“Do you know what the number one cause of death is for someone afflicted with Fibromyalgia (or any form of chronic pain?)
It’s Suicide. Have YOU ever hurt so bad day after day, that you wish you’d die to escape the pain?”
I did not type the final question from this picture intentionally as there may not be a cure for chronic pain during our lifetime. If I had to write a final question for this image it would be: “How many more will die before awareness and support are actively given to those suffering from an invisible illness?”
A very close friend who has chronic pain asked me a question yesterday. The question was: “Have you ever really thought about ending your life because of chronic pain? You do not have to answer because I know how personal that question is.” I replied honestly and openly that yes years ago I truly wanted to die because of chronic pain and often wished my life would end just so I did not have to live in physical pain twenty four hours a day, seven days a week with no hope or support in sight. My bike accident occurred in my early teen years which truly cannot compare to the pain I felt with chronic pain. Yes, brain surgery was much less painful than a life with chronic pain. It was not until about he age of seventeen that chronic pain began to control my life and I began seeing every doctor, specialist, and surgeon known on a weekly basis to cure my never ending pain. With each medication, surgery and procedure my chronic pain worsened and my hope lessened until I truly wanted to give up on life. I did not know one person with chronic pain and there were no such things as: Google, Blogs, or really anything internet related. People could not understand how such a young, smart, pretty girl could possibly be so depressed and at the doctor’s office constantly. Brain surgery did not change me in the least, chronic pain changed me forever.
My Uncle committed suicide when I was a very young girl but it truly feels like yesterday that I saw my Grandmother La La sitting on our pink staircase crying and saying: ” I never wanted anything to happen to my four boys or my Jessie.” She had lost her youngest son and my dad lost his youngest brother. I knew I would never actually take my own life because I saw the excruciating pain my family went through when my uncle passed. I also did not want to die. I had so many dreams and love that I wanted to spread and reach. I just wanted chronic pain to go away and for someone to help me. By the age of twenty one or so I could no longer bear another day of non stop pain and the loneliness that came from my invisible illness. I gave up my search for a cure and left New Jersey on my own and ended up in Boulder, Colorado: a place where I could just drink and party along with most of the college city and not seem much different than most college kids as this was the place to go if you just wanted to party your ass off and not seem different than your peers. It was also the biggest cry for help I could possibly think of. In actuality, I hated this lifestyle. Every time I saw people studying or playing flag football my heart grew heavier. I loved school and reading and wanted to be outside going on hikes and enjoying the beauty of Colorado. I only truly drank because that numbed my physical pain but I was miserable and hated my life. People whom I was truly close with in Boulder, CO saw and heard my cries for help as with each passing day I drowned deeper and deeper in physical pain, , depression, and isolation. I was not physically dying but I had mentally hit rock bottom. Out of no where I was on my way to way to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota with the help from a person who could see my suffering and the support and love from my dad. After seeing the greatest doctors for a month, I was diagnosed with chronic pain, a term I had never heard of. Their advice was to enter the Chronic Pain Rehab Center to learn how to manage chronic pain naturally and be with people who also suffered from chronic pain. I was quite adamant that I would not go as I wanted a cure, nothing else would suffice. But, as my dad says: “You cannot lose what you do not have” I went. To say they saved my life is an understatement. Yes, I learned so much and made a huge lifestyle change and came to accept chronic pain and saw that with work and dedication, I could live a fulfilling life despite my illness. However, the support I found in the people who also had chronic pain is what truly saved me. I wasn’t alone. Finally, I found people who totally understood what I felt and what I was going through. One has no idea the relief I felt from that support.
My ultimate goal is to spread awareness of chronic pain but more importantly to open up support groups and systems for people with chronic pain. There are support groups for alcoholism, sexual abuse, mental abuse, addictions, eating disorders, PTSD etc. And yet, there are really no support groups for those who suffer from chronic pain. We cannot all fly to Minnesota for support and guidance: most of us cannot. I believe without a doubt that if there was more support for people with chronic pain, the suicide rates would decrease dramatically. That is why I write my darkest secrets and share parts of my life that I never thought I would with anyone much less the world. YOU all have support and if I can get through this, anyone can! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!