#156 | Surviving Psychosis: Christa's Story of Postpartum Hallucinations, Intrusive Thoughts & Suicidal Ideations

April 13, 2022

Postpartum psychosis occurs in 1 to 2 per thousand births and involves extreme conditions such as hallucinations, intrusive thoughts, paranoia, suspiciousness, hyperactivity and inability to sleep. Today, Christa Ardelean joins us to share her powerful story of suffering with postpartum psychosis. Her story begins with a difficult pregnancy and birth, which, unbeknownst to Christa, included numerous risk factors associated with perinatal mood disorders. When Christa's son was born, she didn't want to hold him.  Shortly after, she woke up one morning and said to herself, "My baby would be so much better off if he were dead or if I were."  Terrified, she found 24/7 support for the next six weeks while she suffered with hallucinations, intrusive thoughts, and an inability to bond with her baby. With continuous support, medication, and journaling, in time, she completely overcame these feelings. By nine months, she felt like her own person again and now reflects on how her deep love for her son saved her life. 

If you are suffering from postpartum psychosis, you can can get help now.
Call the PSI HelpLine: 1-800-944-4773
Postpartum Support International

More episodes like this:
#50 | Postpartum Mini: You're Not Going Crazy, It's Probably Postpartum Anxiety
#94 | The Terror of Intrusive Thoughts: Lisa's Postpartum Anxiety

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View Episode Transcript

His pacifier had fallen out of his mouth. And I reached down to just pop it in like you do. And it turned into a gun in my hands, and I just scream and jump back. And that would happen frequently. If I went to give him something, the best thing my husband said to me, I remember he would, I would be rocking back and forth in the corner, he would find me to in the morning, rocking back and forth in the corner of our kitchen, because I would try to get the farthest point away, I could find that window that I was fixated on. And he would get down beside me. And he would say, You're a safe person. You are such a safe mom, you love our son. And I know that you would never do anything to hurt him because you love him so much. And if you don't trust you, I trust you. So receiving those affirmations, letting people speak into that, and he couldn't have spoken to that, if I had jumped up off the floor and pretended that everything's fine.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Hi, my name is Christina Ardelean. I live with my husband Simon and our little boy, Elijah, who is going to be two in June in Ontario, Canada. Thank you so much for having me on today to tell my story.

I'm coming on.

Thank you. I'm gonna tell today a brief birth story and then gonna go into how I struggled with mental health issues after giving birth, particularly what I believe to be postpartum psychosis. And so thank you for listening to my story.

Before we jump in, Krista, let's just let our listeners have a little bit of a sense of postpartum psychosis. It is starkly different from postpartum depression, which in the US affects one in seven women. There are many risk factors involved. So there are things that can make that more or less likely, but postpartum psychosis, you know about even as recently as 15 or 20 years ago, many people misunderstood postpartum depression to mean postpartum psychosis, but postpartum psychosis only affects one per 1000 or 2000 women. And it involves such extreme conditions as hallucinations, which I know was a part of what you've experienced. So why don't we rewind to wherever you feel is appropriate to tell us about your birth, especially touching on anything that might have contributed to that particular perinatal disorder that you ended up developing?

