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Runaway Mom

A Race to Regain my Sanity after

Bipolar-Induced Postpartum Psychosis


Maggie Reese

Published by New Ideas Publishing at Smashwords.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This book is available in a print edition in bookstores and at most online retailers.

Copyright © 2017 Margaret Reese. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

The author is donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness


Maggie Reese

Maggie Reese’s mission is to bring hope and inspiration to women facing mental illness or mental health challenges and their families and loved ones. In addition to sharing her personal stories in her books, Maggie speaks on how to live with mental illness, day-to-day coping skills, and the special issues relating to being a parent with mental illness. Maggie lives with her husband, Matt, and their daughter, Allison, in San Diego, California. Find Maggie on twitter @MaggieReeseAuthor.


Dedicated to my Heavenly Father for the miracle of my sweet AllieCakes



Part One: High Expectations Lead to Crash and Burn

Chapter 1: France

Chapter 2: Nesting

Chapter 3: Times Up

Chapter 4: Ride Home

Chapter 5: Mind Gone

Chapter 6: Your Wife is on Drugs

Chapter 7: Chevy’s

Chapter 8: The Bible - Really?

Chapter 9: Shower Terrors

Chapter 10: Home Life

Chapter 11: Notes to the Family

Chapter 12: Toothache

Chapter 13: Jackson Speaks

Chapter 14: Making No Sense

Chapter 15: Dr. S

Chapter 16: Dead in Africa

Chapter 17: Screw You

Chapter 18: Side Effects

Chapter 19: Making No Sense

Part Two: Limping Along on Three Cylinders

Chapter 19: For We Live By Faith Not By Sight

Chapter 20: It Takes A Village

Chapter 21: Anne – A Gift From God

Chapter 22: Our First Road Trip - Tahoe Christmas

Chapter 23: Sex Again – Seriously? Just Shoot Me Already

Chapter 24: The Black Cloud

Chapter 25: The Haze is Lifting

Chapter 26: Spring Training

Chapter 27: Prayer

Chapter 28: Carries Checkup

Part Three: Shambling Toward the Finish Line

Chapter 29: I Believe

Chapter 30: ChangeChapter 31: Beach Celebration

Chapter 32: A New Identity

Chapter 33: The Bend At The Blackfoot

A Mother-in-Law Painfully RemembersTake Two – A Loyal Best Friend Through Thick and Thin but not Again

Afterword by the Author


Part One:

High Expectations Lead to Crash and Burn

Monday 10/23/06 Donna Reese

Enjoyed a neighborhood walk, It was just Allie, Maggie, Jackson, and me. Mag wants to see family tonight. She wisely doesnt want to go to a restaurant but has asked if we could just meet at Bill and Clarices home. We are house-sitting for them in Point Loma. Mag has taken 1/4 Cloznepam, which is her ideal so she could stay focused and continue a great afternoon.

Praises to Mag ~

She initiates baby mommy time 3x this afternoon and evening

She recognizes living room is hot and fixes it by turning on ceiling fan, opening windows for cross breeze, and she went to garage and got out the portable fan. (Great problem solving)

She is initiating taking a shower and is able to dress herself (good organization)

We went off to Bill and Clariece's for the Reese family dinner. There was great interaction with Matt’s cousins Vanessa, Kristen. Also with them 6 month old Ethan, Aunt Pat, Aunt Jan and Uncle John as well as Jim and me. It was a very pleasant and relaxed evening without any bad episodes. It was our best day yet. A real Victory for healing. If tomorrow dips, be encouraging. We are on the healing track!

I have noticed when she has anxiety and paranoia, prayers and hugs help. I wrote down a Bible verse, which she really liked.

Psalm 71 :19-21 “Your righteousness, God reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more. (NIV)”

Part Three: Shambling Toward the Finish Line

A Mother-in-Law Painfully Remembers

By Donna Reese

I got the phone call from our son when they were at the hospital and Maggie was in labor.

