Post Partum Psychosis is something that I struggled with after the birth of both of my babies. I felt unable to write properly about my first experience with this cruel illness, despite having different opportunities to do so. The words just wouldn’t come, which is unusual for me as I often find writing to be quite cathartic.
I was discharged from a mother and baby unit earlier this year after developing Post Partum Psychosis a second time, with my daughter. Again, I’ve had a bit of a mental block whenever I’ve tried to write about it, but this time round, I kept a journal, and I have decided to share extracts directly from it in this blog post. I think it will be quite cathartic for me, and also potentially helpful for someone else who might read this.
In parts of this blog, there are quite descriptive mentions relating to self harm, and there are parts that could be triggering to read generally.
The following extracts are taken from my journal, beginning in October, 2019 and ending in February, 2020. This is Post Partum Psychosis in my own words.
Found it hard at Asda. Like I wasn’t even there but I could see everyone else doing their shopping. Huge anxiety in my chest when people looked at me. Scared they were demons. Felt safer once we got back to the car. Feel far away from the kids. I’m a bad mum to them both and not even sure if this new baby is even mine. She deserves better. They both do. I’m evil! I must be. Something’s not right. The weighing scales – poisoned? Not safe to get her weighed.Friday 25th October, 2019.
The only thing I know for sure today is that I have evil inside me. Weighing scales are going to teleport her somewhere. Sounds bonkers! I’m fucking losing it. It feels like my heart is going to explode. It hurts. I just feel so low and alone. And a failure. And none of this writing feels like it’s coming from me. It’s like I’m up above watching it all happen.Saturday 26th October, 2019.
I feel trapped in my own head. I want to get away from myself but I can’t. I can see how evil I am. Is any of this even real? I am a disgusting human being. Why did I have children? They deserve better than me. Everything feels so wrong..bad…evil?Sunday 27th October, 2019.
I’ve tried to explain that I’m evil but nobody seems to be listening. We’ve asked for hospital but there’s no beds at the minute. But I’m not coping. I’m frightened.
I don’t understand how I can feel like she isn’t mine at the same time as this massive need to protect her from anything or anyone poisonous or bad. But I’m bad too? Take her away from me. I feel bad for all these people trying to help me when they haven’t seen the evil yet.Tuesday 29th October, 2019.
We took [my son] to the park last night. It helped watching him play. I saw some magpies and thought it was a sign of evil. It was hard coming downstairs again today. I just wanted to hide in bed.
Saw a crow in the car park earlier. Nearly shit myself. Tired and scared.Wednesday 30th October, 2019.
I gave her a bath today. It still doesn’t feel like she’s my baby. She enjoyed the bath and it was nice to see, but she still doesn’t feel real? I’m trying so hard to connect with her. It’s so hard and confusing. I’m an awful mum.
Nobody seems to believe me when I tell them I’m evil. I think I must’ve been manipulating them in to thinking I’m a nice person but the truth is that I’m far from nice. I’m bad. Evil. I feel like I need to run away to protect my children from me.Thursday 31st October, 2019.
Bad day today. Very anxious. I don’t feel safe on my own with the children because I’m evil. Feels like I’m screaming but no noise is coming out. It’s like my brain has split in to two opposing sides and they are fighting each other. Please someone make it stop.Friday 1st November, 2019.
She smiled at me today for the first time. I feel awful though because I wasn’t as happy or pleased about it as I should be. I need to try harder with her. Its all so confusing though because I’m evil. I’m so scared. I’m not me anymore. Donna has gone. I’m an evil person. That’s all I can think about. We are hopefully going for a drive soon, but I’m a bit scared of seeing crows again. It’s like they are drawn to me. A sign of evil.Saturday 2nd November, 2019.
I feel like I’ve manipulated everyone in to thinking I’m a nice and good person when the truth is I am so far from that. I keep waiting for people to find out. My children deserve better than me. Evil runs through my blood. I don’t know what to do. My leg is hurting but I don’t think it’s electricity though. Electricity is still in my arm. I’m tired. Mentally tired. Drained. Angry with myself for being a manipulative bitch and one incredibly shit mum. She’s asleep right now but I’m scared of her waking up. I’m evil.Monday 4th November, 2019.
I looked at my phone upstairs to see what time it was and I saw 11:11 again. Feels like a sign. There are people out there or in the afterlife who know that I’m evil. Demons. They’re here to take me to Hell. [Husband] thinks I should go to another mother and baby unit if a bed becomes available there instead of here. As long as it’s not too far away. But I’m scared of that.Tuesday 5th November, 2019.
