HealthMental Health


Mother, doctor raise awareness about postpartum psychosis

A woman is sharing her experience with postpartum psychosis to bring awareness and help others.
Dr. Susan Hatters-Friedman (Left), Meghan (Right).
Posted at 6:21 PM, Apr 13, 2023

Time together is time treasured for Meghan and Colin. Enjoying a quiet lunch together is special because when the kids are home, the kitchen is a lot busier.

Married 13 years this summer, their life has been filled with babies, birthdays and lots of love and laughter. However, between the mundane and the marvelous, a crisis almost took it all away from them nearly eight years ago.

"I just can’t stress enough how lucky I feel," said Meghan. "And, to get to a place to be able to talk about it took a lot of work, but I feel really, really lucky when I know things could’ve ended much differently.”

In 2015, the two were living in New York and welcomed their second baby girl.

"I had the perspective that comes with a second baby," said Meghan. "I was enjoying maternity leave; I had her on me walking around SoHo, just enjoying being a mother.”

But things felt different, she said, after returning to work.

"I just started to say that I didn’t feel like myself,” Meghan said. "My husband would say, 'What do you mean?' And I'd say, 'I don't know, I just feel anxious and a bit sad.'"

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Meghan said she wasn't sleeping well, was still breastfeeding, and when she'd wake in the night her mind would often race with work stuff.

That feeling persisted, she said, until a few months later when life as Meghan knew it changed forever.

"I think just how quickly it can happen, and how real the thoughts are," she said.

Over the course of a day, Meghan descended into a frightening false reality, her mind deceiving her through delusions, hallucinations and paranoia to believe everyone around her was trying to get her to join a cult.

"It was like, 'Oh my gosh, my whole life's been a sham!' And then there's a moment where my friend asks me, 'Who's watching your kids?' And I was like, 'My husband, Colin,' and at that moment I was like, 'Oh, she's threatening me. She's saying that my kids are going to be killed if I don't join this cult,'" she said.

Meghan even believed her husband was in on it. Keeping it all inside, her break from reality ultimately accumulated the next morning with Colin calling the police.

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"I'm in the ambulance and still believing that our kids are dying back at our apartment and trying to get the EMTs to let me go back to them," she recalled.

Meghan spent 12 days at a psychiatric hospital, receiving treatment and beginning to understand how her thoughts had betrayed her and put her and her family in danger.

Meghan was told she had postpartum psychosis.

She had never heard the term before, and that's a big reason why she is sharing her story. She wants to raise awareness about postpartum psychosis, and increase awareness of the importance of maternal mental health.

She discussed her experience with postpartum psychosis alongside Dr. Susan Hatters-Friedman, who is a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University and a maternal mental health psychiatrist at University Hospitals.

"I'm so happy that Meghan is sharing her story because I hope that people can understand it better," Friedman said.

Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency.

It is the most severe mental illness a woman can experience after having a baby. It occurs in one to two per 1,000 deliveries. Usually, it develops suddenly in the first few days or weeks, but it can happen later.

Friedman said a history of bipolar disorder is a risk factor, but for other women like Megan, that's not the case.

She said genetics, hormones, sleep and stress are also believed to play a role, and educating women and doctors about what to look out for is critical to early intervention, treatment and improved outcomes.

"It is so important to get help if someone experiences it because you can live a happy, full life," Friedman said.

Raising awareness and advocating for change is what Meghan's doing today.

She and Colin moved back to Northeast Ohio to heal from the trauma and enjoy a better balanced life.

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"I think there's a real gap in supporting mothers and learning how to mother themselves," she said.

Meghan is now working to fill that gap. She teaches mindfulness through yoga, writing and coaching, with a focus on the well-being of moms.

Through her advocacy work, Meghan is helping break down the barriers and stigma that surround maternal mental health.

"Now it feels okay to tell it because it feels healing, but in the beginning, it felt like I would never have any worth again," she said, noting the years of work it took to treat the trauma and PTSD. "It is really hard to be on the floor, and we're stronger than we think, and with support and resources we can pick ourselves up."

Resources include the Maternal Mental Health Hotline. It is free, confidential and available 24/7. You can call or text: 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS or 1-833-943-5746.

This story was originally reported on Scripps News Cleveland.