Not Just Another Friday
It was a Friday afternoon, but not any Friday afternoon…Memorial Day weekend. I was to spend the weekend with my 2 children, parents, and sister at the beach without my husband because he had to work. Divinely, I was glued to my chair on the front porch of our townhome.
Oddly, I had all sorts of thoughts racing through my head that kept me from getting behind the wheel and driving myself and my kids to the beach. My husband didn’t understand and I don’t think I quite did either. While sitting on the porch, I made a phone call to my best friend. I recall that I made sense when I spoke with her. Then I called my boss and
|Kristina and Her Family|
My husband told me later that I sat down and quoted scripture that he didn’t think I had ever memorized. He stepped outside for a moment. In that moment, I thought Jesus was returning. I grabbed our kids and begged, “Please save us, our family, and our friends!” I kept repeating those words over and over. Suddenly my husband came back inside and found me looking pale and weak, holding our children. I passed out. He appropriately called 911. Medical personnel responded quickly. As I became conscience (my nursing knowledge jumped in), I promptly and inappropriately told them to pump on my chest and intubate me. I was mentally sick.
My husband was very frightened and didn’t know what was wrong with me. They took me to the ER where I stayed for 2 nights. Then I was transferred to the psychiatric unit. How does a 30 year old mom of two, with no previous history of mental illness get admitted to the psych ward? This is where my memory fails me. The diagnosis: Postpartum Psychosis.
On the psychiatric unit, I had a sitter with me 24/7 to be sure I didn’t harm myself or anyone else. I stayed on the unit for nearly 2 weeks – 2 weeks without my babies, 2 weeks I did not get exercise or go outside. I ate in my room with the sitter not far from me. I took a shower with the sitter right outside my door. There are some things I remember but other memories my family tells me. My sister informed me at one moment I thought I was Tina Turner and at another time I thought I was pregnant with Baby Jesus.
I do recall thinking I was on the set of Grey’s Anatomy with Bradley Cooper and Mandisa. Shouldn’t have been such a bad place than, right? Oh so wrong – it was a very, very scary place! My anxiety and paranoia was at an all-time high during my hospitalization. My memory began to return within the last couple of days while in the psychiatric unit. Many people ask me if a switch just turned on one day. The answer is NO – my memory just got better every day. While in the hospital, I was treated with antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and an occasional injection when my mood and paranoia levels began to increase. I do recall trying to escape and being held down by the staff and probably given an injection to calm me down. I wasn’t being me at all!
To this day, I can hardly wrap my brain around how my mind played such dirty tricks on me. But, postpartum hormones are no joke. After spending nearly 2 weeks in the hospital, I was discharged home. For two whole weeks I didn’t see my babies ( 5 ½ month old and 2 ½ year old). I was so excited to get home and see them! But, my journey with postpartum psychosis was far from over, folks.
When I returned home things weren’t back to “normal”. I couldn’t be with my children alone. I couldn’t be by myself. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t return to work. Talk about restrictions! I couldn’t be with my own children by myself? Nope. Doctor’s Orders!!
I felt like I was being tortured. There was even a day I couldn’t take it anymore, but the good news is I got through that day and I’m here to FINISH this story! As part of my rehabilitation I attended an intensive outpatient program for a couple weeks, which was 3 hours of group therapy daily. Want to know what that was like? Since I was still out of touch with reality – it was like being in group therapy with my entire family! I did not like it.
After graduating from the intensive outpatient program, I was then referred to a psychologist and a psychiatrist. I continue to see both doctors to this day.
I consider myself extremely blessed as I never had ill thoughts towards my children during this whole episode. I have a new found God given passion to tell my story with other women in hopes to shed light on Perinatal Mood Disorders such as Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum OCD, and Postpartum Psychosis. My mission is to let women everywhere know that she is not alone. For too long I went around thinking others would think I would be a less together mom if I was on meds, but that’s not true!
Now I’m on meds and I’ll tell the whole world! It’s for my mental health and well-being! Postpartum Depression is diagnosed in 1 in 7 women. Postpartum Psychosis is seen in 1 in 1000 so, it is a pretty rare occurrence. In fact, my doctor said he hadn’t seen it in over 6 years! I am still recovering very well and am now a Warrior Mom Ambassador with Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit organization to raise awareness, fight stigma, and provide peer support and programming to women with maternal mental illness. Information and resources about postpartum can be found on the organization’s website, www.postpartumprogress.org. I also am willing to share my story in person to appropriate group settings if contacted.
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Into the Light: Thriving after Postpartum Psychosis, PPD, and PPA
Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser
~Be Loud, Be Purposeful, Be Strong, Be Courageous, Be Creative, Be Something~