Gaëlle

Mind HK Ambassador

I AM... an actress.

I AM... a food entrepreneur.

I AM... a mental health advocate.






"Being a survivor of postpartum psychosis is only a tiny part of who I am and, if anything, this journey made me stronger."







How has mental health affected your day to day life?

A deep dive in hell — that’s how I remember Postpartum Psychosis, the illness I battled with, just after the birth of my daughter in March 2016. I had no previous history of mental illness at the time. I was living a fast-paced life in Hong Kong, juggling being a successful food entrepreneur, the mother of a three-year old boy, renovating our future family house and keeping up with my passion of acting and teaching drama.

Postpartum psychosis is different from postnatal depression. It is a severe form of maternal mental disorder with symptoms such as depression and/or mania, hallucinations and delusions. Postpartum psychosis is treatable and recoverable, but it does require urgent care. It does happen, mostly out of the blue, to 1 to 2 women out of 1000 after childbirth.

During the height of my illness, I was not sleeping anymore. My mind was always buzzing, I was perpetually anxious, severely depressed, delusional and suicidal. I did not leave my house and I refused for friends to visit me and meet the baby. I believed that I could no longer maintain a social life, because I had to protect people and places from insects I thought had infested my home. Yes, I was socially distancing and living in lockdown all by myself before COVID-19 existed.


How has the stigma around mental health affected your life?

I never went to my 6-weeks postpartum check-up. Maternal mental health was poorly addressed, from my experience of being pregnant in the private system in Hong Kong. It was not really discussed throughout my two pregnancies. Despite all my planning and prepping, I was not aware that becoming a mother could so seriously impact my mental health and, more importantly, I had no idea of what to do if that happened. Shockingly, at the private maternity ward where I delivered both my babies, my mental state was never assessed. While, in the public care system, it is part of routine care. Once I was discharged with a healthy baby, it was very easy to go under the radar without any kind of monitoring that could have, at the very least, identified that I was struggling.


Where/what has been important to you in your mental health journey? Why?

The trails. Nowadays I live a very happy life. I took up hiking during the COVID-19 pandemic and I think that it’s there, on a beautiful trail near my home, that I finally felt totally like myself again.


Tell us about your life now

Being a survivor of postpartum psychosis is only a tiny part of who I am and, if anything, this journey made me stronger. My daughter and I are close. I am vigilant with new mothers around me. I ask them how they are really doing. Twice. I have done a Mental Health First Aid course to get a better understanding of mental health and to learn how I can help support others. I share my own experience whenever I can, because I hope that the story of my deep dive in hell might have a positive impact, create awareness for mental health and help others to get the support they need.

 

Learn more about postpartum psychosis:

https://www.mind.org.hk/mental-health-a-to-z/postnatal-depression/what-is-postpartum-psychosis/

Seeking help in Hong Kong:

https://www.mind.org.hk/getting-help/

List of mental health services provided by local NGOs:

https://www.mind.org.hk/community-directory/

Find help now:

https://www.mind.org.hk/find-help-now/