A new mum has told how postpartum psychosis left her believing she had drowned her newborn daughter – and was a paedophile.
Hallucinations after giving birth left Renee Barnsley, 27, believing she had killed her daughter, Grace, now six months.
Thinking she couldn’t be ‘trusted’ around her own child, the first time mum threw herself back into work just one week after a horrific FIVE day labour in July 2019.
After ten weeks of feeling unable to confide in anyone, Renee became so distressed that she decided to take her own life.
Thankfully she was found by police after her worried family raised the alarm and she was sectioned a week later.
After a six-week stay in St John’s Hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit, in Howden, West Lothian, Scotland, she was released.
Renee, a hairdresser, from Kirknewton, West Lothian, Scotland, wrote a book about her experience and is speaking out to empower other mums who might be struggling.
She said: ”Almost right away I was having weird visions which quickly turned into full blown hallucinations.
”Every time I closed my eyes I was going into these dreamlike states where I’d be drowning Grace or trying to kill her.
”I knew it wasn’t real but it felt so real. I thought I’d killed my newborn. I felt like a monster.
”I even began to have intrusive thoughts and worry that I was a paedophile so I couldn’t bear to be around her, especially not alone.
”I’m normally quite an active, hyper person too and I just didn’t want to do anything.
”I feel better than ever now, I’ve got a dream baby and I’m excited to get my life back on track.
”It’s hard to even think about how low I got when I was sick.
“I knew my mind was playing tricks on me but I had no idea how to stop it.”
Renee, who owned her own salon before her ordeal, found she was unexpectedly pregnant in November 2018.
Having only been with her partner for three months the pair discussed terminating the pregnancy but quickly decided against it.
Renee said: ”It was stressful as we’d not planned the pregnancy and had only been together for such a short time.
”I used to be a bit of a party girl and never really wanted kids, neither had my boyfriend, but I just knew deep down that I’d not be able to have an abortion.
”The pregnancy was hard. I had morning sickness morning, noon and night!”
Grace was born on July 13 2019 and Renee said she didn’t “feel that rush of love”.
She added: “‘At first I hoped that it was because I’d been on so much gas and air and that when it wore off all my emotions would come flooding in – but they didn’t.
”I didn’t want to tell anyone how I was feeling. I felt like a bad mum.”
After going back to work – and even attending a friend’s hen do just a few weeks after the birth – things became too much for the new mum.
She started taking actions to take her own life, but was found by police and taken to St John’s Hospital, West Lothian, and seen by a mental health team.
She was diagnosed with postnatal depression, and after home visits from the mental health team, she was sectioned.
She started taking medication and had treatment for six weeks in hospital.
“Grace and I really bonded,” she said.
”I got back into exercise, walking and boxing, I did lots of reading and got lots of rest.
”I also tried online therapy, the gym, and meditation.
”I wrote lots too which really helped.
”I was determined to get well again and be a good mum.
”Stopping work definitely helped as I could just focus on Grace and I and bonding with her.
”Life suddenly got a lot better again.”
She split up with her partner, and moved in with her parents.
”Life is great right now,” she said.
“I feel back to normal and I’ve even written a book about my experiences.
”Loving my baby Grace is the best thing that has ever happened to me and she’s the only thing that’s kept me strong through out.
”I’m so glad I’ve managed to get through my mental health battle.
“I was so low. I wish I’d just talked to someone and I could have got the help I needed a lot earlier.
”I’d ask any mums going through similar to please go and get help or talk to family and friends, it’s really important to talk about how you’re feeling.
”And you have nothing to be ashamed about.”