[Husband] thinks I should go to Nottingham. [Perinatal CPN] is coming later so I guess we will talk then. On the one hand I can see why I should go because I’m struggling. But I’m evil and so I shouldn’t be there. It’s not safe for other mums and babies for me to be there. I’m so confused and really scared about everything.
Yesterday in the car, we passed the One Below pound shop. But the sign was flickering on and off so it felt as though it was a sign meant for me to see. One Below = Me down in Hell. Someone in one of the windows in the house opposite with a camera zoomed in on us. Watching me. And people I know in the afterlife are watching me. Realising that I’m evil. I’m so tired of all this. I’m manipulating everyone in to thinking I’m a good person.Wednesday 6th November, 2019.
We are in the car on the way to Nottingham Mother and Baby Unit. I’m so scared. I don’t want to leave [my son] or [husband]. I won’t want him to drive back home after he takes me in there. It’s too far away. I saw a crow on a chimney outside before we set off and I felt as though it was demons checking to see where I’m going. I don’t know if its real or if I’ve made it up in my head. I’m also scared we are going to have a car crash on the way there as a punishment for me being evil. And [husband] got a text reminder for [son’s] dentist appointment. It’s on the 11th at 11. 11:11 AGAIN. The demon number. Is something going to happen to my son? I’ve taken diazepam. Hope it helps a bit.
I’m at the unit now. It’s scary here. I didn’t want [husband] to leave. [Baby] is asleep. I should be trying to rest before her next feed but I can’t settle yet. Could see a demon outside the window but it’s gone now. [Husband] got home safe. Was convinced he was going to crash on the motorway.Thursday 7th November, 2019.
[Husband] and [son] are on their way up to see me. Scared they’re going to crash and die because of me. Hanging in there best I can until they get here. Quetiapine getting increased to 400mg. I’m frightened. Let the nurse feed baby last night but I felt horrid because it shows everyone I’m a bad mum. My episiotomy wound is still infected = punishment for being evil? Also might be two weeks or more for a bed in Leeds.Friday 8th November, 2019.
Felt groggy and tired this morning. Just looked at my phone and saw the time 11:11. Also when I was sat at the table I saw the word Evil on the noticeboard. But when I got up to look closer I realised it said Eva. Member of staff presumably? Or a demon?
Where has Donna gone? I’m not me anymore. Crows are even in my dreams now. I dreamt that one came up really close to me. Tempted to google what it means to dream about crows but I’m assuming I won’t like the answer. Truth is I already know the answer. I keep seeing [baby] getting stabbed in her right eye. Scared to tell anyone in case they think I’ll hurt her but I never will. I need to protect her from me though. Today is a bad day. Someone else has taken over me. Donna is gone.Saturday 9th November, 2019.
It’s 11th of the 11th tomorrow. Scared of tonight at midnight right through til the end of the day. Scared I might get possessed? [Husband] been to visit. He’s gone now. It broke my heart. He’s not coming now til Tuesday and will be bringing [my son] with him. My heart hurts.
11:11. The demons are making me see 11:11. It’s a sign to let me know they are here.
GO AWAY.Sunday 10th November, 2019.
Scared. Just need to get through this day, but I think I’m going to die of sepsis. I could see my white blood cells in the lights. Being drained out of me by demons in the door. So that I’ll die.
Thought [my son] was in trouble but called [husband] and FaceTimed and he’s OK. There was a sign he was in danger but he’s safe for now.
11:11 is nearly gone. What next? Will the demons get me or will they go?Monday 11th November, 2019.
Got through the night. I thought today might be a little better but it feels like somebody ripped out my heart and stamped on it. It physically aches because I feel so sad and alone. [Husband] and [son] came. But I got upset so wasted time instead of playing with my boy. I’ve failed him. I needed to be stronger and I failed. My heart aches. I don’t understand what’s happening anymore. I need to be strong for my babies. They’ve got a shit mum though. I despise myself.
CPN did a video call with me. It helped a bit but I’m feeling so sad and low tonight. I feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve had enough of this shit.
I’m letting my daughter down. I’m letting my son down. I’m letting my husband down. I’m a disgrace. I’m so sorry.Tuesday 12th November, 2019.
Checked my phone randomly for the time and it was 11:11. Also a lady was singing if you’re happy and you know it song to her children and that’s a favourite of my son’s that I sing with him so I thought a demon was showing me a sign they were going to hurt him. They possessed her and made her sing that song to get to me.
