I apologise in advance if this subject is upsetting or goes against some of my reader’s religious beliefs, but it’s a much under-discussed topic and one which is close to my heart having lost a childhood friend to suicide in 2012 (he was one of the lead officers in the mass killing which took place in Cumbria in 2010 and we think this triggered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Some of my other friends have also lost chronically ill friends to suicide as their lives, and pain, had become intolerable. Please don’t read this post if you think it might distress you because I am going to be honest about the situation.
I think about suicide a lot. It’s my get-out clause. There are days when my life seems so overwhelming, so difficult, so punishing that I don’t think I can bear it a second longer. When I haven’t slept for days, when I’m sick to my stomach, when every part of my body hurts and when I know it’s never going to get any better. When I’m so lonely and in need of physical contact and comfort I want to literally scream out loud. When I’m absolutely overwhelmed with seeing to my home, paperwork, laundry, food, shopping and caring for my parents, despite being so ill and exhausted I can barely put one foot past the other, that just breathing is simply too much.
I’m not depressed. I’m not lying here thinking irrational black thoughts or catastrophizing the situation. I’m just at the end of my physical and emotional resources and need some peace.
For someone who is almost totally drug allergic there is no escape from the physical suffering which constitutes my daily life. There is no popping a pain-killer, or dosing up on morphine, for a brief window of respite from the physical pain. There are no sleeping pills to knock you out for 10 hours so you can get some rest. There are no drugs to make you poop when you haven’t been to the loo for a week, or to stop you from feeling sick to your stomach and retching your guts up. It’s gruelling beyond belief. And no matter how ill I am I still have to do the laundry, buy and prepare food, bathe, pay the bills and deal with all the other problems life throws at you like my laptop conking out or the drains overflowing in all the recent rain.
There are three things that stop me from taking my own life. At times these seem like a blessing, and at others like a heavy burden which keeps me bound to this life with no means of escape. The first are my parents – they simply cannot manage without me and I couldn’t put them through the trauma of my death. The second is my little rescue dog – his first owner died and he is incredibly emotionally fragile and clingy and I’ve no idea what losing me and ending up back in rescue would do to his psyche. If I ever did kill myself I’m fairly sure I’d take my dog with me. The third is hope: hope that tomorrow will be a better day, that I might not be quite so tired, or in quite as much pain, or feel quite so sick, or that Prince Charming will come a-knocking at my door.
I think about suicide quite rationally. I think about methods, which are tricky when you can’t just down a bottle of vodka and take a handful of barbiturates – let’s face it, my method is going to have to be a bit more brutal than falling asleep high on drink and drugs. I have a Will. I have a file with details of all my finances, internet passwords, and details of my funeral all laid out so that my Executors and Solicitor will know my wishes and be able to see to my ‘estate’. When I say I’ve thought about suicide, I mean I’ve really thought about it.
I rage against God that if he were a kind, compassionate Being he’d just let me die in my sleep one night. So far he’s not been listening: I’ve found he doesn’t listen to me much, probably because I don’t actually believe He exists. Some days I hate Him for not listening, and other days I think I’m lucky He doesn’t exist and isn’t listening because then what would happen to my parents and my dog? (yes, I know this is contradictory, but then I think the word Contradictory sums me up quite well and should be engraved on my headstone 😉 ).
Having already lived for 20 years with chronic illness I know, for sure, that I can’t live another 30 with this level of physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering. And I know, for sure, that when my parents and little dog are dead there will be nothing keeping me here. To have the choice of ending my life is comforting to me and something I hold on to, ironically, like a lifeline.