222: Postpartum Psychosis, Failed Healthcare, Trauma and Recovery


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By Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D., PMH-C and Katayune Kaeni. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Today’s show looks at postpartum psychosis, a much-misunderstood condition, and diagnosis. Unfortunately, we usually hear about this condition after a tragedy has occurred, but that is not always the hallmark of postpartum psychosis. My guest shares her journey, including the missteps by the mental health clinicians and medical professionals who didn’t provide the help that she needed. Along with so many misconceptions about postpartum psychosis, the main problem is that people just are not educated about this topic. Join us to learn more.

Jillian Parente is a licensed clinical social worker, adjunct professor, multi-trauma and postpartum psychosis survivor, yogi, and holistic wellness advocate. She is a champion of maternal mental health who specializes in trauma and focuses on women’s mental health. Most importantly, she is the mother of a smart and beautiful four-year-old girl. While maintaining her role as a mental health professional, Jillian continues the extensive process of recovery from her episode of late-onset postpartum psychosis, which occurred three years ago. As a result of that condition, she lost everything, and her entire life changed. Her story illustrates that “mental health does not discriminate.” Jillian believes that intensive healing is not an end goal but a journey.

**Because of the nature of today’s topic, our discussion may be sensitive for some listeners. Use your judgment, and listen when you are ready.

Show Highlights:

  • Jillian’s story, which includes intrusive thoughts in the postpartum period, normal anxiety for a new mom, and increased problems when she and her husband returned to work
  • How Jillian realized in hindsight that she had every risk factor for postpartum psychosis—but no medical professional ever addressed the risk
  • Why Jillian felt like a failure in her attempt to breastfeed her daughter, partly because of a medication-induced milk shortage and a lack of support at her workplace
  • How Jillian’s sense of emotional safety was shaken due to trauma in her marriage
  • How paranoid delusions led Jillian to fear that her husband would harm her and her baby
  • The chain of events that led to Jillian’s daughter being taken from her and her subsequent psychiatric hospitalization
  • Why Jillian came to the point that she knew she needed professional help
  • Why Jillian felt like an unsafe monster to her child even though she never felt like a harm to her
  • The misconception about postpartum psychosis: that it only manifests itself in the mother harming her child and/or herself
  • How Jillian transitioned to a different therapist and became involved in EMDR work
  • Why Jillian is still battling for custody of her daughter
  • What Jillian feels like are the big “misses” in her story where the system failed her and dismissed her
  • How the support and love of a true friend empowered her and made all the difference for Jillian in helping her summon her strength and tenacity to help herself and move forward


Contact Jillian: Jillian Parente

Contact Post Partum for resources and support.

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257 episodes