Support Is Key In Your Recovery with Kristina Dulaney

This episode is an important.  Kristina’s story is a great depiction of what it looks like to have postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a serious condition and if you believe you have it, you need to seek medical help immediately.  With that said, it is very rare.

We definitely don’t want to confuse postpartum psychosis with depression.  During the episode, we get on our soapbox a little bit talking about the movie “Tully.” Although it’s great that it has started the conversation about maternal mental health and we applaud them for that, it seems they missed the mark.  Warning, spoiler alert ahead!

The movie deals with Charlize Theron’s character as having postpartum psychosis but mislabels it as postpartum depression.  Not cool! They are 2 very separate things. Hallucinations and delusions are not symptoms of postpartum depression.

Thankful for the episode to give you a little more clarity on the topic of postpartum psychosis and what it truly looks like.

Kristina has a nonprofit organization that raises awareness around perinatal mental health.

If you want a more in depth episode on Postpartum Psychosis, check out Episode 4.

Kristina’s Story

Kristina believes she had postpartum depression and anxiety after both her pregnancies. She ended up not reaching out to anyone despite the risk factors and symptoms she was experiencing.  This was all due to the shame and stigma around mental health issues.  She felt like she could just get over it eventually.

She was able to get over it after her first, but after the birth of her second child she started suffering with heart palpitations and racing heart and ended up going to a cardiologist for help.  Not once through this experience did they entertain the idea of her having anxiety.

About 5 & 1/2 months later she had an episode.  Prior to this, she was feeling on cloud 9, almost going through a manic phase.  She was supposed to drive herself and kids to the beach and something inside her said not to get in the car.  That same morning she quit her job (which she has no recollection of) and proceeded to go see her pastor because she thought he was dying. These thoughts were very outside of what was normal for her.

Looking back she believe it was this subconscious state because she was able to recite Scripture that her husband never thought she memorized.

Her husband was puzzled so he went to make a phone call for advice. While that was happening, she took her kids because she thought Jesus was coming back. It was mainly just this sense of urgency for her.  As she held them in her arms, rocking back and forth, she pleaded for Jesus to save them and her friends.

Her husband returned to see this and she was as white as a ghost. He knew then and there something was wrong and called 911.  Everyone came, police, fire truck, ambulance and when she saw them, she thought she was dying and told them to pump on her chest.

They took her into the ambulance and she then came to the realization she was fine and went back inside. Her husband had to ride in the ambulance with her to make sure she’d stay.

The medical professionals took her to the ER where she spent 2 or 3 nights. She went to a general psychiatry inpatient unit and since it wasn’t geared toward maternal mental health, it was very scary. She was among the general population and although she doesn’t remember a lot of her stay, she does remember having to bathe a lot because she felt she needed to get clean.  There was a sitter that stayed with her 24/7. As apart of her recovery she also had to go to group therapy everyday.  Whenever she was paranoid or agitated, they would give her injections.  Unfortunately, her experience wasn’t ideal.  Ideally, going to an inpatient maternal mental health care unit would be the best option.

When she was finally released, she did have outpatient care and had to go to group therapy.  She had a sitter at home for herself. It really put a pause on her life because she couldn’t work or couldn’t drive.  In retrospect, she understands why, but it was a very difficult time in her life.  It’s enough for anyone to be over all the restrictions.

Luckily, Kristina’s story has a happy ending. She is no longer suffering with postpartum psychosis but does keep up with some things to prepare herself for perimenopause.  It can show up again during that time.

The Risk Factors Kristina Experienced

  • Help getting pregnant
  • Emergency C-Section
  • Her Birth Plan didn’t happen
  • History of family mental health issues
  • Undiagnosed depression and anxiety with her first
  • Peripartum anxiety undiagnosed and treated with her second

What She Believes We Can Do For Moms With Postpartum Psychosis

  • Individual Therapy
  • Reassurance that the mom is going to be okay.
  • Go to an inpatient facility specific to your issue if possible. (Unfortunately there isn’t much available)
  • Get coached
  • We need professionals specialized in the field of maternal mental health

Kristina’s Advice for Loved Ones Who Know Someone With Postpartum Psychosis

Support is absolutely key to help women know they’re not alone and that things will be okay. If you know someone with psychosis and want to help in anyway, be sure to know the symptoms involved.  Do not be afraid to get that person help.

Encourage them to join a support groups locally for moms as well as online support groups. Reach out to Kristina herself.  There are also Postpartum Support International Chapters in many areas.  They can get you connected with the right professionals in your area.  They also have a warmline you can call at 1-800-944-4773

Where You Can Find Kristina

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