Posted by: Heather Coleman | April 8, 2013

#HAWMC Day 8: If Postpartum Psychosis Were An Animal

If postpartum pscyhosis were an animal, what animal would it be? Is it a real animal or make believe? I picked one of each to represent this condition, in order to give you a better idea of what we’re dealing with here. You can also find an informative list of the symptoms of postpartum psychosis (in Plain Mama English) on Postpartum Progress.

colorful chameleon

If postpartum psychosis were a real animal, it would be a chameleon. Why a chameleon? Because postpartum psychosis can sometimes camouflage itself among your everyday thoughts, so that you almost don’t even notice it is there. Others may notice that your behavior has changed or that you are talking differently, but to you it may seem like it all makes perfect sense. When my mania ramped up to the level of psychosis, it happened extremely fast (within an hour or so), but several of the delusions I had were representative of things I knew. For example, I believed that I was Leeloo from the movie, The Fifth Element, and that I had to save the world. I also believed that I was being followed by government agents, similar to what happened in the movie, The Matrix. I enjoy a good sci fi movie and my deteriorating mental processes were reflecting that aspect of my personality. To me, it seemed very plausible, because I could no longer tell the differece between reality and fiction. These two worlds had blended together, just like a chameleon and its surroundings.

If postpartum psychosis were a make believe animal, it would be a Jabberwock. Why the Jabberworck? Because postpartum psychosis is nonsensical and puzzling, just like Lewis Carroll’s famous poem, Jabberwocky. jabberwockyAnd just like in the poem, you can feel as though you are travelling in an inverted world. Up is down, wrong is right, fast is slow, good is bad. At one point during my postpartum psychotic episode, I felt I was in a game of cat and mouse with my husband. I thought I was God and he was the devil. I couldn’t answer his questions truthfully, especially about where I was, or the world would end. When the sky got dark and the traffic snarled to a stop, it meant I had answered him correctly. When the sky brightened and the road opened up, it meant that I had made a mistake. At the time, this “game” seemed perfectly logical. But to my husband, it was nonsense and only increased his urgency to find me, before something bad happened to me. I was extremely lucky that four strangers stopped to help me that day.

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