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New mum - this cannot be normal

(28 Posts)
wellamI1981 Sat 28-May-11 22:15:39

I had dc seven weeks ago. Since then the world hasn't felt real to me. Im worried my DH and DC aren't real and that I'm the only person. It's absolutely terrifying. I don't feel like 'me' anymore. Everything seems strange. I have spoken to midwives, health visitors and my GP - all of who are putting it down to being a new mum. I am functioning at the moment but I fear I won't be able to go on like this for much longer - but because I'm functioning well to the outside world noone can really see the problem. The professionals have put what I'm feeling down to anxiety but that seems like such a small label for how this is all playing out in my head. I am absolutely petrified and don't know what to do. Any advice welcomed.

UrsulaBuffay Sat 28-May-11 22:19:32

Is there any chance you may have an infection? I had a uterine infection which caused me to have a migraine with aura which meant hallucinations.

Have they offered any medication or counselling?

They could be correct as the anxiety that hits is intense, however do push them to check you have no physical issues like infection.

UrsulaBuffay Sat 28-May-11 22:27:55

Also, just thought, are you getting much sleep?

Don't think anxiety is a 'small label' it is a real medical condition not just 'feeling a bit worried'.

Good luck, please see your GP again.

bittersweetvictory Sat 28-May-11 22:32:48

Do you think you could have PND, i have read on a lot of threads that this is a good online test.

moggiek Sat 28-May-11 22:34:39

Hi wellamI

Please go back to your GP as soon as you can, and explain again about your fears that DH and DC aren't real. There is a condition called puerperal psychosis which may cause delusions like this.

PacificDogwood Sat 28-May-11 22:35:16

Congratulations on the birth of your DC smile.

Go back to your GP - or another dr if you did not feel listened to.

Severe anxiety is not just feeling a bit anxious - it can totally take over and stop you from functioning. The hormornal changes you go through after birth combined with the huge change of being a mother can make some people quite ill - usually temporarily.

Are you getting any/enough sleep?
Apart from not feeling real and others not seeming real to you, do you have any other thoughts you find unpleasant and you cannot control?
Have you had problems with overwhelming anxiety or low mood in the past?
Are you worried you are not doing a good job looking after your DC?

Really, push for further assessment and support.

MerryMemoo Sat 28-May-11 22:38:25

These early weeks are so difficult and exausting.
Can you explain a bit more about your dh and ds not feeling real? And about how you feel weird?

mrsfollowill Sat 28-May-11 22:44:56

Have you told DH all this? It sounds like you really need some RL support. If you are putting on a 'brave face' people may not realise you need help. You need help to push your GP for more help IYSWIM. It sounds like you are going through a very scary time - you will come through this but I would see another GP if possible. I remember feeling very detached from reality when DS was newborn and lack of sleep was the main cause I think as well as trying to be perfect. You need more help and support.

wellamI1981 Sat 28-May-11 23:32:21

Thank you all so much for your messages. It really helps. DH doesn't seem understand the sheer constant hell I'm in. I can't talk about it 24/7 and so when I don't it's 'forgotten'.

I have been able to access a counselling service and I'm waiting on my first appointment - I'm so hesitant to go on meds as BFing and know id feel like such a huge failure if for some reason i couldn't go on. I suppose cos I'm BFing I haven't had more than four hours sleep since DC was born.

So, I'm going to try and pin down how I feel. At the very real risk of sounding extremely odd here I go...I am questioning why we are here on the planet and how. I am the type of person that needs an explanation for everything and this is obviously one question I'm not going to get answered. The next thought is how are we here if the universe is endless - God seems unlikely/too good to be true. Then I go onto thinking about what reality is - what am I? To be honest everything is so, so mangled up in my mind I can't describe what it is I'm feeling - all I know is my life will be an extremely sad one if it goes on forever. I feel really cheated too: DC is so gorgeous and these feelings are ruining what's supposed to be such a happy time. Sorry for the ramble.

PacificDogwood Sat 28-May-11 23:51:49

Oh, wellamI, you poor thing.

Becoming a parent the the single most momentous change in our lives IMO and triggers all sorts of insecurities and makes us question things. This can sometimes go too far, particularly if thoughts go round and round in your head and you cannot let them go ie why are we here? The meaning of life etc - unanswerables that we usually just let hover in the background without worrying too much about them. But having a baby can change all that. Wanting to be the Best Ever Mother can lead to being worried about potentially harmful things to the baby, say for instance knives, which can lead to an obsession with knives, which in turn can lead to some mothers worrying not just that they might not be careful enough with a knife and accidently hurt their child, but actually worrying that they might deliberately hurt their child, if that makes any sense at all??
It's losing this sense of perspective that can be a sign of post-natal depression which in its more severe form is also known as puerpal psychosis.

