I would recommend you using your own discretion when reading this piece because I intend to use my own voice and share my own thoughts on this topic and I have never been one to follow the well beaten path or pander to the mob. The topic is about suicide and chronic illness so look away now if you don’t feel it is for you. No offence is taken or is meant to be made.
The cold hard fact is that if you haven’t considered this topic, or have revisited this topic during your illness then you are lying. We all have. Every chronically ill, disabled, disabled person and anyone suffering real health issues has. Period. So let’s just get that out of the way and start real discussion about it.
I have contemplated this topic many times during my illness and have considered the release from pain, disability and struggle that it presents me. As illnesses have progressed, my life has become smaller and my independence eroded it is a common question that I am forced to ask myself repeatedly “…is it worth it all this pain?”
I don’t have the religious convictions, the social taboos or social stigma that many other sufferers have regarding this topic so it is perhaps a little easier for me to be more honest and forthright about it. I am trying to use these factors to write an honest and understanding piece which I hope will be able to reach a greater many people who might be able to identify and also feel released by my having done so.
There isn’t a day that I havent felt the loss of my old life and the weight of this new reality. A reality I have no control over. I must battle whatever these diseases present me with and accept whatever comes my way. This isn’t easy. My best day is what most people could not endure, and so it is not unreasonable to assume that they too would not wish to continue with it.
Over the years I have had to manage unbearable moments, heartbreaking losses and a degrading in my abilities but the strangest part is how most able bodied people think that I should simply just deal with it. I have often thought of how they would respond to these circumstances and I know exactly how they would. Without exception. They would possibly not handle it as well as I have and possibly not as long as I have.
When I say “…as well as I have…” I am including in this that at times I haven’t handled things very well and have become very depressed by it all. Absolutely. The public face I have shown is far different from the private one. But I am also human, and a very feeling human at that. The truth is I have dealt with things as best I could and that has to be how I regard myself everyday.
In my life time I have known a number of people who have chosen to end their lives for many different reasons and it is only in the past few decades that suicide is given a fraction of the discussion and consideration that it deserves. It has always been steeped in shame, loss, anger, disrespect, embarrassment and many other emotions but not openly and honestly discussed. Not really.
There have been movements around the world whereby certain categories of people have asked for help in ending their lives with dignity and respect and in a manner of their choosing. If they have incurable illnesses, diminished lives and no hope for recovery they have been given some modicum of respect for their circumstances but this movement is incredibly slow and at a glacial rate. There are a lot more voices drowning them out who aren’t even in those circumstances or going through their pain. Yet they have enormous power over those souls who are struggling.
For those I have known who have committed suicide and done so for reasons such as loss of job, loss of money, embarrassment, shame, grief and feeling of hopelessness I can identify with all of this. I have gone through all of this and continue to do so all the time. It doesn’t simply go away and there are many triggers in this world that can set them off and few things that can ease them.
A lot of the time, in these moments, I need things like hope, understanding and love to help manage them and get through but this is a preciously rare commodity at the best of times. It is especially harder to find in a world were Autoimmunes are often rejected, dismissed and downplayed. we are isolated, abandoned and treated with disbelief and suspicion for most of our battles.
In these dark corners is where dark thoughts abound. Thoughts of whether it is worth the endless battle to stay in a world where at best you can only be overlooked or tolerated, it becomes easy to just let go. It is for this reason that we need to recognise the constant battle that many Autoimmunes have on a daily basis.
Of course I don’t speak for all Autoimmunes! So please do not write me about how my writing doesn’t reflect everyone’s circumstances. I already know that. But I do wonder if even the most adjusted Autoimmune, the most able of us, the most POSITIVE one amongst us hasn’t asked these questions themselves and may never admit?
My perspective is this. We can never know someone’s realities and how hard they have fought and for how long. You can never know the physical and mental pain they have battled and for that reason their relationship with suicide and living is a very personal one. No matter how you would act if you were in their circumstances is immaterial!
We are in a time where we are beginning to embrace people’s different voices, accept more rights and make room for different perceptions and I hope that this will filter down to a very important topic and allow people to speak more speak openly on their battles with living.
Often times one of the factors that have led to someone’s suicide is the lack of understanding, helpful, supportive, nonjudgmental and caring people there are in this world and especially in the persons world. So please consider this when dealing with this topic and dealing with those that may be wrestling with the idea of whether they can go on and endure the hardships they have.
Love, hope and compassion can go a long way but they don’t negate the real battle of living with constant pain and diminished lives. This is an entirely different concept and should be treated as such.
As always I have written from the heart and with the hope that it will help someone out there as well as myself. I hope that by connection we can feel less alone and less broken. We can respect each other and learn what it’s truly like for those out there United in a constant battle called Autoimmune diseases.