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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Suicide - What's the Worst That Could Happen?

My first date with Suicide

So we are at the end of Suicide Awareness Week with World Suicide Prevention Day properly poised right in the center. I would like to tell you about my first encounter with Suicide and let's just see where the road leads us. 

It was my mother. I had just turned 14, and I was used to the sort of arguments between my mother
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and stepfather that had me packing all or some of our things into boxes and bags and having us looking for a motel to stay at overnight. I cannot say with any amount of genuine accuracy how often this truly happened, it just seemed like it was all the time. Thinking back it was probably three or four times a year. Frequent enough for that even at 14, I recognized the pattern and wouldn't have thought the last argument as any different than all the others.

I wish I had. Instead, we did the drive all the way to Augusta and back to Belfast, stopping along the way at payphones to try and reach my stepfather. My brother and sister were in the backseat of the car. We found him at a local pub and travelling like fools all the way back to our home. I thought everything was better the next day, it was Friday, May 13th. Yeah a Friday the 13th. I don't associate them even now with "bad" things but the big deal that gets made out of them just makes a tiny voice pop into my head for a second that says "oh mom died on a Friday the 13th". It quickly goes away, it's just there. 
Instead, she had me pack everything and asked me if I would mind finishing out the school year in Searsport. I said no, I wouldn't mind. I now know she was sending me away to my Grandfather's without her. I still have a picture of her in my mind of her sitting on a lawn chair with a towel draped over her (we're in Maine and it was May so it was still chilly). She told me that there wasn't enough room in the truck for all of us and that my Stepfather would bring me and the boxes over and drop me off at my Grandfather's and she would follow. 
When I got there no one was home so I sat outside on the steps with all the boxes on the front steps for a couple hours just waiting. When my Grandfather arrived he helped me bring the boxes inside and we called my mother and she said she would be over later. When we called back again she said she had a Migraine and took something for it and would be over in the morning. I thought nothing of this and just expected to be bringing all the stuff back the following day.
This is when My Grandfather asked me to drive over with him to see if my mother wanted to come over now. I said no I would just stay there. That was around 6pm. He came back and said she was fine, but would be over the next day. The rest of the extended family was "up home" in the County, near the old Base in Limestone so it was just the two of us so I went to bed around 7:30-8pm.

The next thing I remember is him saying "Tachia, Tachia.... (I awoke slightly then and said what) you're mother's dead". I think I said "okay" and started to go back to sleep. I was in the way in room and still half asleep could hear him on the phone and as he spoke I thought he was calling people playing a practical joke, I thought he was laughing and it wasn't until I heard him blow his nose that I knew he was crying. My Grandfather who'd been in the Navy and worked the cranes down at the docks at Sprague Energy, was bawling. 
I sat up in bed, now wide awake and just listened for a minute. My mother could not be dead. That could not be right. I could hear my Grandfather telling people she had taken some pills and Hung herself in our bathroom. My body felt numb and nothing felt the same. I got up and walked out to the kitchen where he was standing and I remember just looking at him (he was a very tall man) finally asking "Is my mom really dead?". He said yes, he then told me she had overdosed, he did not tell me she had hung herself. He then said "that's why I wanted you to drive over with me, so you could see if something was wrong"... (that really stayed with me for a very, very long time and probably even now I still wonder at times if I had gone over and not said no if maybe things would have been different, that was A LOT of therapy) He then said that since I was the oldest it would be up to me to arrange the funeral. I needed to pick out clothes and we would go make the arrangements in the morning.