It is very very scary going though what you are experiencing and I know it is almost impossible to believe just now, but there will be a time where you WILL BE BETTER AGAIN.

I am glad that you have counselling lined up. Also, do not rule out treatment with medication. There are tablets that you can take while BFing if things don't improve for you.

See, I can ramble with the best of them wink.

wellamI1981 Sun 29-May-11 02:41:02

Hi Pacific - I'm up for a nightfeed, all hell broke loose, argued with DH, caught sight of post preggers body in bathroom mirror...and then I saw your message and it's given me hope smile Thank you so much for your response. It's made me feel more 'normal' which is worth so much right now.

sausagerolemodel Sun 29-May-11 02:53:20

Hi Wellam,

Echoing what has been said - this is probably the biggest change you have had to go through, emotionally, physically, hormonally, mentally, in your entire life. Everything in your body has changed and been tugged about and juggled up. It WILL settle down and begin to feel normal again. Promise!

In the meantime, hopefully the counselling will help.

The thing that Pacific alluded to (with the knife analogy) is called "intrusive thought". I suffered from it really badly - I would have vivid thoughts of horrible things happening and that it would be my fault. Its now thought that these are part of a survival mechanism that causes your head (momentarily) to imagine worst possible case scenarios, which in turn make you take extra care - i.e. the purpose of them is that you end up taking extra care of things (that's a simplistic explanation, but hopefully it makes sense) But they can be horrible, so just wanted to put your mind at rest if that is the cause of any of your anxiety.

I think IIRC that wibbly wobbly hormone land begins to calm down after about 8 weeks. One of the best things that was ever said to me when I was a new mum was "it will pass". It will. You will be OK, and so will your family. smile

wellamI1981 Sun 29-May-11 06:32:20

Thanks sausage - what a kind message. Mumsnet never fails to surprise me at how supportive you are. It will pass is a lovely phrase and one I'm going to cling onto. I was on the phone to a crisis team last night and the worker also said that my 'meaning in life' was to look after DC and that's really helped too smile

allhailtheaubergine Sun 29-May-11 07:23:43

If you're feeling at the end of your tether and need to talk it all through you can always give Samaritans a call on 08457 90 90 90 or email them at - they will listen and won't judge.

Confuzzeled Sun 29-May-11 07:59:33

I know exactly what you mean.

After dd was born it started when I was in the car. Like the car was too complicated to actually be real, how could one person be in control of a huge hunk of metal traveling and high speeds. If I turned the car into a wall, would I really be hurt? And then it went deeper, what was conscious thought? Was I just a mind and I'd created the entire world and existence around myself. If I had created it, how awful was I to have come up with some of the atrocities going on. And yeah, I also had the fear about accidently hurting dd, walking through a doorway I was always scared I'd bang her head on the door frame.

Dd was never a good sleeper, she would wake hourly at points and because I was bf'ing and she refussed a bottle I felt like I was on my own.

Then after a couple of months I began to think less about everything being too complicated to be real and I got really angry. So angry I was scared I would hurt my dd, so I went to the doctor. I was put on a waiting list for councelling, which took almost 3 months. Just before my councelling was due to start I really scared myself with my temper and went to the doctor again. I was put on 20mg Flouoxotine a day, felt really trippy for a few weeks but it made me stop and think before I lost my temper. It also stopped me getting so panicky about stuff I had no control over.

Councelling really helped, I had 8 weeks of CBT. When dd was 18mo she stopped bf'ing and the fear/anger just went away with my hormones. Then when I got pregnant with ds, it came back. When ds was 2weeks old I went back to the doc and back on the pills. He stopped bf'ing 3 weeks ago and I plan on weaning myself off over the next month.

I know I've just blabbed about myself but I wanted you to know your not the only one. I've not met that many people who've felt like this, the doctors and midwife didn't pick up on PND as it's not about being unhappy, crying, feeling hopeless, it was about the mass anxiety and anger for me.

Anti D's are not the answer for everyone, but they helped me. I did feel like a failure asking for them, I still do when I go back for more, but if I hadn't gone on them, I hate to think how I might have ended up.

Good luck

natsyloo Sun 29-May-11 08:58:39

Firstly, you're not alone. Big sigh of relief as one of the worst feelings associated with what you're experiencing is that absolutely no-one else in the world could possible understand or feel the same way. They can, they have and so have I.

You've already taken major steps by articulating how you're feeling and asking for help.

I had dreadful PND after the birth of my DS nearly 10 months ago. I empathise totally with what you're saying about not feeling real and contemplating the universe. One symptom of PND is 'depersonalisation' - or a sense that nothing is real, like the world is a stage set rather than reality. The difficulty with PND or associated conditions is that a lot of people have varying symptoms - there isn't a 'one size fits all' so people can feel like what they are experiencing is totally alien.

