Yes, psychosis. Just the word sounds … Scary? Wrong? Crazy? I’m not sure. I know I have reservations about putting this out there because people don’t tend to understand mental illness (ugh, even that makes me shudder).
My purpose of sharing these experiences are to help. Maybe something jumps out at you. Maybe you’ve seen this before. Maybe something I talk about will hit home. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. I do know I wish I would have known more when my son was born. I didn’t really think it would happen to me (yeah, we never think it will happen to us, do we?). It did. It happened, but it doesn’t mean I’m not a good mother. It doesn’t mean I am a bad person. I love my children fiercely. I would lay down my life for them just as any other mother would do. Anyway, here we go.
The First Time
So, lucky me. I’ve had experience with psychosis before. Which, I learned, makes you more susceptible to relapse. That was news to me. Bad news obviously.
The first time was years ago. I had postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP) following the birth of Bub (who is now 13). It was a very difficult period of time. I don’t remember much of the first year or so of his life. I have photos thankfully, but at the time, I was suffering so severely from PPD that is morphed into PPP. It started even before he was born. Neither B or I really thought anything of it. I was paranoid and depressed. B and I just thought it was hormones. It’s always just hormones with pregnancy, isn’t it?
On top of that, I lied. I did. I lied to the people around me. I lied to my doctor. I lied to my husband. I lied to my family. I lied to his family. I lied to friends.
People would ask me how I was. “I’m great!” Always, positive. Inside, I was dying. From the beginning. Not because I was pregnant. I loved my baby from the moment I knew he existed. He was planned. He was very wanted. He was my sweet little boy.
But inside there were all of these feelings. These voices running through my head. So many voices whispering to me. “Something is wrong”. There wasn’t. “You’re a horrible mother.” I wasn’t. “You don’t deserve your husband.” I did.
It was constant. From the beginning. At first, it was quiet. Over time, it got louder and more frantic.
When he was born, I knew I should have been happy. I should have been over the moon. I felt… Nothing. I knew I loved him beyond any words I could say. I knew he was perfect. I knew. But I didn’t feel it.
I started to struggle to sleep (yeah, I know that’s normal for new parents, but this was different). Even when he slept, I didn’t. I would lie awake.
I would have intrusive thoughts. Some of them, I still can’t speak of to this day because of how horrible they were. I still see them clear as day. I still feel intense shame for these thoughts 13 years later.
This went on until Bub was about 9 months old when I couldn’t take it anymore. I made a comment to B about suicide. From there, it was quick. I was in to my doctor that day. I was on meds and referred to a psychiatrist whom I saw later that week.
I would love to say that that was the end of it, and everything resolved, but that would be a lie.
It was a long process. I did spend a long time on medication. It didn’t help that I was pregnant with Monster pretty quick after. I think Bub was just over a year when I found out I was pregnant again. All of the medication I was on was quit cold turkey to keep it from harming her.
Her pregnancy went much better though. I wasn’t depressed this time around. When she was born, they put me on meds just as a precaution. I had mild baby blues after she was born, but I was okay.
The best we can figure is the boy hormones didn’t agree with me. I had NO issues when I had Monkey. Like even her pregnancy was just easy. Sure, I gained a ton of weight, but I was happy and healthy.
For now, this is what I will say about psychosis. As I said before, because I had experienced it before, I would be more likely to experience it again. Trauma is known to trigger it, and trigger it, it did.