As many as one in seven women experience postpartum depression and anxiety. Common symptoms include uncontrollable crying, exhaustion, and loneliness, but what young mom Holly York experienced is way worse.
Holly and her husband, Adam, were ecstatic to be pregnant and welcomed their baby boy Leo on September 6, 2016 with open arms. The birth went well and the baby was healthy. Everything appeared to be just fine.
But everything wasn’t fine. For the next nine days, York never slept. She whizzed around the house, cleaning, cooking, and talking a mile a minute to her husband.
The new mom told The Sun that her nonstop energy reminded her of the Hollywood film “Limitless.” She said, “I was running around the house saying ‘I’m limitless, I’m limitless.’ I literally thought I was Bradley Cooper. I felt like I had taken a drug like ecstasy or something.”
However, it wasn’t long before York’s lack of sleep began to catch up to her. She began to have visions of her own dead body and ordered her husband to remove anything dangerous from the house, including knives and tweezers.
The once happy-go-lucky young woman didn’t want to harm her husband or son, but she was seriously considering killing herself. This wasn’t just postpartum depression. It was postpartum psychosis, a much rarer and more serious illness.
Dr. Kathryn Bundle, a consultant at Perinatal Psychiatrist Southmead’s Mother and Baby Centre explained the condition:
“Postpartum psychosis is a rare but severe mental health disorder, which usually occurs in the first few days or weeks after giving birth. The condition often has mood disturbance as a prominent feature, either manic (elated) mood, low mood, or sometimes a mixture of both high and low moods rapidly alternating. There may also be confusion and psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and muddled thinking.”
Disturbingly, both the birth center and emergency responders told York and her husband there was “nothing they could do.” The mom said, “They left me and Leo and Adam in the house together, alone, overnight. I kept saying ‘Am I dead or alive?’ and walking into the kitchen and seeing myself dead on the floor.”
Finally, 16 hours later, a psychiatrist showed up to take York and her baby to the hospital. After several days of taking anti-psychotic drugs, she was allowed to return home.
These days, York is feeling much better, but she still doesn’t understand why it took so long to get help or why doctors allowed her to leave in the first place.
She said, “It terrifies me and makes feel really sad because I just had a baby who I loved, and they could have taken all of that away from me. I will dedicate my life to making sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression or psychosis, there is help available at PPD Moms. Call 1-800-PPD-MOMS. Most importantly, remember that you’re not fighting this battle by yourself.