Letter #3: My First Discharge from the Hospital

This is the third of a series of letters recounting my experience with postpartum psychosis. To read the other letters and learn more about my intention behind this series, you can go to this page here

An empty swingset

Dear Rowena,

After 11 days of breaking out of psychosis with the help of medications and group therapy, you were discharged from Suburban Hospital. You couldn't contain your excitement, as shown by this journal entry:

In 16!!!! hours I will be going home!!!

I cannot wait to see my children.

I can wait for my meds

Cooperate and you will be set free, my little bluebird

The first thing you noticed as you were driving home with Derek was how BRIGHT it was. You've been "on the inside" for 11 days and hadn't experienced sunshine in a while.  

You also noticed that you still felt some anxiety — it hadn't subsided completely. But unlike the time ramping up to psychosis, you felt comfortable holding your baby and playing with your toddler. 

Rowena playing a puzzle on the floor with KerriganWith my daughter Kerrigan after I was discharged.

With Derek's help, you navigated Labor Day Weekend with the kiddos, trying to figure out what's "too much" in terms of activities vs. working toward a new normal. On Saturday, you went to the pool and had a great time. 

Robbie at the poolRobbie at the pool trying out his new bassinet.

Sunday was a little bit harder.

You met up with some friends at a playground, and all the noise and chatter got you a bit overstimulated. Turns out you were experiencing some sensory overload, which is extra tough as a highly sensitive person. Information was flooding your senses, and your PPP brain couldn't process it all quickly enough. So, you said your goodbyes and headed home a bit earlier than you would've pre-PPP.

The rest of the week got more difficult from there.

You started experiencing akathisia, also known as inner restlessness, and it grew to be debilitating. On Monday night, you had an episode that involved pacing back and forth in your bedroom that subsided after a few hours (thanks to Benedryl). The next morning, Derek took you to Sheppard Pratt's psychiatric urgent care, where you waited an agonizing 3+ hours to be seen by an NP. You then paced in her office while she did an evaluation, the outcome of which was a recommendation to join the day hospital program. This was good news, except the program wouldn't have an opening until later that week. So, you took another Benedryl with your medications on Tuesday night and were able to sleep.  

On Wednesday night, Derek joined PSI's support group for families touched by PPP. During his meeting, you felt the akathisia coming up again strong. You thought how it was too damn appropriate for him to be talking about his wife with PPP, while she was having another episode in the bedroom down the hall.

You didn't sleep at all that night, even after taking Trazodone and several rounds of Benedryl. You felt terrible because your poor husband wanted to help but didn't know what to do.

In case you were wondering, when you're in the middle of an akathisia episode you're mentally all there, but your body doesn't want to cooperate. In other words, you're a prisoner in your own body and it's VERY uncomfortable. 

By Thursday morning, you and Derek decided that you couldn't wait for the day hospital program and that you needed to go back to the hospital. He took you to Howard County General's ER and stayed with you until he had to leave for Robbie's pediatrician appointment. He didn't want to leave you, but he checked in with the nursing staff to get you something to eat. You got a food tray around 1:30 PM — the first thing you ate all day. You haven't taken your meds, and a practitioner hasn't seen you in a while because several emergencies came through the hospital.

Finally, a psych NP who knew the psych NP at Suburban Hospital came in to see you. You received meds, and were soon moved into a specialized area of the ER for psychiatric care, where you were able to get a little bit of sleep and some more food.

After a few more hours, you were greeted by two women who put you on a gurney to take you back to Suburban Hospital via ambulance. The ride was certainly more pleasant compared to the first time, though you were pretty bummed that you had to go back to inpatient care.

I am mad/sad that I can't be outside right now

Spending time with my family

This disease has taken over my life

Like an unwanted annoying weighted blanket

The second stay at Suburban, however, was markedly different than the first. You need to be treated for the akathisia and you were no longer in psychosis. But I'll tell you more about your second stay, as well as the day hospital program that you eventually attended, in my next letter. 

Until then,

Your Postpartum Psychosis 

Leave a Comment