Kate Sweeney never experienced any mental health issues growing up but began hearing voices just five months after giving birth.
“While I never had any mental health issues growing up, anxiety began to creep in when I was pregnant with my daughter Holly in 2014″, Kate shares with The Sun
“In April 2015, I suddenly began to hear voices in my head. The first time was just after the health visitor had left and I could still hear her chatting away. Suddenly another voice piped up, warning that a friend was a witch. It sounded so real, I didn’t know what to believe.
“Within a few days, the voices had become more regular. One morning, they insisted I get rid of all of my ‘poisonous’ herbal teas. Deep down, I knew it was silly, but I couldn’t stop myself as I threw the boxes into the bin. Thankfully they never asked me to do anything scary or involving Holly.
“One day, Dan arrived home to find me laying out our freshly washed laundry on the lawn. When he asked me why I was doing it, I had no idea. Terrified, I called my mum Jo, 50, and she took me to hospital while Dan stayed with Holly.
“Sitting in A&E, I refused to open my eyes, convinced I’d die if I did. As soon as the doctors assessed me, I was admitted. I remember seeing the woman screaming in the corner, but by then I didn’t even know who I was, and just watched as my mum signed the forms to section me. I didn’t have clue what she was doing – I thought I was dead.
“Four days later, I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis and admitted to a specialist mother and baby unit, which meant I could have Holly with me. I was treated with a combination of diazepam and anti-psychotic drugs, and for the first time since Holly was born, I slept properly.
“A fortnight later, I finally began to feel like me again, and after six weeks I was well enough to come home. I thought life would return to normal, but the voices have come back three times since then, although I’ve got better at recognising when I’m becoming ill.
“I’ve accepted that the voices might never fully go away. Of course, I hope one day I’ll be ‘better’, but for now I’m simply looking forward to our future.”
In November 2016 we reported on a new mum who became convinced her daughter had been replaced. She believed the six-week-old child in her arms was not her own but “something else”. Read more here.
Another family spoke out about their loved sister, daughter, friend and partner, who took her own life after suffering from postpartum depression – read more on that here.
According to the Black Dog Institute, one to two women in every thousand will suffer from psychosis after pregnancy. That amounts to between 300 and 600 women each year.
If you are struggling please contact your doctor, Lifeline 13 11 14 OR Perinatal Anxiety and Depression (PANDA) national helpline 1300 726 306.
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