Popular Posts...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Upon My Death, Do Not Let Me Die

When I am gone

I don't want my story to stop being shared. When I am gone, be it by accident, disease, tragedy or triumph; I want it to be known. Say it out loud. I give my permission now to share my story. Share all my stories and if you have more stories of me, share them too. Upon my death, do not let me die.

*Originally shared October 10th, 2015. Right after the big flood last year. Now we are about to face Hurricane Matthew. So I share again*

I have lived an extraordinary life so far. I was reminded yet again very recently that we don't always know if we will wake up tomorrow. When we are young and/or naive, we seem to think we are invincible. That will not happen to us or those we love. We can walk away angry. With words left unsaid and that we will always have another day to say those
Myrtle Beach South Carolina, Postpartum Pychosis, Natachia Barlow Ramsey, When I Die, Flood, Thousand Year Flood
things we wanted to say.

I am living and have been living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have been here for almost six months and the last two weeks we have seen some amazing flooding take place. I have seen some things I hadn't seen before. Some, as simple as a cotton field.

Near the end of this summer we lost a woman who wanted to share her own experience of Postpartum Psychosis. Her name is Naomi Knoles; and she wrote We All Have A Story To Tell. Her husband is continuing that journey and wrote a short piece I will share here. I know personally how difficult that road is. I myself, along with many others within the Mental Health community took a hard hit when she died. I think it also provided a wake-up call.

Even one year; 3 years, 5, 10, 20 years after you have been in "recovery" and everyone thinks you have gotten past the worst of it; you can still have bad days and not make it out. The hole you have found yourself in, that dark, black hole that many of us have described. Well, that hole is deep, it's dark and even when you think you have walked out and beyond it's reach; it still has the ever so slightest grasp sitting lovingly upon your chest. It caresses your cheek and whispers in your ear. It says familiar things to lure you back and before you can blink away the tears, you are seeing black again.

Court for my grandchildren and things happening with my daughter take a lot out of me. Along with advocating.
Job discrimination is huge. I had a job, that I enjoyed very much and was doing well at. The minute, and I do mean the minute, they found out about my past; that was it. I had to leave. It did not matter that I had been doing this job for approximately a month already. I am not going to say where this was, just that I had taken a position where people that were educated (one was a doctor) were in the employment position and I was the employee.
When people ask me why I don't just go right out and find a job I just look at them. I have a resume. An excellent resume. I have skills, many skills. I am intelligent and sociable, I do an excellent job. I can even pass a standard background check and be bonded. (I used to sell insurance) But if one person googles my name, I am done for.

These are the kinds of things that 10, 15 and 20+ year out of recovery or at any time in a person's life can become too much.

Pink Moped, Postpartum Psychosis, Natachia Barlow Ramsey, Maternal Mental Health, Myrtle Beach South Carolina, When I dieI was out driving around on my Pink Moped during this Thousand Year Storm in South Carolina. I was listening to my mp3 player and I wasn't trying to get hurt but it occurred to me I wasn't practicing being my safest.
I started thinking about how I made the decision to "Walk the Line" and "Life for Death Sentence". I started thinking that while I may not commit Suicide more purposefully the way Naomi did; maybe I am hoping fate will just take over.
It's not suicide if I am out riding my Pink Moped listening to tunes during the worst Flood the Carolinas have ever seen right?
What about if I walk alone at night on the beach? Driving without a Helmet on highways?
I won't list some things for the sake of the fet community of people I am involved with.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps I just wanted to be scared.
Another friend (Walker Karraa) who is taking an offline break was speaking of a conversation she'd had with Naomi who had said "Walker, I was in prison. Nothing scares me." I remember thinking when she shared that, that I too had those thoughts and feelings. I still get scared for others. Just not for myself.

I want to sit on the beach every day and smell the salt in the air. I want to forget all the sadness around me. I want to be able to take a ride on my moped to the store and back while listening to music and enjoy the warm breeze.

But, then I read another story about another mom and another family who says; "we didn't know, we had never heard of Postpartum Psychosis". All I can think is how can you have not in this day and age. But then I remember they are cutting funding in even some of the most forward thinking states as far as Mental Health Programs go. North Carolina just cut $110 million from it's regional mental health and another $152 million is set to be cut this Spring unless something is done.

University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill created the first Women's Mood Disorder Clinic. Now that same state that set a standard is about to cut close to $300 million in Mental Health from its budget in less than a year's total time.

