A first-time mother was cut for three months after developing postpartum psychosis (PP).
31-year-old Ele Cushing claims she did not sleep for eight days following the birth of her son Joshua on January 7, 2016 because she was obsessed with keeping her home spotless.
The pastor's 34-year-old husband, Greg, became worried when he woke up to find that his wife's biblical notes were irregularly covered in a red pen.
After visiting a mental health team, Ms. Cushing from Loxwood, West Sussex, was separated.
By this time, Mrs. Cushing's psychosis had made her so paranoid that she was convinced that her husband and a "pretty" nurse wanted to "lock them up" so they could have an affair.
When Ms. Cushing was hospitalized, she sank into "absolute mania," believing she was waiting to be "sent to the arena to be sacrificed" at the Hunger Games.
After being away from her family for three months, Ms. Cushing was finally stable enough to go home, feeling "stronger and bolder" than ever before.
Ele Cushing, 31, claims she did not sleep for eight days after the birth of her son Joshua because she was obsessed with keeping her home immaculate. The new mother had a traumatic situation in which she was operated on immediately after the arrival of the newborn because of sutures. She's in January 2016 at Kingston Hospital, cuddling him for the first time
At home, Mrs. Cushing's relatives knew something was wrong, but were not sure how to help. Her pastor Greg, 34, (pictured with her son) became seriously worried when he woke up to find that his wife's biblical notes were irregularly dotted with red feathers
When Ms. Cushing talked about the beginning of her ordeal, she said, "I did not sleep. I could not switch off.
"Even when Josh slept, I kept walking around to make sure everything was clean and tidy instead of resting.
When I tried to rest, so many thoughts raced through my head at a speed of one hundred miles an hour. My speech was like verbal diarrhea.
"The disease was characterized mainly by paranoia, mistrust and insecurity."
During the visit of the crisis team, Ms. Cushing became wary of the "pretty younger" nurse.
"I remember she sent me away to be locked up so she could be with my husband – they were there together," she said.
"In the hospital, they took me to a room with a window to the staff room so they could watch me, and I thought I was at the Hunger Games.
"I remember knocking on the glass, dreading being sent to the arena soon to be sacrificed.
I felt like I had superhuman strength, and it took several people to hold me back.
"I would charge the corridor and try to take a break. I had to be calmed down. It was total mess. & # 39;
Ms. Cushing claims to have been hospitalized.one of her most traumatic flashbacks.
"In the middle of winter, I was dragged barefoot in a short-sleeved pajama top past my parents and husband in a van," she said.
I was alone in a cage, not knowing where I wanted to go. I thought I was taken away, shipped.
I even remember thinking that my loved ones were clinging to the back of the car when we drove and died one by one. I really had no hope and was so scared. & # 39;
Ms. Cushing had to be induced after 40 weeks for an abnormality in the umbilical cord of Joshua. She responded quickly to the pessary that started her contractions, resulting in a third-degree tear, with no time for epidural anesthesia. She claims she felt "deaf" when she met her son (pictured)
Ms. Cushing (pictured with her son) was convinced that her husband and a "pretty" nurse wanted to "lock them up" so they could have an affair. Once cut, she thought she was in the panemes of panic and would soon be sent to the arena to be sacrificed & # 39 ;.
Ms. Cushing and her husband were overjoyed when they discovered they had been expecting in March 2015.
She enjoyed her pregnancy until her last trimester when the full-time mother got worried about the birth.
An anomaly with Joshua's umbilical cord was detected on her 20-week scan and meant that Ms. Cushing had to be induced on January 6, 2016, after 40 weeks.
Ms. Cushing responded quickly to the pessary that started her contractions, resulting in a third-degree tear without time for epidural surgery.
Joshua was born healthy on January 7 and weighed 3.9 kg. However, his mother immediately had to undergo surgery to get sutures.
"The birth was a blur," said Mrs. Cushing. "I had to close my eyes to deal with the agony. It was painful. I had to retire.
"Heavily damaged, I was brought to the operation to be sewn, and when I was able to cuddle our son properly, I felt physically numb.
"I had the feeling there were secrets between women who had babies and women who did not, because so many people do not tell you.
I felt men had conspired against women – as if we were just farmers in their game, who were expected to witness the babies and go through all the terrible pain while they are. I have generally become rather suspicious of men. & # 39;
Mrs. Cushing had a number of antipsychotics and three months in the hospital. At last she was stable enough to go home to her son (pictured left and right together). She describes her relationship as "incredibly special" and adds that it is "everything she wanted and more".
At home, Ms. Cushing's friends and family found that something was wrong, but they did not know how to help.
After a particularly bad night, Mr. Cushing brought his wife home to their parents, where they met with a crisis team. She was later brought to Hackney Mother and Baby Unit (MBU).
The MBU made it clear that Ms. Cushing could not look after Joshua in her present condition.
"Joshua had to be taken away by the nurses so they could take care of him because I was not," she said. I was just paralyzed. I did not know where to start.
