“Crazy Girl” How One Woman Found Victory over Mental Illness and What She Wants Others to Know
How One Woman Found Victory over Mental Illness and What She Wants Others to Know
– by Jenni Keast
There is sibling teasing, and then there’s just plain meanness. That’s what Natasha Crow endured as a child—outright and systematic abuse from two of her brothers. But that’s only part of her sordid story.
Born addicted to crack cocaine, it took 18 months for the drugs to completely leave her tiny system. Later, as an adult, it would take another 18 months for Natasha to find lasting freedom from not only drugs—but the abuse and shame of her past.
Her story could have all too easily been a crib-to-an-early-grave story. Instead, it’s a story of a dream in the night—and of hope, healing and redemption. Part One begins here: (Hang on for Part 2 – this does have a happy ending–and a new beginning.)
Part One. As the Crow Doesn’t Fly – A Long Road to Redemption
There is sibling teasing, and then there’s just plain meanness. That’s what Natasha Crow endured as a child—outright and systematic abuse from two of her brothers. But that’s only part of her sordid story. Born addicted to crack cocaine, it took 18 months for the drugs to completely leave her tiny system.
When the Hits Just Keep on Coming
As if the damage wasn’t already bad enough, Natasha’s mom refused to let Natasha go—allowing her daughter a fighting chance for a normal life. She would systemically pull Natasha out of two different foster homes, each time vowing she would be a better mother. Her desire was sincere; unfortunately, her addictions had the upper hand. Eventually her grandmother, who Natasha dearly loved, stepped in and won custody of her.
It was a bittersweet moment for Natasha. Shortly after she went to live with her grandparents, her grandfather was killed on the job by a runaway crane. “My grandfather was a true hero,” says Natasha. “He died that day saving several kids.” If only he could have saved Natasha.
The haven that Natasha had hoped to find in her grandmother’s house was short lived. Exit a loving, stable male presence (her grandfather) and enter her pack of pummeling brothers. They began abusing the little girl—in every which way. “When I was six, my brother intentionally rode his bike into my mine, resulting in a broken leg,” says Natasha wincing at the painful memory. “In seventh grade he beat me with a switch in front of one of my friends.”
Love Me, Please
Not surprisingly, by the age of 11, Natasha was diagnosed with severe depression. Soon the anger inside erupted into violence. Natasha got kicked out of a succession of high schools for drugs and uncontrollable behavior. “By age 15, I was snorting and smoking meth on a regular basis,” shares Natasha. “I was a very angry and violent teen—doing a lot of things I choose not to remember.” (Later, after a head trauma, she would literally forget everything.)
At her wit’s end, Natasha’s grandmother placed her troubled granddaughter in therapy. By then, Natasha had been nicknamed “crazy girl.” The mental health professionals had more clinical sounding names for her craziness: schizoaffective disorder, dissociative disorder, rapid cycling bipolar disorder and PTSD—maladies all intensified by her drug use. She confesses she took a perverse pride in being labeled a “wild child.” At least her behavior gave her some attention, even if it was completely negative.
The therapy failed. What Natasha was looking for, what she desperately needed, neither shrinks or social workers could give her. Even the love from her grandmother failed to penetrate Natasha’s wall of carefully cultivated self-protection. There were others in her extended family that did care for her, but it was hard for Natasha to receive that love. What she thought she wanted—and was desperate for—was her mother’s love. “ ‘You have to love me,’ –that’s what I demanded with all that out-of-control behavior,” says Natasha. “Yet for some reason she didn’t. It took me a long time to realize it was because she couldn’t.”
The Stuff of Nightmares
By the time she was 16, Natasha started running away to escape the pain of her mother’s rejection—and the ongoing physical abuse by her brothers. It’s painfully obvious how their own violence against women had been seeded.
At 19, after a date rape, Natasha attempted suicide. It would be her first of several attempts. After waking up from a coma, she found most of her memories erased. Some might maintain that losing all your memories after inhabiting the seventh circle of hell would be a blessing in disguise. Unfortunately, not remembering doesn’t mean forgetting. As triune beings, our soul and body—if not our mind—remembers all too well. In cases of sustained trauma, you’re left with a intangible feeling there is something fundamentally wrong with you, but you don’t know what—or why. This was Natasha’ story. As a result of those suppressed memories, she developed a severe panic and anxiety disorder, followed by a series of stays in mental hospitals.
The story goes on and it seems unbelievable, even to those who’ve seen everything. From being thrown out of a moving truck by an abusive boyfriend, to being left unconscious to die alone in her home, to more drugs, more OD’s and more stints in mental hospitals, it was in fact an unabashed miracle that Natasha has lived to tell the tale of her long, sordid and desperate life.
At least that WAS her life. Just at the point when Natasha was drowning in darkness—with only a few occasional pockets of air to keep her alive, something unexpected happen. It would be an experience that would change everything. Read the rest of Natasha’s story …
Read Part Two: The Transformation