I Walk the Line
I have walked the line between living for one child or dying for another. There's never a good, right or perfect answer. I just have to live with knowing that I have walked the line and probably always will.
My daughter and I on her 9th birthday in 2002
When I was sick with PostPartum Psychosis in 1999, and I wanted to commit suicide, my son's (Hunter) father didn't believe that Hunter was his; I thought in those terribly dysfunctional moments that the only one who wanted Hunter was me. That in order for him to be 'safe' I had to take him with me.
Asking someone who is losing their mind to explain why they were thinking a particular way and expecting it to make sense is like... well, asking a schizophrenic person who doesn't know they're schizophrenic if the voices they hear are real. They can't distinguish the difference.
I have yearned to find someone who had gone through a similar experience. Not because I wanted them to feel this kind of anguish, but because it feels so very lonely when there's no one with whom you can relate to. This isn't to say I haven't been in a variety of different therapeutic groups over the years. Some of them with forensic patients (i.e. Legal Holds), some just regular mental health consumers.
The first couple of months after I was 'Blue Papered' to AMHI (committed against my will, not that I had any at that point) are not in chronology. They're pretty vague, scattered and mostly in flashback mode. Like a polaroid picture. What I do recall is being told repeatedly over and over that I had to live for my daughter, Shey, who was still with us. I don't know when that finally took its toll and kicked in but I do remember finally agreeing to start drinking something like Ensure from a can with a straw. I had so little energy, the amount of effort it seemed to take me to sit up just enough to drink that small can would drain any resources I had.
I willed myself to die. Even when I finally started drinking from those small cans I was willing myself to die. I'm not sure how long it was before that stopped.
I can't be certain if it was my first visit with my daughter or how long after I had gotten to AMHI when I got to see her. I do know my wrists were covered in bandages, but I'm not sure if that was to just hide the cuts or the stitches as well. We were sitting at the piano out on section 3 and she asked me what happened and I told her I had a boo-boo but it was fine. I can see this two ways, one way I am looking at my wrists and her while sitting at the piano. The other way I am watching both of us sitting at the piano having this conversation, as though I am an observer.
The memories I have in that way, starting from the day Hunter died, slowly faded away and stopped happening as I got better over the next couple months. I imagine as I drank more of those little cans and thought more of my daughter, I stopped willing myself to die less and less.
But I walked that line it seems like forever and it was hard coming back.
Natachia Barlow Ramsey
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