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Postpartum Psychosis

You may remember the beautiful and brave Dorota who previously shared her mental health journey with us all. Dorota has taken the time to talk to us in greater depth about her experiences with postpartum psychosis and the scary reality it brought to her and her family.

“Hey Dorota, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and our readers! You’ve had a challenging journey. So you found out you were pregnant whilst going through therapy, what thoughts and feelings did you experience during this period?”

My first reaction when I found out I was pregnant was pure joy. It helped that my partner was also really excited (he didn’t tell me about his worries). After the news sunk in though I became anxious about telling my family (especially my mum). As usual, I ran away with scenarios in my head of how she’ll react and wound myself up even more. My therapy was coming to an end at this point and I was no longer on any medication (my own decision, not the doctor’s) so it didn’t affect my recovery. In fact it helped me to have something to look forward to. Being a mum was honestly a dream come true.

“As time went on did you feel impacted by your anxiety or depression whilst pregnant? Also, how did you feel now that your therapy had come to a close at a very important time in your life?”

During pregnancy I was actually feeling really well. I had no major issues and my therapy and yoga empowered me to find happiness and peace within myself. My anxiety was well under control and I was loving every day of being pregnant. It was such a blessed time in my life, although for most of it my partner was in another country. I had a fantastic support group in Hong Kong as well so everything went smooth during the 9 months.

I enjoyed therapy while it lasted although some days were harder than others. Once it finished, because I learned how to deal with the early signs, I was managing brilliantly! I was still in touch with my therapist even after we stopped meeting up. It’s worth mentioning actually that it was my decision to stop therapy, as I felt we discussed everything and I needed to stand on my own 2 feet.

“Sounds like you had a lovely pregnancy. When do you feel signs that your mental health was deteriorating first started to show?”

I was visiting family in Poland in November 2015 (Zofia was 3 months old) and it was a combination of lack of sleep, memories from my past and relationships with my family that led to me becoming overly anxious, a bit paranoid (especially when it came to Zofia, I felt like I was constantly judged about how I take care of her) and eventually totally manic. Zofia was sleeping really well (she even had 8 hour stretches during our stay in Poland) and I was getting 2/3 hours at a time. Additionally, my partner noticed that I was just different and not myself…

“At which point did you realise you would need external help and who did you reach out to? ”

I think it is important to note that it wasn’t me who read into the symptoms and realised that I needed help. Upon my return from holidays in Poland, my partner brought me to the GP the very same day. I spoke to the doctor and I think l was still in denial about anything being wrong and how bad it was. I described my symptoms and I was referred as an urgent case to a psychiatrist. This was before the weekend and a couple of days after (on a Friday) my health worsened.

My partner was in touch with doctors on the non-emergency NHS number and when I was speaking to them I thought they were trying to interfere with my mission. It is probably important to mention that at this point I thought I was James Bond and trying to save the World… on that Friday my health worsened enough for Seán to think that I need immediate help. Police came to our house as this was after hours and tried to reason with me with no result. I ended up leaving the house to go to London for a party (it was 1 am at night) so the only way of me getting there was a taxi (we live in Hertfordshire). The bill for the taxi was about £150 and I ended up being collected by the police to be escorted to a mental health hospital.

The first few days at the mental health hospital in Fulborn I was still in denial about anything being wrong.They really had to keep an eye on me to take my medicine. I really liked the staff and the patients in there so eventually I think I started making the most of it. we had daily activities during weekdays, we were able to help in the kitchen, watch movies and do puzzles. I was in there for a week.

“Sounds like a pretty intense time. Looking back now, how do you feel about the delusions you experienced during that time?”

Having been through therapy now and having talked through what happened, I am more aware now about reading early signs and knowing what the triggers are of me becoming unwell. That’s the theory…in practice I don’t remember a great deal of my week in the hospital or a couple of weeks following my release, because I was medicated. I remember certain episodes or situations but not all of it as such. Looking back, some of them are pretty scary to think about as I remember feeling lost and confused. I definitely wouldn’t want to experience that again. I also felt helpless and vulnerable. it is sooo important to have a good support network.

“We agree that a good support network is very important. If you could give advice to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to what you have been through, what would it be?”

The best piece of advice I could give people who are finding themselves in a similar situation to mine or maybe they are just not feeling good is: to seek help as soon as they think something is ‘not right’ . Don’t be afraid to speak to someone and you will honestly be surprised how many people are going through a similar situation to you! You’re not in this alone! When it comes to medication and therapy, be conscious of what works best for you. Best of luck!!!

Thank you for sharing with us Dorota :)
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