November 24, 2012
It was all worth it
The title of this post may seem strange but postpartum psychosis has been a blessing to me. How can a serious, life-threatening condition be a blessing? How could numerous hospitalizations, numerous attempts at treatment, numerous sleepless nights and an illness that nearly cost me my life be a blessing?
Nearly seventeen years ago I was struck with postpartum psychosis. It came on suddenly without warning. I did not even know that postpartum psychosis existed. During my pregnancy, I read everything I could to educate myself about pregnancy, the postpartum period and beyond. Not once did I read about postpartum psychosis. I learned nothing about the symptoms or risk factors of postpartum psychosis let alone what to do if it should occur.
Although my doctor was wonderful, not once did she discuss mental health issues related to childbearing with me. The only thing I was prepared for was the baby blues. My childbirth instructor briefly mentioned the emotions associated with pregnancy and the postpartum period but nothing specific. Of course, no possible symptoms were presented or risk factors identified that would have given me the slightest indication that a problem could occur.
All was going beautifully during the first several weeks after my son was born. I loved being a mother. The confidence and assurance I felt taking care of my son was tremendous. So I was totally unprepared when postpartum psychosis struck. I did not realize that my inability to sleep or my unnecessary fears were not normal or that they were something to be concerned about. I had to learn the hard way what postpartum psychosis was.
So how could postpartum psychosis be a blessing? The illness itself was not a blessing but there was a blessing that would change me forever. The biggest blessing is having my son in my life. As we celebrate my son’s birthday today, I reminisce about the wonderful six weeks we had together after he was born. Despite the fact that life as I knew it changed forever after I was struck with postpartum psychosis, I would go through it all again just to have my son in my life.
Although I have found blessing in my own experience, my family and I never should have had to endure the devastation and havoc that postpartum psychosis causes. If we would have known the symptoms of postpartum psychosis or that postpartum psychosis even existed, maybe the severe onset could have been prevented. Maybe the long and difficult recovery would have been shortened. We will never know what the outcome could have been. We only know what the outcome was.
It may not seem possible that an illness that can cause devastation and tragedy could ever be a blessing. Tragedies are not blessings. Illnesses are not blessings. But a blessing, according to thefreedictionary.com, is something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity. Although it may never happen for some, in my case, I am stronger, happier and healthier as a result of my experience with postpartum psychosis.
Although your experience may never seem like a blessing, I hope you can find the strength to be a blessing by sharing your story so others know they are not alone, they should not feel guilty and that there is hope in the midst of postpartum psychosis.
For those women and families that are experiencing postpartum psychosis or have experienced postpartum psychosis, my hope is that, in time, you can overcome and prevail not matter what your situation may be. My hope is that by sharing my story, I am able to help and encourage others.