What was happening to me? Is this what being a new mum does to you? Why am I being like this? Why is my speech starting to stutter? I know something is up, something is not right, this just isn't me, but it must be, I'm saying and doing these things. It must be my fault.
The terrifying idea that there was some "Thing" being the master puppeteer of my mind, body and mouth was almost more unbearable than just thinking I'd become a bit more of a 'handful'. The "Thing" had other ideas and wanted me to know, on no uncertain terms, who the boss of this new relationship was. He knew it was only a matter of time before I was his, and he was enjoying every moment of my downfall.
I was becoming unhinged. I had no idea at this point that within the next few days, never mind a hinge, there would be no door left. As my illness worsened, it wasn't only my speech that was becoming problematic, my written communications were becoming terribly (and hilariously) error ridden. In one message to friends, asking them to spread the word about Mutha Courage, I said:
"There are going to be some exciting podcasts coming" (Normal so far...)
"so you not my fault your prestressing my lovely home you don't need to look like that I'm a you're the one doing where he is egalitarian is booked a really inoffensive these days I think we're getting the hang of it is not sickie so far and milk sin mixing now my mobile music by ion. Watch this space I'd love to build as big a following as I can"
Well, with a pitch like that, who could resist!?
My occasional frenzied writing had escalated to virtually constant note taking. I demanded to know and write in my notebook the name of every single person I came into contact with, even the poor bloke who bought my hospital food in. The fear that such information would be lost and that I wouldn't have a grasp on reality was so excruciating to me that I needed to secure myself in these details and control my manic world with facts.
The small hospital room on the children's ward where my son was healing was the same room where I, his mother, was disintegrating. That room was simultaneously my safe haven and my prison. When I recall this time in my mind's eye I imagine that I was in several, very different, rooms. Depending on what brain chemical cocktail I had sipped on I was either in a place of loving embrace or trapped within a living hell. All the while the "Thing" lurked outside for me waiting to do his worst.
Get away from me. Get away from me. I don't want you anywhere near me. Get out. GET out. GET OUT! I'm in a bath having a severe panic attack bought on by I don't know what. I scream. I'm screaming. I can't stop screaming. I feel like I'm in Psycho and how little did I realise then just how true that was. After this exhausting and cripplingly scary episode I managed to make it to the hospital canteen for some chips. This was continually how it went; from extreme terror to fleeting normality. No sooner had I got the chips on my plate and a smile on my face, when I feel another wave of anger, pain and frustration. WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ME? WHY AREN'T YOU LISTENING? WHY WON'T YOU SMILE AT ME!? My husband tries desperately to put a smile on his ashen face. He is exhausted, confused and extremely anxious. He and the staff had been trying to support and help me through these tyrannical episodes for days and the constant attacks were seriously taking their toll.
I nearly don't make it back to the room as I'm convinced I don't want to be anywhere near him, despite being desperately lonely and more frightened than I've ever been. Even now, I'm confused about what the sequence of these events was, who was in the room when we got back from me talking over yet another uneaten meal, but I do remember with crystal clarity the next sentence my husband uttered. It would be one that I would hold onto for the days, weeks and months to come.
"My sister has done some research and thinks you may have Postpartum Psychosis"
A wave of relief flowed over me, the like of which I have never experienced. It's not me. I am ill. This paved the way for a mantra that I would repeat thousands of times on the painful road to recovery.
"I am Jessica. I have Postpartum Psychosis. It is not my fault"
Love and cold chips,
Mutha Courage X