Nadine (35) went into postpartum psychosis after the birth of Faith (5). She would like to have two more children, but the chance that she will end up in psychosis again is too great.
“I had a romantic picture in my head of what it would be like. But it turned out completely different: 42 weeks pregnant, stripping, all kinds of procedures, baby in the wrong position, rushed to the OR for a caesarean section. I hadn’t thought of it that way. The period afterward felt like I was floating between life and death. I had given life, but I almost died in the process.
When I returned home two days after giving birth, things quickly went downhill. After less than a week I felt: I haven’t slept for a few days, I can’t eat, I’m going to collapse. I could only speak in shorthand and give orders, while I am very empathetic myself.
I felt like I was acting, that I was being ‘guided’. I called a friend: ‘I’m not doing well, I need help.’ I wanted medication to be able to sleep, because I was now terrified that I couldn’t anymore. The GP referred me to psychiatry.
I told my story at Altrecht in Utrecht. At the urging of the psychiatrist, I heard myself say, “I’m Anastacia and I’m the new messiah.” I felt everything, but I didn’t understand what I felt or how to put it into words. Then you start saying crazy things.
“I thought: nice, I can finally sleep and eat”
I was admitted acutely because they suspected I was in psychosis. I thought: nice, I can finally sleep and eat. After being forced to take medication, I fell asleep with my hand in my plate while eating.
In a short period of time, all care protocols were pushed across all my borders. I would much rather have been at home, with a sweet maternity nurse taking care of me. But that was no longer possible, because I had meanwhile been placed in detention and ostensibly posed a danger to myself and my environment.
Also read: ‘I was terrified that we would get home Safe’ >
I see the psychosis itself as a spiritual revelation that I went through. I have never felt so connected to the universe. My soul seemed out of my body, I had to find it again. That was intense. I was deprived of my freedom for five months, and for six months I worked hard at home on my recovery.
After a year I was drug-free and I could start building work again. I’ve been good at recovering for years. I had become insecure about returning to my job in IT. Only after three years did I feel like myself again.
I now work for myself and I have the peace and space to do what makes me happy. It was traumatic for my husband. He saw a woman who couldn’t take care of herself, who didn’t know who she was.
“He saw a woman who couldn’t take care of herself, who didn’t know who she was”
Once, when my husband and I just moved in together, I woke up and I was still in a bit of a twilight zone. I saw myself walking through the garden, playing with three children: two girls and a boy. I feel that those little souls are still floating around me and would love to have them in my life. But my husband likes it that way. Not only because there is a good chance – about sixty percent – that I will end up in psychosis again, but also because he finds the upbringing difficult.
I have heard all the doubts I had in comments or advice from people from my inner circle. My mother also found it traumatic and painful to see me when I was admitted. And my sister warned me that a second one is tough. I now know that raising one child is hard enough.
Grief and healing
Sometimes I act lightheartedly and console myself with the fact that I already have a child. But that doesn’t mean the tears about what you won’t have shouldn’t be there.
“Having a child already doesn’t mean the tears about what you won’t have shouldn’t be there”
Talking about it helped me. Then the sharp edge of the sadness goes away a bit. That’s healing. You don’t have to reject pain, I’ve learned by now. Let the emotions flow through you, including sadness. It may be there.”
This article can be found in Kek Mama 07-2022.
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