Raegina, 31, Canberra, Australia

12483619_10156403032745440_656281475_n“I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in January 2014 and initially managed my treatment through exercise and counselling. However, my health deteriorated severely and within a month I was prescribed a SSRI and benzodiazepine.

I weaned from my medications prior to trying for a baby in September 2014. I was managing my anxiety through CBT with a regular counsellor, and daily sessions at the pool where I swam two kilometres, or until my head stopped running a cycle.

Once I fell pregnant in October, my ability to exercise was taken from me as the morning sickness and overwhelming exhaustion crept into my body and mind.
I tried regular camping trips in the outdoors, however, my inability to hike or exert energy (as well as the cycling thoughts), made it impossible to control my anxiety. I started to have negative thoughts about my baby during early pregnancy, however, they diminished during the second and third trimesters. I did not tell my counsellor about them at the time because I felt so guilty that I, as a mother, was thinking about hurting my growing baby.
We had a perfect birth, with no pain control, however, I required anxiety assistance through the use of my benzodiazepine. Days after the birth started to experience intrusive thoughts, that told me that my baby was deliberately persecuting me, and I was convinced that a Spirit haunted our house since the birth of Master X. I was extremely energetic, feeling as though I was invincible.

I could not feel the continuing pain from my pubic synthesis. Furthermore, I was stuck on a loop on breastfeeding amidst multiple hospital admissions for recurrent mastitis.
When Master X was three months, I returned to my mother’s house because my husband and I and perinatal counsellor knew that something serious was happening. I do not yet recall if it was a communal choice. I was finally diagnosed with severe postnatal depression with a psychotic episode and was recently prescribed an anti-psychotic. Master X. is five months.

I am still working my way through the recurrent experiences of my psychotic episode, the dark, ominous place of the first three months of my son’s life. I tried the exercise again, but the pain of my pubic synthesis and associated issues from mastitis means that this is an ongoing venture. I need something NOW.

I discovered (through my husband and mother’s advice) that publicly writing is an excellent form of therapy. I attempted personal journaling when I was deep in the episode, however writing for myself seemed to just feed the psychosis. The secret places of mental illnesses thrive on secrecy.

Placing my experience in public means that it is no longer ‘mine’. When I write, the experience drifts to become a memory. My personal blog following this journey
https://tentosix.wordpress.com/

My advice for others is that the voices are not real. They are not you. Please tell someone in the medical field as soon as possible. The voices told me that if I told anyone that they would take my child away from us. It took me months to tell anyone. I did not identify that what was happening was psychotic thoughts.

Please know the signs of postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis. These are two different conditions, and psychosis can result in irrevocable consequences for mother and/or baby. I find this resource useful in explaining the differences:

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English)

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-psychosis-in-plain-mama-english

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