‘I am starting to see a glimmer of hope’: Louise Thompson bravely opens up about postpartum PTSD diagnosis
The reality star has spoken candidly about being diagnosed with PTSD after suffering complications while giving birth to her first son, Leo-Hunter, late last year.
* Please note this article contains descriptions of one mother’s traumatic experience of childbirth and subsequent postnatal PTSD diagnosis.*
A well-known model, TV personality and reality star, most people know Louise Thompson – and her brother Sam – from the popular E4 series Made In Chelsea. Joining the show just in time for its second season, she made her debut back in 2011 and was an integral member of the cast for eight subsequent years.
Finally deciding to leave reality TV behind her in 2019, Louise has since redefined herself as a fitness influencer and not only heads up her own clothing brand, Pocket Sport, but also runs fitness support site Trtle alongside her fiancé, Ryan Libbey.
First announcing their engagement in August 2018, the couple – who have been together since 2016 – initially planned on getting married in December 2019. That was postponed to spring 2020 but then the pandemic happened and they were forced to delay their ceremony yet again.
Last May, Louise revealed that she was expecting, just a few short months after she had suffered a devastating miscarriage. Waiting until the 12 week mark to announce the news to the public, the star admitted that her pregnancy had been “quite challenging” and sadly, her experience of childbirth and motherhood thus far has been even more so.
“This post isn’t an easy one for me to write. I have so many things that I want to say but at the same time I’m struggling to find the words to explain what has happened to me and my family so for now I will keep it quite simple,” she captioned a photo of her son, Leo-Hunter, in late December last year.
“The reason I have been absent for weeks is because I have been very unwell. 5 weeks ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy Leo-Hunter Libbey weighing in at 7lbs. Unfortunately it wasn’t the easiest start for either of us. One ended up in NICU and the other ended up in ICU,” she continued.
“Whilst Leo made a fairly quick recovery I have been recovering in hospital for a month with various serious complications. In all honesty I never imagined that so many bad things could happen to me, but to dance with death twice brings a whole new view of the world – a stark reminder of how short and sacred life really is.”
Admitting that she is in “a bit of a strange place mentally and physically”, Louise has been very open about her struggles on social media, sharing several other posts since the new year and speaking candidly about what life has really been like for her behind closed doors.
“I don’t know whether the mental causes the physical or the other way around, but things seem to be getting worse. If it was a permanent state, I don’t think I would be here,” she wrote in January, later adding that her body is in “constant fight or flight mode”. “Transformation” is never linear as she points out though and while her “road to recovery will take the form of a jagged line”, she’s still making progress little by little.
Updating supporters on her journey again just this week, Louise said that she finally feels strong enough to talk about what she’s gone through. “If I could use a few words to describe the past month they would be: SCARED, CONFUSED, PARALYSED, AND TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL,” she wrote alongside a photo of her with Ryan and Leo.
Admitting that she’s been “too scared to post about how she’s feeling because she’s “not even close to feeling like a normal person yet”, the new mum said that she’s slowly coming to terms with the fact that her life “might never be the same again”. “But things honestly can’t get any worse than they’ve been over the past month so hopefully I’m at the beginning of my actual recovery,” she continued.
“I have had to learn an incredible amount of patience (something I never ever had before). Perhaps one of the only good things to come out of this? The only other thing that might be beneficial one day (remarkable that I’ve even reached a point where I can think about my future) is that I might be able to help encourage other people to keep on going. DON’T GIVE UP. JUST KEEP LIVING. ONE MORE DAY.”
Everything from sleeping to eating to looking after Leo has been an insurmountable task and Louise has just been in “self preservation mode/survival mode” up until now. “I’m too scared to look after little Leo because I’m worried he will remind me of what happened to my body. I’ve screamed and cried at being asked to put clothes away in my cupboard because my mind won’t let me do it, it won’t allow me a spare second to concentrate on anything but suffering, I’ve not been able to communicate at all with people even on the most basic level,” she added.
Reaching “a level of rock bottom that [she] never knew existed”, Louise said that she’s learned a lot over the past six months, writing, “now I understand the trauma. It is not as easy as ‘you survived the past, so now you live’.”
There is light at the end of the tunnel though and Louise finished her most recent post with “something a tiny bit positive” – a testament to just how strong she really is.
“I am starting to see a glimmer of hope. I have quite a lot of people, processes and medication to thank for that. I will share more as I start to feel a bit more compos mentis. What I want to remind anyone that is suffering is to KEEP BLOODY GOING. It can and will get better. Crisis teams and medication can help. Don’t be too proud to ask for HELP.”
If you’ve been affected by a traumatic childbirth experience or postnatal PTSD, you can find out more about perinatal mental health services in Ireland on the HSE website.