I am just finishing CBT and have found this immensely beneficial given that it gives you a constructive toolkit to tackle situations where you're thinking unhelpful thoughts. It's not always easy however and particularly difficult to apply when you feel v low.

I bfed for nearly 5 months and took sertraline which is one of the ADs that is recommended for bfeeding. It is entirely your choice but please don't feel that taking ADs is in any way failing - many will use the analogy that if you had a physical illness you wouldn't stop taking the pills for fear of letting yourself down would you?

Also, see if you can attend a support group - it's so reassuring to be around people who understand how you feel and the challenges you face. There wasn't one in my area so I've set one up and HVs are now referring in to us from around the region. It's so lovely to be able to help other mums, and we've now got a regular group who come and some who, like me, feel so passionate about misdiagnosis, lack of support and signposting that we're lobbying for more more emphasis in ante natal classes and a joined up approach between GPs, HVs and community support. We'll change the world one step at a time!

Enough tub thumping. Take it easy, don't be too hard on yourself. This is incredibly trying and certainly has been the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with but you can and will get over it.

Take care and keep posting xx

wellamI1981 Sun 29-May-11 10:44:12

I can't believe there are people feeling the same way!! That really does help in that it makes me feel not as completely alone and mad. My mum mentioned to me that the BFing hormones might be making matters worse but I don't think I could bring myself to give up just in case it makes no difference.

Confuzzled thanks so much for taking the time to post. How you felt is so similar to me - like everything is too contrived to be real and I'm alone. Was it definitely the BFing for you? I have a feeling if I mentioned it as a possibility to a doc it would be rubbished. Did anyone back you up?

hi nastyloo. Did the ads help you? I am so scared of medication as have had really bad experiences in the past. Did you both feel cheated that your precious time with your newborn was effectively ruined? Or didn't it affect it? I already feel like this.

I am very lucky in that I have managed to access counselling relatively quickly. My psychological helper is ringing Wed and we are taking it from there. I really hope it helps.

wellamI1981 Sun 29-May-11 10:48:50

Thanks allhail. I did get to the end of my tether last night and rang a local crisis line which really did help. DH is the love of my life but he's not helping me feel better - he can't understand how I feel, nor would I expect him to. I do feel so, so jealous of him and women who can enjoy their babies without all this going on.

UrsulaBuffay Sun 29-May-11 11:08:17

I went on citalopram after I had DD, it really did get me through and I came off it pretty easily after 6 months though I was on a low dose. I did not bf because of the infection I had post birth.

Some of the thoughts I had after I had her I won't tell anyone. It can do strange things to you, this giving birth lark! I also pushed and pushed my DH away. Counselling will help, I also was given access immediately through the gp & things didn't seem half as bad once spoken out loud.

Don't think that everyone has a smooth ride, look at all of us! Maybe the women you see enjoying their babies are also struggling.

Confuzzeled Sun 29-May-11 13:20:11

Yes, it was the hormones for me, it stopped as soon as my milk dried up. But that would never have stopped me bf. I think the happiness I got from feeding got me through the lack of sleep (it was a long time with no sleep), that would've driven me nuts anyway. At 7 weeks your feeding routine will be hard work, but it gets easier and becomes very special. When I was angry with dd, bf helped me calm down and show me that she was just this tiny innocent person.

I did tell my doctor and hv that I thought my anxiety was related to hormones but both just brushed it off as new mum, chemical reaction in the brain blah blah blah. Then when I got pregnant with ds I told my midwife and she was amazing, really supportive and said she'd seen it before.

Like Ursula, there are things that went through my mind that I will never tell anyone (except my counceller).

I do feel like I missed the first 6 months of my dd's life, I was so uptight and frankly a mess. It got to the point when dh said he would leave me if I didn't get help. I hated people who seemed to be all fucking twee and perfect. I couldn't drive anywhere, it felt wrong and I watched far too much tv.

Anti-D's are like a crutch, they don't solve the problem but they can help you through until you find the problem and cure it. My problem couldn't be cured but I was willing to go through it for the benefit of my kids, councelling helped loads too.

Your issues may have nothing to do with bf'ing so I would never suggest you stop.

It's funny when you get out of it and you look back it's no wonder people can't understand what your going through. It's almost impossible to explain, how do you tell someone you think they're a figment of your imagination and you not only created the good bits but the utterly awful bits too. If it's not real why do things hurt so much, you feel like a feeding machine, you are so hungry but can't be bothered eating. Wishing you could just sleep without being disturbed just once. Also, being totally unable to relate to people, finding no joy at all sitting with friends, feeling really on the outside.

Finding out your not alone is a big help, thank goodness for mn I say.

PacificDogwood Sun 29-May-11 13:41:00

wellamI, I am glad that others have shared their experiences and that that has helped you a bit.

