Once a month I feature the story of survivors of perinatal illnesses (this covers PND, Anxiety, OCD, PTSD, Psychosis). I found that so many women responded to my own blog posts where I shared details of my journey through PND and wanted to give others the opportunity to share here.
I provided each writer with 10 questions and asked that they choose at least 5 to answer. I hope you will read their story and offer support via a comment. I also hope you will take away helpful information, inspiration and/or a greater understanding of perinatal illnesses.
Today welcome Tina from The Duepners blog. I am so grateful for Tina for sharing her story of Postnatal Psychosis – it is important to me to share all variations on this illness and Tina will be helping many by sharing her story here.
What form of perinatal illness did you suffer from (PND, PNA – anxiety, OCD, psychosis, PTSD etc) and what were your symptoms?
I suffered and survived postpartum psychosis and severe postpartum depression. I had all of the text book symptoms of psychosis and depression. I experienced hallucinations (both sight and sound), delusions, illogical thoughts, insomnia, extreme feelings of anxiety, and periods of mania, and extremely confused and disorganized thinking that put me in harm’s way. My symptoms of postpartum depression included depressed mood-tearfulness, hopelessness, and feeling empty inside, with severe anxiety; loss of pleasure in almost all daily activities; sleep problems; extreme fatigue or loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness or guilt, with no reasonable cause; difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and thoughts about death or suicide.
When did you know or we’re conscious that things weren’t right? What was the moment that defined things for you?
I knew something wasn’t right when I found myself alone with my 5 day old newborn and I was pacing back and forth with him and I was so confused. I was hearing voices that told me to take off all of my clothes and run outside with the baby. Luckily, I did not do that. I knew then that I was not okay. I had enough strength to pick up the phone and call my mother. She came over within 5 minutes and I safely handed over my baby.
What course of treatment did you follow with your doctor? What do you feel was the most beneficial and why?
Once I came out of the fogginess of psychosis, I knew that I would do whatever it took to get me well enough to take care of my son and my husband. That meant trying several different regimens of medications, going through two psychiatrists until I found the right one for me, and not being afraid to get help when I needed it, meaning, I was hospitalized a total of three times in 3 months. I also see a therapist. I find seeing a psychiatrist, going to regular therapy, exercising, eating healthy, and getting the right amount of sleep are crucial to being well. That coupled with support from other women who have survived postpartum mood disorders is essential.
So many people are not sure how to be helpful or supportive once they know someone has PND. What were the best ways others helped you / made you feel supported / spoke to you? If those in your life were not helpful, what do you wish they could have said or done for you?
By telling me it WAS going to be okay. I WAS going to get better. I AM a good mother and I show that by seeking treatment and trying to get better. That I am brave and strong. All of those encouraging statements helped because during that difficult time when you are in the throes of depression, you have no self-esteem. Any statement made that can lift that depressed person up is helpful. They need to hear those things now more than ever.
What helped you overcome PND / recover – what was in your personal tool kit? (ie support group, hired help, partner reduced work hours / work from home, returned to work, exercise..)
Writing, writing, and writing. Telling my story has been a tremendous tool in the healing process. When I write and tell my story, I feel like I could possibly help others going through something similar. Those mothers will feel like they are not alone. Someone out there understands. Believing that is what helps me to be able to move forward. Seeing something good come out of something so terrible helps me to move on.
When did you know you were reaching the light at the end of the tunnel / tipping point to recovery?
I knew I could see the light when I could go to work and I was able to concentrate and complete tasks. When I cried at a song in the car and was able to feel my emotions for the first time in a long time. When I actually truly believed I was a good mom. When I had enough energy and enough drive to fix my family dinner and do the dishes. When I started blogging again. Those were all little things that told me that I was healing and I was becoming me again.
If you went on to have more children after PND can you share what you did to prepare yourself and your family (preventative measures). What was most helpful?
I am on the flip side of that. I always thought I would have a car full of kids. It took a lot of soul-searching for me to come to the realization that additional children were not a viable option for me. I received several professional opinions telling me that having another child would not be a wise decision and that it would put myself, my child, and my husband in harm’s way. That was so difficult to hear. I knew that I could not and would not do that. I would not put myself nor my family in danger knowingly. I also read a story about a woman who lost her life to postpartum psychosis. There were many similarities in the story and I felt a connection to this woman. I felt in my heart that I would get sick again with psychosis if I had another baby and I was not sure if I would be strong enough to battle that monster again. That woman’s story, I feel, truly was an important part of saving my life. She was a wonderful mother and she was strong, but she couldn’t fight anymore. I feared that it could easily be me.
If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself before you had children?
Just take care of yourself and your baby. That is the most important thing. Please DO sleep when the baby sleeps. If family and friends offer help, take them up on it. You do NOT have to breastfeed. You are not a failure if you cannot breastfeed.
What is 1 (or more) positive thing that came out of your PND experience?
I treasure every moment I have with my son and I relish in his growth and accomplishments. I do not take anything for granted when it comes to my son. I have met many wonderful ladies because of my illness. I have been able to share my story and my hopes are that I am helping other women who have to unfortunately go down this difficult road.
What would you want to say to women currently suffering with PND?
Just do the best you can. Take it one day at a time…sometimes one moment at a time. What you are doing is enough. Focus only on taking care of yourself and your baby. Reach out to other women who are suffering or who have suffered from postpartum mood disorders. It will be life changing and the support you will receive will be priceless. You will be okay. Things will get better. There is another side…and it is wonderful.
Thank you Tina for sharing your story that needed to be told.
Find your simple,
* Disclaimer – For this post and this entire blog -I am not a doctor or specialist, but simply share my PND experiences and those of others. Please always seek medical (or other) advice and treatment for your own health care.
Survivor bio: Christina Duepner is an accountant in St. Louis, Missouri. She lives in the country with her husband of five years, two year old Landon, and Golden Retriever, Murphy. She enjoys scrapbooking, reading, shopping, blogging, cooking, and exercising. Please visit her blog atThe Duepners.