A new mum felt she was ‘living in a video game’ with SNIPERS following her – before being diagnosed with severe postpartum psychosis.
Terrified Lacey Faulds, 29, was so unwell she would sprint the school run to avoid ‘spies’ – leaving her eldest daughter, Gracie, five, struggling to keep up.
Lacey even stripped off in the school playground at the height of her illness as her mental health spiralled out of control.
Unusually, she started to suffer when her baby, Alfie, was already five months old, in August 2019.
The new mum felt she couldn’t cope when her tot ‘wouldn’t stop crying’ due to undiagnosed allergies to dairy, soya and egg.
At her wits end, Lacey began leaving it longer and longer to feed Alfie, now two, after feeling nothing helped and he’d ‘cry either way’.
But the mum-of-two then feared she was neglecting him and feelings of guilt quickly turned into paranoia.
In just a few days she fell into a severe psychosis during which she became convinced ‘snipers from social services’ were following her and surrounding her house – trying to take her out.
Lacey, who owns a soap business, from Southampton, said: ‘’Looking back it seems so unreal but at the time that was my reality.
”Now I can see that of course that wasn’t the case, it’s like looking back on a movie or a video game, it’s so surreal.
”I don’t even really remember why I was trying to strip in the playground, it was at the height of my illness, I was just not in my right mind at all.
”But I really thought I was being followed by social services spies and that snipers were trying to take me out – and I blamed my little boy.
”I literally believed that my baby was the devil.
‘’He just never stopped crying. It was like he hated me.
”It didn’t help that he was an unplanned pregnancy and that my pregnancy and birth were both awful.
‘’It got to the point where I couldn’t face being in the same room as him, I found it impossible to love him.
‘’It got so bad that I thought about ending it all, thankfully I called my husband in bits who took me straight to the GP.
‘’I’d been trying to hide how awful I felt, I felt so guilty for hating my son.
‘’I’ve been recovering for two years now and finally feel like myself again, but it’s been a very long journey.
“Alfie and I have had a chance to bond properly now, it was amazing to feel that rush of natural mother’s love for him that had been missing for so long.’’
Lacey’s ordeal began after Alfie developed food allergies which left him often unsettled.
Unable to sooth him, her undiagnosed postnatal depression worsened – she struggled to cope alone as her husband, David Faulds, 34, an officer in the merchant navy, was often working away.
After two weeks battling with psychosis, during which she ran to and from her daughter’s school in terror of social service spies, she finally asked her husband for help.
A GP arranged for Lacey to move into an NHS mother and baby unit, Florence House in Bournemouth.
She was there for seven weeks before moving to Mulberry Lodge Mother and Baby Unit, in Winchester.
Doctors told Lacey that her case was quite rare as she developed it so long – five months – after giving birth.
They also explained how rare it is to develop the condition after a second pregnancy- as it most often afflicts first time mothers.
“I spent seven weeks in the unit with Alfie,” she explained.
“For a long time I couldn’t understand why I was there, I was still so deep in the delusion.
“But after lots of talking therapy and medication I finally started to feel better.
“Covid hitting was hard for me, it stirred up a lot of old issues but I’ve had so much support, I’m feeling really good at the moment.
“Alfie and I have a really good bond now, we’ve still got a little way to go but it’s a world away from where we were before.
“He’s a such a crazy little boy, he’s like a tornado through the house but I wouldn’t change him.”
During her nine weeks in hospital, Lacey started making soaps – something she’s since turned into a business, Soap and Hope.
Through her company she offers peer support to women suffering with postnatal depression or psychosis.
She also shares her story on social media to raise awareness- follow her here: https://www.instagram.com/soapandhope/?hl=en
She explained: “I was in such a dark place and I just want to be able to help other women that might be experiencing something similar.
“Issues like these can be so hard to talk about because they’re so horrible and taboo but it’s really important we do.
“I felt ashamed and guilty which is why I waited so long to ask for help.
“I feel like I missed out on so much of Alfie being a baby.
“But we’re making up for lost time now.’”
Lacey also volunteers with Action for Postpartum Psychosis, a charity which helps women though all stages of the illness.