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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Story of Severe Postpartum Depression with Psychotic Features

Tragedies, Trauma, Disasters. What's the common thread?


Unfortunately, these are all the things that in most circumstances have to occur in order for change to happen. Why you ask? I suppose as a "civilized" (and I use that word lightly) society, when things appear to be going along swimmingly, nobody sees a need for change. So, let's take a look at the harsh reality shall we?  I can't imagine anyone wanting to discover that a new mother has 1) Killed Herself, 2) Killed her Child(ren) or 3) Killed herself and her Child(ren) 

When you see it, you know you never want to see it again and that is what prompts change...


We've been making progress with issues on Postpartum, but change takes time. It doesn't happen overnight or even within one generation. It takes a movement of people joining together over a lifetime, advocating and working together, relentlessly. 
The basic reality is this; it's those kind of circumstances that evoke change. In my small community in Belfast, Maine, no one knew what postpartum psychosis was. Least of all me. I had heard of the baby blues, which to my understanding was something that sometimes happens to new moms; they get sad and get over it. Done! Talk about an understatement.
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AMHI Ice Crystal After it closed down 2007
Even when I was sent to AMHI and started talking to the Psychiatrist there (and the many, many evaluators), there was little written on Postpartum Mental Health Issues at the time. Yet, throughout history it's been well documented and Europe has statutes that speak directly to this specific time frame after a mother has given birth. A few of my Doctor's even commented on it in hearings.
I remember when the story broke about Andrea Yates. We followed the trial and were so saddened when she was initally found guilty instead of NGRI from Postpartum Psychosis. We rejoiced when her sentence was later overturned because of the lead Psychiatrist who testified; lied actually under oath, and many things he testified about were inaccurate.
Think about how much recognition that brought to modern day society about Postpartum Mental Health Issues. Why? Because it took the lives of five children. Andrea had been struggling for years, waving her red flag around and begging for help. Still, no one stepped in and this never received the kind of attention it needed until lives were lost and the entire world was affected by this tragedy.
Andrea herself will suffer in her own mind a certain kind of hell that I wouldn't wish upon anyone. I ache for the turmoil I know she feels inside.
I was speaking to a journalist a few weeks ago and she was asking me about my blog and we were discussing one of the reasons I wanted to finally start sharing my story. I mentioned that I had been looking for years for someone who had been in a similar

circumstance as mine. Who had actually lost a child as a result of Postpartum Psychosis or Postpartum Depression. There's a 5% suicide/infanticide rate; I knew there were others out there. I had been joining groups and reading blogs for years and finally decided maybe they were also waiting for someone to start talking so they could reach out. Someone always has to go first, so I did.
I guess one of the other reasons (and this feels like an oh so very important reason) is when I am reading sites like the very popular Postpartum Progress by Katherine Stone (whom I think does a wonderful job and has done a lot for postpartum awareness). I have concerns that there doesn't seem to be a balance of not only the 5% like myself, but of the moms who haven't all ended up with a happy ending.
I remember reading some of the comments when Katherine had posted a thread before on a tragic story and the 'Moms' on there commented on what a "downer" it was. There's an entire page of warrior moms and I don't think one of them has actually lost a child to Postpartum.
I understand it's the minority.  Do these women understand that they might not be in the Majority if it weren't for the Tragic minorities that took place? Or, any one of them could have easily been one of the 5% themselves?
There seems to be this seperation of who they are and who they think "we" are. Not realizing we are all one in the same. I understand Postpartum Progress is more closely dedicated to Postpartum Depression vs Postpartum Psychosis. The reality is a lot of women start off with PPD and it escalates into PPP. Or as my very official final diagnosis was Severe Postpartum Depression with Psychotic Features. So, technically I fall into either category.
What I want these women to know; want Every woman to know is that it is a "downer". Postpartum Depression can become so severe it can take on Psychotic Features and in the wake of those tragedies change are then made. Carol Blocker lost her daughter to Postpartum Psychosis and started the Mother's Act.
I am very glad so many women are talking about their experiences with PPD and PPP. I wish more women would also talk about their experiences and how they are or how they did get through if they lost someone or even if someone just got hurt. I want to know how you're doing. What kind of progress you've made. I want you to know you have a voice as well. It's not just the stories of those with the Happy Endings that get to speak. Everyone gets to talk. Because it's stories like Andrea, Mine and other's who are similar that make people realize a change needs to happen so people can be "Warrior Mom's". Which I think we all are, whether they consider us a part of their group or not.
So speak up, I want to hear from you. I know we all share that common thread.


2 comments :

  1. You are a very brave woman and you are a voice for the silent. Hopefully, by you reaching out, you will give others the encouragement they need to tell their stories, too. Everyone needs support and encouragement. Thank you for sharing your story and for being that voice.

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    Replies
    1. Tina,

      Thank you for the reply. It's taken a long time to have a voice and having positive feedback feels nice. It's very appreciated when someone takes the time to read my posts and respond.
      I am very glad this is reaching people and I am seeing that every day. I am happy to be that voice.

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