When you suffer for days, weeks, months or even years…with pain that will not stop – or with fatigue that is so profound, you feel like a corpse (not a walking corpse because you are so weak you can barely struggle to the bathroom – no, it is a prone corpse).
You think about suicide. Let’s face it, we all have thought about it when the pain and suffering overwhelms us, and we feel there is no one who cares or understands. Friends try to relate but inadvertently make it worse when they compare their frustration over being bedridden over a 3 day fever or a pulled muscle in their neck. “Oh, I know just how you feel…” they may say, “I had a migraine once.”
Or worse is when you explain the drenching sweats that leave you dripping wet with shakes and stabbing neuropathic pain that attacks random places at random times and you are told, “Well, it sounds like menopause…” Hmmm.
And in the dead of night when the pain and insomnia keeps you awake for hours night after night you wonder who would really miss you. What value does your life add to your family?
Recently Lisa Hilton from “WhatisLyme.com” at http://whatislyme.com/lyme-and-suicide-a-problem-ignored/ published her story on CNN’s ireport (please register and comment at http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1037462) which includes a beautiful You Tube tibute to so many who have lost their lives to Lyme disease, and she points out a list of reasons she sees suicide as hard hitting those of us with Borrelia:
Hopelessness by lack of educated doctors; Isolation, Debilitating Symptoms, Lyme Causes Depression, Feeling Like A Burden, and Watching Other Friends Die. To quote her words on isolation:
“Being that doctors have a hard time accepting Chronic Lyme Disease as a real disease, this trickles down to the families and friends of Lyme patients. Patients are constantly questioned by their own loved ones as to why they are not better with treatments, why their symptoms come and go, why no tests show Lyme Disease. Lyme patients start to lose everyone around them and feel isolated.
There is also the aspect from the families and friends view: “I don’t know what to do, or how to help?” Friends and families stop calling because they simply don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to help someone who’s doctor doesn’t know what to do. It’s hard for people to feel helpless. It’s easier to avoid the situation then to sit there not knowing what to say to the sick person.”
I know we can all relate to those words (and the rest of the article as well) – it is common for me to hear people confess their dark thoughts of taking their own life – and for me it resonates as I have wrestled with those very same thoughts. Especially when I found out that my number one support and the love of my life, my husband of 20 years, had given up on me and started having affairs…pulling away one lie at a time. Can I blame him? No, he was living with a sick shell of the woman I once was – having to care for me day in and day out…our caregivers need support groups just as bad as we do!
My point is that being sick is depressing all by itself even with the added symptom of the disease. It is easy to lose hope when you can’t work – I know some manage to stay employed but truly employment can give a positive focus where none exists in those lonely hours of struggling with pain all day and night.
But there is hope and here is my list:
Suffering is a blessing – it makes us stronger. As much as I resent this statement, I know it is true. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger.” (That is the question, right – will it kill you?) Suffering is a gift from God or the Universe or how ever you view the Divine…the gift is the compassion that comes slowly but surely, and grows to fill us with the power of love and understanding. We are the best friends for others who have Lyme because we can understand. So please, reach out to someone you know with Lyme.
Serving Others Gives Purpose When All Else is Gone. Even if it is one person we call on a regular basis…that may be saving a life. That love and compassion might make all the difference. And while we lend support to others we feel a soothing balm in return that may not fill the void but certainly pushes back at the darkness.
We Have Hope of Recovery. I don’t agree that there is no cure. I am slowly recovering with some set backs, sure, but I am recovering and there is scientific evidence that shows us why it has been persistent, and thanks to researchers like Dr. Evi Sapi and others, we can find a strategy for fighting our disease and gaining our life back.
If we don’t give up, we won’t ever fail. We need to support each other in actively pursuing total recovery. There are many protocols for treatment and unfortunately it becomes a fignting ground for some who feel that “their way is the right way.” I think that some are suffering from a rage symptom that also comes with Lyme. I have come to that conclusion because the rage from some of these “fighters” is way out of proportion to the issue at hand and circumstance (forum, blog or Facebook) – if you have spent any time in one of these areas you have probably bumped into someone like this. But remember, they need compassion too.) My point is that each of us has a different bacterial soup, a different lifestyle and immune system, not to mention the variety in pain tolerance associated with different protocols and other health complications. Our treatment belongs in the hands of a trained doctor, not with the opinion of people in a forum or on a blog.
A simple exercise/tool my therapist suggested for fighting this dark compulsion to give up, is to wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it hard when the thought begins to take over. It brings the situation to the front of your consciousness. and gives you the opportunity to actively choose a positive thought. It is not easy, but it is possible. And the choice to direct our thoughts when everything seems out of our control is a valuable exercise, not only for eliminating suicide as an option, but for regaining hope, happiness and the determination needed to recover completely from chronic Borreliosis.