It was during the Covid pandemic, with the Australian borders closed, that I had my second child in November 2021.
My mum wasn’t able to travel to Australia to help me and be here for me as we both had hoped. She watched on helplessly from overseas, and she was mortified that she couldn’t be in Australia.
We had been through IVA (in-vitro activation) and decided to go for a planned c-section. Thankfully, everything went really well with the birth, there were no issues at all. We were discharged from hospital on day three as I missed my other little one and it was so hard to be away from him.
At home we had great support and help from friends, and I thought that I was recovering well.
I was breastfeeding and getting broken sleep at night. My little girl was one week old. One night though I felt tired, so I went to bed early. Somehow my reality became a bit blurred, and my husband noticed I was not acting normal. He called 000 and the police and paramedics arrived.
I spent a week in hospital and was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. I received treatment for 12 months, which included medication and psychological support. I was put in touch with a very sweet and caring case worker who visited me every week and also a nurse who visited and checked how we were doing as a family.
About three months into the treatment and knowing that the risk of relapse was high during the first 12 months post episode, I decided to reach out to Gidget Foundation Australia and start therapy. A friend’s boss had gone through postnatal depression and had shared the story with my friend who immediately recommended I look into it.
My Gidget Clinician was lovely and she helped me deal with issues and insecurities over the following four months or so. We talked about my 3-year old’s tantrums, how to transition back to work, how it was hard for me to make decisions some days, how to deal with feeling home sick and missing having family around.
The sessions were useful and always focused on tools that would be available for me whenever I needed them. CBT is the type of therapy that is not about expecting the psychologist to solve your challenges, but it enabled me to focus on a more balanced view of the situation and put my mind to finding solutions and alternatives instead of looking at all the possible negatives.
After 10 months or so, I decided to seek medical advice on how to stop medication. I didn’t want to continue taking it as I do not particularly like taking medicine. Through a friend, I found a GP who specialises in women’s health and holistic medicine. We ran blood tests and discovered that I had a bad gene combination for methylation, which helps the brain get rid of toxins. She supported me and we spoke about postpartum depletion. I certainly felt depleted and tired some days juggling motherhood and work.
My story is a happy one as I recovered and was treated very quickly and effectively. I am very thankful to all of the professionals who helped me on this journey.
I decided to share my story as it can help someone figure out what is happening after having a child. I was not aware of what postpartum psychosis was. I had no idea and neither did my husband. Luckily, he realised straight away that something was not right, and that lack of sleep was taking a toll on my health and wellbeing.
I am not ashamed of my story. It simply is what it is. I didn’t choose it. It simply happened.
I am healthy and have a strong sense of how to look after myself. What to eat, how much I need to rest and sleep, listening to my body when I had a very busy week or month. I am not the one to put myself first, but now I know that if I do not, I might miss out on seeing my kids grow up. Postpartum conditions can be very difficult to diagnose, as the body and mind are undertaking change and re-adapting to motherhood.
Whatever situation you are going through, please reach out to your partner, friend, family member or medical practitioner. There are plenty of resources available to make sure you can recover. I did recover and have committed to spreading the word and making sure awareness is risen and we are not caught by surprise ever.
Thanks for reading my story.