It was September, some family was coming to visit. I started becoming paranoid that they were child molesters because of some things I observed them doing. (Now looking back, I have no idea what were hallucinations or delusions, and what actually happened.) I thought they drugged me and my children, I called 911, and had my kids drug tested. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where I would stay for 5-6 days being monitored, undergoing tests and telling my story of what I thought happened… I soon began relating everything i saw and heard to previous things in my life. For example, I saw little girls walking by my hospital room and in my mind I was so happy that I saved them from being abused or molested too.. My mind was delusional. It’s like everything was making sense (but I had no idea why), and I was connecting everything in this big puzzle that was going on in my brain. I felt like I was a higher power and I was sent to do something special. They ran CT scans, blood work, everything. Nothing showed up, I wasn’t drugged, my kids weren’t drugged but I still knew something wasn’t right. Why was my mind telling me one thing but everyone was telling me that I wasn’t in reality? I didn’t understand what was happening. My husband showed me the symptoms of postpartum psychosis (after being at the hospital for a bit) and convinced me that’s what I had. All I heard was the word psychotic. I wasn’t psycho, never have been and no way was I then. I didn’t even know much about postpartum psychosis. All I knew was it was extremely rare and could be very dangerous. I wasn’t a danger to anyone, I was trying to protect everyone from what my brain was making up about everyone around me. I even remember a nurse (that Jesse knew and worked with) showing me a picture of her son to put a smile on my face.. Well, I immediately saw the picture and it looked like my husband… I couldn’t believe he had another child with another woman and I knew nothing about it! (Yes, this was my mind… Literally going crazy) So I finally realized that the symptoms did align with what I was experiencing. In order to see a psychiatrist sooner and to stabilize my thoughts, I had to check myself into a psychiatric hospital in Chandler, AZ. They walked me to my room, the doors shut and locked behind me and I couldn’t get out. I called Jesse right away to tell him to come back and get me, that I wanted to go home. I didn’t trust anyone. My room mate was an abused homeless woman whom I grew to be very close to, her name was Sarah. I carried my bible everywhere I went and shared the gospel with meth addicts, schizophrenics, suicidal women, bipolar men and I thought that I was actually Jesus. I was so sure that the people who worked there were terrorists and that El Chapo was tunneling to where I was at so that he could harm my family. I couldn’t sleep, I had no idea why I was there because again, I thought this was all real. I was hallucinating, hearing voices and seeing things that weren’t really there. I stayed for two weeks, got discharged and was placed under the care of a psychiatrist and therapist in Scottsdale. I thought I was well on my way to recovery and getting back to me…
When I came home, the deepest and most dark depression set in. I wanted to just let my heart stop beating. I remember saying those exact words to my mom. How could I live like this any longer? I couldn’t even get out of bed. My anxiety was through the roof. I’d have flashbacks of my time at the hospital. I felt so alone and I could barely make it through the days. All I could think was that my poor babies were going to grow up with no mother. All I wanted was to be with them but I couldn’t because I was so heavily sedated from all the medication I was on. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t function, all I could do was sleep and pray. I prayed and I prayed and with time and the right medication dosages I slowly came out of it. I thank God all the time for my loving husband who was there for me every single day and every night to pray with me when I needed it most. My wonderful mom was here through it all to help with the kids and housework… She was my angel. She gave me comfort and told me I’d get better. Even though I didn’t believe her, she was always there to hold my hand and hug me.
I’m finally on the other side of it now (what a journey it has been) and I’m on a mission to help other mamas. I want them to know that they are still normal people and it’s ok to not be ok. You aren’t a psychotic person, your mind was just in a psychotic state of mind at that time. It’s ok to ask and get help from medical professionals and it WILL get better… You AREN’T alone and never will be… You’ll get back to you again…
Let’s start talking more about postpartum issues and perinatal mood disorders that affect so many people… So many women go through some sort of postpartum conditions and never even know it.. They are labeled as “crazy” or “just the baby blues” or as completely fine when they aren’t. We need more education in our prenatal classes about what to possibly expect postpartum. We need more moms to come forward with their experiences so others can learn and find comfort from them. We need to be honest about what we truly feel and think so we can get the help we need. We need to support and love on each other as women and fellow moms…Thats my hope for this group, to learn and love on each other and support one another in our toughest times. (I started a Facebook group called Postpartum Mamas)”
Oliver (first child):
- We had moved here to Scottsdale in June 2013
- Water broke in July and I was due September 20th
- Bed rest for 2 weeks at Shea Hospital
- Lung Maturity Test at 32 weeks, they were mature
- Started Pitocin, contracted for about 12-13 hours
- Heart rate was concerning so emergency c-section
- NICU for 5 weeks to feed and grow
- Some baby blues days but nothing much more.
