Catherine Cho, a 31- years old London based woman has shared her story of how she had severe postpartum psychosis after her first son was born in November 2017. Her condition was so bad that her husband had to get her admitted to a hospital, as she was hallucinating and claiming her son’s eyes are turning into the devil’s eyes.
The mother of one was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after she was frequently hallucinating, thinking her son is the devil and God wants her to kill him. A memoir by Catherine, Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness writes all the details on this incident which made her hospitalized for three months. And had no idea why and how she ended up at the hospital.
Her husband was the first one to notice that something is wrong with her. Catherine was unable to feel the typically associated love with women after giving birth. Within days her mental health started to shatter along with zero love bond with her newborn son.
Catherine shares that throughout her pregnancy, the body changes made her worry but she was confident that she will reclaim her body after the delivery. But soon after she gave birth, she started to think that her body was a tool to create new life.
She stopped considering herself as a person; to her, she was just a body.
After two months of her delivery, she visited her in-laws who lived in the US. At this point, her situation got really worse.
Within a few hours of arriving at the in-law’s house, Catherine felt something is wrong. She heard little fading noises, felt like someone is watching her. She was confused, helpless, and unable to sleep. Soon she started having hallucinations and delusions.
First, she thought that her in-law’s house has hidden cameras to watch her. She feared they are stalking her on social media. Conditions like these didn’t remain hidden for a long time and Catherine’s father in law, who is a certified pediatrician feared that she might have postpartum depression.
The paranoia increased every day and one day she felt that her son’s eyes are changing into something that looks like the devil’s eyes. Another night, she woke up by a voice that felt like its God’s voice, telling her that her son should die.
She was soon taken to a hospital where she was under a delusion that the hospital receptionist is also a demon.
This was a devastating phase and Catherine says she had no idea about what is happening. But she had an idea that something is wrong. Soon she was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis which is caused by adverse hormonal changes experienced by women after delivering the baby. Its common symptoms are hallucinations, depression, and insomnia.
Catherine spent four days in an emergency, eight days in the ward; and a total of 12 days in the hospital. The doctors prescribed her antipsychotic haloperidol for the next whole year. During her recovery months at home, she was unable to touch or hold her baby for more than two minutes.
Catherine is now healthy and now pregnant with her second child. Her daughter is due in November and she is least stressed this time. Although there is a high chance of her condition to recur Catherine is confident that she has secured herself.
She says she can recognize if something is wrong and where should she head in that case. After going through all this, she is now prepared for her second baby, hoping that the odds will be in favor, this time.