Ariane’s baby was just a few months old when the hallucinations started.

Content warning: This story discusses postnatal depression and suicidal ideation.

Ariane Beeston was a child protection worker, and a newly registered psychologist when she gave birth to her first child. But soon, she began to experience scary breaks with reality.

Out of fear and shame, she kept her delusions and hallucinations secret, but as the months passed things got worse, until she was finally admitted to a mother and baby psychiatric unit. With medication, the support of her husband, psychotherapy and, ultimately, time, Ariane rebuilt herself, and began a new chapter working in perinatal mental health, developing resources to support new mothers. 

In her new book, Because I’m Not Myself, You See Ariane interweaves memoir with research and expert commentary. Here, she shares an exclusive insight into her experience with Mamamia readers.

On the day of my induction, the obstetrician breaks my waters manually with a long, silver hook. And it’s so absurd that I laugh as the hot fluid gushes out, pooling into the towels the midwife propped underneath me. 

A surfboard-like pad wedged between my legs, the obstetrician sends me off for a walk around the block to see if it kick-starts labour naturally. My husband takes my hand as we do laps around the hospital grounds.

We stop at the newsagent and I buy a stack of magazines and a packet of jellybeans, armed for the delivery. You were my little jellybean once, the exquisite curve of you up on the black-and-white screen. You were too small to feel then, but now you’re all I feel under the stretch of my swollen belly. You kick beneath my hand and I realise it’s the last time it will be just your dad and I. We savour it. And so we walk, around and around, under the grey sky, and back into the maternity ward to meet you.