I remember going through all of her clothes and I picked out everything. I chose an outfit for her that she had never gotten to wear to a Christmas Party the year before. I remember when I brought the outfit in the guy at the funeral home said I didn't need to bring all the stuff I had brought. I brought bras and underwear, socks, shoes. 
As we sat there (the funeral guy, my grandfather and myself) we were deciding what was going to go into the paper and I kept asking where my mother was. I needed, I mean Needed to see her. It did not matter if they were telling me she were dead. I needed to see her. So they finally brought me in to the room where she was and I saw her on the steel table with a white sheet draped over her. She had her head in one of those little stirrups. She looked so pale. I just stared at her. 
She broke my heart. She had left me there with strangers, I had so much growing up to do and she certainly knew the dysfunctional family she had come from and she left me there with them. 
We picked out a casket, I remember it was silver and satin. It seemed so strange to be standing in a room full of caskets and trying to pick one out. How do you know at 14 years old what kind of casket to get for your mother? We're Catholic so we had a Wake and there's a place where you can kneel in front of the open casket and I just kneeled there holding her hand. Her hand didn't feel like her anymore. The texture of her skin had changed. Not only did she feel cold and her hand didn't move but her skin felt different. I guess maybe I thought if I held her hand long enough or just stared at her long enough maybe none of it would be true, or maybe she would open her eyes.
They put make-up on her hands. I was angry, that they had to use make-up on her hands to make her look "natural". I was angry that they messed up her hair really bad because she was always very particular about how she had her hair. 
She was cremated because I remember her saying at some point she didn't want to rot in the ground. 

I stayed with my Grandfather the rest of the school year. He was really great. He rearranged his schedule at work so he could bring me back and forth to school in Belfast the rest of the year. He came to my 8th grade graduation. 

My Grandmother and him had separated the previous year and my mom and him had been pretty close. 
The Following summer after my mother had Hung herself in our bathroom, my Grandfather sat in the doorway of the shed and shot himself in the heart. 
That following winter I made my first serious attempt and overdosed on Tylenol just before I ran away with a friend to Isleboro in the middle of winter. 

So began the relationship with Suicide. No one in my family received treatment until After I became so ill after the birth of my son with Postpartum Psychosis that I have changed the trajectory of our family history. Never did anyone want to discuss the suicides or even say the names of anyone. It's like they didn't exist. Let alone seek therapy. 
So, Suicide to Psychosis - yes, eleven years in the making. 
Fifteen years after that, Healthy and Healing - yes, with acceptance and therapy.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Own what you say

I bet everyone reading this think that they are nice

I have to tell you that a lot of you aren't. I mean, I am not nice sometimes. But I am aware of it, and I feel guilty and I mull it over and think about it. Being "honest" these days has become synonymous with really just being an asshole with the end result being the tagline from said person being "just sayin'". As though those last two words added onto any sentence makes it acceptable.

 I am here to tell you; it does not.

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Integrity is a tricky little witch. The dictionary defines Integrity as: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
I agree. I also believe it's difficult not to be swayed by the views of others. This is not to be confused with valuing others' opinions, keeping an open mind when given new information and perhaps you gain a new perspective. 

I particularly find it difficult at times to go my own way and keep steadfast in my moral beliefs when it's easier to just pretend. The things I hold nearest and dearest to my heart are that even if we stumble a little off course at times, if we at least continuing to try it will eventually work itself out. 
Maybe I am naive. Just as I don't judge people on their religious beliefs, sexual preferences, pro-life/pro-choice. I am pro-life but I believe in pro-choice. Just as I believe I get to make that decision for myself, I want for others to be able to make that decision as well. 

I know I know what's my point? I run a page on facebook called Own What You Say. I haven't paid much attention to it for the last year or so but the premise was if you are going to say something take ownership of your words.
I occasionally look back and think, Jeez did I really shove that out at 2am and then go on to blog another post the next day about the same thing as if my mouth had diarrhea? Yep! That was me. Sometimes I think "maybe I should just delete that post and make like I didn't go just a bit overboard". But you know, I am just as human as you and if I don't leave said posts there to remind myself of those mistakes it would be easy to let myself think I am just as "nice" as a lot of people pretend to be.

