I have received this story of another sufferer of puerperal psychosis. Although she is not fully recovered she is well on her way! Thank you for asking me to share it.
I was diagnosed with puerperal psychosis when my son was 3 months old. I'm not sure how it went undiagnosed for so long but i didn't start having hallucinations and delusions until after a prolonged period of sleep deprivation. I remember breastfeeding in the middle of the night and instead of being tired i would be wide awake and unable to sleep. When my son was born instead of feeling exhausted I felt elated, high and really powerful. I don't know if this was anything to do with the type of birthing experience i had (natural waterbirth -v strait forward) so i never really felt low, as time went on I just got higher and higher until i went hypermanic, manic, then psychotic.
Eventually it all went pear shaped and things went rapidly into decline. I thought my husband was the devil and my mum was a clown. I thought that my son was an alien from space. (all sounds pretty weird i know!) I was convinced that there were evil spirits in my sons room so i would go into his room in the middle of the night and shoo the spirits away. When I watched t.v I could see blood dripping down the screen.
I thought i was a magic fairy and that i could stop time. I thought my phone was magic and that i could order things using my phone such as a holiday.
My husband took me to see the doctor and she got in touch with the psychologist. When he came to see me I thought he was God who had come to test me to see if i'd been good enough to go to heaven. I remember eating meals and seeing the devil in my food. I found patterns in everything and didn't like it if people coughed or crossed their arms. (I felt as though they were being insincere if they did.)
I was given olanzapine and told to sleep as much as i could, which i did, only getting up to eat. When the medication helped me to sleep I still found i was experiencing psychotic symptoms. My husband and i took our son out for a walk and I remember feeling really paranoid as though everyone was talking about me behind my back. I also felt like i was on the Truman show. - like every thing was false and everyone was acting around me. Then i started to feel like i was in a complete state of deja vu which was frightening.
Eventually the medication took effect and the psychotic symptoms subsided. I had to stop breastfeeding which really upset me as i felt like a failure. It was then that I slipped into a depression. I was anxious, lost all my confidence and couldn't make decisions. I found it difficult to bond with my son and became withdrawn and anti social. I was offered antidepressants but didn't take them until 2 weeks later because I was unconvinced that they would make me feel any better. In the end i started to take the antidepressants which did made things better. I found i was able to 'get on' with things but felt like i was living in a fog. Everything was a major effort. I didn't know how to talk or play with my son, I found the days dragged on and i couldn't wait until it was time to go to bed and shut everything out. I had thoughts about committing suicide. I would get up in the morning and empty the dishwasher (a chore that i would dread) and take the knives out and think how easy it would be to end everything. I never attempted it, but used to have very negative thoughts. My whole body felt constantly heavy and i used to sleep from 7pm until 7am.
Gradually I showed signs of improvement - I started to do more and meet up with friends thought i never really felt like doing it. My psychologist suggested i wean myself of olanzapine. As i started to do so i noticed i had more energy and was able to concentrate on tasks like cooking and shopping. I went back to work part time when my son was 9 months old which i think did help although i did find going back extremely hard.
I have just weaned myself olanzapine completely this month and can honestly say i feel like a different person! My recovery has been a slow and steady process. I started to feel better when my son was about a year old, but didn't have the motivation that i have now.
I put on one and a half stone with olanzapine and have just lost a stone in six weeks after a change of diet and taking up exercise again which has brought back my confidence and raised my self esteem.
I'm going to see the psychologist tomorrow and i'm hoping that he will say i can reduce my antidepressants too. I don't mind taking antidepressants but i do find my emotions are suppressed when i'm on them.
If there is anyone out there who has been though pp who can relate to some of this i would be glad to hear from you.
If you are currently suffering from the illness or know someone close to you who is going through it, i know its awful, but things do get better. I never thought i'd feel normal again, but i really do.
My husband and i have talked about having another baby and despite suffering from a nightmare of an illness it hasn't put us off having another one. Plus i know they will provide lots of support if we decide to have baby number two, but at the moment we are concentrating on being a family just the three of us. Although i was always there for my son, i feel like i missed out because i was under a very dark cloud so now i just want to enjoy family life.
This story is also on www.puerperalpsychosis.org.uk - the writer uses this forum to chat to others that have suffered with pp and find it helpful.