Catherine’s story (Scotland)
I didn’t realise I was ill. I put things down to sleep deprivation, the shock of becoming a new mum and an infection I’d developed after the C-section. I thought all these things together probably explained why I felt a little bit off.
But things started to get a lot worse. I truly believed my baby had been swapped at birth. And I even believed road signs were tailored messages for me. I saw a sign which said, “Please observe at all times”, and I thought it was telling everybody else they should be observing me.
Putting my life back together
Five months after the birth of Beatrix I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. This led to me being treated for six weeks at the mother and baby psychiatric unit (MBU) at St John’s hospital, Livingston. After which I was admitted one more time.
What the staff at the MBU did was help me pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together. I’d completely lost my confidence as a mother and felt like I couldn’t be trusted to be alone with Bea. But they helped to rebuild my confidence, and so did my mum and husband after I was discharged.
Treatable with the right support
I think it’s really easy for mums to think everything is their fault when things don’t go to plan following the birth of a child. You think you must be a bad mum in some way, but obviously that’s not true at all when someone is struggling with postpartum psychosis.
It’s a treatable illness like any other – like diabetes. People just need to be supported through it. They need access to mother and baby units; and they need to feel okay about seeking out this support, which means tackling the stigma still associated with maternal mental health problems.
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