"I do not feel like connecting with Joshua. We joined in from the moment he was born, and I had this first skin-to-skin contact with him.
"But in my illness, there was a point where I broke away from him. Suddenly there was a barrier of illness between us. & # 39;
Over the next two months, she was transferred between psychiatric wards in Greater London, where her husband completed training as a vicar.
The new mother was treated with a range of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, including lithium and olanzapine, but did not respond as quickly as doctors had hoped.
Ms. Cushing, a former publisher, said, "I was transferred to Newham's psychiatric ward, where I reached my most hectic position.
They tried all these different medicines and nothing worked.
Eventually, I was taken to an isolation room while arranging my transfer to Roehampton.
"That was another traumatic review for me when I was gone – the bare room with just a blue gymnastics mat, upscale cameras, and a plate of food on the floor."
During the section, Ms. Cushing fought against her husband's guilt (pictured with her son in the summer of 2016), who had to raise Joshua alone. The new father visited his wife every day
Friends and family frequently visited Ms. Cushing and brought gifts that she hid under her clothes for fear that other patients might steal her.
She also struggled with her husband's guilt for having to raise her son alone.
"Greg was so lonely," Mrs. Cushing said. It was really hard for both of us. He visited me every day, but it was depressing for him to see me there
"Psychiatric wards are scary places if you are sensible and in good hands.
"I felt guilty about how much time I had missed with Joshua and all the moments I missed."
After eight weeks in psychiatric wards, Ms. Cushing was transferred to Winchester MBU, where she spent the next month rebuilding her bond with Joshua.
The new mother was treated with quetiapine, a psychotropic drug used in schizophrenia, and eventually began "coming out of the fog."
Since her release on April 15, 2016, and moving directly to a new area, Ms. Cushing is fighting depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Even the crying of newborns would trigger traumatic memories and panic them.
"After I was released, I felt like I was learning to become a new mother of three months," she said.
"When I went to mother and baby groups, mothers with babies the same age as Joshua seemed like old hands, but everything was new to me.
"I felt very much watched, as if nobody could trust me to be alone with Josh."
Ms. Cushing is pictured with her family and dog immediately after her release. They moved to a new home in a new area. She later fought depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder
Ms. Cushing was left home after giving birth and "struggled to connect with Joshua." She felt like a "barrier of illness" between them. Mr Cushing (pictured right with Joshua) had to raise his son alone for the first three months and felt "so lonely" and found the ordeal "very difficult".
With the support of her relatives and the Postpartum Psychosis (APP) charity, Ms. Cushing is "stronger and braver" than ever.
"At first, I wanted to return to my old self, but I accept that I will never be the same again," she said. "I'm actually stronger and braver than ever.
"I never want to return to this terrible time in my life, but the overcoming has given me a much more militant attitude to life.
"I have the feeling that if I have managed to fight PP I can fight everything. Bring it on.
"And my relationship with Joshua is unbelievably special. He is a bundle of energy. He wakes up every day and is ready to perform. Thats fun. He is brilliant – everything I wanted and more. & # 39;
Despite fear of heights, she even took a parachute jump in August to collect money for APP.
She speaks out to raise awareness of PP among young mothers.
"Now I feel ready to help others and help them," said Mrs. Cushing. "I've never heard of PP, and that's true for so many people.
"I want to share my story to raise awareness, but also to let other mothers know that they are not alone and at the end of the tunnel is a light."
WHAT IS POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS?
Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that can cause hallucinations and delusions in young mothers.
According to Postpartum Support International, about one to two out of every 1,000 births are affected.
PP is different from the "baby blues" many mothers experience when they are struggling with the stress and hormonal changes associated with childbirth.
It also differs from postnatal depression, which affects one in ten women to some extent. This can lead to feelings of helplessness as well as loss of interest in the baby and frequent crying.
The symptoms of PP usually start within the first two weeks. Some include:
- Manic mood
- Loss of inhibitions
- Feeling paranoid or anxious
- Act out of character
The cause is unclear. It is assumed that women are at higher risk if they:
- A family history of mental illness, especially PP
- Bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
- A traumatic birth or pregnancy
- In the past suffered from PP
Ideally, patients should be taken to a specialized psychiatric ward, a so-called Mother and Child Department (MBU), where they can still be with their child. They may be admitted to a general psychiatric ward until an MBU is available.
Antidepressants may be prescribed to relieve symptoms, as well as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers such as lithium.
Psychological therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help patients control how they think and act.
In rare cases, electroconvulsive therapy can help with severe depression or mania.
Most women with PP recover completely if treated properly.
Severe symptoms usually last between two and 12 weeks. However, it can take a year or more for women to recover.
A PP episode can be followed by a period of depression, anxiety, and low self-confidence. Some women then have difficulty connecting with their baby, or feel missed.
These feelings can usually be overcome with the help of a mental health support team.
Around half of the women with PP will suffer from pregnancies again in the future. Those at high risk should receive specialist medical attention from a psychiatrist while they are awaiting it.