Post Partum Psychosis and Depression, A few thoughts

A few days ago I had an email from the mother of a woman who is hospitalized with Post Partum Psychosis right now. She thanked me for the article I wrote a few years back at Compleat Mother and said that it gave her hope for her daughter.
Here is a link to that article:
The past day or so I have been thinking about my experience so much. With this recent report out that Pharmaceutical companies fudged the studies on anti-depressants, and the fact that whistleblowers have been screaming for years about the risks of Anti Depressants and Peter Breggin and psychiatrists like him have been writing, testifying, publishing, and educating a mostly disinterested public while mocked and belittled by the media, well, it is all just very unsettling to my mind.
For many years I believed that I needed the drugs I was court ordered to eat. I was given Haldol, Stelazine, Lithium, and later Prozac for the many different symptoms of mental illness I was exhibiting. In May of 1990 I asked my psychiatrist to help me wean off of the meds and thankfully she agreed to help me. We gradually took my Prozac dose down to one pill a day, then one pill a week, and when I finally stoped, I experienced a week of mania and mental overwhelm that really freaked my husband out. I have since learned that this is a normal drug reaction when coming off the meds, and is the cause of many people going back on the drugs, because they just can’t break through those symptoms into a well balanced state of mind.
I made it through the wall of symptoms and spent a year just letting my body balance out after fourteen months of toxic chemicals blasting through my body and mind.
During the intervening Seventeen and a half years I have not taken one psychiatric pill, even though I have had people, mostly professionals, but also some family members, say that they thought I should have been medicated all of these years. During each of my four pregnancies since the psychosis, I had so much fear and panic thrust in my direction from well meaning friends and family each time we announced that we were expecting again. They were so alarmed that I was planning to have another baby, so afraid that I would lose my mind again, and how could I possibly give birth and then take good care of my baby without being medicated???
The whole Brooke Shields/Tom Cruise anti depressant fight was such a big deal to me, as the two sides battled it out in the public airwaves. I spent some quality time on the New York Times Discussion board after Brooke wrote her op-ed.
As I was sharing my story on that site a female psychiatrist called me a “dangerous anecdote”. These past two years since that online debate I have chuckled to myself, “Jen, you are a “dangerous anecdote”, unlike the scientific professionals out there in psycho land who double blind study everything so methodically. Well, you know what? They don’t know their asses from their elbows, and the recent stories in the media are further proof of that fact.
Its a topsy turvey world.
I guess the main thing I would like to share in this post is that I give my Heavenly Father all of the credit for helping me through these past two decades. It would have been easy for us to justify to ourselves that I was just not healthy enough to be a mother to a large family, and to stop having babies after our first daughter was born. It would have been so simple to just keep taking whatever med my psychiatrist had prescribed for whatever symptom I had at the time and accept my fate as a mentally ill person. It would have been easy and smooth and I would have received so much sympathy and empathy from my family, friends, and peers who were also being medicated out the yin yang for post partum mental illness.

But I have a soul. I have a spirit. I have a heart filled with passion and hope and love. My eternal soul wanted to fly free, filled with hope and claiming all of the rights and joys of motherhood that were available if Paul and I could only conquer our fear and take a flying Faith Leap into the unknown. The unknown, marked by briars, and pit falls, and scorn, and terror. When Andrea Yates murdered her five children while on a full dose of effexor, I can honestly say that was the low point for me these past 20 years. We had been talking about having a fifth baby, and I felt like my life was really coming together. That story ripped open the scab, and the festering wound of our past came bubbling up, overwhelming both Paul and I.
We did conceive Ben a few months after that story hit the airwaves, and thankfully I was not disabled emotionally by all of the rhetoric being flung around by the news media. They were all obssesed with her husband, blaming him for her psychosis and the deaths of the children. Very, very few people, even now, blame her violent murders on the drugs.
I finally turned off the television and stopped reading the news on the internet during my pregnancy and just sheltered myself from the rage that was spewing. It was a difficult time.
But now that the truth is more fully being exposed about the psychiatric profession and the bogus studies on their dope, my heart just bleeds for the unnecesary pain of so many families. When I think about the individuals who have been court ordered to eat these drugs for the “mood disorders” and the wall of pain that has resulted in death, divorce, disability, and long term emotional pain, I just want to scream.
All of you lawyers, judges, doctors, social workers, “Professionals” who made sure that millions of Americans were doped to death in the various mental hospitals and prisons. The school children who have been killed by classmates high on drugs, the children in foster care who have been overwhelmingly doped, the mothers and father suffering from birth trauma who lost their minds while sleep deprived and suffering from post traumatic stress during medicalized birth, who then turned to psychiatric drugs to fix everything and then found themselves inside of a nightmare that never stopped. The whole big picture just makes me want to vomit.
I wrote my book, A Mothers Journey to share the tips and practices that helped me PREVENT post partum emotional illness these past four pregnancies. The number one preventive measure is to focus everything you have on making sure Momma SLEEPS. My rule for myself is to get one three hour chunk of deep REM sleep during a 24 hour period. I know that if I can get that sleep I will not lose touch with reality.
I also have many other tips and insights in the book, it is available on my web site here.
Anti depressants double the level of cortisol in the blood with just one DOSE, this high level of cortisol leads to a condition called REM Sleep Disorder. High Levels of Cortisol in the blood make it more difficult to achieve REM sleep. SO, taking anti-depressants is the absolute WORST thing you can take if you are a new mother getting very little sleep.
Side effects of cortisol: As you read these side effects, think about how horrifying it would be to take care of a new born babe while feeling these feelings:
“A single, 30 mg dose of Prozac — that’s a pill and a half — given to someone who has never taken the drug before, and who never takes it again, will double his or her cortisol levels.
Why is this significant? Research indicates that high cortisol levels cause:
Brain damage.
Cushing’s Syndrome, characterized by a hump at the top of the spine, rounded body with smaller arms and legs, round face, like you would see with Down’s Syndrome, and emotional instability. Moods can fluctuate from degrees of euphoria or mania, and full psychosis, to the depths of depression.
Other problems associated with Cushing’s Syndrome include:
Decreased ability to handle stress.
Decreased glucose tolerance, which often develops into hypoglycemia and diabetes.
Muscle weakness, brought on by potassium loss and / or the actual metabolism — or wasting — of muscle mass, capillary weakness, brought on by protein loss, and poor wound healing.
Bone demineralization and susceptibility to fractures, due to decreased bone mineral, and calcium in the urine.
Retarded bone growth in children, probably for the same reasons.
Edema, renal disorders, fluid retention around the face and eyes. Hypertension, from sodium and water retention.
Protruding abdominal cavity, which is why both men and women begin to look pregnant after using these drugs for a while.
Girdle obesity.
Increased production of androgen steroids, resulting in abnormal mammary gland function in men, even to the point of producing milk, and masculinizing of features in women, including excess hair growth on their face, neck, chest, abdomen and thighs.
Peptic ulcers.
Decreased or depressed immune system, and suppressed inflammation response, which can mask some very serious infections.
These are just a few of the things that can happen as a result of the increase of cortisol from these drugs.
When you’re literally doubling your cortisol levels on a daily basis, your body is completely deteriorating. I can’t think of anything more damaging to the body — or the brain — than that huge increase of cortisol.”

Jenny Hatch

Here are links to a couple of web sites devoted to mothers who have died, mostly suicides, while psychotic or depressed.
In remembrance: Mothers and Babies who have died while Mom was psychotic
Melanie’s Battle
Beth, A Story of Post Partum Psychosis

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