow a program, so I grew annoyed and upset. I could not read. The letters would be readable for a few words or so but than they began to look like hieroglyphs - I could not read them. That was particularly scary because I had never heard of such a thing...
***Perinatal mood disorders manifest in many different ways. The above story illustrates a small part of my real life struggle after the birth of my first child. I am creating a book of first-person stories covering the spectrum of the postpartum experience. My vision is for this book to be a catalyst for compassion, understanding and healing.
This book will illustrate: "You are not alone. You are not to blame. You will be well. Your experience is real and there is help." (Universal message of Postpartum Support International)
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