Post partum psychosis is a serious, but rare, diagnosis.

It occurs in around one in 1,000 births, so 20-year-old Lucy Crawley was right to be concerned after the birth of her son in 2015.

Experiencing depression and hallucinations it was an overwhelming and frightening experience but Lucy was brave enough to seek help and is encouraging others to do the same.

FOR every parent, the birth of their child is the greatest gift of all.

To watch them grow in the first few months is a treasured experience - but it was a difficult time for Lucy Crawley.

Instead of being able to bond with her newborn son Bradley in May 2015, she ended up spending time time in hospital with little recollection of what happened.

She had her son aged 17, before her second year of sixth form, and following this suffered with post partum psychosis, which left her feeling scared and sad.

“It happened quite quickly, and because of how extreme it was I don’t remember a lot,” she said.

“I started having mood swings, I found it difficult to sleep.

“It got to the point where I was hearing voices and having hallucinations.”

When she was in her former house in Clacton, she would hear banging, and sounds of her baby crying. But when she went to check on him he was sleeping soundly.

Lucy, now 20, and living in Colchester, said she even saw shadows moving.

She said: “My mum’s dressing gown was hanging up on the back of the door, and I could see a body hanging from it.

“It was really frightening, I had never had a mental illness before this happened.”

The condition has been brought to light in TV programmes such as Eastenders, when character Stacey Slater suffered an episode after the birth of her son.

It is a serious, but rare, psychiatric illness, occurring in less than one in 1,000 births.

It is similar in some ways to bipolar disorder and those who suffer experience rapid mood changes and delusions.

Lucy’s condition was so bad she was taken to the Rainbow Chil - dren’s Unit in Chelmsford, where she stayed for three months on medication. She had a difficult, 36-hour labour, and the post partum psychosis was picked up ten days after Bradley was born.

“I remember feeling really panicky,” she said.

“I would feel really happy and then there was just extreme fear, and I was crying for no reason.”


She spent her 18th birthday in hospital in June 2015 and was discharged in July and moved into supported housing in Stanway for a short time.

She was lucky enough to be able to have her baby by her side, but still feels her time with him could have been more memorable.

She said: “I feel like I missed out on the first few months as I was in hospital and the nurses used to look after Bradley fore me.

“I don’t remember the first two weeks at all.

“I couldn’t breast feed him as I was on medication and I was worried I’d be unable to bond with him.

“When I was in the unit I was the youngest one there. I found it quite difficult as I’m never going to have my 18th birthday again.

“The nurses did get me a card which was quite nice and I’d rather this happen now than in my late 20s when I have a job as it would be so much harder.”

However, with the support of the hospital and her parents, she has now been fully discharged by the mental health team.

Bradley starts nursery in September and Lucy, who has a new partner, will start looking for work.

She said: “I would say I have fully recovered now. The illness can hit hard but you can recover quickly with the right support.

“A nurse used to come and visit me once a fortnight and I lived with my mum for about four months before moving into the supported housing.

“The nurse used to meet me in town in Colchester so I got to know the area well.

“Bradley is my everything. He’s well-behaved and independent and my nurses always said how well he was doing.”

Mental Health charities such as Mind, which has a branch in Colchester, offer support for people like Lucy.

Mind says as well as receiving professional help, there are things that can be done to help yourself, such as joining a support group and recognising the triggers which affect mental health. Lucy said: “Always try your best to seek support. Some people can do it on their own but it’s easier to have support from loved ones.

“Don’t hide it, there is a fear of being judged but the people who love you won’t care.”