I would rather say, yeah I gotta get a better filter for my mouth especially after midnight. I want to stay truest to myself and I know who I am and how I got here. That doesn't mean I never get pissed off, or have a bad day. It also doesn't mean I think saying "just sayin'" makes being rude acceptable. But I can't think of one person who knows me who would say they thought I was fake. And I would always rather have it that way and I like my integrity.

**This is a post written a while back as well. I actually have several that I am going to push out "as is" over the next several weeks** 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014



postpartum psychosis, maternal mental health, natachia barlow ramsey, postpartum depression, suicide

Welcome to Stigmama.com

I have always believed in the power of women, especially those who have been touched by mental illness or mental difference, to create change. We are different. We  see what others don’t, write what others won’t, and give beauty to the deepest experiences of motherhood and the human soul.

I created Stigmama for mothers of all ages to do just that. To speak their truths in a non judgmental, supportive, creative community. We need the wisdom and support of others to unpack stigma of mental difference in motherhood.

How does it impact your life as a mother? How did it impact your mother’s life? Or your grandmother? If you are interested in writing for Stigmama, please contact me.

Walker Karraa

Lube Anyone?

*The Post You Are About The Read May Not Be Safe For Work, Church, Your Home Office, Your Car Or Anywhere Other Than The Privacy of Your Bathroom Sitting Safely on Your Toilet With The Door Locked*

This won't hurt a b....

postpartum psychosis, maternal mental health, natachia barlow ramsey, postpartum depression, suicide

If you have gotten this far and want to proceed, you too may want to be sitting on your porcelain throne.

So, as you are all probably aware the Department of Health and Human Services in Maine has been a part of my life more or less since 1999. Now I have fought and won many a battle with them in various court settings all under the umbrella of "The Commissioner".
Yet, once again as they smile to my face and look me in the eye and I think to myself  "Oh this isn't going to be so bad", they quickly bend me over and there is no lube involved.

I am mentally drained.

I'd like to say the "worst part is"... they do it with a smile. Well honestly it's more like a grimace or a smirk. But there are too many "worst parts". I guess believing that Human Services actually means Humane services is just laughable in Maine anyway.

*Originally blogged around 1am and has been sitting in my "draft folder as is" for almost two months*

My Psychosis Song

Friday, May 9, 2014

I Cried today

It's 2am and I have a belly ache

I thought I could drift off but just as I turned off the light my mind began to wander and into a million thoughts it roamed and soon I just began to cry. The crying doesn't happen that often, but here's what does...

I try to close my eyes and as I am fading into sleep my mind wanders and I start thinking about the all
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the people who I am upset at. All the things going on I want to fix. All the people who have let me down. My thoughts quickly and fluidly digress from one person to another to another as one connection meets another in my mind. 
A lot of these people don't know each other, some do. Each one thinking it's their duty to dole out justice in some form as they see fit. Or it's up to them to make sure _____________ fill in the blank. I am the only one who knows this get repeated all the time. I am the one who goes to bed each night and as my mind wanders I think of the local police officer who I spoke with last week who decided it was up to him to inform my current roommates about my (Postpartum Psychosis) past even though it was completely irrelevant. 
I think of the Ob/Gyn for my daughter we had to fire because he wasn't comfortable with my past so he didn't want me in the room. He then broke confidentiality we found out today. 
I think of the Foster Parents my granddaughter is placed with who won't engage with her bio family and how upsetting that is all around especially for my granddaughter. 
I think of my ex and how much faith I had in him and how much he betrayed me by allowing his sister to put up a hate site with my name registered on it. 

At first I feel angry, but just for a moment. Then it quickly turns to hurt and I want to forgive all these people. Every night that I think of these things (sometimes more sometimes less); in the end whoever it was, and whatever it is that's hurting me or that I am angry at; I want to forgive. I want to let these things go. I don't want to lie awake at night and let these people or things invade my head and thoughts. 

