Today Is Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day

In honor of Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day I’d like to share the first story in a series that we will be sending in celebration of Mother’s Day. This story is my own.  – Allie Johnson

This may be odd to say, but I was never more interested in Postpartum Psychosis awareness than when I was really in it… I was already the ED of PS-WA at the time and understandably my mind went to using my experience and organizational platform to tell my story widely. That might sound reasonable – but that thought, during Psychosis, looks quite different.

As I wrote down a few days after ‘the worst of it’, “I was trying to sacrifice myself so that the world would know about postpartum psychosis.” (To be fair, I also thought that I would have to travel back in time to when I was four afterwards – and that I could end racism by saying the correct series of words.) I thought I was making a decision to prolong my pain for the purpose of documenting a rare disorder. I was intentionally suffering through what in reality was likely my doctors trying to find the right meds to bring me down. As one of my notes said during that time about my doctors’ eyes, “eyes watery means they know what I’m trying to do.”

Nearly three years later, I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at the photos or the videos – and I’ve rarely shared my story publicly. While regular therapy helps me process the experience, and how fundamentally changed I feel by it and parenthood, sifting through all these notes reminds me of the reality of Postpartum Psychosis – or at least my experience of it. It was raw, emotional, confusing, and scary. 

It’s interesting to look back. To know that I knew the symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis, but I didn’t see them; that I (and countless NICU nurses) overlooked increasing mania, paranoia, and delusions… That’s one of many reasons I’m glad PS-WA exists. We educate parents and providers about Postpartum Psychosis and other mood disorders, so more parents get the care they need when they need it.  

Today kicks off our annual fundraising Mother’s Day campaignThis year we will feature stories from a variety of people who, like me, have benefited from knowing PS-WA. I hope you’ll join me in sharing appreciation and supporting future parents who need PS-WA’s support.