When my son was born, I automatically went into autopilot. The feeds, changing, sleepless nights, they all came naturally which meant I didn’t have to stop to think.
By the time he was 3 months old, I regularly broke down in tears and felt exhausted. After going to see my GP, I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and given medication to help. Six months later, my dosage was increased, as I felt constantly ‘down in the dumps’, I was forgetful and couldn’t focus on anything except taking care of my son. I rarely left the house, the feeling of going out, making sure I’d packed everything into the changing bag was too overwhelming.
Once my medication had been changed, within a month I started to feel somewhat ‘normal’ again, or at least I’d stopped crying every day. I decided to resign from my job of six years and stay at home with my son, who my entire life revolved around. I had few friends after moving to a new area and felt too anxious to go out to groups or events to make any new ones.
But I thought I was fine. This is motherhood. I had days where I felt on top of the world, didn’t need to sleep and could go anywhere I pleased.
And then everything changed. My son was 18 months old and after several weeks of suddenly feeling ‘down’ again, I felt completely hopeless. Thoughts in my head started to tell me that I was a bad Mum, I was lonely and had no routine after quitting my job. Weeks went by, I barely slept at night and felt tired all day.
One particular day, I was having a lie-down in bed while my son napped and I started to hear noises. Really, really loud noises that sounded like aeroplanes flying right above me and bombs being dropped across the town. I thought that I was living in World War II and immediately started to switch off all the lights and shut all of the curtains in the house. I rang my husband to make sure that he was safe, but he instantly knew that something was wrong.
Later, I found out that I had experienced a Psychotic Episode, where an individual has sensory experiences of things that do not exist and/or beliefs with no basis in reality.
From that point, I went from pillar to post for around 8 weeks. I ended up spending a night at A&E at our local hospital, I saw our local Psychosis Team, I saw my own GP on numerous occasions but eventually, I was referred to a Psychiatrist. After just one consultation, I was given the diagnosis of Cyclothymia, a mild form of Bipolar Disorder, whereby an individuals moods rapidly change, from depression to elation.
Having a definitive diagnosis meant that I could do my own research and find tactics that worked for me. I was and still am medicated, in order to keep my moods stable, rather than changing unexpectedly. I have regular reviews with my Psychiatrist and have now requested therapy, to work alongside my medication. I still have good days and bad days, but I’ve learnt how to manage these when I need to.
My son is still my entire Universe.