And that, is why. That is exactly why women and their families are not hearing more about Maternal Mental Health. Because Mental Health is usually one of the first to be slated for cuts.

I also, get emails, or friend requests on any of my numerous social media platforms. Someone wants to strike up a conversation with me about their experience, their child, wife. Sometimes I can't get to them all right away. But I do the best I can. I realize that by sharing My Story; I have made a difference. That for every person that stumbles upon my blog and reads it. Every person that reads My Story and reaches out or passes it along, I am getting through to people in tenfold.

Why, why am I talking about this now. It actually started after our friend passed away and there was a big discussion about whether or not Naomi's Story should be shared. When and how it should be shared and by who. None of us within the community felt quite comfortable. It almost felt disrespectable. But, on the other hand I truly believe she would want for Her and her Anna's story to continue on. Her story hasn't died. It feels like an injustice to stop talking. Like the disease won.
Postpartum Psychosis can't win! If we stop talking about ALL the people involved and how it has affected each of them it wins.

So, I will say it again. Postpartum Psychosis cannot win. Keep talking. Keep telling stories. Keep sharing.

I don't want my story to stop being shared. When I am gone, be it by accident, disease, tragedy or triumph; I want it to be known. Say it out loud. I give my permission now to share my story. Share all my stories and if you have more stories of me, share them too. 

Upon my death, do not let me die.

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

Originally Drafted 09-14-15

Saturday, July 2, 2016

I'm Not Gonna Make it

A Return to Home and Paradise Hell

It's Thursday, June 2nd around 5pm. I've already gotten a bunch of errands done and we are preparing for the return trip home to Maine. My anxiety is high, very high. I'm excited and anxious awaiting the trip. There's the practical side of the 19 hour long drive with an infant that I'm not looking forward to, and then there's not seeing family in just over a year. That's more of what has my mind racing...

I'm hoping to get to see everyone but only being there a few days, that may not be the case. This trip has purpose and I need to get a few things done. While I am there I want to see visit with grandkids, and my brother and sister. Their kids and families. I had a niece and cousin born since I've been away I want to meet and I've been thinking a lot about that.
Natachia barlow ramsey, maternal mental health, baby, pink scooter, depression, postpartum psychosis, myrtle beach, beach days, memorial day, postpartum support

I've thought a lot about my brother and sister. Wanting to spend time with them, quality time. Genuine time. I want to explain how life is different here for me. People wave to me on my pink moped, just because. I enjoy life here in a way I cannot in Maine. That doesn't mean I don't ever want to go back or visit. It just means for now my existence cannot remain there full time. That I wasn't even certain how much of a difference it would make being away until I actually got away. It's phenomenal. I can breathe.
When I'm stopped for a traffic violation here, I'm given the benefit of the doubt and ultimately the fine is dismissed. VS being made to sit on the side of the road in Maine winter, while I wait for two people to drive up so one person can drive my vehicle back from 45 minutes away. Because I am never given the benefit of the doubt in Maine. 

I have a lot of hopes for visiting Maine. I want to repair some relationships that weren't in the best shape when I left. People that mean a lot to me. I want to see some little ones that mean the world to me. That I miss terribly.
There's a little boy coming to visit that is just so happy and smiling all the time that I want to meet my Dad. I feel like I let my dad down a really long time ago and I've struggled with that for seventeen years. He has the opportunity to know the wonderful little boy that's so full of life and makes the best little faces, he gives the best kisses. He's amazing and he calls me Mémé. He scrunches his nose and I adore him. He will bring so much joy just by being himself to so many around him. Just by being. 

All of the above was written June 2nd, 2016

Things did not go the way I wanted. I got to visit with my granddaughter but not my sister or brother. The time was hurried and sad. I had a very difficult time leaving and as I sit typing this, I am doing so with one hand. The other is in a cast and has a metal plate and several screws in it with much of the skin missing from my left elbow down.

