“It is still ok not to be ok, even as a parent” Chloe’s story

27/03/2022

With a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder and psychosis, Chloe assumed motherhood was not for her, but in 2018 she found out she was pregnant. On Mother’s Day, she discusses experiencing psychosis after her daughter’s birth, and how it’s crucial to seek support.

My own battle with mental illness has been in my life since I can remember. I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and psychosis in my late teens after struggling through my teens with depression, and unknowingly to me, mania. I honestly believed as I struggled with my illness through my twenties that it had robbed me of the chance of being a mother. I felt like this for many reasons but the main one being I didn’t think I was capable.

To my absolute astonishment I found out I was pregnant in late 2018. I had mixed emotions, especially around what it meant for my bipolar treatment and suddenly staying well became of upmost importance. It was not just about me anymore.

Fast forward to early June 2019 and the day my daughter was born. I don’t know what I expected, and I was certainly apprehensive, but I knew I had the incredible support of not only friends and family but the brand spanking new perinatal team who were a part of the hospital trust that I had been a patient of for years previously. However, I knew I was strong and that whatever happened I could deal with it, but I was not prepared for what did happen.

My daughter was born at a very low birthweight and was rushed to special care after the delivery. All I remember is feeling extreme worry and my mind was racing with so many thoughts. When she was stabilised, I was taken to see her and that’s when I began to feel a sort of out of body experience. I was thinking well, they could show me any baby on this unit, and I would have to accept they were mine. I was hearing voices, and having strong feelings of low mood, not that rush of love that I had been reading about. I felt inadequate, like the worst new parent ever. But I wasn’t, I was becoming unwell.

I was already under the care of services so how I was doing, was picked up by the people who could help, however I felt that I needed to be honest with the medical professionals about how I was feeling, and I am so glad I did.

  • I know that being honest about how you feel leads to help. Which is the best thing. It does not make you a bad mother or even a bad person, strength can be found in seeking much needed help.

I have spoken to many women about pre/post-natal depression and psychosis. The consensus is that if you express any other feeling than that of the perfect situation of love and happiness, then you are a ‘bad’ mother or even still, risk your baby being taken away. Having been through this situation I know that being honest about how you feel leads to help. Which is the best thing. It does not make you a bad mother or even a bad person, strength can be found in seeking much needed help.

My daughter will be three this year and she is thriving, but also so am I. I no longer feel guilt for how I felt when she was born, and I no longer compare or strive to be a ‘perfect’ mother. I am happy, more importantly she is happy and that’s all I can ask for. To all the mummas-to-be or new mummas, it is still ok not to be ok even as a parent. Please remember that.

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