A new mum suffered a psychotic breakdown just days after a traumatic 64-hour labour during the birth of her first child.
Nina McCallig, 29, began hallucinating and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after storming out of her GP surgery and punching a police officer, reports The Mirror.
Nina had no previous history of mental illness. She began to show signs of psychosis within hours of returning from hospital after the birth of baby Heidi.
Nina stopped recognising the faces of the people she knew and started writing on her own arms.
This turned into full-blown hallucinations before she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after a public breakdown that saw the police called out.
The signs of psychosis began early and Nina struggled to bond with her new baby.
She said: “I started getting rid of things in the house. I was just bagging everything up in black bags. I started writing all over my arms, things that just didn’t make sense at all.
“I was also putting post-it notes all over the walls, saying things like ‘get rid of the teapot’. In the end my partner Mark slept downstairs with the baby just because I needed sleep.
“The midwife came out and said ‘that’s not normal, you should be bonding with your baby’. They made an appointment with my GP.”
Nina’s mental state became steadily worse until she reached a crisis point one week after Heidi’s birth.
She said: “I was hallucinating in the GP surgery. I was seeing people who weren’t there. The GP was young and didn’t really understand so I just screamed at her.
“I went out and just started screaming at people in the waiting room. I kicked the door open and stormed out. I went down the road screaming. I walked into a pub and went behind the bar.
“Two police cars eventually arrived. In my head, I was in a totally different place.
“The police took Heidi and Mark away and I punched a police officer in the face while he tried to calm me down. I also kicked the wing mirror off the police car.
“The on-call doctor came out and I was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis. I was a danger to myself. The doctor could tell I had lost all sense of reality.”
She spent two weeks at the Broadoak Unit, a psychiatric facility in Broadgreen.
She said: “I forgot who I was and forgot I had a baby. My family came to visit and I just didn’t recognise them.
“I was fighting for survival every single day. I felt at one point it would be easier to die, I had no life left in me. I felt like I was in a cage and couldn’t get out.”
While she was in hospital, social workers talked to Mark – Nina’s partner of six years – about placing Heidi into a foster family, but relatives stepped in to look after the infant temporarily.
Nina was eventually sent home and is still taking medication. She went back to her native Ireland and spent time with Mark and Heidi in Wales after being discharged.
Nina said: “I had never heard of post-partum psychosis and my family had never heard of it. There’s just no awareness of it but this could happen to anybody.
“At every point it should have been recognised. It should not have got to crisis point.”
She continued: “At first I was angry but now I want to change the stigma. People with mental health issues need to be treated more like human beings.
“I wouldn’t have got through this without Mark. He has been my rock.”
Nina is now campaigning to end the stigma around mental illness and raise awareness of post-partum (after child) psychosis.
Nina has produced a series of powerful black-and-white photographs to tell the story of her recovery.
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