Lisa Abramson gave birth to her first daughter, Lucy, in 2014. Initially, she was on top of the world and overwhelmed with joy and excitement. She recalls feeling a surprising burst of energy following her daughter’s birth, and felt comfortable and secure in her ability to be a mother. However, she soon began experiencing shocking hallucinations and strange side effects that would lead her to some of the scariest months of her life, according to MPRNews.
Lisa was an entrepreneur living in San Francisco with her husband, David. They were living their dream life, finally complete with the birth of their daughter. She had no reason to be anxious, yet she found herself constantly worried about the well-being of her baby. Despite frequent consultation with doctors, her daughter struggled to breastfeed and was consistently losing weight.
“It weighed on me as, ‘I’ve failed as a mom. I can’t feed my child,'” Lisa said. “I needed to feed her — that was the most important thing. And my well-being didn’t matter.”
As heard on @NPR: Postpartum psychosis is real. It’s rare – it affects one or two women out of every thousand that give birth. But experts believe more women are affected than previously thought.https://t.co/PJBKOtq6qq— KQED News (@KQEDnews) January 19, 2019
The more she tried to take care of her baby, the less focus she put on herself. Before long, Lisa found herself so exhausted that she began to hallucinate. She went to a spin class at her gym in hopes that exercise would provide her with much needed energy, however after only 10 minutes she had to leave.
“The noises and intense volume of the spin class was really alarming to me. It felt like the walls were talking to me,” she said.
When she returned home she experienced more hallucinations of police helicopters circling her apartment. She became paranoid without reason and felt everyone was watching her. As her condition worsened, her husband had no choice but to take her to the emergency room.
“That was probably the most heart-wrenching thing, was having to leave her that night with the hospital staff,” her husband said. “You could see in her eyes and her body language that she was panicked.”
Doctors diagnosed her with postpartum psychosis, a condition in new mothers brought about by extreme sleep deprivation and elevated hormones from pregnancy. With medical treatment and five rough days spent in a psychiatric ward, Lisa was able to return to her normal self and be the mother her daughter needed.
Lucy is now 5-years-old and is a healthy child. Although Lisa looks back at the time following Lucy’s birth as some of the most difficult days of her life, she hopes her story provides further awareness about this condition. She encourages new mothers not to forget to take proper care of themselves.