How exciting! Our second granddaughter was exercising her way into this world and ours. First babies werent supposed to come three weeks early, and my thoughts were elsewhere that Wednesday morning, October 3rd 2006. My head spun with figuring out a way to travel over 400 miles and get there in time for her delivery. I went into a flurry of disorganized packing, got a good weather report, headed to our small local airport in central California, and flew myself to San Diego. The sun was setting as I drove the rental car to the hospital with baby girl thoughts happily tumbling around in my mind.

Even though I missed the delivery by a few hours, the new little family were bonded and happy and doing just great. Maggie was such a loving and devoted little mama and nursing Allie easily and naturally. Allison had big bright blue eyes and was tiny, but perfect. Proud new dad, Matt, adapted immediately with pride and pleasure to his new role as Daddy. My Grammy heart sang praises to our Heavenly Father for a safe delivery, a healthy baby and joyous new family.

Everyone on the maternity ward knew and loved Maggie in the few short days she was there. Her magnetic personality drew people to her. The day nurse became a new best friend. People seemed to go out of their way to care for Allison and Maggie--the new darlings of the ward.

Everything seemed to be going well, but then the questions started to creep in: Is this the normal euphoria of a mom experiencing the joy of a new babe in arms? Or, is this -- do I dare even think it in my mind -- the manic symptoms of a new bipolar mother? No! No!! I cant even allow that thought to pass through, or speak it to another. As I cuddled our beautiful granddaughter, I brushed all those terrible questions aside.

My husband, Papa Jim, arrived that evening and shared the joyous event and celebrated the familys blessings. His foreboding thoughts matched mine, although we didnt speak it until the following day. Wound up in a manic whirlwind, Maggie talked fast and jumped from one topic to the next without a breath. Matt was beginning to come to terms with the same internal thoughts. Discharged from the hospital, Maggie was breaking away from reality--slipping out of sight. She was unable to bond with Allison. She was aware that she needed to get back on her bipolar medications (discontinued during pregnancy), but the psychiatrist didnt answer our calls, return calls, or have any psychiatrist covering patients. We were helpless to get a prescription. Manic Maggie was falling over the Reality Edge and we all could see it escalating quickly, yet were helpless to stop the downward spiral.

So we went to the Emergency Room with hopes of obtaining the appropriate medications. Two choices were offered: 1. Admit Maggie to the psychiatric ward or 2. See her psychiatrist. The psychiatrist still was not responding, so there was o real help there.

Maggie was lying down in the back of the car with her eyes closed and when she spoke, her words tumbled out incoherently. I prayed, “HELP us Lord. We don’t want this new mother locked up and separated from her baby.” We had little resources to deal with the surmounting odds.

Papa Jims training as a physician and surgeon, calls for decisive action when no immediate medical intervention is available. Jim contacted an experienced psychiatrist practicing in another state, and he was a huge help in providing a free phone consultation and giving his professional opinion of medications he would recommend for Maggie. With a leap of faith and a prayer, Dr. Jim called in the prescriptions for Maggie, with the blessing of Matt, and Joe and Leslie. Holding our breath, we waited and prayed.

Running a Home-Based Psychiatric Ward and Nursery is not for the faint of heart. Plunging in with helping hands and hearts, nothing could have prepared us for this challenging non stop work week. It was a blur of prepping, feeding, diapering, laundry, cleaning, cooking, coaching, counseling, praying, worrying, encouraging, etc.

Allison was an easy baby and took far less time to tend to than her sick mother. We hoped Allison was oblivious to the anxiety, paranoia, and worries of death her mom experienced.

Beautiful Maggies personal grooming skills disappeared. It became a huge challenge for her to brush her teeth, change clothing, or shower. Her fear of drowning in the bath made her pretend she had washed, rather than face those very oppressive fears of death. How long must she suffer? When would the meds make a visible difference?

We became micro managers of her existence, trying to love her back into the real world. Maggie had no ability to read, concentrate, or focus on even the simplest tasks.