The return trip was long. I found a room in a home to rent and quickly got a job at a temp labor agency. The 2,500 miles journey in six days to Maine and back had exhausted me along with the emotional toll of leaving Shey and the baby behind. I cried most of the 19 hours back.
I also started the process to sell plasma twice a week to make more money.

natachia barlow ramsey, suicucde, broken arm, accident, pink moped, cast, depression, maternal mental healthAt the end of my first week back, my second day on the job, June 19th, I was driving my beloved pink moped home when my front tire blew out. I was going about 30-35mph when I hit the pavement. I remember hitting once and thought I had stopped, but the moped kept going and took me with it further down the road. (I had run out of gas earlier on my way
home from work and pushed it several blocks and wondered if that had been a sign.) I remember lying there in the street and I knew my arm was broken. Within a few minutes I could hear an ambulance. The police arrived first to assure me they were on their way.

I remember crying, a lot. I cried some because I was in pain. But I remember crying mostly because I was alone. I knew I was there alone and I was going to have to go through all of it alone. I didn't know anyone in Myrtle Beach, not really. Being alone is hard and sometimes people don't understand just how alone, being alone can be. Especially in situations like this, where you know you are about to face a lot of pain and you just want someone to hold  you and tell you it's going to be alright. 

I had a couple casual friends I had made and one guy I had been seeing that picked me up. I don't think I could ever really explain to him how much that actually meant to me.

A week later, I had a metal plate placed in my left wrist. Extra long the Doctor told me. I don't know what I did, but it didn't just break the radius wrist bone straight across, it broke it across and slightly down.
I have road rash on both sides of my body. My right knee cap was almost to the bone. There's a big hole there. It scraped straight through my right shoe to the big toe nail and it's about to fall off.

I feel defeated. I've been having a lot of suicidal thoughts lately. I'm so lonely. The guy that was so wonderful and sweet, just stopped communicating once again (it's the second time). I have no transportation anymore. I can't work because I can barely even type.
I'm in a lot of pain. I'm not sleeping well. My insurance isn't covering most of my prescriptions or doctor visits.
natachia barlow ramsey, suicide, broken arm, accident, pink moped, cast, depression, maternal mental health
No Skin, Road Rash

I keep trying and trying and thinking things will get better. But then something like my tire blows out and I don't know what to do. 

I get tired. I want to not hurt physically, mentally, emotionally. Sometimes a hug at the end of these long days would make everything better and you can't even find that. 
So I struggle with many thoughts of inadequacy, failure, hopelessness right now. I have tried reaching out to a couple people but they don't seem to understand. 
Sometimes you just can't do it alone. Sometimes you do need someone else, even to lean on for a little while. I wish I had that someone. Because right now I feel like I'm not gonna make it.
I'm exhausted and I don't feel like I have anything left to give.

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Psychosis Song

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

My  Psychosis  Song

Psychosis seized my mind, grabbed my very soul, shook my
very essence and violently took hold.
Overcome with thoughts that twisted in my head,
left me torn apart, and wishing I were dead.
Searching for the answers while my thinking was deranged,
left us all with scars and everlasting change.
Thrust into a place where everything surreal. I was completely
turned around, yet it all seemed so-oh real.

Pregnant now I wasn't, but the joy just wasn't there;
 replaced by emptiness and permanent despair.
Akin to automation, every, single, day. You lose touch 
with your sanity, you slowly slip away.
Reality is yours, it’s right in front of you. What’s black
is black to you, there is nothing they can do.
Truth is how you see it, through your own distorted eyes;
you know the only way, is to finally say goodbye.
Urgency abounds, now that the answers clear, love still
fills your heart, there is nothing left to fear.
Motherhood is sacred, it’s only you that understands. The rest
can go to hell, the rest can all be damned.
Psychosis seized my mind, grabbed my very soul, shook my
very essence and violently took hold.
Still I thought I knew, what black was really black. Slowly
began the process, of finding my way back.
Yearning for the void, to be filled within my soul. Yet knowing
that I’d live and never ‘gain be whole.
Crying every night, for years and years on end, asking for
forgiveness, just looking for a friend.
Harshest on yourself, yet there’s always some close by, to judge
you for your shame, while you close your eyes and cry.
Overcome with thoughts, that had twisted in my head. Had
left me torn apart and wishing I were dead.
Slowly opened eyes again as everything got lighter. The thoughts
were all less foggy, the colors all were brighter.
I started seeing things, the way I used to see. What once looked
like the color black, was now bright white to me.

Searching for the answers, while my thinking was deranged,
left us all with scars and everlasting change.

Maternal Mental Health Symbol, Postpartum Psychosis, Natachia Barlow Ramsey, Suicide, Depression, Maternal Mental Health, Psychosis

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

Originally Published October 29th, 2014 3:49pm EST

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Days Like This

Every Regret I Have Will Go Set Free...