Yeah, for sure. Thank you. So my husband and I backing it all the way up. My husband and I were married in the summer of 2018. We were healthy, happy people. And my husband was injured a few days before our wedding. So long story short, the doctors largely mistreated us. They didn't deal with his condition, and it turns into a very severe infection that he could have lost his life. We were an hour and a half late for a wedding. I actually drove him to the hospital in my wedding dress for one of his last hospital visits. Two weeks after that episode, he started vomiting profusely, I don't know where we still don't know to this day if it was related to the injury or what happened, but he was vomiting day and night, he lost 30 pounds. He had massive migraines, migraines, he started having memory lapses, he wouldn't sleep. And it was superduper traumatic, the only thing that they could find was an unidentified brain mass, they couldn't actually get in the brain to tell us what it was. Due to the tricky spot where it was, it was just way too dangerous. And about the same time they found that we found out we were pregnant. I remember throwing up on our first visit to the Cancer Center. And that's just looking at each other and laughing. So we figured, well, we don't laugh we're gonna start crying because it just felt so. So crazy. We spent about three weeks thinking that it was terminal. They gave us again, misinformation, they accidentally told us that it was probably terminal. And then three weeks later, after we were having discussions about how do we keep our son's memory alive and how do we you know, how much time do we have left together so you can make it to the birth they said, Oh, are bad we shouldn't have told you that and reversed it. So it was a very, very rough time. I was working around the clock because I work a lot of work a lot of different jobs. I was a nanny for different families. I loved theater. I loved working with St. John Ambulance, I was a doula part time. And I just I love doing all these things and I probably could have quit and gotten just a full time job. and supported us. But there was a very little joy in my life at that time, my marriage had fallen apart, not due to its nature, not due to my amazing and loving husband, but because we had no marriage because he couldn't get out of bed. And so I put a lot of stress on my own body during that time to just try to retain some of the things that I loved. And my husband was really, really supportive of that. In January of 2020, he was cleared of cancer. But he was so homesick, we didn't really have any explanation. I had chosen a midwife for my pregnancy, and I was planning for a home birth. My pregnancy was pretty low risk. I did have a few intermittent blood pressure issues in the first trimester, but they were always explainable. So like I said, Our life was really, really crazy. So my midwife appointments were like five to six weeks apart at first. And, you know, I would have that the night before my midwife appointments, someone I love tried to hurt themselves. And I was in the ER all night long. And I just made it to my midwife appointment the next morning, and I would I would walk in telling them, my blood pressure is going to be high. Like, I don't know what to tell you. It's going to be high. I'm very emotional. And so there were spikes, but there was always an explanation. So midwives were really great actually, at listening to me and trusting me when I said, I honestly believe this is what it is. Somewhere in the third trimester, I went for a walk with a friend, like I always did. And when I came home, I noticed my head was pounding and I get headaches. Sometimes I wasn't super worried. But then I went to put the key in the lock, and I noticed I was having trouble turning the key because my hand was so tight and swollen. And then similarly, I had trouble pulling my shoes off, because my feet were so tight and swollen. And this had come up, like over the 45 minute walk. I knew that when I put my shoes on and turn the key and lock the first time I didn't have these problems. So being a doula I'm quite well educated that those are warning signs in pregnancy, they can leave. They can indicate dangerous things going on in your body. But I didn't let's let's specify it. Yeah, specifically can indicate preeclampsia.

That's right. That's right.

Most likely preeclampsia.

Yeah, yeah, I did have labile hypertension. I don't know. I honestly don't know. It was such a whirlwind. If I ever for sure was diagnosed with preeclampsia. I know I was diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia. I think it was kind of like, they found protein, right before he was born. But I had labile hypertension, I didn't want to deal with it. At that point, I actually just went to bed. So the next morning, it was really bad. I called my midwives clinic. So I didn't pay her. I just left a message telling her to get back to me whenever because I wanted to discuss a few things. Later that afternoon, she called me and she's like, Krista, what is happening, you need to meet me at the hospital now. And I just remember breaking down. And I've been a first responder for years. So I know that when we come up to somebody with a leg injury, like a massive leg injury, they're often going to be really worried about the paper cut on their hand. Because people focus on what they can deal with. So looking back, that's what I was doing. I didn't want to focus on it, I didn't want to deal with it. I was like, I can't handle, you know, my homebirth going out the window, I can't handle any of this stuff happening. So I didn't want to deal with it. Yeah, so then I went to the hospital, everything looked totally normal to them, my swelling started to come down. So they told me to go home. And that kind of describes the rest of my pregnancy. So I would have massive blood pressure up swings, it would be like 188 over 112. And I would have fireworks going off in my vision. And I would slur my speech and feel like I was gonna pass out and then it would go away. 30 seconds later, and I would be fine. It kind of got a little more severe every week leading up to delivery. As I kind of jumped to the first story, it is going to sound like my care provider was negligent. They were not I'll be perfectly honest, looking back, I was very stubborn. And some of the interventions they wanted to do. I just wasn't ready to deal with so you know, including meeting them at the hospital, those kinds of things. So looking back, I really think my mental health issues started there. Right where it was easy for me right after the birth to say, Well, I was fine up until he came out. But I really wasn't I can see looking back that I was full of denial. I couldn't even handle that Another bad thing was happening to me. I couldn't handle that I would bring my baby into a tough situation or, you know, I'd be thinking what if I can't take care of him? I remember one moment in my probably mid third trimester. Never forget my husband and I were sitting on the kitchen floor. And I needed to go to the hospital and he was too weak to drive me. And we were looking at each other. And I called my mom and I said I need you to come and bring me to the hospital. I don't even know if I could get outside. And I was just looking at each other and thinking like what the hell are we doing?

