I ‘smelt’ my babies’ deaths and feared a stranger would steal them while in the grips of psychosis – The Sun

JUST four months after giving birth mum Sarah Snelling wanted to die.

She was haunted by 'voices' in her head and began to believe that her kids would be better off without her.

The 29-year-old was convinced something bad was going to happen to her daughters Ella, now one, and Phoebe, three.

She feared strangers would break in and steal her girls in the middle of the night.

And she described "smelling" a fatal car accident, believing her daughters had died in a crash.

Sarah didn't realise it at the time, but she was in the grips of postpartum psychosis – made worse by her lack of sleep – and resulted in her being sectioned four months after giving birth to Ella.

Sarah, from Ipswich, Suffolk, who is speaking out to raise awareness of the crippling condition, said the only thing that stopped her from jumping in front of moving cars was the fact she was carrying her daughters.

"I was suffering with psychosis for two weeks prior and I was completely broken," she said.

"I had barely any sleep for the duration, it was like I was on drugs."

Sarah enjoyed a smooth pregnancy, and immediately after giving birth in July 2018 was consumed by love for her newborn, Ella.

But was it around Halloween when, looking back, she now realises she started to suffer symptoms of psychosis.

"I was hallucinating, feeling fearful and behaving erratically but I didn't think I was ill," the mum-of-two said.

"I thought I was wonder woman and didn't need to sleep, I would drink cups and cups of black coffee to stay up and watch the girls while they slept.

“I was convinced something bad was going to happen to my two beautiful babies – I believed people were out to get me and my children.

“I worried in case they were taken during the night which is why I stopped sleeping as I wanted to make sure the front door was locked, and they were safe.

I also smelt things which weren’t there, I once thought about a fatal car accident involving my children and believed it had happened.

“I saw things that weren’t really there including armed police surrounding my flat which sounds ridiculous but to me it was very much real.

“I also smelt things which weren’t there, I once thought about a fatal car accident involving my children and believed it had happened.

"I could even smell an awful smell of death – it was like out of date meat and a burning smell.

“There was a male voice in my head who convinced me I was being watched and experimented on – if I made a glass of water, the voice would spook me and say the water supply was poisoned.

“There was also a female voice who would say the children would be better off without me.”

After enduring two weeks of barely any sleep, and behaving erratically, Sarah's mum Liz Kasemsant, 54, suggested a trip to the doctors.

On her walk to the surgery, Sarah said she thought about throwing herself in front of the oncoming traffic.

She was admitted to a psychiatric unit and moved to a mother and baby unit at Chelmsford Hospital for seven weeks.

“I was going out of my mind with unrealistic thoughts and I knew it wasn’t right," she added.

“I was physically and mentally exhausted.

“My mum noticed I looked different and I was acting out of character – my personality disappeared and I was erratic.

“I would wash my hands up to 70 times a day until they were red raw.

“I didn’t keep on top of the house work but I would obsessively clean Ella's bottles.

“During the walk to the doctors, I was ahead of my mum and daughters – I wanted to jump in front of the cars.

“My mum made me carry Phoebe as she knew I would never do anything to harm her.

“I wanted to end it all as I had enough, I thought my girls would be better off without me.

Are you at risk?

POSTPARTUM psychosis is a rare but serious mental health illness affecting new mums.

Many women experience mild mood changes after giving birth, commonly refered to as the "baby blues".

But postpartum psychosis is very different.

Symptoms typically start in the first two weeks after giving birth, but rarely can develop weeks later.

Signs include:

  • hallucinations
  • delusions – beliefs that are unlikely to be true
  • a manic mood – talking and thinking too quickly, feeling "high" or "on top of the world"
  • a low mood – showing signs of depressions, being withdrawn, tearful, lacking energy, loss of appetite, anxiety and trouble sleeping
  • loss of inhibitions
  • feeling suspicious or fearful
  • restlessness
  • feeling very confused
  • behaving out of character

It's a very serious mental illness, so if you fear you or a loved one is affected it is important to seek medical help as an emergency.

If it's not treated immediately it can get worse very quickly and could neglect or harm your baby or yourself.

See your GP immediately, or call NHS 111 for help.

If you fear you, or someone you know, is in danger of immediate harm go to A&E or call 999.

For more informations see the NHS website here.

“I was sectioned at the doctors under the Mental Health Act because I was posing a danger to myself.

“I received amazing care at the hospital and was discharged just in time for Christmas in 2018.

“It has been a year and I have fully recovered and off the medication.

“I take every day as it comes, and I now understand the importance of self-care.”

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