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Mom Opens Up About Her Traumatic Postpartum Psychosis That Left Her Convinced Her Baby Had Died

Mom Opens Up About Her Traumatic Postpartum Psychosis That Left Her Convinced Her Baby Had Died
Georgina Wellsman (Collect/ PA Real Life)

A former flight attendant has relived the terrifying delusions that left her believing her newborn baby had died and that she and her family had been kidnapped by terrorists, who were torturing her husband in another room.

In reality, a traumatic 30-hour labor, an emergency caesarean and sleep deprivation had plunged Georgina Wellsman, 41, into postpartum psychosis – a serious mental illness, characterized by mania and hallucinations, which is regarded as a medical emergency by the NHS.

And the location where she believed her logistic manager husband Wasim was being tortured was South London's Springfield Hospital – a psychiatric unit, where she was being treated after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act for her own safety.

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Speaking out during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 18 to 24 May, Georgina, who moved to Fife in Scotland in January from her former home in Sutton, Surrey, England, and now volunteers for the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) said:

“I was so paranoid. I didn't believe anyone was who they said they were – and I was convinced I was being secretly watched and monitored."
“I became obsessed with the color blue – it would stand out to me and I was transfixed on the color and it tended to trigger some of my symptoms."
“And when I was sectioned I believed that my family and I were being held captive by terrorists and they were torturing my husband and that I could hear my mum, Pam, screaming in another room."

Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Until the very late stages of her pregnancy, Georgina, now a stay-at-home mom, saw no hint of the horrors ahead of her.

Overjoyed when she discovered she was expecting in May 2016, eight months after she and Wasim started trying for a family, she said:

“When I saw those blue lines appear, I was just like, 'Wow.'"
“It took a while for it to sink in that I was actually having a baby. I loved every second of being pregnant and making a new life inside me."

Georgina (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Finally, when she reached 42 weeks, on February 8, 2017, Georgina went into labor.

She had planned for a natural birth, without any pain relief but, 15 hours into labor, in agony and exhausted, she asked for an epidural to ease her discomfort.

Worryingly, as the hours passed, Georgina was having contractions every two minutes, but was still only 2cm dilated.

Georgina and baby Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

At that point, her medical team at Sutton's St. Helier Hospital decided the safest course of action was for her to have an emergency caesarean section.

“By that point I hadn't slept a wink in more than 24 hours," she said. “I was so sleep deprived I just felt like I was in a dream."

Fortunately, 30 hours into her labor, little Rayan was delivered weighing 7lb 6oz, to Georgina's delight.

“When I heard him cry, I was bowled over with emotion. I couldn't believe it was my little boy crying – I was so in love," she said.

But four days later and still in the hospital, as both she and Rayan had developed minor infections, her mental state began to deteriorate.

“I was becoming increasingly agitated," she said. “I'd barely slept since I'd given birth. I was either up breastfeeding Rayan, or because I was on a postnatal ward I couldn't sleep – I just couldn't switch off."

Georgina and Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

That night, she received a text breaking the tragic news that her friend's baby had died at just a few months old.

“I just stared at my phone in utter shock and devastation," she said. “My friend and I had been pregnant at the same time and even before her baby had arrived, I felt like I already knew and loved it."

“I just let out a wail – and I couldn't stop, I cried, and cried, and cried."

Georgina and Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

This terrible news triggered Georgina's descent into a world of horrific hallucinations, as postpartum psychosis bedded in.

At first, she said her symptoms were mild, adding:

“I was texting friends and one time I had the urge to text, 'Merry Christmas.'"
“Another time I wanted to write 'Happy New Year.' I thought that was a bit weird but that was all."

Georgina and Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

But her compulsions and paranoia swiftly intensified until Georgina convinced herself the only reason she was still being kept in the hospital was because she was being “tested" to make sure she was a good enough mom.

She explained:

"Every time I breastfed or changed Rayan, I could hear a beep – which was probably real, because I was in a hospital. But I thought the beep was going off every time I did something right, as if I was being marked."
“I didn't tell anyone, but I think I was probably acting very strangely without realizing it."

Concerned by his wife's mental state, Wasim alerted doctors, who decided she was in dire need of a good night's sleep, so they gave her a room on her own for the night.

After spending at least eight hours asleep, she was assessed by medics, who said she needed a further 24 hours of supervision and would then be well enough to go home.

“Following a good night's sleep I felt much better and put my weird thoughts down to exhaustion," she said.

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

But she soon plummeted into a world of paranoia – in which she could not distinguish reality from delusions.

“One day I just looked at Wasim rocking Rayan and I was like, 'Why is he holding our dead son?'" she said.

“I believed Rayan had died in childbirth and that we hadn't accepted it."

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Soon, when they returned home, her hallucinations intensified, and she became adamant that Rayan had died.