I practice pushing them out of my mind. I practice forgiving each person. I even envision telling the person I forgive them. Sometimes just doing that brings tears to my eyes. In my mind that means it's working. 
I'm not an angry person. Even when I am really angry and quite livid I don't even tend to raise my voice. I have a hard time staying angry. I want to forgive.

I mean, don't we all just want to be forgiven?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

RE- POST - Postpartum Depression vs Postpartum Psychosis; 1, 2, 3, 4, - I declare... War?

Are We Battling for Our Place; Our Voice?

In my longstanding pursuit of wanting to not only have a voice myself, but to enable others to have a voice in similar circumstances as well, it seems we have (and by "we" I mean 'me') inadvertently stepped on some toes. It's often difficult to be heard unless you shout in this busy world of everyone talking over everyone else. 

So generally I still start out by saying in an ever so low voice, "excuse me, would you be so kind". Then I work up to "pardon me, I have something to say and I would appreciate some of your time". (Now this may happen a couple times) To eventually "Excuse Me! I Have Something I Am Going To Say And I Will Be Heard"! *Sigh*

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Stormy Outside My Home Today. Our First

Nor'Easter Of the Year.
Honestly, it never feels good to get to the point of the proverbial finger shaking (even in my own mind as I type). But what's a gal to go? I mean these are important issues. 
Bridging the gap from the tragedies, to the happy endings of where we find ourselves at the mercy of Postpartum Mood Disorders. They strip us of our ability to function at the most basic level. They can take away our sense of reasoning and our ability to rationalize. It attacks our brain; what we rely on to tell us something isn't right. If our brain is telling us  the water isn't hot and we get in it and our brain doesn't register it as pain, we get burned. 

So as I have stated previously, I have been wanting to narrow the gap between what I feel is all the women running blogs and speaking on websites about how they "survived" Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Psychosis or any Postpartum Affliction. I think it is more than wonderful that all those women are reaching out and talking. I want to hear from all the "other" women as well. Not only the women who committed infanticide or attempted suicide. But their families of suicide survivors. Also as one women on another site recently commented -

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I call Bullshit

Discrimination and Disgust

This is just a small add-on to my post from yesterday about the "Contest" that Postpartum Support International ran for an International Maternal Mental Health Symbol. Here's the breakdown of the final ten and I will paste my reply to a condescending response on a facebook post-

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My Maternal Mental Health Contest Submission

Just because you pretend something doesn't exist does not mean it isn't real.

Sharon Gerdes with PR and Marketing Chair at PSI on the Board of Directors - Purple Heart, mother/baby Circle

Teresa Twomey Wrote the Book Understanding Postpartum Psychosis And is the Connecticut State Co-Coordinator for PSI - Cowrie Shells

Joy Burkhard who is on the Executive Committee and the Project Director for California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative - Pink Sparrow

Peggy O'Neil Nosti is the founder of The Blue Dot project and works in collaboration with the Postpartum Health Alliance - Blue Dot

Adrienne Griffen is the Founder and Executive Director of Postpartum Support Virginia and State Co-Coordinator for PSI Virginia - Purple Flower

Suzanne Nelson runs support groups for PSI out of New York - Shades of Light Pregnancy and Postpartum Peer Support Group - (Two entries actually) Purple green swoosh and Abstract Butterfly

Out of ten that's 7 that either work directly for PSI or greatly influence them. 70% is not realistic if this were a genuinely fair and indiscriminate contest. I call bullshlt
1 min · Like

There's my post from yesterday explaining why I was upset and today I looked into who made the ten finalists. Thinking I would find something to be not so upset about. Yesterday I was only aware of three of them that were affiliated with Postpartum Support International or linked somehow. Now at least seven. There's 3 I have no idea about. Maybe, or maybe not. I think at least one of them is not. I just don't know

Talk about being sleazy, underhanded, hypocritical, there's not enough adjectives. There's just not enough and I call Bullshit