Man convinced wife was 'possessed' as she started accusing friend of being Satan
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A new mom left her husband fearing she might be 'possessed' as she accused a friend of being Satan shortly after giving birth.
In movies and TV shows, having a baby is often portrayed as a few minutes of screaming and crying, followed by a happy bubble of family life.
If you're a parent, you'll know that's far from reality.
Mom-of-two Olivia, who now lives in Alaska, experienced a much scarier version of new family life after she gave birth and began to fear her home, and maybe even her new son himself, had fallen victim to demons.
The mom welcomed her first child in Okinawa, Japan in January 2020 as she travelled the world with her husband, who is in the Air Force.
Olivia told UNILAD she felt 'okay for the first week or two' after giving birth, but she did quickly begin researching childcare 'obsessively' as she noticed issues with breastfeeding.
The arrival of Olivia's own mom to help care for the newborn only caused a 'lot of tension in the house', and by the time she left Olivia was not sleeping at all.
The new mom really began to feel her world shift after speaking to her in-laws about her son, his incessant crying and the realization that 'taking care of a newborn was nothing like [they] pictured'.
During that conversation, Olivia's in-laws, a Christian family, introduced the idea of demons, suggesting they might be responsible for the bad atmosphere and apparent distress of the child in the house.
It might seem like a rogue suggestion, but Olivia pointed out that 'spiritual warfare is a very real thing for Christians, so coming from that perspective, it made sense'.
Already struggling with her mental health, this suggestion added in a 'spiritual battle' for Olivia. After that, she began to experience full-blown post-partum psychosis.
Cleveland Clinic explains that post-partum psychosis 'affects a person’s sense of reality, causing hallucinations, delusions, paranoia or other behavior changes'.
The condition occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, and in severe cases parents may attempt to harm themselves or their newborn.
As her belief that there were demons in the home began to grow, Olivia began to see dark shapes taking over the house.
She zeroed in on the Bible, reading it intensely, and it was after coming across a Genesis reading that it crossed Olivia's mind that her son himself might be possessed.
Her husband threw away all the occult items in the home and blessed both the house and the baby, but it wasn't enough to help Olivia's psychosis.
When she was about four weeks postpartum Olivia sought help from a doctor, but felt she received a spiel given to a lot of new moms before being sent away with breathing exercises.
"I don't remember a ton of it, but I do remember the memory of being paranoid in the clinic, thinking people were watching and thinking people were going to take my son, then [the doctor] talking about the breathing exercises," Olivia recalled.
"That's very vivid."
Things continued to worsen for the mom, and with no help from the doctors, one day she got 'down on [her] knees' and began to read the Bible.
Concerned, her husband called their friends and told them they needed to come over, telling them there was 'something really wrong'.
"He was like 'I think Olivia might be possessed'," Olivia recalled. "He thought that I was possessed."
When their friends came over, Olivia began to 'freak out' at one friend in particular.
"I was so terrified," she recalled. "I thought he was the devil, and I wanted him out of the house. I was trying to get away from him.
"I don't even remember what my husband or what our friends were doing. I just was fixated on him and was like, 'you need to get out of my house'... It was wild."
It was only at that point that Olivia was admitted to hospital on the Navy base. She initially wouldn't consent to being admitted, but as she and her husband went to the car to go home again, Olivia became frightened and started to get violent.
At that time, they had grounds to admit her.
"I was sent to the psych ward," Olivia told UNILAD. "That's where I woke up, [but] last thing I remember I was in the ER fighting for my life."
When Olivia woke up, she was alone. She didn't know where she was, and had no idea what had happened. Olivia didn't even know the world had fallen into a global pandemic as she'd struggled with her mental health.
She questioned whether she'd hurt her husband or her son, and even began to wonder if she'd given birth at all.
"It was one of the most gut-wrenching, painful experiences in my life," she recalled.
Despite being dismissed earlier by medics, Olivia was then thankfully given medication which quickly began to alleviate her symptoms.
She remained in hospital for about five days and began to become more herself again, but more than three years on Olivia still doesn't remember everything from that period of her life.
The mom struggled for about a year with postpartum depression, but she never had any mania or delusions again.
Looking back, Olivia wishes her in-laws hadn't gone about sharing their theories in the way they did, because she was 'so impressionable'.
However, she noted that 'if it hadn't been [demons], it probably would have been something else' because she was 'too far gone' as a result of the psychosis and sleep deprivation.
"Extreme sleep deprivation is an enormous contributor for postpartum psychosis - possibly even the biggest," Olivia explained.
The mom is hopeful that the doctor who initially offered her breathing exercises has since 'woken up' to the realities of post-partum psychosis, and stressed that people in general need to be more aware of the condition.
"Even though it's rare, you can't completely control the circumstances surrounding your birth experience and postpartum," Olivia said.
Olivia has since gone on to welcome another child, and though she 'almost slipped into psychosis again' when he experienced a health emergency, she recognized the symptoms and was quickly able to take action.
Now hopeful that her story will help other moms, Olivia said: "I don't want women to have fear surrounding postpartum. With knowledge comes power."
You can find help and support for post-partum psychosis on the Post-Partum Support International website, which also has an emergency hotline available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255