Is my baby safe?
ONE DAY AT A TIME DONNAWednesday 13th November, 2019.
Today has been really hard. I woke up feeling dreadful. Just so low and tearful. Ended up spending a lot of time in my room because it was too much for me out there. Felt so low I’ve wanted to cut myself. I wanted to die earlier. Forced myself to go to the communal area for food but one baby was crying and feeling poorly and another was poorly through the night and my son is poorly too. So I thought it was me making them all poorly. I’m a bad presence.
Scared I’m going to die of sepsis and my baby will die of cot death.Thursday 14th November, 2019.
Nearly cut myself this morning, so asked [husband] to give nurse my razor blade. Where has Donna gone? Was laughing and joking in the communal area earlier with staff but now feel guilty because my focus should be on protecting my children. Saw 11:11 again this morning.
Do I put Quetiapine up to 500mg? Or not? I don’t know what to do. I feel horrific. Tired, sad and alone.
I think the staff are poisoning me.Saturday 16th November, 2019.
Keeps popping in my head that staff are trying to poison or kill me with the different medication. Massive battles in my head. I’m tired. Wanted to go home today but [husband] didn’t want me to. I’m so scared.Sunday 17th November, 2019.
Feeling really really low. The medication issues have been sorted but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I feel like the staff hate me. [Husband] said the doctor said we could discuss me having some leave tomorrow. I should be more pleased about that than I am. At the moment, it makes me want to kill myself because I can’t see how I will ever be back to the Donna I once was. I can’t imagine me looking after my two babies at home and feeling happy. I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure what I’m fighting for anymore. I’m trying to focus on the positives – being able to participate in small talk with patients and staff, realising that the electricity in my arm has gone and that it potentially wasn’t real (?) and feeling like [my baby] is my own baby. But on the other hand, I’m paranoid about everyone and anything. I want to cut myself which is upsetting me as it’s been years since I did that. And to be honest, the thoughts of [my husband] being at work and me being at home alone with the kids makes me feel suicidal, which is disgusting. They are my babies and I love them but I can’t see how Donna is going to come back. I hate myself and I want to die, but I miss my son, so I’m hoping going home on leave for a bit will help. I miss him terribly. I feel so guilty,Monday 18th November, 2019.
It’s upsetting me that I keep thinking of dying. I want to try enjoy time with [my husband] and [my son] today. But I hate myself.
It’s been hard today. [My son] was crying today but he wanted his daddy, not me. It broke my heart. I’m too far away from home. I need to get a bed closer.
I’m never going to get better because I’m not even poorly to start with. I’m just rotten to the core and always have been.Tuesday 19th November, 2019.
Nursery rhymes again = my son is in danger. I also have a rash on my right arm so the electricity must be back. I also tried to cut myself with my tweezers which is just ridiculous. Stupid idiot.
Worried about my babies.
Want to walk to Wilkos and get a craft knife or something so I can use the blade to cut myself. I hate that I’m thinking of hurting myself. Even want to try banging my head against the wall.Wednesday 20th November, 2019.
[My baby] is still a bit poorly. Keep thinking it’s a punishment for me being evil. Same with [my son]. I’m trying to rationalise it. That there are lots of bugs going round etc. I’m scared for weekend leave incase I mess it up and ruin it for them all.
I didn’t see any demon faces today. And the electricity I think might have gone? I’m not sure but maybe. Quetiapine might be starting to work?
It’s getting harder with [my baby]. Every time she cries I start to panic. I need to get a grip. Still want to hurt myself. Should just go jump in front of a bus and save everyone the hassle of trying to help a waste of space like me.Thursday 21st November, 2019.
I went home Friday night and came back to the ward today. It was really tough if I’m honest. I was already scared to go and when I got there it all just felt too much. It was hard with [my son]. He wouldn’t come to me at first when we were here with [CPN] but then he came around. But then at home, he was really clingy with me. It was all really overwhelming. Everything felt too noisy. I had to have time outs upstairs on my own every so often. Diazepam helped. I did manage to enjoy some play time with [my son] in between all the darkness. It’s made me panic though about being back home properly. I can’t see me ever getting back to the Donna I was before. I’ve also sneaked a razor blade back in to the ward with me in a pair of socks. [My husband] would be so upset if he found out. And even more so if I hurt myself with it. I think I’ll end up doing it eventually. I’m tired of fighting against the urges.
