Chrissy Shaffer experienced acute postpartum symptoms immediately after her son Marlow was born.
She was manic for two weeks, followed by a severe depressive crash. “Pendulum swung pretty hard,” she says.
She also had PUPPS during pregnancy (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques), a rash, which can spread over most of the body. After the child is born, it is supposed to go away. For Chrissy, it didn’t and served to exacerbate her symptoms and caused her to visit the ER.
The antihistamines she took in an attempt to control the PUPPS itching caused an adverse reaction; she became hyper instead of sleepy. She stopped sleeping. Stopped eating. Talked incessantly. “It was like I was on amphetamines for two weeks,” she says. “I was obsessed with cleaning. Obsessed with knowing how everyone was doing and telling everyone how I was doing. I just couldn’t shut it off.”
Her husband tried to help and wanted an answer to the problem, but there was no answer for Chrissy. “I just wanted someone to say, yes, that sucks. I was so out of it. High. Magnified and pissed at everyone.”
Within the two week period, Chrissy’s mom called the midwife but she was unable to reach her directly. The doctors she did speak with prescribed sleep medicines. One particularly bad evening, Chrissy called the office after hours and got only a message instructing her to call the pager or dial 911 if it was an emergency . “I thought it’s not emergency, I just have rash, can’t sleep and don’t know how to breast feed.” But it was so horrible that she went to the ER.
“I told them I was manic and had a rash. I said ‘manic,’ like thirty times, and they treated my rash by giving me steroids, which made me even crazier. The nurse said the drug might make me jittery. And I remember lying on table in the ER twitching like I would fall asleep but not, just twitching.”
A couple of days later, Chrissy saw her midwife, who saw how horrible she looked physically and emotionally and sent her to a psychiatrist and a dermatologist.
Her mania developed into a deep depression.
“I wanted to just lay in bed. I didn’t sleep. I just laid in bed.”
At three months, it was a little easier. It became a little bit better, and she finally saw a pinprick of light.
“Now it’s totally awesome, and I enjoy being around my baby.”