There is such a shout, bellow, murmur in our society about the subject right now. [There will be a post later explaining my choice of words.] Lately so many people who ‘have everything to live for’ have been going this route. Why? Each that have chosen this path will have an answer. How-be-it, they chose not to leave a note to answer that so important question. Their friends say they were happy when they last talked to them. Well, duh, a person may never let on. Their thoughts are usually synonymous with not wanting their love ones to know they are contemplating taking this unpleasant abysmal step. So many of us only share the pinnacle of our thoughts and if you don’t dig deep with your loved one you will never know. We are a society of “me”. Me! Me! Me! Just like that car commercial with the little girl saying “mine”.
Most people don’t have a clue what depression looks like until the one suffering with it refuses to get out of bed. You might not want to hear it or even get mad at me for saying it; but I am putting the next sentence out there anyway. When a person walks around saying, “oh, I have been so depressed lately”, they are not truly depressed. Most of the time if a person is suffering with depression, they themselves may not know it or even will deny it.
Having a deep grief or a hopelessness in life, is not the only reason for suicide. In my disease and in the chronic pain world there are some who have gone this route. Why? Well, I can tell you.
First, Chronic Pain Suicide is not depression! It is not a sadness or an illness. It is the result of the inability to live a productive life with constant pain!
It is about the deprivation and annihilation that tags along with this disease (Chronic Pain)! You have the loss of a few days feeling wonderful. If you do not have at least one day a month that you feel close to normal, your future does not provide you with hope. Another loss is that of energy. Energy in daily activities, fighting pain, even trying to keep up appearances. Losing that energy will finally take a toll on your spirits. When we tack on loss of body functions and coordination, we are adding the possibility of becoming dependent. If our support circle does not make us feel like they really enjoy helping us, it brings on guilt. There is the loss of belief in your doctor’s knowledge. Even the loss of access to medicines that make you feel a measly 10% better. You can possibly add in the loss of a job. There are so many things to the addition problem. You have physical, mental, spiritual dimensions to tackle.
When a person has a disease that constantly causes physical pain on a minute by minute battlefield, they think about suicide! Yes, it crosses their mind! If you ask anyone, with a chronic pain disease, if they have ever thought of suicide and they tell you “no”, look closer at that person. Reach out more, comfort more, because they lied to you!
Loss and guilt are two powerful co-factors in the reason a chronic pain person would consider the path of suicide. As alluded to above, the guilt that we are causing more stress for our caregiver is a heavy load to bear. Then what if that patient was active in their intimate life with their caregiver? A chronic pain patient will not just suffer that loss but knowing their partner has also will add extreme guilt. If a caregiver is demanding and not understanding, the patient is then in a conundrum of what to do. Guilt sits in. If that patient is a bread-winner, or the family depends on their income to make ends meet just a little easier, think of the guilt of not pulling your fair share.
We may never know what brought on the suicides of the rich and famous. That was their choice. We talk openly about the subject in today’s society. We will never understand another person taking that step until we are in their shoes. After reading a few comments of those people who were left behind, I can say that some of my own family could say the same things about me. If I would have taken that path, I sure as hell would have made my family laugh with me! I would have made them understand how much each was loved. I would have given them good memories!
So, what are the signs you could look for? (I am talking about chronic pain suicide.)
- Dropping all comments on how much everything is costing. If your patient was once worried about paying those bills and now they don’t express concern, you need to talk with them.
- If they were actively researching their illness and finally stop. That is a red flag.
- If they start telling you that they would like a certain memento to go to someone. Again, red flag.
- Hoarding their medicine is a cause for concern.
- Thinking and asking about everyone’s schedule.
- Another clue is if you hear the words “I don’t know how long I can do this”.
There are so many clues, that I recommend any loved one to seek counseling on how to go about looking for them.
It is partially a responsibility of the love ones to know the patient. It is your place to talk about it, and I mean talk! Not just casual mentions, but long quiet talks. Talks that require tissues! If you haven’t done this with your loved one, then please start. Don’t expect a doctor to even have a clue. Each time I go to an appointment for medicine I am given a sheet that asks all those questions about suicide. Do you think I am honest? Do I lie? Yes and no. I say to myself, “answer that question as a question of just this instant in time”. So, I am not lying; at that instant, while I am filling out a form. I am not thinking about suicide, I am checking boxes.
So, if you take nothing away from this post, please take these three thoughts:
1 Every chronic pain person has thought about suicide!
2 If they told you “no,” they were not being honest.
3 YOU need to have deep conversations about it; don’t be afraid of what you will find. No yelling at the patient.
On a personal note, yes, I even thought about it. In my mind I called it my “last resort”. I could not even contemplate going each day as I was before my surgery, knowing it would only get worse. I was not thinking about myself! No, I was thinking about my children and husband having to witness my daily struggles. I could see, in my mind’s eye, the loss of their ability to cope and contend with my anger, hurt, and loss. I would not have been able to watch my children having to see me as less than what I am. That may sound like I had no faith in my immediate family, but that was not my thought process. My thought process was that they would, after years of caring for me, become to resent their losses. The guilt of bearing their losses would have worn me down.
Yes, I had planned on spending as much money and time hunting a ‘cure’ for me. BUT! I was also thinking that if there was nothing out there to help me then ……
On a side note, — no I am not suicidal, nor was I ever. I looked at the ending of pain as a medical choice. It never reflected a mental low, just a thought that being in pain — 24/7 — awake and semi-asleep in pain — never-ending pain — would be too much for myself and my family. I can say that the stubbornness that constitutes my being took me through the route of surgery. Did that surgery save my life? Would I have found the fortitude to continue without the surgery? There will never be an answer to those questions.
As with all my posts this is not medical advice! This is just my unprofessional opinions. My thoughts and my experience. I started this post in May. I decided at that time to not post it. Some posts are hard to touch the publish button for. But since September is National Suicide Month I wondered if someone might need to read it.