This is Kim Taylor's Days Like This - It's been one of those days where I just gotta let go after giving it what I had and be okay with what is. I always listen to a lot of music on days like this. So  I will share one anyway:

"And all I wanna do is live my life honestly."
"I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me."

"Every regret I have will go set free."
"It will be good for me."
"It will be good for me."

Progress is slow and I take incredible baby steps. But at least I am taking baby steps now instead of no steps. For me, that's progress and I can and will share that with all of you.

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser

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

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Painful Truth

Seventeen Years and Counting

It was seventeen years this March 11th that my son was born and one month later on April 11th that he died. It was at my hand that he died. I almost used the word fault, but I feel and believe had I known about Postpartum Psychosis and been treated for it, my son would be alive and celebrating his seventeenth birthday this year. So, while I feel responsible, it's hard not to, I refuse to use the word fault.

There's a very painful secret truth that anyone who is responsible for the taking of the life of another person, (and I cannot be certain if this just stems from solely being responsible for the life of the person you were also supposed to be the champion for as well that makes this as painful) but I suspect there would be some deeply rooted secret pain there regardless.

What I am trying to say is this:
When you know that the life you are responsible for was your very own child. Your flesh and bone. It becomes such an unbearable and intolerable pain, that moving through life at times becomes too much. For those of us who struggle with or who have struggled with suicide ideation in the past, you grasp at anything to hang onto.
Those moments when life becomes so raw and the world is so vicious. When there seems to be nothing but darkness and you are all alone inside your head. When you want to just have someone beside telling you everything is going to be alright. There are times when a hug would seem to set the world right again but you are sitting alone, looking at an empty room.
These are the most difficult moments. I know this. I live these moments too.

The struggle is real. It's been seventeen years and the grief, remorse, guilt changes over time but it doesn't go away. 
When you know you have taken a life, no matter the circumstances, it is such a difficult, daily thing to live with. It eats away at your soul and it never goes away. You just learn to deal with that gnawing feeling being ever present. There's a weight you feel upon your soul that even on your most carefree days, it's there. You don't normally tell anyone that at the drop of a hat, if someone said just the right thing in any given moment, it may make you burst into tears. Or no matter how happy you appear, there are any number of variables that will spring forth a memory.

It helps me to help others. At least try to help others. When I hear about moms suffering with Postpartum Psychosis and losing a child, their life, or both; it brings me back in time. I know where they are. It's such a scary feeling not understanding what's happening to you and even once you do, trying to climb out of that dark hole to find your way back onto even ground again. Start to understand what just happened to you and then deal with the grief and loss. Your family dynamics shift. People don't understand and many of them likely never will. You are scarred for life and most of those scars are not visible.

So many don't want to hear or know this painful truth. They just want you to get on with your life. They don't understand that this is your life now. This will always be your life and it would be wonderful if they could be a part of your painful truth. 

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Whatever it Takes

Life in no Uncertain Terms

I've known for quite some time to hope for the best, expect the worst and know it will fall somewhere in between. 

At the beginning of this month, my son-in-law, stole my daughter's SSI check for which he was the payee, and took a bus back to Maine. He also took the rent money and didn't even leave a dollar for his 6 month old son. We have been fortunate enough to have made a couple friends here in our short time here. Those friends, who owe us nothing and have no obligation to me or my daughter, took us in. I am now at the point where I am selling my pink moped and have listed it on Craigslist. Because sometimes you really do have to do whatever it takes.

My daughter and I both at least two separate times have reached out to the in-laws to explain what happened and let them know their son left his baby here with nothing. Now this is not the first time nor should I expect it would be the last time he would pull something like this. Without going into details, I have had to excuse myself more than once for the excessive name calling he subjected me to. Not only did I take him to medical appointments, buy his medication, clothes, food and countless other things for a year prior to us leaving for South Carolina, I transported him to court and other miscellaneous things. More than once I missed a vehicle payment. In return for that, when I was behind six weeks on my car payments, he called the title holder in Maine and took a $250 payment for telling them where I was. My vehicle was repossessed. He then proceeded to complain we didn't have a vehicle to get places. 
Shortly thereafter he left just me, without rent money and took my 39 week pregnant daughter to
postpartum psychosis, natachia barlow ramsey, mypinkmyrtlemoped, pink moped, myrtle beach
Bringing back a stroller I picked up for them

When they wanted to come back a couple months later, I gladly took them in and spent all my funds buying the baby what he needed along with toys, baby gear and two months worth of rent. 
I knew something along these lines would happen. Am I sorry he's gone? No. He was more than unpleasant to be around and was spiteful, angry, antagonistic and arrogant. I am greatly saddened though that my grandson will not have his father around. As much disdain I had for that man, I could never deny a child the opportunity to spend time with their parent. 