So what happened? You gave birth and what Did you start to recognize there was something wrong?

Yeah, yeah. So I did eventually agreed to be transferred to an OB I was induced, I begged for the induction, honestly, because I was at my limit, I hadn't slept in four days from the blood pressure spikes by the time I went into labor. And so I was like, You need to put me in the labor now, or, or I'm not gonna be able to make it through, I was able to push them out vaginally, which was wonderful, although I had to advocate for myself to a point that I don't think you should be able to, or you should ever have to advocate for yourself. One thing I will mention because it is relevant to my postpartum story, I had really advocated strongly to have another support person in the hospital. So in Ontario, the laws at that time stated that you were only allowed one support person with you in labor and delivery due to COVID 19 restrictions. And obviously, I wanted my husband to be there. I wasn't about to tell him he couldn't be there for the birth of his own child. But he could hardly stand up. He couldn't stand for long periods of time. I was like, I need I need another support person. He couldn't remember conversations after they were said. So I called the hospital board I called my OB, I called my midwife, like, everybody, and I advocated to have a second support person in there. They originally said no. And then they said, Yes, they would. And then when I went into labor, the OB on call said nope, changed his mind. Eventually, I was able to fight her. And they said, Yes, they let her in. I really appreciated that. And then, as it relates to my postpartum story, by the time I got upstairs to the postpartum Ward, when I mentioned extra support, one of the nurses looked at me and she said, Oh, we heard about you. So they had heard that I had advocated for myself, and they were not about to let it happen. Upstairs. They were very upset about that. So Elijah did go to the special care nursery right after. And I mentioned this, because this is another another place where I saw looking back, I can see my mental health was slipping. So Simon went upstairs with Elijah to the special care nursery, my sister had to leave at that point, was kind of being cleaned up after birth, I had a failed epidural. So I couldn't walk. But it didn't take away any of the pain. So a nurse was cleaning me up. And now that I look back, this nurse was amazing. She was flying around the room trying to get me cleaned out. She was saying, We're gonna get you upstairs to your baby. Don't worry, I'm gonna get you there. And I remember this is crazy. But I remember thinking at the time why she's so obsessed with my kid. I could not figure out why she wanted to get me upstairs so fast. And again, that's something looking back. I probably should have been focusing on but I wasn't, you weren't thinking straight. I was not thinking straight. And I remember the next morning, I laid Elijah down on my hospital bed, and I stood back and I was staring at him for a while. And my husband said, Well, what are you thinking, and I said, if you put my baby in a room with 30 other babies, I wouldn't be able to tell you who it was. And I just wept. So already there is that this association, I did not did not get that beautiful euphoric moment. And that's something a lot of people told me, they said, Jesse, wait, you're gonna get these pregnancy issues. And the second that baby's on your chest, you are, it's not going to be worth it, you're going to be full of hormones, that did not happen. I actually shoved him away from me and said, I can't hold them, I can't hold them. So that was hard to reconcile.

We're very careful about not saying that to pregnant women, because it doesn't happen for everyone. And when it doesn't happen, it's terrifying. Because people are looking forward to that their expectations go through the roof. Now there are things that can contribute to that experience. And in a physiologic birth, you're likely when all conditions are met, you're likely to be receiving this hormone cocktail, all these endorphins and to be overwhelmed with a sense of peace and contentedness, which really is a prime condition for bonding. But when we tell women wait till you look at that baby, and it's magical, and you're going to fall madly in love, it's terrifying when it doesn't happen, and it takes days. I have one extreme case I know of a woman who was very ill after her pregnancy and it took months and months. What women have to know is if it doesn't happen right away, it will 100% Yeah, eventually happen.

One of our very first birth stories that we had on the show was a woman who It took almost six months, I think for her to so it took me nine, I would say nine months until I was getting that overwhelming. Oh, this is my baby. And I love him so much. I did love my kid. I just couldn't feel it. And when you can't feel it, that is the scariest moment of your life.

