Hello valiant blog readers,
It's at this time that I really need take a deep breath before writing these posts. Looking back into the heart of psychosis is deeply troubling and confusing, but I told my illness all the way through that it had picked the wrong Mutha to mess with, and I'm not going to let fear silence me now. Before I started writing today I had to talk to my husband about what I was thinking of including because my memory, and indeed my perception, of reality was and still is very distorted. I am only just realising the impact that postpartum psychosis had on my first few days as a new mum and it is shocking to come face to face with it again. There's a reason why psychiatric wards don't have mirrors; seeing what you have become is to see sheer terror reflected back at you. The horror of what I would endure was only just beginning.
I had always heard of the "baby blues" and I knew that there were massive tsunamis of hormones and emotions related to giving birth, so I was not surprised to be experiencing tidal surges of highs and lows. That was coupled with the fact that virtually everyone that saw I had a bump felt morally obliged to tell me that I would never sleep again (it's great the way people do that!). Needless to say that in the first couple of days after having my son I hardly slept and was very turbulent emotionally. We spent whole nights together watching entire comedy box sets (it was great to know we shared a sense of humour) and I was under the distinct impression that actually you didn't really need much sleep after all. This went on for several days. I never spoke about how much sleep I had or hadn't had, as I just wanted to be present to how I was feeling. I had no way of knowing that psychosis was already casting its wicked spell. Little did I know that a tiny seed was beginning to germinate within. It was growing by the day and would later produce rotten fruit. The only food that insanity would let me feed on.
Reality began to be an option, one that I was increasingly not taking. The beginnings of facial distortion soon set in; I saw many things in people's faces that just weren't there. I remember desperately pleading with my husband to smile at me at 4am when he'd also had hardly any sleep. I can now understand why he couldn't, as he looked at his wife who was more wired than during her stand-up comedy run in Edinburgh (and that's pretty wired!). Seeing others being concerned or worried about me in any way triggered epic panic in me. I would make them tell me everything was great and that it was all perfectly normal. The truth was that everyone was starting to doubt that this was the case.
I was craving fresh air and yet couldn't set foot outside. The disease is vicious and it doesn't want you to have any of the things you need to survive. It had placed its hands round my neck and slowly started to apply pressure. Transitions and visits started to deeply unsettle me. Our lovely midwife came round to see us and I absolutely couldn't bear for her to see me like I was. I was unravelling. Terrified. Something was taking over and I didn't know what it was. Or was this just what being a new mum looked like? Was this normal? Was this what parenting does to you!? I screamed & screamed at my husband to give me five minutes. Just five minutes. FIVE MINUTES. I needed to prepare myself, to calm down, to get dressed, anything to present something that was more normal, more solid, more human than I was feeling. I wasn't fooling anyone. Least of all myself.
Thank goodness for hypnobirthing and positive psychology is all I can say. My husband and I already had a vocabulary, an understanding, techniques to establish and create relaxation. I needed every breath like never before. There was no pause in my speech during my hyper moments, unless my husband reminded me to draw breath. My mind was on fire. Ideas were flooding in, tweets were going out, I was building an empire and nothing and no-one could stop me. I was going to conquer the world. I just needed everyone else to listen VERY carefully, to and follow my instructions to the letter and it would happen. Everything would be OK if everyone just did exactly what I said. I couldn't stop. I couldn't slow the thoughts. I was so high. This is like muMDMA.
I have got so much energy. I can clean and feed and email everyone back within 3 minutes. Look, look I just wrote all these drafts at 2.36 am and then I send them out at a more reasonable hour. I can do it, I can do it. I'm a woman. Hey, hey, hey, listen I've got and idea. Hey, hey, hey. We need to get any condensation off the windows before we do anything else. It's a must.
It was exhausting.
That was the warm up.
Writing about this now is so unsettling because I know that this was just the very beginning. We didn't really know what was going on. Or that I was going to be dragged further down, deeper into the depths of my psyche. The devil had his dancing shoes on and he wanted me as his partner.
Right. That's enough for today. I'm going to go and eat a muffin.
Love & romper suits,
Mutha Courage X