It started after weeks of sleep deprivation. I started suffering from night terrors and hallucinations. My thoughts were confused and I had symptoms anxietyObsessive-compulsive disorder and panic syndrome. I couldn’t sleep, and I didn’t care about my health. I didn’t even remember to shower. Even having the strength to take off my pajamas was difficult. I felt strange and like I was in a constant state of panic.
I actually dealt with anxiety as a teenager, but I think pregnancy, motherhood and the postpartum period can be challenging for our mental health. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I was in completely uncharted territory.
One night, I was trying to sleep and couldn’t tell if I was actually asleep or still awake. I didn’t know if what I was seeing was a dream or real life. I left my room, went into the living room and told my husband to convince me I woke up before I did something crazy. I started to feel hopeless. At that moment my husband told me we needed to get help.
I researched and found a therapist to help me. We were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I conducted my sessions over the phone. The psychiatrist referred me to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with OCD, anxiety, and postpartum psychosis.
It wasn’t scary to receive the diagnosis. It was worse when I didn’t know what was happening. When I could name the problem, I felt like I had control over it. But “psychosis” is a scary word, and as a mother of a newborn and a two-year-old, the first thing that comes to my mind are the criminal conspiracies we see in TV shows and movies, of women doing terrible things for the sake of their children.
I was lucky to have a good support system and great therapists and psychiatrists who calmed me down and helped me. Only after I started treatment and tried to get better did I see how people don’t talk about this diagnosis. It’s rare, but there’s a lot of stigma attached to the word too – which I understand. It’s terrifying.
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