You go through the motions, you pick them up and they cry, you feed them but you're not getting that reward that we need that keeps us hanging on because postpartum is so hard and the reward is you know, the day they first smile at you or the the you're exhausted getting up in the middle of the night. It's painful getting up and yet part of you. You want to run to them and hold them again. You didn't have any of that reward. You just kept going through the motions.

Absolutely. Yeah. So yeah, I didn't feel that already. Kind of the next morning. We made it through that night, by the time we got to the evening, we were told Elijah had jaundice. I probably would not do what I did. Looking back, I kind of let them just handle it. I didn't really ask any questions at that point. That being said, when you're in that kind of state, you're not really in a good place to advocate for yourself. And as I mentioned, I wasn't allowed extra support people in and Simon was not there to be able to do that at all with this state. So I let them take him away from me, which I should never have done, especially in that mental state, and put him under the lights. At that point in the evening. Salman was really really struggling, he cannot sleep anywhere but his own bed, and he was just vomiting profusely. He was shaking. He's like, Honey, I need I need to go home. So we asked the nurses if he could switch up, they said, Nope, under no circumstances, he is able to switch out. You're allowed someone every 24 hours. So this was like, wait, I want to make sure we're understanding you. Under no circumstance. Can you switch out that means your husband wasn't doing? Well? He needed to get home? Yeah. And you were saying, can he go home? And can I have someone else here? Instead? They said absolutely not?

Absolutely not. And that is still the case in hospitals, by the way.

All COVID related, this is all COVID-19. And people use the word safe, right? Like, we need to be safe. And I think that we are not taking personally a holistic approach to being safe. I'm all for safe. I didn't invite my whole family into the hospital, like I probably would have if I gave birth, you know, four years ago, five years ago. So I wasn't asking for that. I just needed to be able to pick my baby up. I was so weak, I could hardly pick him up. So in the afternoon, we were arguing with staff. And we said, what if somebody came in after midnight? What if he leaves around 8pm And somebody comes after my American make it till then? And it's technically the next day? And they said, fine. So we get to nighttime Simon laughed. I went from the special care nursery to my room to get a pad. And somewhere in the hallway, a nurse stopped me and chatted with me for a minute. And I said, Oh, my mom's coming? And she said, No, she isn't. And I said, Well, yeah, I started talking to the afternoon nurses and she wouldn't even let me finish my sentence. She said we heard about you, you are not getting away with this here. And she started yelling at me. I remember I was shaking, I was bleeding through my pad I was still hemorrhaging at this point. They were still giving me oral medications. I was bleeding way too hard. I just went to pieces in this hallway. I remember I was grabbing the railings to try to stand up properly. And she was screaming at me. After I said I can't listen to you anymore. She accused me of trying to kill babies in there. You're bringing people in and you're you're just trying to get your own way and you're harming all of us. You're putting all of us at risk. I think she was upset as well, because we didn't mask around our baby in our own room. We definitely were masking the hallways or anywhere we went. But when I was breastfeeding, Elijah, I just told him he needs to see my face. And they didn't agree with that. So I can't accuse her of that bias. But I know that was one of the issues she had. So I don't know if that contributed. But she continued to yell at me. I actually just left it turned around and walked away. And I got to my room and she actually chased me into the postpartum ward. At that point, I was on the phone with my mom just breaking out she was downstairs at the front doors of the hospital. And she had heard that nurse call down to the screeners and say, Don't you dare let her up. And she this nurse was telling me that it was the screeners who wouldn't let her out. Which was not true. So they wouldn't let my mom and she did tell me right before she left my room. She said, Well, I'll do you a favor, and I'll let your husband back in. How's that? And I said, Get out of my room. Just Just get out. And she left.

It's always a right click when someone says I'm going to be nice.

I know. That's not a favor. Right there.

It's such manipulation. It's such a power trip.

I mean, if you if your baby weren't in the special care, you're I'm sure he would have been on your way out of there.

Oh, one and that's the thing is they have your baby, right. So even at the end of the day, if you're the best advocator in the world, you have no leverage, right? Right. Like what are you going to do?

Do you have anything because they have your baby.