This vibrant woman, who could work circles around all her friends, was incapable of anything productive. How I missed her creative energy and sparkling personality. They were gone. She was more like a Zombie than a young new mother.

We placed Allie in Maggie’s arms and she held her dutifully, yet was completely unresponsive to her darling daughter. A five pound sack of flour would have received equal attention--none. There was no bonding or recognition that this infant was her very own.

Sometimes her vacant eyes stared; then, suddenly, they would fervently dart about as her psychotic brain dreamt of horrible happenings. She talked about Matt being dead and people spying on us. As much as we reassured or shared scripture or prayed with her, the Evil Thoughts were her reality. Maggie spoke the truth about knowing these things were not real, yet, as hard as she fought to believe that, the images were bigger than she could dismiss.

Matt came home from his high school teaching job worn out and faced the Psych Ward Wife. He was tender, loving, and patient with her, and took over the night feedings for his “Baby Blue Eyes.” He did not express his fears or reveal his emotions, but as his mother, I ached for him, the pain visible on his drawn face. Laughter was absent in this Hospital House. Joy of a newborn baby was smashed down by the heaviness of a new mother and wife gone mad.

How long would it take for Maggie to “come back.”? Would she regain her ability to function as a normal, safe person? How long could the Psych Ward be carried out in a home setting? Who do you call when Humpty Dumpty is broken and all the Kings Men are gone? I would crawl into bed exhausted, wondering when was the last time I had a chance to brush my hair and teeth--two days? Sleep was difficult and restless, but I would take whatever snippets I could get.

Mornings would bring renewed hope. We were on a mission to find a doula to help in this healing process. The normal function of a doula is to help during labor and delivery in a non-medical capacity. Some doulas stay with their clients for a few weeks to help them get the baby established on a schedule. We needed a Miracle Doula who would be willing to do that and much more.

The calls and interviews took place. It was easy to check “no” to all the applicants -- except one. Ann was calm and confident and understood Maggies mental health status and that her role would be one of training Maggie to become a competent, safe, mother. She was an answer to our prayers, our Angel Doula. Ann began her work several weeks later, mentoring Mama Maggie for the next five months.

Today, life ebbs and flows like the San Diego beaches that Matt, Maggie, and Allie freely explore and play in. Allie is a smart, beautiful, active, athletic, fun, healthy fourth grade girl. Her mom and dad flex well with the ebb and flow of life. There are way more good days than down days. My beautiful daughter-in-law is involved, active, energetic, and creative. She has decorated and landscaped their home in marvelous ways. She and Matt are the glue that make a lovely, safe home for Allison. This family trio are active in church and social activities and enjoy exploring their world. They are a team. They know what life was like at the depths of hell, but their faith has sustained them through those tough times and holds them steady in the good times.

This faith journey is ongoing and we have all grown closer to God and one another through these deep emotional and difficult times. We celebrate life with the knowledge,

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (I Corinthians 5:7, KJV). We know “...With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). We can face today and tomorrow with great confidence because of Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Take Two

A Loyal Best Friend Through Thick and Thin

but not Again

By Maggie’s best friend, Carrie Webber

God’s plan for your life can be a mystery. Sometimes it’s a great adventure and crazy mystery all in one. One you enjoy the entire time and can’t wait to see what He will do next. I like those journeys, those mysteries that keep you on the edge of your seat. I love trusting God with my life and letting Him guide my day to day. And, then there’s those “other” journey’s. Those other mysteries of life that you wish would just end and be done. Where you don’t understand what God is doing, or why He is doing it. Why is He allowing these crappy and awful things to happen to you and the people you love? Why? Seriously! What is the point?

The last time I sat down to write about Maggie and her journey through her first major Bipolar break I figured it would a one-and-done type of thing. I would write a few words of how it affected me, and then we would go about our lives like usual. Well, that’s not how life works out most of the time. Allow me for a brief moment to be cliché in my scripture usage. But there is a reason things are “cliché,” and it’s usually because it’s relevant and it happens all the time. In God’s word he tells us:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” John 16:33”

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