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

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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~



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

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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~

Suicidal Ideation

Suicide Ideation

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Suicidal thoughts they come and they go. They are rapid, they are slow.
Up and down, the feelings float by. Creating hunger, telling lies.
I try to climb, I try to be free. I feel the weight, it’s crushing me.
Creating the hollows beneath my eyes. I feel my hopes begin to die.
Inside my brain I try to reason, I try to say, you can do this another day.
Darkness gathers along my mind. It’s creeping in, it’s not so kind.
Everything is bitter now. Sleep I must, sleep somehow.
I will myself to not wake up. The ache inside is just too much.
Death will be a sure release. All the pain, would just cease. 
Every teardrop would just dry. No more weight, no more cries.
At last I’ll breathe my very last breath. It whispers to me, it’s for the best.
Tonight may be the night I see, all those who’ve left long before me.
I tell myself it’s the only way. I cannot live another day.
Once it’s done, I just go numb. It’s over even before it begun.
Nights are long, the days are short. Suicide; the last resort.

 

And Sometimes You Just Have to Keep Breathing-

 

 

Natachia Barlow Ramsey; Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser
~Be Loud, Be Purposeful, Be Strong, Be Courageous, Be Creative, Be Something~
 
 

I Cried for Home

When you cry for home when you’re alone

I had an entire thought process going on when I started this page. I had been reading all of my posts sitting in drafts, some may sit there unpublished forever.  As I was reading through, it started to remind me of all the times after my mother died, that I would cry in secret and beg God to go home. Home back then was for my mother to be alive and be with everything I knew and what was comfortable. Countless times I cried for home when I was alone.

I feel sad for the little girl that I was back then. At fourteen years old, I was left floundering to figure out my mother’s funeral, as I was the oldest. A task I was not ready to handle, yet felt it was my duty. My Grandfather telling me I was the oldest child so it was up to me. I now believe he was just not

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ready to plan and bury his child. He shot himself in the heart the following year; when the fog was so heavy on the Maine coast, that you couldn’t see across the small road separating the two houses as he lay in the doorway to the shed.

I have been asked often if I am angry at my mother. No. I feel sadness that I know how she was feeling. I can understand feeling so hopeless, alone and such utter despair that you want so badly for the pain to stop. You are in physical pain. It takes over your every thought. Make it stop, make it stop.
 
I cannot be angry when I can empathize with how my hurt they were in.
I have put myself on what I have called a Life for Death Punishment. Have I had suicidal thoughts since then? Yes. Last Fall was a particularly bad time. I had an undiagnosed Thyroid condition and had such severe Flashbacks I went to the hospital for 10 days. They were able to reconfigure my medication and the thyroid condition was caught.
Being ill with Postpartum Psychosis was a culmination of undiagnosed mental health issues, being in an unhealthy marriage and never having therapy after my mother and grandfather died. Those were not the only contributors. I developed pneumonia while in the hospital giving birth to my son. I had been depressed during my pregnancy and a dozen other things. It is never just one thing.
Do I cry for home now? No, because I don’t know where home is anymore. The last few years have been terribly difficult, helping my daughter as she herself becomes a mother. We are in the Carolinas again. She just recently gave birth to her third child. It has been a difficult journey that I know is not over.
I am tired. I am searching for home. I go to the beach almost every day. I swim and I recently got a moped to scoot around on. Those small things make me happy. I feel like I could sleep for a year. I want the waves at the beach to wash over me and take away all my sadness. The lonely and emptiness I feel while I look for home.
Good conversation, hugs, cool nights and the ocean breeze.
I no longer cry for home. I cry because I am looking for home. Unconditional love and understanding.
~Be Loud, Be Purposeful, Be Strong, Be Courageous, Be Creative, Be Something~
 

For Miriam

My Dearest Miriam,

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 I want to tell you that I am sorry. I have thought about you frequently since I heard your story on the news. I wish I could have shielded you from those bullets. I am so incredibly sorry that like so many other times change will inevitably come because a tragedy has occurred.

I have had a pit in my stomach all day thinking about you. I keep saying a thousand things over and over again to you in my head but they’re not reaching my fingertips. I just keep coming back to
I am Sorry; I can feel your pain and it makes me feel physically ill…

Natachia Barlow Ramsey – Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Loser


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