So we got the next morning we were allowed to go home from the hospital. Cried most of the drive home again, probably should have been an indication. But I just thought, you know, I'm just a little bit weepy because I didn't sleep. The next morning, we had to take him back to the hospital actually to have his dryness levels checked and they were high. So again, I just handed my power over, went back to the hospital at that point, they wouldn't let anybody in. I was unable to even carry a ledger to his room. But they didn't care. They wouldn't let anybody in. I was alone all night. Got to go home the next morning. And at that point, I was saying I'm really scared that somebody's going to take my baby I could feel it like a like a fear all over my body. Somebody's going to take my baby. That was a Wednesday by Friday I had to go back and I had postpartum preeclampsia symptoms. My midwife came in And then my blood pressure was sky high, I went to the emergency room, they wouldn't let my six day old baby in with me. The doctor actually looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, I could lose my job. So I was in there by myself as well. Got home on the Saturday, kind of made it through the weekend, I had somebody with me around the clock, I would feed Elijah put him down, go back to bed. I really didn't hold him much. Monday morning. I remember my mom had brought Elijah into a room, my late monitor bed, I looked down. And I thought to myself, she would be so much better off if you were dead. And that's scared the hell out of me. And that I thought I would be so much better off if I were dead. And I called my husband in the room. I call my midwife who tried to actually go to hospital, of course, because that's what you're supposed to do. At that point, it was terrified. And I told her, I said, You can do whatever you want. There's nothing you could say that would convince me to go into the hospital, I won't do it. I was so scared that they were going to take Alijah away because of the way that I had been treated. So my doctor got on the phone with me. He was so loving, and so kind, my personal family doctor never judged me for a second and offered to get me on medication and in touch with a therapist. I said, Sure. Let's do that. He said medication is going to take a long time to kick it like six to eight weeks. Can you handle that? And I said yes. So I had somebody around the clock with me for about six to eight weeks. And the symptoms just spiraled.

I wanted to still there. I want to Yeah, I want everyone to really hear what you said. You had someone with you 24/7. That is a must. Yeah.

How did you arrange for that? What was that? What did that look like?

I while I have amazing support, and that's I even feel guilty saying next. Not everybody does. But my mom was with me, I think for five weeks.

I'm wondering if they told you to have someone with you. 24/7 Because this is very important. They did no to tell you that see I have heard of a case here in the states where a woman was ever told that and that is what we're supposed to say we're supposed to say step one is inform everyone in your support system about what's going on step two, you're not to be alone with the baby. You're not to be alone with yourself 24/7 until you're through this. We're not talking about regular everyday depression, we're talking about when conditions are happening, like very severe anxiety, like we had an episode of a woman who was terrified of knives and what she might do with knives and or hallucinating. We're talking about extreme cases like that.

Okay, we're talking about we're talking about a situation where you wanted to harm yourself or the baby or you thought you both were better off, not here. Yeah, it just spiraled. I had that first. I remember that first thought very distinctly. And from there, it just spiraled? I think that was in the morning. And by that evening, I was having them constantly. There was a window in our room that didn't have a screening, and we're on the 10th floor of an apartment building and had to be fixed. And I was convinced that I was going to throw him out. And I don't know why but I would look at it and I would think I'm gonna throw him out out of your own control it was it was that's called an intrusive thought you saw yourself throwing him out. You weren't strategizing it. You weren't planning you didn't want to consciously you know, you just felt like compelled you thought this is going to happen. You can see it happening. Yep. That's called an intrusive thought.

Oh, and I had them constantly we had a really heavy wooden bed frame in our room. It was a beautiful big bed frame that was a wedding gift to us. And I would every time I walked into a room, I would picture myself dropping him and his head just shattering against it and I I couldn't stop picturing it. I remember one night history there fellow. His pacifier had fallen out of his mouth. And I reached down to just pop it in like you do. And it turned into a gun in my hands. And I just screamed and jumped back.

