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.
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 I go through periods where I have draft after draft just sitting there, unpublished.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
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.
~Be Loud, Be Purposeful, Be Strong, Be Courageous, Be Creative, Be Something~