Suicide is Like a Disease

What Doesn’t Kill You?

Suicide seems to run rampant in my family. Spreading itself around like a transmittable disease. I keep hoping to “Cure” my family of it, but it appears to have dug its roots deep.

I remember when my grandfather came into the room where I was sleeping to tell me my mother had died. I had gone to bed early. It was around 9pm and I remember him say “Tachia, Tachia” by the second time he’d said my name I was just beginning to wake up and said “what?” he replied “you’re mother is dead”. I said “okay” and rolled back over to sleep.

postpartum psychosis, natachia barlow ramsey, hunter ramsey, baby, depression, suicide, mental illness
My sister and I in 1981

I was 14 years old. I remember still trying to sleep and thinking I couldn’t have heard him correctly. As I layed there I heard him on the telephone (one of the old rotary dial phones) making calls and talking to people. As I was still half asleep, I could heard him crying. I thought he was laughing. I remember thinking; why is he telling everyone my mother is dead? Why would he joke about that? Then I heard him blow his nose. I realized in that moment he was crying, not laughing. I sat straight up in bed and felt sick. I continued to sit there listening for a few more minutes and thought how could she be dead? Nothing made any sense.
I got up and went into the kitchen where my grandfather was. I asked him if it was true, was she really dead. He said yes. He then told me she had overdosed on pills and a police officer had come over to tell him. (The fact that she hung herself was
supposed to be a secret for some reason in my family, we didn’t talk about this. So I just pretended I didn’t know the difference) This was when he informed me since I was the oldest child it was my responsibility to make the arrangements. We had to be at the funeral parlor the next morning. I was surprised but said okay.

You see we had had a really tumultuous past couple of days. This was not anything particularly new for us. We often moved out and back into the Mobile home where we lived with my step-dad. So when she had sent me with all our things earlier that day to my grandfather’s and said she would be over later, I figured I would just be bringing it back the following day. That was the typical MO. Instead I went through all the boxes and picked out an outfit I knew she had wanted to wear to a Christmas party several months prior but hadn’t gone to. The next day as we sat at the funeral home I felt so numb and empty. I remember going into this room where they kept all the caskets on display to pick one out. Writing the obituary and finally demanding to see her because my mother couldn’t possibly be dead.
At first I felt very proud that I was given this responsibility for my mother. It was only later that I realized how much I didn’t want to pick a casket out for her.

I believe completely now that the toll of my mother’s suicide and the option it seemed to enable for the family contributed to my Grandfather shooting himself in the heart 15 months later. There was a multitude of other factors involved. But do I think he would have chosen that option had it not been for my mother’s choice the year before? No, I do not.
So what about me? Do I think I would have suffered from Postpartum Psychosis at 25? That’s a really good question and one I have talked about in therapy many, many times. There were a lot of situational factors involved when I was ill. What I do know is that if someone had reached out to my family after my mother’s suicide and the family had been given some kind of grief counseling and suicide prevention intervention; my grandfather may not have killed himself. I know that at 14 years old someone should have been looking out for me to put me into therapy.
Suicide spreads like a disease. Take a look at my family, at my choices, at my attempts at suicide. Not talking about it doesn’t help anyone. It didn’t help me, it eventually drove me mad. I still grieve for my mother. I still share her ashes with my sister in a small crystal vase. We take turns “keeping her” for a while.
I’m not sure I’ll ever stop grieving for my mother or my son. It just stays with you, always.
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12 thoughts on “Suicide is Like a Disease

  1. Wow, your story is just about the most heart wrenching I have ever read (and I have read a few, I work in mental health). I just wanted to wish you every success for the future as a grandma and a mental health advocate. Nothing can change the past, but speaking out for those troubled with severe mental illness is certainly changing the future. Kate x

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  2. Kate,

    Thank you, this means a lot since it's taken me a longtime to feel ready to share and for the majority of the last 13 years what has been available of my “story” has been mostly hateful. Plus the people who do seem to want to look it up and read it go along with being hateful. It's nice to hear kind words.

    Natachia – Surviving Postpartum Psychosis

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  3. I don't think suicide really solves problems. In fact I think it ually creates them.
    But in moments of desperation, when those people feel so hopeless and as the only was to ease their pain; it becomes a solution. One that on a different day would not make sense to someone and as you say seems foolish.

    Everyone is different and people deal with their pain differently.

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