After giving birth to triplets, a young British mother suffered from puerperal psychosis, known as postpartum psychosis, a serious psychiatric disorder causing paranoia and hallucinations.
One to two young mothers out of 1000 suffer from it. In April 2021, a few days after giving birth to her triplets, Charity Horton, 33, developed puerperal psychosis, a rare psychiatric pathology plunging the young mother into a state of delirium such that it can endanger the mother as the child. “At first, I didn’t think there was a problem, confides the young British in the columns of the Daily Mirror. I thought I had the joy of living after having had these three beautiful little girls. But when I’m When I got home, I started to be afraid to take care of them.”
“I was convinced that I was doing something wrong, she continues. I convinced myself that I had to feed them all at the same time. I couldn’t sleep at all. I heard them all the time, and I I felt like they were making a lot of noise. I was afraid they would die in their sleep, so when it was quiet, I thought they were dead.”
“It was as if I had become schizophrenic overnight”
As the days went by, the fear of doing wrong turned into paranoia. Convinced of not being up to par with her daughters, the young woman developed a great mistrust of his wife and the rest of their family. “It was as if I had become schizophrenic overnight. (…) I kept thinking that people were testing me to see if I had the shoulders. I believed that my wife and her mother were watching me with the baby monitor to see if I was making any mistakes.
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. Increasingly disoriented, Charity began to hallucinate. “I was obsessed with the birds in the garden. If I saw even a magpie, I convinced myself that something was going to happen to the babies, and I started looking for its friends. (…) One day, I saw my wife carrying a bag next to our house, but I couldn’t see it, since I was sitting on the sofa with a wall in front of me. I also saw the car of a friend, but she wasn’t there when I took a second look.”
“I threatened to kill myself because I was hoping someone would realize I wasn’t myself anymore.”
Devoured by paranoia and anxiety, the young mother wanted to end it. Luckily, she worked up the courage to tell her wife, Sarah, who drove her to the mental health clinic in Longreach, south-west England. Under appropriate treatment, Charity quickly recovered her health. “I desperately needed help. I threatened to kill myself because I was hoping someone would realize I wasn’t myself anymore. (…) After nine days, I was starting to miss the girls so I realized that I was getting better.”
Today, Charity has found stability and lives happily with his wife and daughters, Raine, Poppy and River. She hopes that her testimony will raise awareness and encourage some young mothers to speak up. Nowadays, in fact, women victims of puerperal psychosis often hesitate to come out of silence for fear of stigmatization. Note that the disease has no specific cause, only risk factors (primiparity, hormonal change, psychotrauma, family history, etc.). “It’s a medical emergency – if anyone gets it, call an ambulance. It’s really serious, Charity points out. It’s rare, but watch out for your friends and family; know what can happen.”