Fuck it I’m going to do it.Sunday 24th November, 2019.
Cut again. Little scratches again. But they sting and so that will be enough for now. Feel like crap. Want to die but don’t want to leave my family.Monday 25th November, 2019.
It’s been a week since I last wrote in here, and a lot has changed since then. I’m back in Leeds now. I got a bed at the mother and baby unit here. I left Nottingham on Tuesday 26th. It’s been a lot harder to adjust to this unit than I thought it would be. It was a bit of a shock because Nottingham and Leeds both work in different ways. There has been a lot I’ve needed to adjust to.
[My husband] found out about the self harm. He was shocked and disappointed. He said he felt like he’d let me down because I didn’t try ringing him first. But the truth is that I’ve let him down. I’ve let my babies down too. Ever since that little bit of self harm, I’ve wanted to do more. I’ve been fighting against it as hard as I can. I don’t have a blade or anything sharp to cut with. And nothing to burn with. Apart from maybe the kettle? But I’m not sure how that would work logistically. I could bang my head against the wall? There are ways I can hurt myself if I really want to. Wish I had my bank card. I could try get out of here alone for a walk and buy something to cut myself with or some alcohol and just go get drunk somewhere. These are the things going through my mind. I’m going home for the night tomorrow and also Thursday night so that’s what I’m trying to focus on for now. Trying to do one day at a time.Monday 2nd December, 2019.
Overnight leave was tough. I saw signs a lot more often. 11:11 at least twice. Crows. Signs of suicide. Signs of a car crash. Signs of demons watching me. Hoping tonight will be easier. Feel like I’m letting my family down.Thursday 5th December, 2019.
Back on the ward. Leave was scary in parts and OK in other parts. Nice to all be together but also a heavy cloud over it because I feel a pressure to be well enough to look after my babies alone and I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m even worrying about going home for two nights tomorrow but I’m forcing myself to do it for my family. I really want to hurt myself.Friday 6th December, 2019.
Urges to hurt myself are getting stronger. I’ve got a fiver in my bag because I thought I could try go to the shop on my own and buy something sharp. Torn between staying here and staying home. Both places are hard for different reasons. I just want Donna back but she feels so far away. Sometimes I think about running away but I don’t have enough money.Sunday 12th December, 2019.
I did two nights leave. It went better than last time. I’m back on the ward now. It was hard when [my husband] left earlier because [my son] was crying and tugging on my leg for me to go with them. It was heartbreaking. I feel like I’m letting him down. The Donna I once knew has gone.Thursday 16th December, 2019.
Just back on the ward after another bash at two nights leave. It was harder than last time but not as bad as the first time. I nearly asked [my husband] to drive me back here last night but I took a lorazepam and powered through it. The main thing that made it harder was the thoughts to just kill us all. None of these things I would ever do but it is so frightening when you imagine yourself doing that. I haven’t self harmed since Nottingham. Trying to stay strong.Monday 20th December, 2019.
[My husband] bought me a lovely gold tiger’s eye crystal pendant and bracelet. I’m wearing them now. But the time on the receipt said 11:11am. That’s the exact time he bought it. I can’t get that out of my head. Surely that must be a sign? I’ve got a pencil sharpener in my pocket but can’t find anything the right size to unscrew the blade. I think my mood is getting better but Christmas is setting me back a bit. It feels like one step forward and two steps back. When Christmas is over things might start to get better? I’m hoping so. Feel like I’m letting everyone down.Thursday 23rd December, 2019.
Went home for Christmas. It went OK. It could’ve been a lot worse. I think I’m probably going to end up cutting myself today. I found a screwdriver at home and have just unscrewed the blade in the pencil sharpener. Christmas was nice with my family though.Sunday 27th December, 2019.
I handed the pencil sharpener in to the staff. Idiot.Tuesday 29th December, 2019.
I had my review today. We are giving it another week before changing antidepressants because Christmas is stressful and once that’s all properly over, I might feel better. So we don’t want to be too hasty.Wednesday 30th December, 2019.
Leave home was really stressful. [My son] acted out for most of New Year’s Eve. Then yesterday he was throwing up everywhere with a bug. Felt like they’d all be better off without me. Absolutely fed up of not being able to cope. Fuck this. I also don’t know if [my husband] trusts me on my own with the kids. I’m a disgrace. I feel like I’m not really here anymore. I don’t know if I’m going to get myself back. It’s all too much. I’m scared for the future.Saturday 2nd January, 2020.
