The first time I realised I might be having a psychotic episode, shocked and confused me.
I was 7 months pregnant and my partner had gone on a night out whilst I looked after our two-year-old daughter.
She was sleeping in her bed and as I lay next to her, the room felt really noisy and I thought that the walls were caving in on us.
I was so scared, I blockaded the door. I kept checking out the window so I knew we had an escape route.
But as I closed my eyes the room began to shake.
I felt sick and dizzy.
I messaged my partner. I checked on all the news apps on my phone but nowhere could I find reports of an earthquake, not even from a Facebook friend.
And the next day it hit me.
There hadn’t been an earthquake.
The room was still in tact.
Nobody had come to hurt us.
I felt drained and confused.
And it was then I realised that their might be some truth in what my mental health nurse and psychiatrist had been saying – I was paranoid.
And perhaps I was, as they said, experiencing psychosis.
I have had (for as long as I can remember) experienced distressing episodes of “loudness.”
Where my mind races, my body freezes, I start seeing things that (I’m told) aren’t there, I become obsessed with signs and symbols and I struggle to separate what is real and what is not.
What is reality anyway?
Fortunately for me, when I was pregnant (as above), I had a lot of health professionals involved in my care.
Yes most/nearly all of them just focused on my physical health as I was pregnant and ignored the tricky issues presented to them in the form of my mental health files and ongoing experiences.
I was “high risk” due to my mentally ill past.
They used my extra appointments to check me over more thoroughly but the care always centred around my physical health.
Fortunately though a consultant obstetrician had the initiative and the guts to “check out” my head. She was the first person who dared listen to me
Stress and cortisol can also be damaging to an unborn foetus
The consultant asked me open questions, rather than the usual closed ones.. “You’re doing ok, right? You look fine.. You’re not suicidal are you?..”
Finally somebody who wasn’t just covering their back but she actually took the risk of listening to me and helping me.
And she implemented the support I so desperately needed.
I was going through a “crisis.”
Going to a mental health hospital
My mental health care escalated at an overwhelming pace.
I was scared but at the same time it gave me a glimmer of hope.
Maybe I was mentally ill? Maybe life didn’t always have to feel/be this bad.
I had various check-ups with mental health nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists.
I remember going into a mental health hospital and it looked so bland, dark and scary.
I wasn’t mad like the others in there.
I didn’t deserve help like they did.
I had a family, a job, a baby on the way and a fiancé. Compared to my childhood, life was pretty cushty.
But I was in a very dark and lonely place and I thought that the professionals were just trying to interfere in my life and intrude on what was happening to me. They couldn’t see or hear what was going on, so how could they be qualified to help me?
They were interrupting my mania.
It was real to me. People were watching me.
There was a conspiracy against me.
And no matter how high up a doctor was in the NHS, no matter how posh a health professional sounded, they did not know what was happening to me.
I had been having phone calls from those who were after me but when the psychiatrist asked to look at my phone no details were there.
I was so confused and I could see I looked mad to them but they didn’t REALLY know what was happening.
But they did know
I was/am/have been suffering from psychotic episodes.
It’s hard to say that because I feel and (I think) I look normal.
Fortunately for me, I was given the option of in-patient care or being admitted to a mother-and-baby unit for specialist support or being cared for by my partner at home.
We as a family decided it was best to keep me at home as I couldn’t bare to be away from my eldest child.
I received crisis care daily and was put onto anti psychotic medication.
And after months of trialling different medication, support services and 24/7 care from my partner I was beginning to feel more stable.
I also had the added distraction of a beautiful new baby to look after.
I’m pleased to say that my mind feels a lot more quiet now.
I can now see a future for me which I couldn’t before.
I have two awesome young daughters, I recently got married and I feel proud to be part of a stable home.
My favourite quote is from Aristotle: “There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.”
I made this film about my experience: https://youtu.be/iqjncVUv_8s