My daughter was heartbroken and devastated that he would just up and leave within a 20 minute window And take all of the money with him. Not leaving his son anything. What a legacy. 

So, did my daughter's in-laws even respond when either of us reached out to say 'hey this baby needs diapers, food and more'? No. Not even an acknowledgement of getting the emails (although facebook does provide that nifty little time stamp when someone reads it). Hey, facebook is good for something after all besides endless food photos. 
The only person who helped at all, was my own father. He is not working and has had numerous surgeries on his shoulder making it impossible for him to work and the process he has been going through to get disability while he is healing has been unending. He has a beater for a vehicle, lives on next to nothing and I do mean nothing. He is probably the least financially stable and has no money. I mean literally No money. Less than paycheck to paycheck because he doesn't get a paycheck. So the poorest financially has the most to give. He would rather go without than see his grandson without what he needs. 

I will tell you what my daughter's in-laws said the last times they asked for help (which was just a short while before my son-in-law left), they said they couldn't because their accountant died. What!!?  Even as I sit here and type this, I am in awe of the disconnect between some affluent people and what it really means to be without. Apparently their idea is going without an accountant. 

So, here we are. Several weeks away from standing back on our feet independently and I am left with selling My Pink Myrtle Moped. This has been the first thing I have owned outright since selling my things for North Carolina and then losing everything in the fire. I know most of you know how freeing and happy I was to have it. I even made an instagram account #MyPinkMyrtleMoped and shared some photos. I've driven that thing everywhere; hot cold and raining. 

But sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to make sure those around you are cared for and have what they need. I have nothing else to sell right now that's worth anything. I am trying and it seems as though I am spinning in circles. I need money to get the things I need and I can't get money without those things. But, sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes to survive. In this case, unfortunately, it means selling my beloved Pink Moped. 

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Silence Really is Deadly

Suicide's Best Friend

Suicide has a friend and it's called silence. When you remain silent, when you don't speak up, share your stories; suicide is winning. The only way to erase stigma is by talking. Talk to each other. Help each other. You are responsible for making those around you aware of how suicide has impacted your life and those you care most about.

In my life I have know  more people lost to suicide than I care to think about. I can tell you from personal experience that not talking about what happens just bolsters the courage of the next person to follow through with taking their own life.
My mother hanged herself in our bathroom when I was 14 years old. We
postpartum psychosis, natachia barlow ramsey, suicide, depression, mental health awareness
didn't talk about it. We rarely spoke of her. The little that was talked about was in anger. It left everyone in the family asking questions. But, no one was asking those questions out loud. There was so much shame surrounding my mother taking her life (and I can tell you with certain family members there still is) that not a word was spoken. We didn't go to therapy. We certainly weren't raising any awareness around suicide, the loss of a parent and loved one. My mother was not just my mother. She was a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a friend and so much more. She has been reduced to the woman who hung herself in our bathroom.
The year following my mother's death, her father (my grandfather) sat a chair in the doorway of the shed that was attached to our old Maine house. He called my grandmother on the phone (she was across the street at her brother's house) and asked her to come over. (They were separated at the time) She started out the door and walked partway down the drive before turning around and heading back into house.
The fog was so thick that August morning, you couldn't see from one house to the other. They were maybe 100 yards apart.
She heard a gunshot. My grandfather had shot himself in the heart. I was thankful when I got up that morning I couldn't see into that doorway. I've always felt him shooting himself in the heart was significant. His daughter, (my mother) hanged herself the year before. But, no one spoke of this. What questions did he have that were unanswered. The same as the rest of us. But no one spoke. 

