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Woman Was Sectioned For Three Months With Postpartum Psychosis After Not Sleeping For Eight Days

Woman Was Sectioned For Three Months With Postpartum Psychosis After Not Sleeping For Eight Days

For many, the first few weeks of their newborn baby's life is an exhausting but exciting time, one where you relish your new bundle and try and catch sleep whenever you can.

But that doesn't happen for everybody and for first-time mum Ele Cushing, 31, this was definitely not the case.

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Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

When her son Joshua Cushing, now three, was born, she didn't sleep for eight straight days and thought her husband wanted to run off with a nurse trying to help her.

She became obsessed with keeping her home immaculately clean, found her mind constantly racing, saw conspiracy theories everywhere and became consumed by delusions and extreme paranoia, even about those closest to her.

Ele said: "When I did try to rest, I had so many thoughts racing through my head at a hundred miles an hour."

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media
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"My speech was like verbal diarrhoea."

Friends and family could tell Ele was not herself but hoped at first they could manage her illness from home.

But as Ele became more and more erratic, her husband Greg Cushing, a 34-year-old vicar became deeply concerned and alarm bells began to ring.

Greg took Ele to her parents' home where they met with a crisis team before she was taken to Hackney Mother and Baby unit (MBU).

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

On the MBU, it was clear Ele couldn't care for Joshua. She couldn't perform simple tasks for him, and started to become detached.

Ele said: "Joshua had to be taken by the nurses so they could look after him because I wasn't. I was just paralysed. I didn't know where to begin."

It was then that a mental health crisis team stepped in. But this visit from the team made her deteriorate further.

Ele's psychosis had left her so distrustful that she thought Greg and a nurse from the crisis team wanted to lock her up so they could be together.

She said: "When the crisis team visited, there was a pretty younger woman there and I remember thinking she was sending me off to be locked up so she could be with my husband - they were in this together."

Following this meeting, Ele was diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis, separated from her family and sectioned.

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Once hospitalised, Ele descended further into "absolute mania" and even believed she was in The Hunger Games.

She was put into a room with a window onto the staff room to allow them to observe her.

She said: "I remember pounding on the glass, terrified that I would soon be sent off into the arena to be sacrificed. I felt like I had superhuman strength and it did take several members of staff to restrain me.

"I would charge up the corridor trying to make a break for it. I had to be tranquilised. It was total and utter mayhem."

After numerous psychotic bouts, Ele had to be transferred to a different hospital and they put her into isolation whilst they arranged for her transfer to Roehamption.

It was yet another trauma for Ele, who remembers "the bare room with just a blue gym mat in it, cameras up high watching you, a plate of food on the floor."

"I was marched in line past my parents and husband into the back of a van, barefoot in a short-sleeved pyjama top in the middle of winter.

Adding: "I was alone in what felt like a cage with no knowledge of where I was going. I thought I was being trafficked away, shipped off.

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

"I even remember thinking that my loved ones were clinging to the back of the van as we drove and fell off one-by-one to their deaths. I genuinely had no hope and was so scared."

The mum was treated with a range of antipsychotics and mood stabilisers but did not respond as quickly as the doctors hoped.

Luckily for Ele, she had support around her from friends and family who visited frequently bearing gifts, but the mum felt she had to hide them under her clothes and run to her room because she was so paranoid other patients would steal from her.

Visiting hours were her lifeline, but they also left her feeling guilty for leaving her husband alone and for the moments she was missing out on with her son.

It took doctors three months to help Ele recover enough to be allowed back home, her last month spent in Winchester MBU where she spent the next month rebuilding her bond with Joshua.

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She was faced with learning to be a mum to a three-month-old while still traumatised by her psychosis experience.

Ele's recovery has been filled with challenges.

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Since being discharged on April 15th 2016 and moving straight into a new house in a new area, Ele has battled depression, anxiety and OCD.

She said: "I felt very watched like nobody trusted me to be alone with Josh."

Even the sound of newborn babies crying would trigger traumatic memories and send Ele into a panic.

Looking back on her experience, Ele thinks her psychosis stemmed from the birth of Joshua.

Although she loved most of her pregnancy, she became particularly anxious towards the end about giving birth.

Her worst fears were confirmed when after being induced on January 6th 2016, Ele reacted quicker to a pessary than expected, leading to a third-degree tear with no time for an epidural.

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

She was rushed straight for stitches.

Ele said: "The birth was a blur. I had to close my eyes for a lot of it as a way of coping with the agony. It was excruciating. I needed to zone out.

"Badly damaged, I was taken to surgery to be stitched up and by the time I could cuddle our son properly, I felt physically numb."

Adding: "I felt like there were these secrets between women who'd had babies and women who hadn't because there's so much people don't tell you.

"I felt like men had conspired against women - like we were just pawns in their game, expected to produce the babies and go through all this horrific pain while they were off having affairs. I became quite distrustful of men in general."

Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Despite this, initially she felt she bonded well with Joshua.

She commented: "But in my illness, there was a point at which I became detached from him.

"Psychiatric wards are terrifying places when you're in your right mind and when you're in your wrong mind. I felt guilty about how much time I had missed with Joshua and all the moments I'd missed."

But she says her experience and the support from her family and friends has made her stronger.

"I never want to go back to that terrifying time in my life but overcoming it has given me much more of a fighting approach to life. Now I feel like I'm ready to support and help others.

"I had never heard of Postpartum Psychosis and that's true for so many people."

"I want to share my story to raise awareness of it but also to let other mums out there know they're not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like if I've managed to battle PP, I can battle anything. Bring it on.

Although rare, Mind says Postpartum Psychosis affects 1 in 1,000 births.

If you spot the signs and symptoms, please seek help from a doctor, call 111 for advice, or head for A&E if anyone is in imminent danger. Find out more here.

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Topics: Real, Life, Real Life, Health

Lauren Bell

A freelance journalist working for Tyla. After graduating with a journalism degree, Lauren started off in real life journalism before moving into the fashion and lifestyle sector at the likes of Mail Online and Sun Online. She's now living her best freelancing life, sometimes heading into the office, but mostly working from home in her PJs drinking coffee. Contact her: [email protected]

 

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