I woke up this morning wanting to start the week with a positive blog post, but then I read this heartbreaking post “In Loving Memory” by Indisposed and Undiagnosed, who recently lost her friend due to the unbearable struggle of her chronic illness.
The conversation of suicide is so clouded with guilt and shame that we just don’t have it at all. I am even struggling to write this post because I am afraid it will be misconstrued. The sad reality is that people with chronic illness are at least 15% more likely to consider suicide than the general population. I wonder how much this has to do with the depression that often accompanies chronic illness and how much has to do with the physical pain. The day in and day out, with no real hope for substantial relief kind of pain. I know I have asked myself in my dark moments, “What is the point?”, I am just surviving, not living.
I think doctors have a responsibility to discuss the emotional reactions that come with the diagnosis of a chronic illness. I think opening up the dialog about emotional health should be a part of every appointment concerning your chronic pain or illness. I understand that the emotional aspect is not their focus, but shouldn’t it be common practice to at least offer support groups to people at such a high risk of depression and possible suicide? I can’t seem to find one it my area, and I live right outside a major city. None of the doctors have ever discussed or suggested anything other than an anti-depressant in regards to my emotional well being.
I am so grateful to have a good therapist that I can see regularly and release my thoughts to. But I wish there were more support groups for chronic pain, led by qualified professionals to help people work through these TEMPORARY feelings of hopelessness. Of course you can find an online community of support, but I wonder if meeting regularly with others who suffer in the same or similar ways would help. To be able to share your desperation in person with people who have been there, who can remind you just by their presence that there is still life to experience despite the often bleak reality of your life.
A few years ago this sunflower grew up from the crack in the sidewalk in front of my house. I thought that was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Growing and blooming despite the adversity of its location. Resilience is a word that reminds me of how much I have already overcome, and how much courage actually lives inside me to endure the rest. Sometimes I have to remind myself every single day. Resilience has become my superpower, but I often misplace my cape.