My oldest daughter Olivia was born in 75 and we lived then in San Francisco, CA a few months after we moved there from Paris, France. My boyfriend soon to be husband was an alcoholic at that time and I wasn’t coping very well. I had never lived with alcoholism and had no grid on how to deal with it. San Francisco was about 6000 miles from home and I felt very lost and isolated. I gained 45 Lbs with that pregnancy but was in general healthy. After a long birth process, where nothing was happening except contractions every minute for a whole 12 hours and an Epidural, beautiful Olivia was born perfect except for severe newborn Jaundice which cleared up within a couple weeks. I had no help and no family at the time except for my stepmother who also had a severe drinking problem, so I didn’t trust her much to take care of my daughter.
My oldest brother came to visit from France when I was in the hospital which wasn’t my plan – I love him dearly but wanted him to come a month later or so. He just wanted to spend time with my husband David, and that was just way too much for me. I wanted David with me as this was such a scary experience to be so far from home when I was giving birth. During the birth process an Epidural had been performed and I was in physical pain. In France when you deliver a baby they keep you in the hospital for 10 days, here only 3 days. Between being in a foreign country, my brother visiting town, my hormones out of control and the prescription drugs they gave me, I went nuts and was taken to a State Mental Hospital. I lost it and everything came loose!
Our friend Peter was a Psychiatrist and got me out of there by the next day. I then attended a more private hospital for a week or so and was extremely paranoid. I had recently watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and was obsessed by the idea that they might give me a Lobotomy, so I didn’t trust anyone and wouldn’t even talk to any other patients even during meals. In that second hospital, the interesting thing is that I didn’t think I was crazy but that everyone else was. I was very conscious of what was happening and really was scared that I would never get out of there. Sometimes they have you in a place like that and you’re stuck there for years. I had for example a doctor asking me what the difference was between an apple and an orange. I told him: “why are you asking me these questions?” in an angry voice and we argued. All I wanted is to be with my husband and daughter and for my brother to go away because he was making things worse. I hardly saw him anyway. I think he was scared! The drugs they gave me for Postpartum Psychosis have been likened to LSD trips… very dark and scary, a lot like living nightmares but in the day time. The condition manifested as extreme paranoia. Everything seemed to be threatening to me and I saw enemies everywhere and almost jumped out of a window and also a taxi while running. I thought the Maffia was after me etc…Very scary and disturbing time and it’s the grace of God I snapped out f it. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my amazing husband who took care of me and loved me back to life.
My newborn daughter Olivia was staying with my mother in law who drank a lot and I didn’t trust her to take care properly of Olivia. After 2 months of going back and forth to the psychiatrist, at one point I asked him: “How long am I going to be sick like this?” He answered the wisest thing I have ever heard and I eventually thanked God for him. I wasn’t a believer then and so far from God! He said: “Well, lady it’s entirely up to you!” I was shocked at first but it’s really what helped me to snap out of it. I was then able to get on with my life with the help of my amazing husband who took great care of me even though he had a very real problem with alcohol. I had been living with him now for about 5 ½ years. We had lived together 5 years in Europe before we came to the USA and I was pregnant when we arrived, but didn’t know it. I had to announce on the phone to my parents that I was pregnant and then tell them in another phone call that I was getting married. They knew David and loved him. So we got married when I was about 3 months pregnant in Carmel CA, I being the only child out of my whole family of 8 children having done such a thing. As far as they were concerned, being pregnant without being married first was very much unacceptable coming from a good catholic French family. My parents called me the day of the wedding, which was a real treat, but they didn’t come.
You see looking back I think because of all these years living with active alcoholism, leaving my french culture and large family behind, plus all the baggage I was carrying from childhood…everything imploded.
More to follow…