The realities of postpartum psychosis have been brought to light by the singer Adele’s best friend. A rare mental-health condition that can lead to hallucinations, delusions and feelings of confusion, author and illustrator Laura Dockrill, who’s been close friends with the musician for many years, experienced the condition after giving birth to her son six months ago. The pair have been friends since they were teenagers attending The BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon. The song My Same, from the album 19, is about Dockrill.
In a caption of a photo of them both, Adele wrote: “This is my best friend. We have been friends for more of our lives than we haven’t. She had my beautiful godson 6 months ago and it was the biggest challenge of her life in more ways than one.
“She has written the most intimate, witty, heartbreaking and articulate piece about her experience of becoming a new mum and being diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.”
Adele went on to share the link to Dockrill’s blog post about her experience with the mental illness. In the piece, Dockrill details how she’s never had a history of mental illness and how complications during the birth of her son may have been contributing factors towards her diagnosis. After an emergency C-section, Dockrill struggled with feelings of fear after returning home from the hospital, firmly in denial that she could be experiencing postnatal depression.
“My pregnancy was a dream, I was totally prepared to be unprepared and have no history of mental illness and yet this cruel and savage sickness completely and unexpectedly swallowed me smashed me and my family against the rocks,” she writes.
“In my case it was built upon postnatal depression and exhaustion and escalated into a phase of what I can only describe as hell; mania, mood swings, insomnia, delusions, paranoia, anxiety, severe depression with a lovely side order of psychosis.”
Dockrill says she wrote her article in a bid to ‘raise awareness for this awful sickness and to confront the stigma attached to postnatal depression and the pressure put on women to become mothers’
Soon after, she began suffering from anxiety attacks, confessing that she felt as though she was a “terrible person and an awful mother”. She was eventually hospitalised for two weeks and says Adele was the first person to spot the diagnosis.
"She recognised it in me, I was on the phone FaceTiming her and she was the first one to detect what I might have," Dockrill told Radio 1 Newsbeat. Adele, too, has been open about her struggles with mental health, in 2016 telling Vanity Fair magazine that she felt like she had made "the worst decision" of her life after giving birth. "I was obsessed with my child,” she said in her interview. “I felt very inadequate.”
Postpartum psychosis affects one in one thousand mums and can lead to hallucinations after giving birth. Dockrill says she wrote her article in a bid to “raise awareness for this awful sickness and to confront the stigma attached to postnatal depression and the pressure put on women to become mothers”.
After initially trying to conceal her illness, she says she now feels “happy, confident and strong” and is hoping her piece will encourage others to be more open with those closest to them if suffering with the same condition.
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” she writes. “It’s a chemical imbalance, an avalanche of hormones and it is NOT your fault.”