She is sitting at the side of her bed in her pj’s and its past 2’o clock in the afternoon. Where did the time go? Her hair is not comb and she has no makeup. On her face she looks sad and deep in thought. Suddenly, she begins to cry again which is a usual occurrence throughout the day. She recently gave birth to her daughter and something is drastically wrong with her. She doesn’t understand why she feels this way and begins to question herself. Why do I feel alone, sad and miserable? The baby cries and she simply don’t have the energy to fed the baby once again. Some may see this as a signs of postpartum depression which isn’t the same for all mothers. The following is a list of signs to look for in postpartum depression:
- Anger- Becoming angry at everyone that includes your baby, your spouse or even your older children. You have been throwing things or yelling at everyone. You can’t get a handle of this anger that is built up inside. You are mad all the time and you have no control over it.
- Brain Fog- You tend to forget things from time to time. It’s all a misery to you. You try your best to remember the right words, but nothing comes to mind. Then you try to multitask, but you cant do this. You find yourself in the middle of the intersection and realize that you flew pass the stop sign.
- Scary thoughts- Your thoughts are interrupted by “what if”, which begins to take over. What if something terrible happened? These thoughts are known as intrusive thoughts that interrupts your daily life which are a sign of postpartum anxiety and OCD.
- Numbness- Here I go again, I cant feel anything but just emptiness. You are going through the motions but yet you are not feeling it inside. You feel disconnected from everyone. You couldn’t care less about things and you don’t want to mention this to your doctor.
- Insomnia- Ahh…the little one is fast asleep and they say take a nap but nothing happens. You lay there at night wondering when will I get some sleep. You should be exhausted after one week of taking care of the little one, but still you lay awake at night wondering when will I fall asleep.
- Physical symptoms- My stomach doesn’t feel good again and my head hurts really bad. I begin to panic once again and I feel like I am having a heart attack. You feel aches and pain all over your body and you know that you don’t have a cold or flu.
I was inspired to write this blog on behalf of a fellow colleague Dr. Christina Hibbert who is a psychologist, mother and author of “This is How We Grow.” Dr Hibbert shared that she was a expert evaluator on a postpartum case for over five years. The woman is a 23 years old mother who has been sentenced to 40 years without parole for child abuse. How or Why? is this happening? According to Dr. Hibbert the woman is suffering from postpartum mental illness which included postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (due to a horrible experience with childbirth), postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression and later postpartum psychosis. The baby at the time was adopted after recovering from injuries and the 23 year old woman parental rights was severed. The woman also had an emergency hysterectomy during childbirth so she was childless. During her trial she was not evaluated for mental illness, but this incident was considered a child abuse case and she was the abuser. The prosecutor of the case sentence her to four back to back 10 years sentencing which total 40 years imprisonment.
Presently in 2014, she served 13 years in the state prison system and through several help by attorneys, advocates and experts that worked pro bono, she received “clemency” of her current 10 year sentence. Recently, she had an hearing and after a total of six hours and after drilling Dr. Hibbert and other expert witness her clemency was denied.
Postpartum psychosis is a very real issue “that affects 1-2 of every 1,000 births in which the mother becomes detached from rational thinking” (Hibbert, 2014). The symptoms of postpartum psychosis includes the following:
- Delusion or strange beliefs
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for or inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
It is important to know that there is help out there and the sooner someone gets the help the better life will become for you. If you know of anyone that may be suffering from this illness, please encourage them to speak to a professional.
Hibbert, C. (2014). Postpartum psychosis + Mental Health Stigma = 40 years in prison: Its time to speak up! Retrieved from http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/blog/
Postpartum Psychosis. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts/Postpartum-Psychosis.aspx