A Grays mother has bravely opened up to share her experience of the reality of living with post-partum psychosis.

Deborah Akinyemi, 30, who has three children, Richard 5, Enoch, 4 and Rachel age 1, was hit with depression after the birth of her third child.

At first she said, she put feelings of confusion down to the normal ups-and-downs of life after childbirth.

But after her behaviour became more erratic, her husband James Akinyemi, 34, was forced to call in paramedics.

Deborah was diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis, a psychiatric emergency characterised by extreme mood swings and hallucinations, often needing hospitalization.

Much more rare than postnatal depression, the severe mental illness kicks in post-childbirth and is said to only be diagnosed in around one in every 1,000 new mothers.

Sufferers may say and do things that are out of character and lose touch with reality.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, symptoms can kick in within two weeks of birth and include restlessness, excitability and confusion.

Deborah, who studied Health Service Management in East London, described the moment her husband James, 34, first realised something was wrong.

She said: “It was the first time I suffered from depression with my third child. I was fine with my other kids.

“But when this happened I became confused – I was confused and scared and really really panicky.

Husband James spotted ‘out of character’ behaviour when Deborah began trying to fix, and break, light-bulbs.

The distraught mum, said: “I was trying to get the light bulb fixed and I didn’t know what was going on around me. I was also having strange smells, like dust, blood and I felt really scared of going outside. I didn’t want to do it because I was scared of going outside. I was afraid of so many things.

“I was saying I want to fix all the lights, I want to break the lights. It was scary, people said call the police, but my friends said no.”

Before the police were called, Deborah’s husband, who works as an image consultation for Hugo Boss, sought urgent help from a health visitor from Thurrock Council.

Deborah said: “My husband saw something was wrong. He said, this is not the Deborah I know, something is wrong, and he went to get more information from health professionals.”

An urgent visit to the midwife diagnosed post-partum psychosis, a condition Deborah said, she had never heard off.

In Deborah’s case, the Basildon mental health early intervention team and hospital team put her on medication and returned her home.

But after another emergency call, Deborah was placed in the Mother and Baby unit at Basildon Hospital for three months.

In Deborah’s case, the rapid intervention of health teams, medication and therapy gave her back her life, but the experience, said Deborah, struck her out of the blue.

She said: “Something like that had never happened to me. I am a ‘bubbly’ person who manages very well. I’m very strong, I’m the kind of person who raises money for causes, you know.

“But after having Rachel everything just went down. I just didn’t have that passion to go out, and I didn’t want people to judge me.”

Deborah explained: “Those people jumped in and helped me. They told James, everything your wife is suffering. It helped me. It actually helped me recover.”

When Deborah and James found there was no support group for the condition, she decided to launch a support group for other mums with post-partum psychosis and post-natal depression.

Deborah explained: “Most people don’t like talking about depression in Britain. They don’t want people to look down on them.

The Grays Pandas group has recently kicked off with 20 members to meet to talk about their babies, the issues they are facing and their medicine.

The husband and wife team are also on a mission to raise awareness of the condition and have been travelling around Thurrock and London, presenting and speaking to mums, midwives and students in all the child centres around Essex.

Deborah said she wants the group to be open to everyone – and already has people from all different backgrounds.

The mum of three said: “I’m glad I set up the group and glad that somebody somewhere will know that someone wants to try to help them and they won’t be charged for it.”

She said: “You don’t know how people are suffering. I’m just trying to open my heart to people just to encourage them and reassure them they are not alone.

“I was really, really mad for three months – you have to change your thinking.”

The Grays Pandas will meet the first Friday of every month from 1.30 to 2.30pm at the Grays Parish Hall Church on West Street.