****May Trigger***Trigger Warning***
Navigating this chronic pain dimension can be difficult and murky. Some are desperately trying to get a grip on their new normal while others are trying to maintain an illusion of their old self to family and friends. Some are trying to get people to understand that they are sick even though they don’t look it, while others just throw their hands up in the air and instead of trying to get people to believe them they vanish into their own world where they don’t have to explain or justify themselves. Many of us hide our pain, choosing to plough through life with an absurd positivity that does not reflect the dark and shadows looking in the corners of our soul. And the absurd part is that we should be able to live our lives on our terms and not create some fallacy to make people comfortable or make it fit in with their perceptions of us. All of us have some measure of depression because I am sorry, but you cannot lose the self-identity you had before getting sick and not mourn and not feel sad that you are no longer that person. And if the physical pain weren’t enough to want to end the pain, the sadness of that loss of self would easily fit the bill.
Wait. End the pain? What do you mean, end the pain? No, you don’t want to do that. You have to think about what you have to live for. You to have to focus on living. Death is permanent and you will regret it.
Uhm..first, lets get something straight. If I did kill myself I don’t think I’d have any regret at all because I would be dead. Second, I don’t want to die. Yes, I contemplate suicide but I am not suicidal. Neither do I want to harm myself in any way. I know this doesn’t make sense.
The person who you try to explain this to will probably be incredibly skeptical and for very good reasons you may not want to say anything to anyone. I struggled with bringing this topic into light because of fear that everyone from my husband, my kids, my parents to my pain management doctor would think this is a cry for help. It’s not. So let me explain.
I do not think that when you are in pain, both physical and mental (and sometimes we draw the lucky ticket for both), that it is shocking or unreasonable to think about ending things. Mental and physical anguish are exhausting separately, but together it can push any reasonable person close to and over the edge of reason. I can see justification for a person thinking about suicide when things become overwhelming.
Understand that I am safe. My ideas stay just that, ideas, and I do not self-harm or feel a need to harm myself permanently. I think I am a good judge of my mood too, because I have attempted suicide before and I know the “bad thoughts” very intimately. As a person who battles bipolar every day I have become an expert in my mental health and I know when things are bad. But even if I were not, and if I were only battling pain, I think I should be permitted this little fantasy. Why? Have you ever dreamt about killing someone? Have you considered what it might be like to get rid of your boss? Maybe it’s not even so gruesome as that. Maybe it is just imagining in your head how it might be to tell someone off? Have you never been in a situation where you just didn’t have the right zinging comments to put someone in their place, but think about it a day later and lament that you weren’t clever enough at that moment but now possess the cleverest of come-backs? This is no different. My world is painted in varying shades of pain and sometimes, I think about how it would be not to be in pain. And, because so far no one has been able to eliminate my pain, I do think about ending the pain but only as a fantasy.
The fantasy is a drawn out one. I think about it from the conception of the thought, as if I was actually going through with it, to the act itself and even beyond. It’s like I am playing out a Shakespearean tragedy in my head and I go through the catharsis of regret and how it would affect me and others close to me. In many ways, it helps me battle-on because, while I may have bipolar and I may have severe, chronic pain, I am not going to let it take me without a fight. I am a Warrior. Some will read this and be concerned for my well being and I cannot stress enough that I am well. I have the unique perspective of both sides. I have attempted to end my life in the past and I have also borne the loss(es) of someone close to me taking their life. It is a grief that never leaves you and that is not something I want to impart on my husband, children, parents and extended family. If I ever felt that the idea was going beyond the parameters of fantasizing, I would seek my doctor out for help.
A lot of our emotional life is lived in the gray area. We struggle with many things, and for me this is my struggle. I accept it. I embrace it. I will defy it and I will conquer it.
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