I have a responsibility to raise awareness. The road has been long and it's not over. But, what good can come of keeping silent? Suicide wins. Through the years, since that time, I have lost friends. Many friends. We have also lost so many with the Postpartum Community. You are not alone. You are never alone and there is always someone willing to talk to you. I am always willing to talk to you. There are communities of women (and men) who are more than willing to stay up, take your call. Chat with you or just be there on the other end of the computer. I've stayed up many nights, I've gotten countless emails, I've stayed on the phone for hours talking. Just being. Sometimes, just sometimes that's all it takes. People do not want to be alone and you are not alone in this. Suicide cannot win. Don't let it.
If suicide has impacted your life, talk about it. Ask questions, reach out to those around you who have also been affected. They want to talk as well. Someone always has to go first. Anyone who's ever visited this site, knows that's one of mine I rely on.
Be the first. Go first. Someone always has to and it can be you. Suicide's best friend is silence and silence really is deadly. 

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser

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

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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Into The Light - Kristina's Story

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
Postpartum psychosis, surviving, depression, maternal mental health, natachia barlow ramsey, psychosis, suicide
Kristina and Her Family
apparently quit my job (I do not have much recollection of that conversation).
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 weeks2 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.

Visit Kristina's Facebook Page and stay updated on her story -
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~

Friday, January 22, 2016

Suicide is Complicated

These Muddy Waters

I was having a conversation a few nights ago with someone who had a friend who committed suicide last year. He asked me "What triggers it? What were the actual thoughts?" I had previously stated that the feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness and an unending pain went on for so long that it felt unbearable. It seemed unending. I was speaking from my own experience. My own feelings.

What I wasn't able to answer, was what specifically that person's own circumstances were. People have their own unique set of situations that lead us into the abyss and down into the darkness we can't seem to find our way out of. At different times I have felt suicidal, there have been slightly different sets of trials and tribulations. For me, most of them revolve  around personal relationships and abandonment issues. Again
Postpartum Psychosis, suicide, natachia barlow ramsey, depression, maternal mental health
that arises in different ways as well. 
Through the years I have learned to identify it and recognize the ways in which I start to become affected. I have spoken of this before. 

I have suffered from depression with suicidal ideation since I was 11 years old. Maybe younger, but that's as far back as I can remember having thoughts of taking my own life. 
So there are times in my life that I actively get up and say to myself, I am going to live today. That may not make sense to many of you. But, there are some of you that will make perfect sense to.
Even before I became ill with Postpartum Psychosis, I had a family history of suicide and depression. 
I would like to believe I am a good example of what not to do after your mother commits suicide and a year later her father kills himself. Please get the family into therapy. Don't think everything will just be okay. It will rear it's head eventually. You will have dysfunction a day, or a decade later. 
Drafted January 18th, 2016

This is my life. All I can do is keep breathing and there are days when that is all I do. Suicide became my friend early in life. It muddied the waters for me, especially after my mother hung herself. That was my first up close and personal experience with it. Since that time I have lost both family and friends to suicide. I have my own scars, internal and external.

I sat with someone today for lunch who had expressed needing a friend to talk to. I knew he had gone through a divorce and had a rough time of it and was still a little angry over the breaking down of his family. I have a tough time not reaching out when others appear vulnerable, because I understand what that is like.
I wish we as a community did more to build each other up, even if all it is was meeting someone for lunch. People don't want to be forgotten. They want to know they are important. Remembered. No one should ever feel so empty, so alone, so forgotten, hopeless that things will never change for them, that they want to die.

Please reach out for help if you or someone in your family is thinking about suicide. If you know someone who has committed suicide and want to talk call the lifeline http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

natachia barlow ramsey, postpartum psychosis, suicide, maya angelou, depression, life, poemI wish I could have answered those questions for him. But there's always muddy water when someone takes their own life. There was never one specific thing that triggered it for me. There may have been the straw that broke the camel's back. But it was usually a culmination of things over a period of time. Some questions that will forever remain unanswered. It's something you have to make peace with.
Suicide is a tricky bitch. I may be smiling but in the back of my mind I am having those thoughts. They whisper to you, they comfort you. They were just hiding their pain.

Every person has a breaking point. My heart is aching right now as I think about the people I have lost and that I wish I could go back because I know better now. There are some it was so obvious but I was just too young, too inexperienced, too naive. I couldn't have saved them all, but I could have made a difference to some. Maybe unmuddy the waters a bit. Because life's complicated enough.