You saw a gun in your own hands. you hallucinate it. And it became a Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. And that would happen frequently. If I went to give him something. I would think that there were men in our hallway, I would check the closets, obsessively swearing that I saw man and then I check the locks with our front door, and our windows constantly. I had that euphoria, as well as the deep darkness. My husband has had a long history of mental illness and his family's very familiar with dealing with things like bipolar and schizophrenia. And he said he felt like he was 12 years old again, because he would come in and he would never know if I was all the way up here organizing the closet at two in the morning, or just crying and crying and crying and staring at the wall and I would say, I can't do this. He's better off without me. Someone's got to take him. I remember crocheting Baby Hats, obsessively. I would rip them out and crochet them and rip them out and crochet them. I went for walks for hours and hours and hours. I had all the parents in podcasts in my ear and looking back I thought it was odd and now I think I just I I was thinking of parenthood as a future teacher endeavor, I was thinking, you know, when I get to six, I'm gonna know what to do. When he's a teenager, I'm gonna know what to do. And that was helping me it was helping me cope thinking someday, I'm gonna be able to be a parent. And I was apparently I was doing the best thing that I could do for my child. But that, that doesn't always help in the moment, because you know what you're feeling and it's horrible. I was binge eating, I would eat junk food by the masses. I did not abuse alcohol, but I fantasize about it a lot. I've never been somebody who abused alcohol. I'm not a drinker. But for some reason, I would just think about it, I think, Oh, I wish I could do that. That would be so great. Well, that would help so much. And that's never been me. Even as a teenager, I was never that person. I was very suspicious of friends and family, even though they've been nothing but amazing. No, my own husband, whoever it was this bond with in the world, and I wanted him there all the time. I would just have a feeling like he didn't have my best interest in mind. Like maybe he was tricking. Like, maybe he was lying to me. So he was gone 12 to 15 hours very trying to make enough money to cover bills. And I just remember thinking, what if he's lying? What if that's not where he is? What if he's, what if he's trying to get away from me? What if he doesn't love me anymore? And so it was all of a sudden, like, everything seems? Not as it was, I would think, what if my baby's trying to make me angry, which is crazy, because babies don't do that. They're not manipulative. They're physically incapable of it. But I would wonder if maybe he was doing it, you know, crying and getting up. Maybe he was doing it just making me upset. I mean, I wasn't sleeping because, you know, babies don't sleep. But I really, really wasn't sleeping. I felt like I had to be vigilant. Had to be watching in case somebody was going to do something hypervigilance? Yeah. Yeah. Did you? Were you seeing a therapist? And was it a good therapist, a therapist called me, she was horrible. She spent most of the time talking about her own postpartum experience. She interrupted me at every turn. And she told me what I likely had was a case of just being very emotional, because not sleeping as hard. And after that, again, I didn't trust their best study, just like I didn't trust the doctors. I was in such a paranoid state already. And then for her to do that, I told my husband, I'll never talk to a therapist ever again. Which now looking back, you know, if we were to be blessed, another pregnancy would be very important.

So you were going through this on medication, but alone, like alone, otherwise, without professional support, you had your minimum, you had your husband? Yeah, you had the few coping mechanisms that you had of walking and crocheting. So how did you actually come through it? Yes. So medication was a very, very big part of it for me, although it took about six to eight weeks until that time, I journaled, I would encourage anybody who's in that space to journal I know, it's the last thing you feel like doing. But for me, what it did is it released everything. And then the other thing it did was it gave me proof that I was doing better than I thought it was, I could look back and say, Well, I'm not dealing with that anymore. Well, that hasn't happened in four weeks. And it made me feel strong, because I had proof that I was getting better when my brain was telling me, You're in the same space, you were right after he was born. So I would journal down what I was thinking and feeling even when it was horrible. And I didn't want to write it. I kept a gratitude journal, which again, was really hard. I didn't really feel grateful for anything. But if you can just find the tiniest things I would write in my gratitude journal. My coffee is really hot. I would write down that Elijah looked cute in his baby outfit. I didn't really feel an emotional attachment. But I could look objectively and say, Oh, he does look pretty cute. I would say I'm so happy there's sun outside, even if I felt like I couldn't enjoy it. No, that's really good. I'm so grateful that they're sent outside. I would get outside whenever I could. If I was able to go for a walk. I would it was like therapy to me. I think it was just physically taking one step forward over and over. That really, really helped me a lot. Getting sunshine was really, really good for me. I'm letting other people into it, as we've already discussed, but letting other people into is so incredibly important. Telling the truth, made all the difference. I would tell people candidly the experiences I was going through, and I was lucky enough to have people that said to me, You're a really good mom. The best thing my husband said to me, I remember he would I would be rocking back and forth in the corner he would find me to in the morning rocking back and forth in the corner of our kitchen because I would try to get the farthest point away. I could find that window that I was fixated on, and he would get down beside me. He would say you're a safe person. You are such a safe mom. You love our son, and I know that you would never do anything to hurt him because you love them so much. And if you don't trust Do I trust you. So receiving those affirmations, letting people speak into that, and he couldn't have spoken to that, if I had jumped up up, up off the floor and pretended that everything's fine. So I needed him to see me going through it. So being honest, is really important. But also, don't be afraid to assert your independence to some degree, right? People want to do everything for you. I'm an incredibly independent person, I felt like every bit of my identity had been stripped away, stripped away, and I was a shell. But being able to make myself breakfast, I told my mom, that one, please stop making me food, just stop. I need to make my own food, I started doing my own laundry. That was huge. For me, when I was able to move without constant suicidal thoughts, I would drive myself around the block. Because that gave me what I needed to feel like I could handle things. And I had something that was my own. And I had an identity back. Even if my identity was I was the person in the family who bought the groceries. So get all that help. But don't be afraid to kind of demand a little bit of independence as well, where of course it is appropriate.

