Moms on TikTok are sharing stories of postpartum psychosis after Lindsay Clancy was accused of murdering her 3 kids

Mother with baby
A new mother and her baby (stock image).FatCamera/Getty Images
  • Mothers on TikTok are sharing their stories of postpartum psychosis, a severe mental-health issue.

  • It was prompted by Lindsay Clancy citing the condition in the murder trial against her.

  • Clancy is accused of killing her 3 children. Some moms said they could image it happening to them.

In a recent TikTok, Alison Frankel explained how, not long after she gave birth, her brain tricked her into thinking her husband was an imposter.

Frankel shared her story in the wake of the news about Lindsay Clancy— a nurse from Massachusetts who was charged with murdering her three kids before trying to kill herself.

Clancy's lawyer said in an early hearing that she was suffering from postpartum psychosis, a condition that causes one out of every 500 new mothers to start experiencing a terrifying alternative reality.

Prosecutors contend that Clancy, whose youngest child was eight months old, planned the killings with a clear mind. According to, her trial is likely to center on whether she was indeed motivated by mental illness, or by malice.

Frankel, and others like her, appeared to feel an immediate sympathy for Clancy despite the gravity of the charges against her.

Psychosis can prompt wild delusions

Frankel was one of several mothers to post on TikTok about their own stories of postpartum psychosis, to spread awareness of what Clancy might have been going through.

"Believe it or not, it can happen to anyone in any situation," Frankel said in her TikTok. She argued that postpartum psychosis was very different to experiencing invasive thoughts, which can cause distress but tend to be less dangerous.

"I mistakenly in my psychosis believed that universes had collided and and that the husband that I had known for seven years was replaced by a different person that looked exactly like him from a different universe," Frankel said.

She said her specific diagnosis was Capgras syndrome, which involves thinking a parent or spouse has been replaced by an identical duplicate.

"So this was more than intrusive thoughts, I honestly believed that this person, or thing, that had taken over my husband's body that was not him was going to hurt me and my children."

Moms on TikTok share dark thoughts

Frankel said she thought about packing up in the middle of the night and running away, not telling anyone where she was, out of fear this new intruder would come after her and her children.

"Psychosis is not just a thought that you have when you're upset or when you're frustrated," she said. "Psychosis is something that you really believe with all your heart that is really happening in that moment. And you have to do something to fix it."

Frankel posted several followup videos, one of which was viewed more than 600,000 times.

Elsewhere on TikTok the hashtag #postpartumpsychosis currently amassed more than 66 million views, many for videos where mothers shared their own experience in a kind of solidarity with Clancy.

In one, a mother described believing her son was bright blue, and how she shook him to wake him up. Another mother wrote down some of the thoughts she had during that time, such as "what if I threw the baby over the balcony?"

Some place blame on the healthcare system for what happened, saying complex mental health disorders too often get overlooked.

Rare but dangerous

Psychiatrist Dr Susan Hatters-Friedman, a member of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, told Insider that postpartum psychosis is rare but dangerous.

As such, it is usually treated quickly. Postpartum psychosis is not yet an official diagnosis, she said, despite being described in various forms for as long as 2,000 years.

This lack of a concrete named condition may lead to new mothers not coming forward, fearing their children will be taken away, she said.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis often come on rapidly, per Hatters-Friedman, days to weeks after a woman gives birth.

They include hearing voices, seeing visions, paranoia, and delusional thinking. If left untreated, the risks of both the mother dying by suicide and killing her children are higher.

"If you consider the symptoms that someone with postpartum psychosis might be experiencing — difficulty distinguishing reality, experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, confusion and disorganized thinking, and mood swings — it would be incredibly difficult to take proper care of an infant without treatment," she said.

@jothemama #stitch with @averagemillenial18 these conversations may never feel “comfy” but they should happen nonetheless #ppa #postpartumanxiety #lindsayclancy #ReadySetLift #fyp #postpartumpsychosis #momtok #motherhoodbelike ♬ original sound - @jothemama • Jo 🌼

Dr Holly Puritz, an OB-GYN and board advisor at the maternity analytics platform Lucina, told Insider that postpartum psychosis is very misunderstood both because it is rare, and because it carries "a very significant stigma."

She described one patient who was admitted to hospital with postpartum depression with her first two children, and was now expecting a third. This patient was a nurse herself, and felt in a much better place mentally before the birth.

However, once home, she started experiencing mania and hyperactivity, Puritz said. She kept telling her husband, who had no healthcare knowledge, that this was normal and she was fine. Luckily, he took her to the hospital anyway and she was admitted to a mental institution. Now, she looks back and remembers all of her hallucinations, Puritz said.

"She recalls all of it, but thought it was absolutely logical thinking," she said. "And at that time, totally believed what these auditory hallucinations were telling her about a variety of different things, and was able to remember it almost like an out-of-body experience."

Postpartum psychosis is frightening to family and friends because it is so unusual and not seen, Puritz added, so it's vital new mothers and the people around them know the signs.

"They often will subscribe even abnormal behavior to, 'Oh, I bet she's just a little sleep deprived, just a little bit overwhelmed,'" Puritz said.

"But those sets of conditions are a medical emergency and one that needs immediate attention."

Read the original article on Insider