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser

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

Friday, January 8, 2016

I Survived Postpartum Psychosis

Being the First

I am Natachia Barlow Ramsey. I am a Postpartum Psychosis Survivor. I lost my mind and I lost my son in 1999. No, he wasn't taken away; I took his life when I was ill with a Postpartum Mood Disorder I had never heard of. I thought I was being a loving mother at the time by taking him with me. That's what happens when you are in a Psychotic state. It robs you of your ability to think rationally. So, you lose...

I not only lost my mind that day, I lost my son. I also lost the next several months of clear thinking. I lost the next several years of my freedom and of spending time with my daughter.
I lost the ability of ever being able to have another child when it became
clear I would never be released from the Augusta Mental Health Institute, unless I sterilized myself, so I did.  
I lost my granddaughter and my grandson.
postpartum psychosis, natachia barlow ramsey, maternal mental health, depression, suicide
I lost my right to ever be presumed innocent of anything ever again. There's an automatic assumption of guilt now when anyone knows of my past. That I "must" be the crazy one. Which oddly, is enough to drive you crazy. 
I lost my marriage (that one was likely over anyway given the circumstances surrounding the events leading up to my becoming ill).
I lost most of my friends and some of my family. 

This was and still is a long and lonely struggle. While there are more women today I am able to connect with that know the battle of Postpartum Mood Disorders, losing a child while in the midst of Postpartum Psychosis is still a rarity and many women do not speak of it. 

Actually, let me rephrase that. I am the first woman to start speaking publicly about losing a child to Postpartum Psychosis. I waited 13 years and in 2012, after someone started a hate site dedicated to me, I decided to take my voice back. No one else was talking and I had been so lonely for so long. I thought that perhaps other women were waiting too. Well, guess what? They were. So many women who either been through what I had been through, or something similar. They too, had been afraid to open up. 
Now don't get me wrong. It was a very scary thing to do. I still get scared. I go through periods where I have draft after draft just sitting there, unpublished. I'll go weeks or months without hardly looking at my posts. I just can't. It feels like the weight of the world. But, then I feel like it's my duty to speak for these women. To bridge the gap. To speak for those who can't, or are unable to speak for themselves.

I know I miss some. For that I apologize. I am not perfect. I get frustrated. At times I have been angry at the Postpartum Community for not being better at recognizing these women who are suffering in silence. We are not the perfectly coiffed soccer moms with a little depression. NO! We are the moms who have hurt are children and are outcasts. Were we in our right minds? Were we being hateful human beings? NO! Did we believe we were being loving mothers? Yes. 

I'm sitting on my couch right now and even as I type this I think about how much I wish I could just have a normal life. I can't even find a job. This is not an easy life. I did not imagine this when I was little. I never imagined my mother hanging herself in our bathroom either. I think that's likely where the wrench got thrown in my plans and my life took a big turn. 
My thoughts are this; those events are what shaped me into who I am today. The good and the bad. I had someone tell me don't let my past define me. Well, I do let my past define me. I suppose if only one of the tragic events had happened, I may have just let it pass. But when your past is riddled with tragic events, it seems as though you are destined to either use those opportunities to rise above and help others, or fall under their weight and disappear. I'm choosing to rise above. 
Those events have shaped and define who I am today. Those events have given me experience. Unique experience and an advantage on how to deal with situations that most people can't. I have insights into circumstances
when your past is riddled with tragic events, it seems as though you are destined to either use those opportunities to rise above and help others, or fall under their weight and disappear.
that few have had. 
I was not afforded the opportunity to speak with anyone when I had to deal with my tragedies. I want to avail myself to others so they don't have to walk alone. No one should have to spend over 13 years completely alone in the world never having met another person with whom to have shared their experience with. I can tell you, it's an extremely lonely place to be. You do not have to be alone in this. There are others out there like you. Other Moms, other families, other friends. Most of them just wanting and waiting to know they are not alone as well.

Reach out, talk to me. Connect with the Postpartum Community. We are all around you and someone, so many someone's, want to hear what you have to say. The lonely nights, the dark thoughts, the grief, the unclear thinking; we have been there and some are there now. We do want to talk to you. We do understand and you are not alone. Don't continue to be alone. It does get better, even if it doesn't feel that way now. I survived Postpartum Psychosis and you can also survive a Postpartum Mood Disorder. You are worthy.

Maternal Mental Health Symbol, Postpartum Psychosis, Natachia Barlow Ramsey, Suicide, Depression, Maternal Mental Health, Psychosis 9.jpg

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