This Christmas, we want to raise awareness of some of the challenges faced by families affected by postpartum psychosis, as well as the hope and inspiration they found, by giving new meaning to our favourite festive songs.
Check out and enjoy the playlist below, and read personal stories of hope, recovery and love that relate to each song.
By Chris Rea
After a lengthy stay at Bethlem Hospital MBU recovering from PP, Kathryn Grant was able to visit home for the first time on Christmas Day 2012. She said: “I was finally discharged at the end of January, but it was getting home for Christmas that really motivated me to get well. We had an unforgettable Christmas Day – opening new baby gifts rather than Christmas presents and eating tinned tomato soup and cheese on toast for lunch. It was just the three of us and we hadn’t prepared anything as neither of us really believed I’d be well enough. I surprised myself when I woke up on Christmas morning because I was suddenly determined to get home. James, our baby, was brilliant all day and enjoyed his first bath time at home and trying on lots of cute new outfits. We drove back to the MBU that evening, but our recovery was pretty steady from that point on.
By Mariah Carey
On World Mental Health Day in October, APP colleagues and storytellers, the team from the Maternal Advocacy and Support Unit and a coalition of over 40 charities and organisations presented an open letter to Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann asking him to urgently prioritise setting up a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland. Currently, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that doesn’t have an MBU.
In May 2022, an inquest into the tragic death of Orlaith Quinn, due to postpartum psychosis, stated that her death was “both foreseeable and preventable”. Coroner Maria Dougan recommended that a specialist mental health Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) should be established in Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has been discussing a unit for more than a decade. We want to make sure there are no more delays. There is a business case in development, but the coordinated action of charities, and sharing powerful stories with the media and public, will give the business case the best chance of success.
Find out more about our campaign for MBUs here.
By The Pretenders
Another region that currently has no MBU is Spain. Ruth, from Belfast, and her husband Jamie, from Stirling, had been living in Spain for around ten years when Ruth fell pregnant. Sadly, Ruth became incredibly unwell with postpartum psychosis in the weeks following the birth. In order to access the treatment she needed, Jamie drove Ruth and their baby boy all the way from Girona in Spain to Scotland, where Ruth was urgently admitted to an MBU. It was here that she started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and began her road to recovery with the support and treatment she desperately needed. The round trip that Ruth and her family had to travel to access treatment and return home again was actually much further than Chrissie Hynde’s 2,000 miles - they clocked up an incredible 2536miles.
You can read Ruth’s full story here. Please note before reading that this is a particularly traumatic story – albeit one that has a truly inspirational ending.
While MBUs are the best place for women and their babies to recover from postpartum psychosis (along with other severe perinatal mental health problems) we should remember that it’s still a challenging time for all involved.
Sometimes, it’s the small things that can make as big difference to people who are in hospital. With this in mind, our peer support facilitator, Soukaina Bennani wrote a quick guide on how to send a card to a friend or family member who is staying in a Mother and Baby Unit.
Read Soukaina’s full guide here.
By Lily Allen
This song makes us think of the positive power of peer support and shared experiences. While no two women experience postpartum psychosis in exactly the same way, the reassurance and strength that can be found by talking to someone who knows what you’re going through, and who’s been there and, importantly, recovered, is invaluable. APP ambassador Laura Dockrill said: “It was so empowering and comforting meeting the women there that had all been through similar wild and terrifying experiences, there was an immediate warmth and understanding. I decided I was going to be as active in my recovery as I possibly could; talking, sharing and helping others really helped, reminding myself what positive things have come from this experience.
“I also believe that writing my memoir saved my life. Removing shame and guilt really kept me on my recovery path.”
Read Laura’s piece for Metro on the power of peer support here
To order a copy of Laura’s memoir, What Have I Done? click here
This one is dedicated to all of our supporters and volunteers – you keep the lights on at APP and we can’t thank you enough. Whether you’ve shared your story, signed a petition, taken part in a fundraiser, trained as a peer supporter or campaigned for better services, we want you to know just how much your support means to us this Christmas.
This one’s for you.
(PS to find out about the many ways to support APP this festive season, click here.)
To listen to the full APP playlist click here.