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Charlotte’s Story

“My husband and I lost our first baby back in 1997 and the miscarriage made me very depressed. I didn’t know how to grieve for my baby as there was no funeral or grave to go to. A year later I was expecting my daughter. The birth was very traumatic as my placenta had become detached and I was bleeding heavily. My daughter was delivered five weeks early by caesarean section. I remember thinking ‘But I’m not ready yet!’

At first everything seemed to go well. I bonded well with her and enjoyed breast feeding. But five weeks later I began to feel very anxious and I could not explain why. I lost my appetite and could not eat. At night I would lie awake terrified about everything and especially my baby. I began to distance myself from her… going through the motions of feeding and changing her but inside I felt terrified of this pink thing and I did not want her anymore. I remember ringing my doctor and sobbing that I did not want my baby and I needed help. The help came in the form of hospitalisation
as I could no longer function at home.

In hospital I had suicidal thoughts, but only ever wanted to hurt myself never the baby. I remember having no emotional bond with her and asked for her to be adopted. I was diagnosed with the severest form of postnatal illness known as Puerperal Psychosis. I was on two types of medication which to this day I vow never helped me. When I left hospital I attempted suicide three times but each time rang for an ambulance because somewhere I didn’t want to die but I wanted someone to help me.

The healing process was a combination of time, therapy and medication. Perhaps the greatest help was my husband who at no point gave up on me and would put up with the repetitious question ‘I will get better won’t I?’ Also I found talking to another mum who had been ill with postnatal illness really helped as I knew I wasn’t on my own.

When my daughter was a year old, I began to slowly feel better. The horrific morning anxiety began to disappear. I stopped vomiting and began to eat. My terror at being alone with my child began to fade and I learnt how to be a good enough mum as opposed to a perfect mum! My experience of this illness has made me much stronger and now we are expecting our second child…. but this time we are ready to meet the monster if it returns and I know this time that I will get better.”