When I found out I was pregnant, I was actually inpatient at a mental health facility in the middle of a manic episode with psychotic features. While they tested me for pregnancy on the way in, it wasn't until I threw up three days later and requested a new test that it came back positive.
In that moment, while I was very excited to hear the news, I was also very worried since I was taking three different medications that had adverse effects for pregnant women and I had also been dosed with Ativan and Haldol on multiple occasions.
Once the staff found out that I was expecting, they were very quick to get me out of there. Their mindset went from medicating me using whatever means necessary to control my symptoms, to fear of getting sued if anything they did damaged my baby.
After I checked out of that facility, I was still very manic and not in touch with reality. However, when I called my regular psychiatrists office to make an appointment, I was told that they didn't treat patients who were pregnant. I was told that I needed to find a doctor that specialized in pregnancy and mental health.
After looking all over Google for that kind of doctor, I was unable to find any in my area accepting new patients. So, I continued taking the antipsychotic medication that I had on hand and fortunately my symptoms eventually subsided.
After a couple of months without a doctor, I was able to get an appointment with a facility who was willing to prescribe to me as long as they could run all of the medications by my OBGYN first. I thought that was a reasonable idea and signed the forms necessary for them to communicate.
However, when I went to my appointment with my OBGYN carrying a list of all the potential medications I could start, I was surprised that he simply Googled the names of each one and told me what category they fell into.
You see, the federal government requires drug manufacturers to report incidences of birth defects and health issues in pregnant women and neonates.
I was frustrated, because I could have easily found that information on my own and I was hoping that my doctor would be able to tell me more than a search engine about what medicines I should opt to take.
Unfortunately, all of the medications that I could take had some level of complications. My OBGYN told me that I had to weigh the potential effects against my need for mental health stability. The general rule is that if you are stable on medications before your pregnancy, it's usually safer to continue them throughout since going off of medication can lead to stress on the baby and may put you into a state of mind where you make poor decisions.
However, I was unwilling to accept that I needed to put toxic chemicals into my baby's bloodstream in order to be stable. I was already in a position where I had not been able to work for some time and wasn't planning to work for the rest of my pregnancy, so I didn't have to worry about job performance.
I also was feeling pretty sick every day and the side effects of the medecines I had been on were only making me feel worse. So, I decided to quit everything and hope that my mind would be able to handle the hormonal changes and ups and downs without triggering any major episodes.
I was already about halfway through my pregnancy at the time I made that decision. Looking back now, with a healthy four month old, I'm glad I did. I was able to make it through with no major episodes and even breastfeed for a few months before I needed to get back on mental health medecation recently.
While my story doesn't apply to everyone and post partum depression and psychosis occur for many women, I was lucky to avoid them. I hope hearing my story helps you consider your own illness progression and treatment options and make the best decision for yourself.