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"I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being driven to a psychiatric ward."

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”― Laurell K. Hamilton

I suppose you could say it all finally came crashing down. Post natal psychosis and depression… I think of it like a brick wall – it slowly slowly builds one brick at a time, heavier and heavier but watch out for the massive fall when all the bricks all come falling down. Or better still… catch it way before the wall comes falling down.

Psychotic thoughts whirl around in my head…

A pedophile will get to my children and it would be a good idea if I started finding them.

The woman at the McDonald’s drive through was ‘having a go’ at me and was out to ‘get’ me.

Someone was listening to me via my Bluetooth phone speaker in the car. I put it in the bin.

All the food in the house was poison.

My sister, niece and nephew had come into my house and had a party without me.

The house had been broken into.

My husband may go and leave us soon.

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""I think of post natal depression like a brick wall. It slowly builds one brick at a time, heavier and heavier until it falls." (Image: iStock)

The ambulance pulled up. It kind of felt like ‘well, this game is over’ and I think a sense of relief.  A woman and man - ambulance officers - got out of the ambulance. I felt betrayed by my mother. I wanted the ambulance officers to go away… I didn’t need them. I stood at my front gate with my son on my hip and my daughter next to me. I am ok, I tell them.

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I went to playgroup… it was the only thing I could think of that might relay to them that I was normal. I didn’t have any work at the time to say ‘I have a job… I do this’ and my value as a mother was slowly diminishing.

I can then remember being outside our house again still pleading with the male ambulance officer. I then asked if ‘could I take my children with me’. He agreed. We bundled into the ambulance. My neighbour who had heard and seen what was happening got in with me. I lay on the stretcher, the male ambulance officer strapped me in and my son lay on my chest with my arms around him. My daughter sat in the small seat behind my head and when I turned around to ask if she was alright she nodded – she had her seat belt on and was sitting upright.  My neighbour was in the front seat.

Listen: Libby Trickett shares her difficulty in bonding with her newborn baby on I Don't Know How She Does It (post continues after audio...)

We were ok. We were in the ambulance. We were safe. I had spent time teaching my children about ambulances and ambulance officers being able to help us. I now needed some of this education for myself. The male ambulance officer was in the driver's seat. The female ambulance officer sat in the back with us. We drove off.

There was a sense of unreal-ism to this situation… this was to continue. The ambulance officer asked where my sister lived (I had mentioned my sister to him). He also asked me something like ‘how were the pregnancies', I told him I had good and easy. I lied. I can remember the female officer telling her colleague I was dehydrated.  I could not remember the last time I had had a drink of water… I couldn’t remember the last time I had slept. I was walked to a car by two security guards.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was being driven to a psychiatric ward and being admitted as an involuntary patient. I remember being in the back of a car and someone was in the back with me I think… I can’t remember who it was. I remember the face of the doctor in emergency though.

"I didn’t know it at the time but I was being driven to a psychiatric ward and being admitted as an involuntary patient." (Image: iStock)
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I remember looking down at my arm and seeing that I had a plastic hospital band around my wrist – I realised I was in hospital. I can remember sitting next to a girl who was probably slightly younger than me. She told me she liked my shoes. I looked down at my shoes, I purchased them from the Blue Mountains. My husband, daughter and I occasionally ventured there for a short break… it seemed a million miles away from this life. I replied to her and she became hysterical and was taken away (to what I now know as an isolation room).

I walked to the door of the nurses station, I had to get home to the children alive. I hope she has a million pairs of shoes today. I remember reading signs about post natal depression. I remember asking a male nurse how I could get home… I felt like I had and would be in there forever.

That was seven years ago. Since that time I have had seven admissions into psychiatric facilities (some voluntary and some involuntary) and learnt so much. My diagnoses have been varied; Post Natal Psychosis, Post Natal Depression, Generalised Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress (from the experience).

I am much better at handling my mental health these days and by that I mean if I get the smallest clue that something might be wrong with my mental health I pick up the phone immediately and ask for help. I attended psych-educational classes (as both an inpatient and outpatient) throughout this time.

Now, I am applying to become an Official Visitor (a program that allows one to visit public psychiatric facilities and advocate for patients) and I know I may be able to make a difference.

After all, there is nothing like lived experience.

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