PARENTS

Changing The Way We View Mums With Postpartum Psychosis Who Kill Their Children

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bath.

11/03/2016 11:55 GMT | Updated 11/03/2016 11:56 GMT

A mum is challenging the world to rethink the way we view mothers who kill their children when suffering from a mental health condition.

"It's been six years since my daughter was born, I still want to have more kids, and I'm still terrified," said the mum in a powerful video for Buzzfeed.

"The one thing I know is that I'm putting my mental health first this time.

"We need to teach mums that it's ok to ask for help."

In the video the mum talks about the case of Andrea Yates, from America, who drowned her five children in the bath in June 2001.

"You look at someone like Andrea and you think she's a monster because she's killed her five kids and that is a pretty monstrous thing to do obviously," said the mum.

"But I look at Andrea Yates and I have a great deal of sympathy for her as a postpartum depression survivor."

Jordan Shalhoub for BuzzFeed
You look at someone like Andrea and you think she's a monster"

"I think the most important thing to realise about what happened to the Yates family is that it was entirely preventable," the mum continued.

Six years later, after two trials, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to a mental institution, where she remains to this day.

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Yates gave birth to her fourth child in February 1999.  Four moths later she attempted suicide and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis.

A month later she attempted suicide for a second time. She was then prescribed an antipsychotic.

But just a few months later she came off the medication and became pregnant with her fifth child.

In March 2010 Yates' father died. Her psychosis returned and she was again prescribed an antipsychotic - but after a few weeks her doctor decided the side effects were too severe and took her off medication.

Two days before the drownings Yates' husband took her back to her doctor to ask for help, but was refused any medication for his wife.

Yates was suffering from extreme psychosis. She saw visions and heard voices.

According to Yates, she waited for her husband to leave for work because she knew he would prevent her from harming their children. 

When asked whether she knew what she had done was wrong before she did it, she said she didn't think it was wrong because if she did not do it the children would be tormented by Satan.

After the trial her husband, Rusty Yates told the crowd his family had been let down by the mental health system.

Jordan Shalhoub for BuzzFeed
Rusty Yates said his family had been let down by the mental health system

Yates is no longer psychotic and is now diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Her husband is campaigning for her release as she's "past child-bearing years," has had a long period of stability and she has a strong support system outside the hospital.

"This is the person who lost the most," explains the mum in the Buzzfeed video. "She spends her days in a mental institution, she has full cognisance of what happened."

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