- Heightened anxiety about taking him out in public, etc.
Brantson (second child):
- Got pregnant when my oldest was about 15 months old
- Decided to do progesterone shots every week when able around 22 weeks to increase chance of full term pregnancy
- Came in for scheduled c-section on July 27th 2015 and everything went smoothly
- Life was busy and I had some troubles with nursing but all still ok
- Jesse went out of town for business 2 months later and I felt peaceful, started connecting things I’ve never connected before, felt like I had “figured it all out, everything made sense.”
- In laws were coming in town and they can be a source of anxiety for me. All the sudden by certain behaviors, observations and thoughts I thought they were planning to molest my children. Thought they drugged my children because of how the kids were acting.
- I thought my parents were involved and didn’t know who to trust.
- Took them to pediatrician to get evaluated and drug screened.
- Called 911 for paramedics to come check me out since I thought I was drugged, I was confused, hot, etc., thought we all were drugged.
- Taken to Thompson Peak for full evaluation, CT scan, etc.
- I was hearing voices of people I knew, seeing strange things, thought unusual thoughts about hospital staff and felt like everyone was out to get me. Very paranoid, but didn’t realize that at the time.
- Postpartum Psychosis was explained to me and I was told that I needed to go to Chandler at Oasis Behavioral Health so that I could see a psychiatrist.
- Taken by ambulance, admitted and was so scared that the doors shut and locked behind me. I thought I was with terrorists in jail.
- Confusion because I was just a mom and I had no idea what happened or why I was there.
- Mixed in with everyone else and I was so scared. Visitation hour was only at night at 7pm. My roommate was a homeless woman who was abused. I was pumping and dumping because I could no longer use my milk due to the medications I was on. That was hard for me also.
- After about 10 days, I was released to my husband and life continued at home. I was still on a high.
- Several weeks later I was hit with the deepest, darkest depression and terrible and debilitating anxiety
- Family came in to help with kids, hired a nanny and I started seeing Dr. Mansoor, a psychiatrist in Scottsdale.
- I also started seeing a therapist named Dr. Picus to better help me understand what I had gone through, talk through it and give me tools on how to be mindful and cope.
- Was put on mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and anxiety medication as needed. Medication doses, changes and adjustments were a big part of my frustration while trying to get me stabilized.
Looking back, I have realized that it truly was the “perfect storm” for me with everything starting with a premature ruptured membrane, some PTSD from the NICU, the surge of hormones and the stressors and triggers from my in laws that got me to where I went. I was fine and had a great 6 week post op checkup, but that was also the start of my “high.”
My faith in God held me together, my family, doctors and team around me was instrumental in my recovery. I came out of this stronger than ever before and looking at life so differently and more preciously. I had no idea what was coming my way and was so scared the entire course of the way. It helps me to talk about it, share my story to make sense of it and to speak to others who have been there and understand one way or another.
I don’t understand why there is so much prenatal education for Moms and families but none postnatal, which is even more crucial in many cases. It’s almost like, here’s your baby, now go! J There needs to be more follow up visits to the OB, more in depth screenings and easier access to mental healthcare professionals. The stigma around mental health and perinatal mood disorders will hopefully lessen the more and more stories and moms like me come out.
I would love to be a part of some day starting a hospital, or facility that just handles perinatal mood disorders. They are very real, affect more people than what’s reported and can be serious and even deadly to all who are involved. I can’t help but think that they moms on the news that end of killing their children most likely went through something similar to what I did and just didn’t even realize what was happening or have a good support system in place.
Since all this has happened, I have since been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and am proud to say that my psychiatrist gave me the best compliment when she said “I was a fun manic..” After going through hell and back, I’ll take that!