We have been waiting for the article to come out for the last couple of months. I kept telling myself it would come out at the right time.
It came out when I needed strength the most. I was back at the scene of the crime last week. I was back on the Children's ward where The Thing took hold. I was back in the corridors where my mind unraveled. I was re-walking the path of hell.
I was at the hospital for routine check-ups for the little man, who was yet again proving to be a complete source of bravery and joy, whilst having several different canulas inserted in various areas of his chubby anatomy. We were waiting for his dose of radioactive fluid to work its way through his body for a kidney scan and we found ourselves with an hour to kill.
Right, well...we'd better go and get a copy of the paper we're in. Obviously by a copy, I mean five. I've been wanting to go and thank the nurses on the Buxton Ward for some time, but have resisted because of not knowing what to do or say and being unsure how revisiting that place would affect me. Somehow I felt a box of Green & Blacks didn't convey the deepest gratitude a human heart can bestow on the compassion and unflinching kindness of strangers. I also wasn't sure what to say: "Hi, remember me? I was the one that screamed in your face while I was sitting in a bath covered in wet towels". I felt that taking a copy of the article would be an easier way to reintroduce myself. Introduce Me. The Me they had never met.
I sensed my breath deepening, my heart becoming more like a restless animal in a cage, it wanted to escape out of my chest. I stalked the corridor leading up to the children's ward with a strange sense of familiarity and fear, I felt I had never been there and yet I had. My body remembered. My muscles started becoming twitchy underneath my clothes; they knew I had been in danger here. The adrenalin was pumping, supplying my limbs with fuel to run. I prepare to walk through the double doors. I don't know what or who I will recognise, I don't know who will recognise me.
The biggest shock that smacks me straight away is how small and safe the ward looks. It chokes me and sends a shockwave all the way through my body. Psychosis had created a labyrinth, where I now saw a corridor. The Thing had made the walls terrifyingly big and the layout fitfully confusing. I was so lost here. I was so scared. Now I saw its simplicity, the playful cartoon characters that line the walls, the friendly faces, the fish tank.
Then I see it.
My cell. My prison. My torture site. My hotel room. My holiday stay. My interrogation room.
Now I see it for what it is. A small hospital room. A light, safe room, with fish stickers decorating the windows. Were there windows!? That room was transformed by my mind on an hourly basis. I swung from being prisoner to captor repeatedly.
Going back there was cathartic and heart-breaking. No-one was working there that knew me that day. I left a paper for those that would remember. My psychosis stutter threatened to surface, but I breathed through it and mastered my recent panic. I was reminded in that moment how far I had come and that recovery was still an ongoing process.
The response to the article has been wonderful. So many people are saying that the illness needs more visibility. It does. That we need to talk about mental illness more. We do. And that we need people to share their stories of Postpartum psychosis. I will. But right now what I want to say is Thank You. This time, it's not to everyone that helped me, which is a vast and powerful list of incredible people, but this time I want to say Thank You to my psychosis.
Thank You that you picked me, so that I can speak out and share my experiences.
Thank You for showing me the depth of strength I have as a woman and as a Mother.
Thank You for everything I have learnt about gratitude, presence, connection, honesty, talking and accepting help.
Thank You for giving me my family back in a very real way.
Thank you for that time you made me feel like the Buddha. That was awesome.
Love and big bellies,
Mutha Courage X