I was hospitalised after my MIL became my worst enemy following the birth of my triplets – she was ‘plotting against me’ | The Sun
A MUM whose postpartum psychosis made her think her mother-in-law was plotting against her told how she had some symptoms for two years after recovery.
Charity Horton, 35, gave birth to triplets, Raine, Poppy and River, in March 2021 and once she got home from hospital, barely slept for an entire week.
Initially she thought she was just 'a bit down', but soon became convinced she was starving her tiny babies – despite looking after the healthy trio, with wife Sarah, 34.
She eventually "lost control of everything", believing and thought mother-in-law, Cheryl Horton, 54, was hiding her medication.
Charity was even convinced Cheryl's dog was going to eat her babies, Sarah was leaving her, and she could see through walls of their home in St Austell, Cornwall.
After a month, Charity was admitted to hospital after bravely confessing to having suicidal thoughts.
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She was eventually on the road to recovery and able to be sent home after two weeks of in-patient treatment.
But since her six-week episode, Charity has suffered from 'breakthrough symptoms' – symptoms that emerge during treatment.
A less talked about part of recovery, she still found herself being angry towards her mother-in-law and experiencing paranoia.
Charity thought Cheryl was doing things to make her "crazier" and felt "anxious" and would "argue back" at her.
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She went back to therapy in December 2022 and is now recovered from psychosis and "feels like a completely different person" and is "ready to move on".
Charity, a CCTV manager from St Austell, Cornwall, said: "I had 18 months of still feeling bitter and confused by it.
"I felt like I wasn't getting over the experience of what happened.
"It was still very traumatic and I was quite bitter about it.
"December 2022 I got back in touch with the psychosis team and we were doing talking therapy.
"Even though I was fully recovered by the time we started therapy, you can get breakthrough symptoms.
"There were bitter feelings and confusion if my mother-and-law did those things to do to me.
"I'll never get my chance for raising the triplets to be a lovely experience again.
"But I feel like Sarah and I are so much more together as a couple now after the therapy."
WHAT IS POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS?
POSTPARTUM psychosis is a mental illness which can affect any new mother – and could cause her to harm herself, or her baby.
The condition is thought to affect one in every 1,000 women who give birth.
It should be treated as a medical emergency – and can get rapidly worse if not treated.
In the worst cases, psychosis could cause a new mum to harm her baby or herself.
The two main symptoms are hallucinations, seeing or hearing things which aren't there, and delusions, having thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true (e.g. that you've won the lottery).
The combination of the two can seriously disrupt someone's perception, thinking, emotions and behaviour.
A woman experiencing postpartum psychosis will change mood very quickly, while some may experience symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.
She may not realise she is ill – but the majority of women do make a full recovery, provided they get the right treatment.
If someone you know if suffering from postpartum psychosis, you should contact your GP, NHS 111 or out-of-hours service immediately.
If you think there's a danger of her harming herself or others, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
If you're a new mother, and recognise that you may be having a psychotic episode, visit your GP or local A&E immediately.
For support, visit the Action on Postpartum charity website.
Charity added: "When I had psychosis I would fixate on the band Nirvana and be worried about losing a pair of Nirvana socks which I own. You have more of a suspicious mind.
"I was associating some of their lyrics with my real life. My mind kept saying 'it's better to burn out than fade away' which I later found out is from his suicide note.
"Everything I felt had a link to reality.
"When you've got psychosis you think your thoughts are actually what's happening.
"You feel torn between thinking that it's real and knowing you've got a mental health condition."
Charity became pregnant following artificial insemination in August 2020, and along with wife Sarah, an HGV driver, was over the moon.
The mums-to-be were delighted when three little ones were spotted on the seven-week scan – each with their own amniotic sack and placenta, on March 24, 2021.
The babies, each weighing four pounds, were born by planned caesarean section after a 34-week uncomplicated pregnancy.
But soon after bringing the triplets – now two-and-a-half – home on April 7 2021, Charity started to spiral.
She said: "I kept having these thoughts about shaking the babies as a hospital letter said you shouldn't do that if they're screaming.
"I kept thinking they were going to die.
"Because we'd had a miscarriage the previous year and I just thought that these three little babies were going to die.
"Sarah's mum moved in with the dog, who's the softest you'll ever meet, but worrying that they were going to be attacked.
"And that tipped over into thinking Cheryl was hiding my medication and convincing Sarah to leave.
"I was acting out of character and I wrote a lot of notes as well as having really scrambled thoughts.
"I wasn't sleeping, not only that, not feeling the need to sleep. I'm a massive sleeper, but when I had psychosis I just didn't want to.
"I had to write notes to tell me to put the lids on bottles.
"By the end, I was having delusions and some hallucinations.
"When I got really unwell before I got the medication, I wasn't sure whether I loved them or not but even though I clearly did because I was overly paranoid about their wellbeing.
"I'd just lost complete control of everything."
Charity now wants to encourage others who may be suffering to speak out and seek help.
She said: "This exists and it's a real thing.
"Be aware of it and try and recognise the signs.
"I know I wanted to be with my babies but I was quite suicidal – I just felt like there was no escape."
"I feel because it's so rare we didn't know what it was," Charity adds.
"What I had was massive and people hear the word psychosis and think you're a 'psycho' whereas in reality, I was really frightened and vulnerable.
"This girl lives in the same town as me and she messaged my sister asking if she could talk to me about it as she'd been diagnosed with it.
"I really want to help people and she's been worried about the same things as I was, but it's not a life sentence.
"I never thought I'd speak to someone who I know that would have it.
"So maybe it is common, we're just not picking up on it as much."
Although awful, Charity says her experience has made her and Sarah stronger and together.
She said: "She wasn't sleeping either.
"She was tired, and not only did she have three vulnerable babies to look after, her wife wasn't her wife anymore.
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"But I wouldn't change it, I'll help people one way or another and hopefully one day my girls will read the papers and they'll be proud as well.
"It's happened, it's part of my life experience, and although it wasn't nice, it's parked now."
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