As I sit here in Waterstone's cafe gently sipping at a mug of tea, a mug of tea that I've already slowly sipped for the last half an hour, I am not so gently nudged by my conscience reminding me that the reason that my husband is looking after our 11 week old baby and the reason that I have come out today is not for gently sipping beverages, but to write. This is the first article I have written since I gave birth. In fact, the truth is I have given birth twice since I last shared my thoughts with you, my cyber lovelies. No, it wasn't twins. At the start of the week I birthed my son and at the end of the week I birthed an altogether more horrifying entity. I birthed psychosis.
The task of writing about what happened to me has felt like an incredibly daunting one, and one that I may have to take in stages. Beside me in a carrier bag sits 11 A4 envelopes full of my incessant rantings and writings while I was in the claws of postpartum psychosis. I am finally back home after 2 months in a psychiatric Mother & Baby unit. My illness took hold of me like the devil latching on and didn't let go until it had nearly destroyed me. If I had to write an assessment on its objective, I would have to say that it wanted me to die. Unfortunately it picked the wrong mutha to mess with!
During my psychosis I slept 9 hours in 11 days. It's tricky when strangers ask me that age old question "so, are you getting any sleep?" not to look at them through my drug addled, blood-shot eyes and sweetly reply "what do you think?". It wouldn't let me eat (some would count that a blessing with hospital food on the menu), and it wanted me to talk myself to oblivion. At one stage the disease wouldn't let me stop taking for 4 days. Straight. I know a lot of you know I like to talk, but this takes "chatty" to a whole new level.
Not only all of this, but it wanted me to push those I love most away from me. I continually told my staggeringly supportive husband how he had "let me down" and how I wanted his clothes Out. Of. My. Suitcase. More fool him for hiding them under the bed until the rant had passed. That apparently is grounds for divorce for a psychotic. There was the now infamous "turkey-gate" in which I threw a turkey sandwich (very hard) ((and at close quarters)) straight into his face. I must admit that this is one of the funnier moments. Now. Then there are the darker moments; the abject terror of "The Thing", the panic attacks, the physical and vocal Tourettes, schizophrenic thoughts, hyper mania and bi-polar episodes. Yes indeed, when people ask me "how's motherhood treating you?", it's not exactly the answer they're looking for...Oh, well...I've been involved in a mental health car crash in which my whole family were innocent bystanders that I tried to mow down, and my injuries were so extensive I've been in mental intensive care for the last 8 weeks. It's easier just to say "yeah, great thanks".
The reason why it is so hard to talk about my Postpartum Psychosis, in a way, is because there was so much shame, guilt and sadness involved in the recovery for me. Despite being told repeatedly and understanding completely that it is a totally indiscriminate illness that can affect any one (well...any woman that has given birth) ((sorry fellas, this one ain't for you)) and has nothing to do with anything that you may or may not have done, recently or in the past, I still felt ashamed and responsible. I was staggered that something that could hit with such intensity and speed could cause such devastation for so long after. In many ways I felt it had taken the shine off what was the most exquisitely profound and beautiful natural birth at the start of that week. A week that I now call Peace & War. We'll talk more about the home hypnobirth soon.
So, this is the third birth that I will be doing this year. The birth of Mutha Courage. Mutha Courage is a weekly blog and soon to be podcast that looks at, talks about and explores all things Mutherly (& Muther loverly for you fantastic men folk out there) I will be taking all my vows of courageously imperfect living with me into this new adventure and ask you to join me. There are so many Muthers out there and I feel that it is really imperative that we share our triumphs and disasters with openness and pride. The truth is that none of us really know what we're doing and that's flipping brilliant.
I'm not sure what this journey looks like, but I'm certainly excited to find out!
Love from Mutha Courage X