Suicide has affected so many people I know including my Uncle who committed suicide when I was a young girl. I remember the day as clear as anything and I was around the age of eight. My dad and I arrived home to a police officer standing in our driveway. I remember being excited because I always loved watching the show COPS as a young kid and thought something really cool was about to happen! My dad did not have the same expression of excitement, I’m sure. He was there to tell us that my dad’s youngest brother had shot himself and we needed to tell my Grandmother, (La La.) My father called my Grandmother and explained that she needed to come home and help him babysit me because he was not feeling well. She was like a mother to me and rushed home only to find out that her oldest son was not sick at all but that her youngest son had died. I remember her curled up in a ball balling and saying: “I never wanted anything to happen to any of my four boys or my Jessie.”
I can now understand the pain she must have been in as I cannot even fathom something happening to my daughter, much less something like suicide.
Although there were times I seriously did not want to go on because of chronic pain and wished I was not alive I could never put my family through what they had already been through. It was not an option for me. I have known people who have committed suicide because of chronic pain though because they just could not take the physical or emotional pain any longer. I get it. That is a huge reason I have started this blog. I want people to know there are answers out there and they can be happy and live a fulfilling life even with chronic pain, even if there is no “cure.”
There was an amazing woman in my chronic pain group at the Mayo Clinic in MN. We were around the same age and she was in a very dark place. This, like many of us there was her last hope. She had been in a terrible car accident that left her with chronic pain. Although she looked amazing on the outside she had chronic pain throughout her head and back. She was falling apart. Her and I had a lot in common and spent many hours inside and outside the program talking. The final few days of the program was when our families (if able to) came to the Pain Center for family sessions. They were able to get a bigger grasp on what chronic pain was and how they could help their loved ones. My dad was there for me and my friend’s husband was there for her. I remember walking into the room where the “family members of people with chronic pain” were in a group. There was not a dry eye in the room. I was shocked to see my dad crying and more shocked to see this woman’s husband balling his eyes out. He looked like the kind of man that would never cry in public. My dad gave me a huge hug that day and said: “I am so sorry Jessica. I had no idea just how awful this must be for you.” My friends husband held his wife for a very long time. Every time I saw them together they were touching one another in comfort and understanding. Her and I were both discharged back to the real world following this time. We kept in touch often via email and phone. I knew she was having a much harder time than I was and made sure to keep in touch often. I was beyond shocked when I got the phone call that her husband had killed himself. They had two children together. He left a note saying that he could not handle the caregiver stress and felt so helpless that he could not help his wife with her chronic pain and just couldn’t see her in a pain one more day. For weeks she cried to me endlessly on the phone. He wanted to save her so much but he could not save her unless she wanted to do the work that managing chronic pain entails. It is hard work and sometimes takes a long time to really figure it out. It has been years since I have talked to this woman. Even writing this, my eyes fill up. However, the last time I did speak with her she was in a good place. She had two children and forced herself with strength I’m not sure I could have found to not only get through losing her husband and the guilt it left her and she was on a good path with managing her chronic pain. Chronic pain does not just affect the person dealing with pain but the people that love them as well. I was not able to get married and have children until I knew how to manage my chronic pain.
People always say how selfish suicide is and I agree to a certain extent. But I cannot judge someone who has taken their own life. My uncle must have been in pain that I could never imagine to take his own life. My friends husband must have been suffering to a degree that even I (someone with chronic pain) cannot fathom. In honor of Suicide Prevention Week I will think of my Uncle and the people who have died as a result of chronic pain.