Newlywed's 'brain went pop' when a combination of stresses triggered psychotic breakdown

A newly wed bride and groom whose “brain going pop” triggered a psychotic breakdown after the combined stress of juggling wedding planning, a job promotion and a new home, has now trained as a transformation coach and warns that this can happen to anyone.

Used to a demanding job in the real estate department of a bank, Sarah Tait, 33, says organizing a wedding and buying property became too much, and in January 2019 her mental health collapsed – causing up to 20 panic attacks a day and leaving her unable to string a sentence together.

After a grueling recovery process and with the great support of her family and employer, Sarah, of Chelmsford, Essex, is now back on top and determined to educate people about the horrors of psychosis and how to prevent it.

She said, “If you see a cloud in the sky and it looks a bit like a face, you could say to the person next to you in the car, ‘Look at that cloud, it looks like a face.’

“But a person with psychosis would really believe that it is a face and that the face will haunt them and harm them unless they do something to stop it.”

Sarah’s psychotic episode came after a prolonged period of stress that began with the purchase of her first apartment and was made worse by the organization of her fairytale Italian wedding, which took place in June 2018.

Desiring to make everything perfect, she devoted several months of her free time to planning her big day.

“I took care of everything. All the really small details. No stone was left unturned, ”said Sarah.

But she didn’t notice that the stress was bothering her.

“I didn’t notice the pressure I was putting on myself. I was always well organized, had an overview and was a bit perfectionist, ”she said.

It was after her honeymoon in Italy that Sarah’s mental health, deprived of her “thought” and no longer planning a wedding, began a terrifying downward spiral.

She said, “I felt like I fell off a cliff. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“I was about to turn 30, I had a new last name, I was losing my sense of purpose, and I was having an identity crisis of sorts.”

Rather than pausing to take stock, Sarah filled the void by throwing herself into her job with the same obsessive engagement that she had with wedding planning – working evenings and weekends and not giving herself a moment to put her life into perspective .

With January 2019 signaling the need for New Year’s resolutions and an emphasis on people becoming a new and better version of themselves, already mentally fragile by this point, Sarah – the once Pontins Bluecoat, has a vacation camp entertainer – was finally cracked.

Sarah

She said, “I couldn’t concentrate on a Friday. I felt delirious, a bit like when you were drunk.

“I said to my husband, ‘I think I’m actually pretty bad.’

“At that moment – maybe it was my body that said ‘Hallelujah’ because I had admitted something was wrong – I felt a popping sensation in my brain and physically broke into his arms.”

It was the beginning of Sarah’s psychotic episode – the worst of which was centered on a long weekend.

For five horrific days, she convinced herself that her most imaginative dreams and worst nightmares were actually happening, believing that she had won the lottery, was pregnant and had a brain tumor.

But this was just the subplot to the main delusion that she was in a coma the whole time, like the TV show Life on Mars, and would wake up one day.

“My husband was watching football on TV and I was convinced that the thicker banners at the bottom of the pitch were messages sent to me to complete missions,” said Sarah.

Sarah with friends before the breakdown

“At some point I told myself I had breast cancer, another time I had a brain tumor. I even thought I was pregnant. “

Throughout the episode, Sarah was tongue tied, unable to express herself, and had to text her husband either on his phone or with pen and paper.

She said, “When I thought I was pregnant, I remember writing on his phone, ‘Make sure you are saving me and not the baby.’

Sarah and Lenny at home

“I’ve written tons and tons. It was like trying to get everything from my brain onto paper. “

After a few days of roller coaster rides that appalled her husband and mother – who prefer to remain anonymous – Sarah visited a psychiatrist on Tuesday and was given medication that alleviated some of the worst delusions.

If a psychotic episode was diagnosed, it took months of talk therapy and medication to recover, including six months of incapacity for work.

Inspired by her own experience of helping others, Sarah began training as a Neurolinguistic Programming Coach (NLP) in 2021 – a type of coaching that focuses on how our behavioral traits affect our mental health.

Sarah on her honeymoon

And she began to understand the little things that were tipping her over the edge.

“I now realize that I was really struggling with anxiety and stress and low self-esteem and I didn’t know how to put it,” she said.

Sarah, who says that Lenny, the miniature poodle who stepped into her life after she collapsed, also helped her heal along with her husband and mother who supports her tremendously, is still working at the bank, but in a higher position.

And now she’s giving lectures and seminars, helping colleagues take preventive measures to protect their mental health.

She tells them the little things to watch out for that are going to ring the alarm bells and keep them from letting life in on them.

She said, “There are a number of different things that can cause psychosis, like having a baby or using drugs, but for me it was just stress and lack of sleep.

“My message is that it can happen to anyone, but also that it can be prevented by simply checking in to yourself and having a good routine.

“But I also think no matter what you go through, you can grow from it.”

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