You started to feel better at six to eight weeks, I'd say about six to eight was when I stopped the constant, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, that you that hyper vigilance you were talking about where I could not stop watching it for something bad to happen. I could actually watch a movie and watch the plotline recognize what was happening? When did you feel when did you feel like you are truly beyond it? You are truly past it. Like it's this is no longer a part of me, when he was about nine months old, I would say took about nine months of being on medication. And I said to my husband one day, what would you say if I went off medication. And he obviously got very nervous, understandably, and then said, I'm here to support you. So I called my doctor and we worked out a plan. I said, I just feel like this is not me anymore. I'm feeling all the side effects of this medication. And I know that they are satisfaction, I know that fatigue, and the random thoughts in my head. And the trouble concentrating, I know that this is the medication. Now, I wish I could describe how but I knew that there was a difference. I said I can really handle myself at this point. So I weaned off very, very slowly. And by the time my son was about a year old, I would say I was my own person again. And that was the best gift I ever could have been given to be my own person, make my own decisions about caring for him watching for him have a relationship with him, I found out that my kid is hilarious. He's so funny. And he's so vibrant. And I hadn't seen those things before. So I was really noticing parts of his personality and parts of who he was as well.

So where are you, relative to this point where you felt like you were healed, how far out how old is your son now,

he will be to in June. So I think that that's about 20 months, 21 months, I am loving motherhood, I would love to have another baby, I feel confident that I can take care of my child, I can advocate for him. But I know best for him that I can keep him safe. I feel confident that what I went through was my body. And I had no control over it. And it didn't make me less of a mum, I had a fear in the middle that he was almost going to remember it like he would miss out on something. And he hasn't missed out on anything. My son and I are best friends. And you should know that if you're going through it. I will say if anybody out there is pregnant and you're in a bad situation. That little boy that we had has been the best the through all of the suffering we've encountered or suffering didn't go away for a long time. And we're just getting out of the hole. Now. We just had a few really hard years of stuff we could not control. And without that little boy to get me out of bed every day to make me put a smile on to make us see the best in every situation and choose joy. I don't even know if I would be here. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would not be here. So if you are pregnant, and in a bad situation, you can get through it. I got through it, you can get through it. And don't don't believe the lie that your head is telling you that you can't be a good mom because of your circumstances, that you're not going to be able to take care of a baby because of your circumstances because they just need you there. They just need you to show up. My kid doesn't care if I cry all day. He doesn't care if we're in a hotspot, right? He he just loves me and he wants me So children are so forgiving, and they're so loving and they're way more understanding than adults are. And he just loves me and he doesn't care that I had a rough go for the first quarter of my life. We're best friends and he loves me and he wants to be near me all the time. And so I am so grateful to have come to this place and to be able to share what I went through Even though it's hard to say, and I would just encourage you that if you are going through it, if you're in that space know that you can get to the other side. And that what you're feeling is not who you are. You will be yourself again, and your child and everybody around you loves you.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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