“Did anyone else see him?”, I thought to myself. A tiny 4th grader stood staring at me, less than a foot from my face. His eyes met mine and they didn’t blink. His stare was blank and expressionless. I started to wince a smile, but instead, I started looking for his parents. Then I remembered seeing him being dropped off by a man in a silver/gray truck. My mind started to wander from him staring to wondering who drops their kid off instead of watching them shoot Nationals. “Snap out of it!” I told myself, “no one put a child up to stare at you.” It was weird to begin with, he was the only elementary school archer that I didn’t know and I didn’t remember ever seeing his parents. “Who was this kid?”, was I imagining him? I glanced around to see if anyone else was looking and I noticed he was gone. “They’re right Jessica, you’ve truly lost your mind.,” as the conversation with myself continued. Jeremy and Gabe hadn’t seemed to notice the interaction. Do I tell them? “Nah, no one would abuse the innocence of a child like that.” I started to consider that I was hallucinating again; I wiped the thoughts from my mind and went back to watching Gabe shoot. I told myself to hide a note when I got home, “ If I die, look for the eyes.”
When we left the archery tournament, all was quiet. It seemed quieter than it had in weeks to me. The skies were blue, the air was crisp. There were no cars following us, no people staring and I felt like I could breath. We had lunch at Mellow Mushroom to cheer Gabe up after his performance shooting. The lunch was memorable but mundane; was the first day I remember since I had started to come out of my psychosis. It was a just a few days prior that I realized I was having hallucinations and delusions. In a moment of clarity I told my husband, I” know that no one is out to get me or murder me.” I was still having a hard time making sense of the events. My mind had betrayed me. I felt emotionally “raped”, my trust had been taken.
The weeks following I would battle intrusive thoughts. I found myself flooded with them. I found that everyone was using words or phrasing that were triggering to me, despite what my mental health professionals had ordered. I started to believe that someone was putting them up to it. It wasn’t until I realized that several times my eleven year old cousin had said things that seemed out of place to me and I found myself questioning what he said. I came to immediately realize how ludicrous the idea seemed. Who would be capable of putting a child up to do such things? I had started to believe that the Devil was “messing with my head” but instead I reasoned that it was just intrusive thoughts.
Still not completely sure about the previous weeks, I left myself the note, “If I die, look for the eyes.” If it had been postpartum psychosis, then one day I would laugh about it, but if someone found it after my death, maybe they’d be curious and look for the “eyes”. Who were the eyes? They were the ones watching through phones, televisions and even using strangers walking around. Months later, I’m still finding notes that I’ve left for myself and for others. It’s almost unfathomable that I was that far removed from reality.
These pieces are excerpts from my struggle with postpartum psychosis. I’ve written them in hopes of helping other mothers and families who are also dealing with postpartum psychosis.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of postpartum psychosis then please contact the help text or call line at Postpartum Support International.
You Are Not Alone