I have met and treated many women with PND and sometime puerperal psychosis over the years (I am a GP) and much as I have no personal understanding of what if feels like, I do know that people DO get better and get to enjoy their DCs. Also, what you were describing in your OP is really quite typical and you are most definetely NOT alone smile. Or mad wink.

Re feeling cheated: I do have personal experience of that feeling... I don't think that I ever had PND, but DS1 (now 8) was a very demanding baby who screamed 24/7 - or so it seemed. All my ideas of early motherhood had to completely go out of the window as my baby did not 'sleep like a baby', did not like the pram/car, was totally unputdownable for at least 6 months and went straight from seeminlgy deep sleep to total melt-down. I found myself living on tenterhooks all day, every day. And yes, I felt cheated. And cried a lot - I always felt that my emotions were in keeping with what was going on though. A lovely neighbour came 1x/wk and took him to the park for an hour or 2 which allowed me a breather, bless her! BTW, he is now of course much older and more mature, but still very very dramatic and prone to emotional outbursts. I really felt motherhood had been missold to me and still do to some extent. Yet still I went on to have 3 more and I love the talking/more interactive child although I still just have to 'get through' the baby months/first year.

What I am trying to say, even under the best of circumstances, new motherhood can test anybody to the limit. I think you deserve credit for recognising that things were not 'right' and for seeking help. Also, do accept any offer of help you get. If people are vague ('let me know if I can do anything for you') say 'Oh thanks, that is so kind. Would you mind hanging the washing up/holding DC while I have a shower/bring some groceries for us the next time you go shopping{handing over the money for that one wink}.

And you are right, you ARE the only person on this planet who knows how you feel exactly, so you are more likely to get help or even sympathy if you do drone on about it; not to all and sundry, but to relevant people close to you or who are ment to help you.

Re AD: while they are certainly not happy-pills or miracle cures, please do not rule them out completely. They have their place, they can be helpful if talking therapies alone are not enough and there are several that can be taking while BFing.

Keep going, one hour day at a time, keep talking to your counsellor/GP/HV/whhoever you find most useful and things will improve.

Sorry this has been so long and rambly - also if there are X-posts, it took me 2 hours from start to finish as keep being distracted by DSs grin

MumblingRagDoll Sun 29-May-11 13:45:09

Congratulations on te new baby....I just wanted t tell you that I went through something similar....I had no I managed...but it was scary and uncmfortable.

I thought "What have I done!??" every morning when I woke seemed too much of responsibility....the deep questions you keep asking are probably part of the philisophical change we all go through when we become parents...If it is any comfort I had those even before I had a baby....I had them as a child.

Are you getting out every day? For a walk and to mix?

PacificDogwood Sun 29-May-11 13:45:26

Oh, yeah, re BFing: I have no idea how hormones needed for lactation would directly influence mental well-being and obviously lots of women BF without developing PND, but a lot of people (myself included) feel different while BFing and better when they stop (as did I). This never made up for the convenience of BFing, particularly the older child, never mind the obvious health benefits to bubs and myself.

I think just like all women have the same hormonal changes that control cycle/periods/pregnancy but we all feel different, the same is true for post-natal and BFing hormone changes: same hormones, different reaction to them.

wellamI1981 Sun 29-May-11 15:50:10

I can't believe how lovely you are all being! DH gets worried about me over using the Internet (I tend to 'research' things a lot) but listening to all of your stories is so reassuring. I suppose what doesn't help is that none of this was mentioned prior to TTC our DC! I don't know if it's a case of people not wanting to freak you out/ embarrassed to say or even that for many people it's just not an issue.

Ursula- I too had terrible thoughts about DC that I couldn't bring myself to share but thankfully they have more or less gone. Terrifying!

I am clinging onto the notion of 'this too shall pass' and hoping one day I can look back on this having come through the other side.

Pacific - it's so great to have the input of a GP! I have had 'episodes' whilst on the pill so maybe I'm just more susceptible to hormones influencing my mental state than others? I also tend to worry and over think things so whereas some may let the bizarre feelings wash over them, I constantly analyse which makes matters worse.

Mumbling - me too. I find when I am suffering depression I go back to these 'big questions'.

Confuzzled I know exactly what you mean about the calming effects of BFing. In fact in the very early 'I really can't cope a second longer' days I think it was the only thing that got me through. I too don't think I could handle the 'fuss' of FF.

Another fear I have been having (it helps to pin them down) is that I died during labour and this is my 'hell'. Morbid huh?! I think it's because the world just doesn't feel the same as it did/ I don't feel the same as I did which is making me feel this way.

Right - the tumble dryer is beeping incessantly so I'm off to switch it off...

UrsulaBuffay Sun 29-May-11 17:49:29

'this too shall pass' is the absolute mantra to have, the first 6 months are hard anyway without these issues on top. You sound much more positive for hearing that it is common if not entirely 'normal' grin

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