health

Life with postpartum psychosis: 'I thought I was James Bond and had to save the world.'

“The name’s Bond, James Bond.” That’s how new mum, Dorota Donigiewicz, would answer the phone for months after giving birth to her daughter, Zofia.

Dorota, 27, from Hertfordshire in the UK, was suffering from a severe case of postpartum psychosis which led her to believe that she was 007.

She took on this new identity, believing she was a secret agent, and actually began scouring the countryside for a safe house.

According to Beyond Blue, postpartum psychosis (also known as postnatal or puerperal psychosis) is a rare mental health condition that affects a small number of women (one or two in every 1,000 mothers) in the first days or weeks after childbirth.

Dorota’s psychosis started just three months after giving birth to Zofia, when she was living in Hong Kong with her fiancé Sean O’Sullivan, 28.

Then on a trip to Poland to visit her family, her symptoms became worse.

postpartum psychosis
“Sean is so caring and kind, he’s been my rock throughout all of this." (Image: Facebook.)

“There was a radio competition to find a James Bond fan to go to the premiere and I thought, ‘Well, I am James Bond',” Dorota told The Mirror.

“From that moment I thought my mission was to save the world.”

After that Dorota's behaviour became more and more erratic, while she carried out her "mission".

“I even asked people to stash money away for me so that Zofia and I would be cared for if I failed in my mission to save the world,” she told the publication.

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"My family noticed I was acting strangely, but they thought I was messing around at first."

Dorota began shopping erratically, spending over $3000 on presents for friends and family, and nearly purchasing a $48,900 car. Soon after, she became paranoid and began mistrusting her family.

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Her fiancé Sean was worried about her behaviour but played along until they returned to the UK, and Dorota was referred to a psychiatrist.

But before Dorota could see the psychiatrist her condition became worse. She took a taxi to go clubbing and Sean, left at home with the baby, called the police.

 Dorota was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. (Image: iStock)

Dorota was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. Over the next couple of months, Dorota slowly recovered from her illness.

Zofia is now 17 months old, and Dorota and Sean are now planning for another child.

“I’m not worried my psychosis would come back with a second child, but I know Sean is cautious,” Dorota added. “Sean is so caring and kind, he’s been my rock throughout all of this."

In 2013, Mamamia shared a similar story, belonging to one of our readers.

The battle against postpartum psychosis all started for Hayley* just a day after her daughter Lillian was born via caesarian section on 21 October, 2011.

After feeling incredibly elated moods upon leaving hospital, Hayley's mental health deteriorated once returning home, and she began having manic episodes - including waking up at 4am and cleaning the house or exercising obsessively.

“I got out the bathtub one night and I just had an insane urge to clean the shower. So I was cleaning the shower in my underwear and scrubbing. No top, pretty much nude, scrubbing. My brother walked past and he saw it. That was when my family started to think something’s not right,” she said.

“I started getting weird feelings of if my house wasn’t clean then I wasn’t a good mum. If there is dust on top of my TV, then I’m not a good mum. I started to get these obsessive thoughts that I had to prove to everyone that I was a good mother. So from then on, it just got worse and worse.”

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“It started getting worse and my husband was starting to get really confused at this point,” Hayley said “At no point was my child at risk, but I found myself slipping further and further away from being able to take care of her.

"I found myself slipping further and further away from being able to take care of her." (Image: iStock)

“My brain was just going a hundred miles an hour and I could barely have a conversation with anyone. I couldn’t think properly. I was doing too much, I was too over motivated to do things."

Hayley soon started spending money that she didn’t have, buying things for her baby that she really didn’t need. At the height of her psychosis, Hayley says she thought she was worth millions. She thought she owned charities. She even convinced herself that she owned one of Australia’s largest and most-profitable supermarket chains.

“I started thinking that I was a multimillionaire, that I could rid poverty, these sorts of things. I started thinking these really big delusional thoughts – that if everything were free then we could give people things for free. I started trying to employ people for my charity.”

“I contacted friends on Facebook saying can you work for me. I started thinking about name badges and how they’d get to work. How would they come to my house, send people things and approach businesses, the whole lot. After that, I checked my bank account,”

“There was about a $1000 in there, but I thought there was $1 million in there. That was when my brain just snapped, from that point on, I was just out of control. I started thinking I was a millionaire”.

If you or someone you know may be at risk of postnatal depression contact BeyondBlue 1300 22 46 36, or Post and Antenatal Depression Association Inc (PANDA)1300 726 306.

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