It’s been a while since I wrote in here. I think it might do me some good if I’m able to get some thoughts out of me. I’m having lots more leave from the hospital now. There was one particular block of leave that went really really well. It was 4 nights and I had lots of play time with the kids. My husband thinks it went well too because I also managed to go out for a meal all of us together with my father in law. It was nice. I actually felt like myself again. It’s during that period of leave when I realised I’m not evil. I think it was the Monday, so the 6th of January. Something just clicked in my head. It happened so suddenly. It was quite overwhelming, but in a good way. I felt great that week. It seems to have gradually disappeared again though? I don’t know. I felt amazing but I don’t feel that now. I felt like I’d found myself again, that Donna has come back. But I feel myself fading away again despite fighting hard to hold on to myself. I don’t get it. Why can’t I shake the bad thoughts off for good? I’m SO much better than I was. I know that now. I just wish I could feel like myself more permanently rather than finding and losing myself on a constant cycle.
I feel like I’m letting my family down. I wish I didn’t feel that way. I’ve had a couple of stressful blocks of leave after that initial 4 lovely days. I don’t know if maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself to feel the way I did that time and to maintain that. Is that even a realistic expectation?Friday 24th January, 2020.
I do feel like I’m me again (mostly). I know that I’m not evil. I love my family. I can laugh and crack some lame jokes. But at the same time, I feel lost? I can’t shake off the urges to hurt myself but I haven’t done anything since Nottingham. I also have this niggling feeling that I’m a bad mum and it at times makes me want to run away from them so that I never hurt them unintentionally or intentionally.Saturday 25th January, 2020
I’m off back to the ward today. Think I’ll be staying there tonight. And then more Leave again? I’m not sure yet what the plan is. It’s been a busy week really but I’ve coped. Still feel like I’m a bad mum and that the staff think so too. But “family life” has settled down a lot. We have a routine now and that really helps. There’s still a part of me that feels low, which is frustrating, but I’m trying my best to be the mum the kids deserve.
I feel like I need to keep pushing myself. Me and [my husband] took [our baby] to the sensory play group at the hospital, but it didn’t go too well. I was incredibly anxious and felt like all the other mums were somehow better than me.Sunday 26th January, 2020.
I’m so much better than I was. Don’t quite feel myself yet but I guess that might come with more time? I’ve tried tricking myself in to thinking I’m me again by putting on a front for people. I’m not sure if it’s working. I still feel an ache that doesn’t seem to be lifting. I’m also comfort eating so bad. Piling the weight on which makes me feel disgusting. I don’t really like myself very much right now and I’m scared that means my children don’t have a good enough mummy. The future scares me a bit.Monday 27th January, 2020.
I’ve gone from feeling suicidal to being scared that I’m going to die and leave my family. I had pains in my hip last week and went from “pulled muscle” to “dying of bone cancer” in about 3 google clicks. Yesterday I had right sided chest pain so went from “anxiety” to “blood clot in lung” equally as fast. Google is not my friend.Tuesday 28th January, 2020.
I feel like all the staff hate me. That my family hate me. Pretty much everyone hates me.Thursday 30th January, 2020.
I think I’m ready to be discharged now. I’m not 100% in the right head space for it, but I’m having a lot of leave from the ward, so I might as well take the next step. I think I can cope with community staff, and to be honest, I feel like I’m just taking up a much needed bed at the moment. I just want to be a good mum. I’m scared I’m not enough for my children. I’m scared that people are wondering why I even risked having children when they all know how crap I am.Saturday 1st February, 2020.
I think I am ready to be discharged. I think it’s time. I’m still not feeling properly like myself yet, but I know that Donna is in here and I know I’m not evil. I’ve got a wonderful husband and two amazing babies. I’m ready to be with them properly. I’m nervous for the future incase I don’t cope, but I’m ready to try.Monday 3rd February, 2020.
I did end up getting discharged on Monday 3rd February after I asked to be. It felt like the right time. I’d like to take the chance to thank Rosey (@PNDandMe) for sending myself and all the other mums, not just on our unit, but every other mother and baby unit too, a gift bag of goodies for Christmas. The postcard she placed inside my bag is still on our fridge at home as a much needed reminder:
With special thanks to the two mother and baby units that looked after me and my family:
The Yorkshire and Humber Mother and Baby Unit, Leeds.
The Margaret Oates Mother and Baby Unit, Nottingham.