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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Staying Grounded in Grief (And Creating a Shitstorm)

My Heart is Aching

As I read through an article about countertransference and they're taking about a therapy session in which the mom is grieving for her newborn son that was stillborn; I have such an intense ache inside my own heart, it feels like someone is actually squeezing it tightly.

I am paying attention as I read the article. I have not gotten all the way through the story yet. It's an article written by Karen Kleinman in Psychology Today. I had been trying to find some articles on anyone who had studied mothers who had lost children in the throes of Postpartum

Psychosis and what the grieving process is like for them. I've have been unsuccessful so far. So, in my own attempt to explain what this hell is
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like for those women, I will walk you through my experience reading this article:

It's titled "Countertransference: When is yours, mine?" and it is about a couple named Monica and Bobby who lost a little boy nine months gestation. He was two weeks post term when delivered and pretty much uneventful. 
My own son, Hunter was also born close to two weeks post term. This pregnancy for me was physically difficult. Nothing serious, just a lot of ongoing physical issues. 

The mother in the therapy session has asked to share a photo of her son with Karen. I am only a few paragraphs in and I have already gotten a stomach ache and my feet have started doing a toe crunch. I start touching my thigh lightly, tapping

As they are sharing the photo my eyes are filling with tears and I don't want to cry and I remind myself it's okay. I remind myself I am the only one here. My legs tighten and I cross my feet, I am biting my top lip. I take a minute for myself. Deep breaths. 

I go back to read a bit more. 

postpartum psychosis, natachia barlow, natachia barlow ramsey, maternal mental health, suicide, death, postpartum depression, friendship
I got through to where Karen starts discussing Freud and how she starting comparing their stories. I realized I am clenching my jaw and I am rubbing one of my wrists. As I type this I cannot rub my wrist. I am still
clenching my jaw but have moved to positioning my feet in the prone position not moving. 
After typing those two statements I stopped doing both of those things, at least momentarily.

I took a three week break from writing that. That's how difficult it can be.
postpartum psychosis, natachia barlow, natachia barlow ramsey, maternal mental health, suicide, death, postpartum depression, friendship
As I found the article again, I started immediately rubbing my left thumb and ring finger together. I haven't quite found my place yet, I am about to do just that.
Before I hit the tab I am tapping my fingers together on my left hand.

I'm not quite to the place, but my eyes skim over the part where Monica has asked to show Karen a photo of her son. It brings me back to the time I was still at AMHI in a women's forensic group (there were four of us) and I had brought one of the only photos I had of my son to share. It took me most of the group to finally say I wanted to show them my photo. The group was run by two female psychologists and one of them, just before I was about to hand my photo over to one of the other females, stopped me to ask "what I was hoping to get from sharing?". I immediately took my photo back and felt as though I had been kicked square in the guts. (I am constantly rubbing my fingers togethers and crunching my toes around the rung of the stool I am sitting on)
The safe moment that had been created during the group in which I felt as though I could share, was shattered when she stopped my hand from passing along the photo. It did and still does feel like a priceless token of time that I have captured. So small and yet worth so much. It's all I have.

I am going to go back to the article, but typing that small piece has sent me to tears that I am trying not to let get out of control.

I have gotten to the part where Karen says "The death of a child must be the most difficult to mourn." I thought when my mother died it was terrible. Missing a child and mixing it with the knowing guilt of your own hand creates something I wouldn't wish upon anyone.

Every day I think about dying. When I hear the name 'Hunter' I turn my head. When I see a reference to Robin Williams (my son was named after Robin Williams character in the movie Patch Adams) I think of him.

I feel as though most of you don't deserve to talk about Postpartum Psychosis and the 5% possibilities unless you are willing to stand in front of me. You are not allowed to say how sorry you are for the mother who just tried to drive into an ocean, or who got shot in front of the White House. You are not allowed to share their stories until you face me. You are not allowed to speak to the grieving families and the widows, the orphaned children or the lost souls until you are willing to stand in front of me.

You don't have that right. Your rights are revoked. Until you backup your words with actions. Because I am a Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser.
I make myself do things I don't want to do all the time. I face my fears. I am afraid. I am alone. I make choices that I hope will make things not just better for the here and now, but better for the future. (I still make mistakes, that goes without saying)
But, this is not an easy life, my mind carries the burden and my heart carries grief.

I finished this tonight November 14th, 2015. I started this almost a month ago. I couldn't do it at the time. It felt crushing when I tried.

But it needs to be said. Just getting through that article took a month and I finished it tonight because of a tweet that ticked me off. Unintended, but yet isn't that how all shitstorms start?

I do wonder at times if I wasn't here to say "Whoa, now!" "Hey" and start jumping up and down and waving my arms around like a mad woman, how many things would just get swept away unnoticed. I mean, I guess who else will do it right?

~Be Loud, Be Purposeful, Be Strong, Be Courageous, Be Creative, Be Something~


  1. Although my experience is radically different, I got triggered last night by a mother (a mother!) who replied to a comment I made on another blog about my hypergraphia that accompanied my postpartum bipolar - the PPBD that almost killed me. She wrote a sarcastic, rude, ignorant comment. She put it and me down, negating and denigrating my reality and suffering.

    I WENT OFF at her with 3 scathing replies that put her in her place, but unfortunately I used a bad word in one of them (at least it was not the F bomb, it was "shit", but still...), which was a TOTAL waste of my time and energy & I passed on the negativity baton, which I can't stand doing. I let myself down for sinking to her level, I let myself down for being triggered by a dumb comment from a stranger I'll never meet. At least I didn't read her replies (which she wrote because I was notified she read and replied to my comments) in fear of being further triggered. I even complained to WordPress customer support about her, and let her know that in one of my replies in case she wanted to troll my blog. :(((((( I don't mess around when someone negates my experience the way she did.

  2. Dyane, I know not everyone believes in fighting back and I think I fall somewhere in the middle myself with "taking the high road" and voicing my own opinion back.

    Personally I believe we have to comment back, even if it is just once. I try to stay or land somewhere in the middle while staying true to my own beliefs about Postpartum Mood Disorders and just my personal opinions in general about how people should be treated and how others should stand up for others who aren't able to have a voice or are unable to find theirs.

    I have mostly received positive feedback, but before I made people at least have some kind of ID on here, I had a few very negative comments. It's funny to me now that people have to register their name or some kind of information about themselves, they won't say the horrific things they were okay with saying while they could remain completely anonymous.

    The internet makes so many people brave when they would never dare to be brave when faced with any kind of real life encounter and are likely the same people who appear in public to be supportive, good natured folks.

    But for people like you and I and so many others it allows a place to not be anonymous and to be brave regardless and share our stories, ideas, opinions and make a difference no matter how big or how small.

    I feel thankful for people like you, and all the others who dare to stand up and be a voice, let themselves be known. Share their grief, their courage and their tragedies and triumphs. Because in the end, I believe we will make a difference and at the end of the day; no one remembers the trolls for more than just that - Trolls.