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White Poppy

Do I have PTSD from giving birth?

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I have bipolar disorder, and I have a 6 year old son. My pregnancy was complicated, but the birth was a total shit-show. I almost died, and was in and out of hospital for a month following the birth. I had to have 3 surgeries in 4 weeks. I got poor medical care. My concerns about my mood were dismissed. It was a truly awful experience. When I finally got out of the hospital, my mood went crazy and stayed that way for 5-6 years - manic, depressed, mixed states, intense anxiety. 

Following the birth, I started having what I think are flashbacks. I never lost touch with reality, I didn't actually believe I was back in the hospital, but I would have these intense moments where the memories flooded back all of a sudden, especially if I saw or heard anything about childbirth. I have less of these now, but I still get them. For example, I have trouble watching shows in which someone gives birth, and when someone I know is pregnant or gives birth, it fills me with feelings of sadness for what I missed out on. The other day I was writing up the story of my son's birth, and I had to stop because I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. I have recently hooked up with a facebook group for mothers who have experienced traumatic birth, and a lot of them say they have PTSD. I'm wondering if I do too.

6 years after the birth, I still have physical damage, and I have had a lot of trouble bonding with my son. I often regret having him, because in a very real sense, his birth is the worst thing that ever happened to me. I am socially withdrawn, when I used to love being around people and talking to friends. I have also withdrawn from my marriage for the most part, we hardly talk anymore. I never want to leave the house. I am almost completely unable to feel joy - once in a while it happens, but it only serves to remind me of how infrequently I feel good.

Does this sound like PTSD?

 

Edited by White Poppy
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No one here can tell you if you have ptsd or not. However, it isn't uncommon for a difficult birth to be traumatizing, and there are whole patient communities dedicated to that. As usual, it's taken doctors a while to catch up to that fact, and it's one reason why midwives and doulas are becoming increasingly common again.

 

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Obviously I'm not asking anyone here to diagnose me. I hadn't thought about my experience in terms of PTSD, and now I am. I'm just looking for others who have more experience to share their thoughts. 

Edited by White Poppy

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While I don’t want to write too much about it because it stirs it up and am on the verge of doing EMDR for it, after that I’ll probably be able to...I suffered with the same thing and still do. And I’m 50 now. While I went on SSDI for Bp1, after first denial, the attorney that helped me 2nd time around shocked me—had looked through my records I guess—in front of judge, asked me only one question: tell us about the birth of your daughter. I lllllost it. Couldn’t stop crying for a few minutes when they finally let me leave the room, and was approved. So yes, it can last a lifetime, cause I’m just now getting EMDR for it. 

It’s something to think about. 

Hopefully someday after we’re both in a better place, we can talk more. 

Peace. 

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Since I started talking to other woman who suffered birth trauma, I've been reading a lot about postpartum ptsd, and ptsd in general. I did a test for it online (I know that is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a medical professional). I got a pretty high score. Going to bring this up with my doc when I see him next week.

Thanks for your thoughts, it really helps.

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I would see a professional therapist/pdoc, but sounds like PTSD to me. Any kind of event that was traumatic for you could possibly lead to PTSD. In fact, many people have PTSD from childhood, without even remembering the exact moment it started. The Body remembers....and your "emotional body" outside the rational thinking brain, trauma can be buried within and when triggered suddenly it can cause intense outbursts (random flashback type thoughts/images and crying spells, breakdowns) i think it can be very difficult to work through.

I wish you luck in getting help through this. I think trying to find the right therapist you trust and medication are a good place to start.

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I'm already on tons of medication because of my bipolar disorder. I had been relatively stable and in a good place before I got pregnant, but a complicated pregnancy plus traumatic birth experience destabilized me. in the 6 years following the birth, I've gone from one med to 5... Hoping to get off of some of them soon. Luckily I have a very attentive psychiatrist and have made an appointment to get some therapy. I would like to try EMDR.

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I write a blog entry on postpartum disorders and found information on postpartum ptsd. It's some that affects 9% of women so you're totally not alone. Here's the entry: 

I hope it helps xx

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@mellifluous Have you read any info on how having a mood disorder can increase the rate of PPD or PP psychosis? I'm just curious, if 9% of women experience PPD - How many women with pre-existing diagnosed disorders are likely to get it?

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1 hour ago, Blahblah said:

@mellifluous Have you read any info on how having a mood disorder can increase the rate of PPD or PP psychosis? I'm just curious, if 9% of women experience PPD - How many women with pre-existing diagnosed disorders are likely to get it?

When I was pregnant, I did some reading on this. Bipolar women with adequate care and who are stable going into the birth have about a 50% chance of PPD (not sure about PP psychosis). I went into the birth depressed, and my traumatic birth experience made it worse. I had terrible PPD for at least a year if not more, and even then, I didn't stabilize, just started bouncing around between mania, mixed states, and depression. My son is six now, and it's the first time I've felt stable. I am still suffering from the effects of PTSD, though.

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2 hours ago, Blahblah said:

@mellifluous Have you read any info on how having a mood disorder can increase the rate of PPD or PP psychosis? I'm just curious, if 9% of women experience PPD - How many women with pre-existing diagnosed disorders are likely to get it?

Yes, I have. Did you check the links in that blog entry? I need to look over it some more and I'm talking with my psychiatrist on Wednesday to get his input. I want to do more digging before I post that but there definitely appears to be more women with mood disorders getting ppp, but I'm unsure the risk of ppp for the average women with a mood disorder 

I hope that made sense I'm just now waking up so tell me if it didn't :)

1 hour ago, White Poppy said:

When I was pregnant, I did some reading on this. Bipolar women with adequate care and who are stable going into the birth have about a 50% chance of PPD (not sure about PP psychosis). I went into the birth depressed, and my traumatic birth experience made it worse. I had terrible PPD for at least a year if not more, and even then, I didn't stabilize, just started bouncing around between mania, mixed states, and depression. My son is six now, and it's the first time I've felt stable. I am still suffering from the effects of PTSD, though.

If you a source you could share I'd love to look it over and include it. Cheers!

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Talked to my doc today. He agrees with me about the PTSD, and gave his blessing for EMDR. He wondered why the family therapists we saw to help with my postpartum depression didn't catch it, I can't help but wonder why he didn't. But I really do like him, and I didn't talk to him much about my trauma, so I don't blame him. Just glad I've identified this and hopeful getting help with it will make my life, especially my relationship with my son, better. Thanks for all your thoughts.

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