Hi I'm Kylie. I’m 33 years old and a mother of three beautiful children - Bailey who is 8, Jesse who is 6 and Chloe my one and only daughter who is 2. These three little people keep me strong.
I was first diagnosed with having type 1 bi polar a few months after having my second son. It came on very suddenly after living off little to no sleep for over two years. I was exhausted and was not sleeping at all. Even when I may have had the chance, I lost the power to sleep. My brain could no longer switch off. I ended up developing postnatal psychosis. At the time I thought it was all so real. I thought someone was going to hurt my baby. I had my mum come and help after realising something wasn't right, and my partner was away at work (he is a fly in fly out worker). I was in such a state that when I walked into my room and saw my mum re-wrapping my baby to try and settle him off to sleep, I thought she was shaking him. But my mum didn't actually shake him at all - it was all part of the psychosis I was experiencing.
I became very vocal and distressed, but was instructed to go to bed. I could not sleep. What I thought was hours going by, was actually minutes. I was a complete mess. My mum decided to call out the mental health team which came around the next morning. I remember sitting down, not know what was going on, it all felt like a bit of a dream. The mental health team made the decision to have me admitted to the local mental health unit which meant being separated from my children. It was the safest decision as I was potentially at risk of harming myself and/or family whilst I was in such an agitated state.
I had no idea what was happening at the hospital as I was completely delirious. At this point I was refusing medication as I was just so confused. All I remember is sitting in a room and different people coming and going to talk to me. These people were psychiatrists and other health professionals. I thought it was just a joke, but no it was all real. All I wanted was to be with my two baby boys but instead I was in this strange environment not knowing if I was ever going to come out. I didn’t feel like myself or my family were treated very well as decisions/plans around breastfeeding and family visit times were constantly changed from day to. I came to believe that I was going to be stuck there and I'd never get to be with my baby. I felt like I was trapped.
A week later I was transferred to the mother baby unit where I was diagnosed with having type 1 bipolar and began my medical treatment. Six weeks later I was finally stable enough to go home and be part of the local mental health team. It was a long journey testing different medications. I was still in denial about my diagnosis but eventually got my head around it and accepted it. Through the help of a good mental health team I finally managed to get on track. One thing that kept me motivated was I really wanted another baby, and nobody was going to allow that to happen till I could prove that I could stay well.
I desperately wanted another baby despite being advised against it by health professionals. They agreed that once I had been stable for 12 months and my thyroid had stabilised again that would refer me to a psychiatrist who specialised in perinatal mental health. That psychiatrist was amazing and I still see him today. With his support and a lot of convincing and planning I finally got the ok. With the great help of my GP and psychiatrist I managed to have my beautiful baby girl.
It was, however, a very bumpy road. I experienced some complications during my pregnancy and delivery and my daughter was not thriving like she should have been. I did, however, stay on my medications throughout the entire pregnancy which was my agreement with my psychiatrist. It was agreed this was the safest option to avoid me becoming unwell. I was closely monitored and it went very well. So well that I was able to come off a particular medication (one which can’t be taken whilst breastfeeding) which meant I could try breastfeeding. This meant a lot to me as I hadn’t been able to accomplish this with my two boys. I was still, however, very scared and very anxious. I was also recovering from my 3rd c-section on little to no pain relief due to my meds, bipolar and liver issues so I was very sore.
This, I suspect, is what triggered one long relapse. During this time I experienced delusional thinking and at times felt paranoid. At one stage I believed my partner was going to hurt my baby. I had times of severe depression, some elevated moods and severe anxiety. It lasted about 12 months. I did, however, have some good days in between. I had a number of admissions to the mother baby unit. The mother baby unit was absolutely amazing! They cared for me and my baby so well. They helped when my baby wasn't thriving. They helped me when I insisted on continuing to breastfeed knowing how important it was to me even though I was very unwell and needed to go back on Lithium. They supported me when I was instructed to give up breastfeeding. They looked after me so well. They were just incredible! When I was in a very bad way, a beautiful nurse said to me "you can let this illness control you and define you or you can fight it and not let it become who you are." These words have stuck with me. Out of all the mindfulness groups and CBT groups that I've done, that one comment has helped me the most during my hard days. I'm so very lucky though as I’ve got a great family, an excellent psychiatrist, a great GP and a great psychologist who all stick by me and support me greatly. If it wasn't for these people I wouldn't be where I am today.
I must say I was hoping for a better year in 2016 but unfortunately I became physically unwell and needed major surgery which had major complications, but with all my supports I coped pretty well considering. I still have my good days and my not so good days but I've managed before and will continue to manage. It's just part of the package.
After my many experiences I decided to turn something bad into something good, so this year I’ve returned back to university after 8 years. I have changed my degree from teaching to nursing as I want to pay it forward. I hope to one day become a mental health nurse so I can help other people who are going through similar circumstances. I want to use the knowledge that I’ve gained from what I've experienced as well as what I’ve learnt from the support that I have received.