“Whenever he was sleeping or really still, I thought he'd died, and again I thought I hadn't accepted it," she said.

“It was weird, because while I was thinking all this, I was still being a good mum to Rayan – feeding him, washing him, and nursing him."

And when Georgina and Wasim went to register their baby's birth, she was convinced she was about to be handed her son's death certificate.

She also felt as though she was being watched.

“When you're a new first-time mum there are lots of follow-up checks and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being assessed to see if I was good enough," she said. “I felt like I was in some sort of challenge, where I had to constantly pass tests."

Georgina whilst pregnant, pictured here with Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Despite trying to conceal her thoughts, Wasim and her mom, Pam, 65, a counselor, had grown increasingly concerned for her welfare.

They took Georgina to see a doctor, who prescribed medication to help her sleep, but were alarmed when she refused to take her tablets and asked another doctor to assess her at home.

Then, seeing her mental health spiral downwards, as a last resort, they called emergency services.

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“My mum had been trying tirelessly to find out what was wrong with me," she said. “She'd found some information online about postpartum psychosis."

“When the medical staff arrived, they agreed that's what I had and, needing urgent help, I was sectioned."

Escorted to the psychiatric unit by paramedics and police, she became convinced she was being abducted by terrorists, who were posing as police officers.

She recalled:

“I convinced myself that all the bad things I'd seen on the news in recent years were happening to me."
“I was handcuffed in the ambulance, because I was trying to kick down the door to escape. In my head, I was in serious danger – I thought I was being taken to be buried alive."

For the first few days in Springfield her condition worsened.

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Believing she was being held captive, Georgina refused to sleep, eat or take medication as, while she feared for her own safety, she was also convinced that her family were being held hostage and tortured.

“I thought my family were locked in different rooms and being tortured," she said. “I was convinced I could hear my mum's screams."

“I even imagined them being cut up and taken out in bags of rubbish."

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

After four days, she was transferred to Bethlem Mother and Baby Unit, in Beckenham, Greater London, where she was reunited with Rayan, who had been looked after her husband Wasim and her parents.

“Doctors decided I was more likely to make a quicker recovery if I was reunited with Rayan, who was taken off me when I was sectioned," she explained.

“I didn't feel safe until I arrived at the mother and baby unit, and until I was back with Rayan – that's when my recovery really started."

Georgina and Wasim (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She continued:

“As soon as I held him, everything felt better – I knew I had to get better to get back to being his mum."

Gradually, improving a little every day, her hallucinations and delusions eventually subsided, and, at the end of April 2017, she was discharged.

But, a month later, guilt-ridden about the thoughts that had invaded her mind during her psychosis, Georgina sank into postnatal depression.

Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“I was hit with the double whammy – psychosis and then depression – which is very unlucky," she said.

A practicing Christian, she found going to church extremely helpful and, by the end of September, she had won her battle and overcome her debilitating depression.

“Since the depression has passed, I've enjoyed every single second of being Rayan's mum," she said. “It's the most magical thing. I treasure every moment."

Georgina and Wasim on their wedding day ( PA Real Life)

Georgina has also thrown herself into helping other women who develop postpartum psychosis, by volunteering for charity APP.

“It's so important to me to help other women," she said. “If I didn't have the support of my friends and family it could've been so much worse – Wasim, my mum and dad did so much for me I couldn't thank them enough. Not all women are as lucky."

“I was so lucky to be able to go to a mother and baby unit – there's only 15 in the country – and that was truly vital to my recovery."

Georgina, Wasim and Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She continued:

“Because of my own experience, I know that if a woman gets unusual thoughts it's important for her not to be scared and to talk about them."
“I wish I'd not kept it to myself. If I'd known just a little bit more about postpartum psychosis, then I might've been brave enough to open up."
“When I was pregnant, I spent hours Googling everything to do with pregnancy and being a first-time mum, but nothing ever came up about postpartum psychosis – which is so baffling."

Rayan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Georgina added:

“Yes, it's rare, but it's also a horrific mental illness which should be more widely spoken about – if I had any idea about it or that I might have it I might not have felt so alone with my thoughts."
“Now I know the support network created by APP is amazing and it's helping to create more awareness. For me, after everything I've been through, it's an honor to be part of such an incredible charity."

Now, in some ways, Georgina, who moved to Scotland in January – having fallen in love with the country after getting married there in 2015 -feels grateful that she went through such a traumatic experience.

Georgina and Wasim ( PA Real Life)

"I'm actually not afraid to say in some ways, I'm thankful for what I've been through," Georgina said.

“It's given me and insight and understanding of mental health, which has provided me with the ability to help and truly empathize with other women."

“I feel like I've become a more well-rounded, empathetic person, who understands the world a little better – and it's made me a better mum."

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