A few years back the father of a woman I know shot himself because he couldn’t take his chronic pain anymore. This guy was a highly educated man–a doctor, actually—but, despite all his knowledge and connections, could not find anything to relieve him besides smoking a little grass occasionally. Like I did in my suicidal moments, he added up the amount of probable years until his natural death, and when he arrived at a fat number like 30 or 40 (he was in his 50s), he simply felt he had no other alternative than to end his life.
I often think about him when I run across some readers on Beyond Blue that suffer from the brutal combination of chronic pain and depression. The fact that they don’t point a gun to their heads, like my friend’s father did, puts them into a category called “heroes,” in my humble opinion.
Because depression is cruel enough. But then to have constant physical pain besides? I truly can’t imagine, as a slight head ache or a runny nose is cause for incessant whining in this body.
I’m humbled by the struggles of people like Beyond Blue reader Elissa, who wrote this as a response to my post, “Complaint Free? Not!”:
I’ve always tended to be a “complainer”, about myself and others. It’s always the same complaint and whining: I’ve been an insomniac my entire life since I was a child. I’m not talking about a few nights, weeks or months of this debilitating malady. But every night, every year, for nearly 50 years.
I defy anybody who has had chronic insomnia to not complain. I have family and friends who are so irritable, grouchy and uncommunicative if they’ve just missed one miserable night of sleep!
It’s absolutely necessary to bare our souls, to tell the truth and not lie about our conditions, it’s called humility.
Without spirituality and prayers, few of us could ever get through this vale of tears. It’s one thing for people to say they’re optimists, but I believe that God loves and endears us complicated souls who, through suffering, become so much closer to him than the cockeyed optimists!
And Beyond Blue reader Nancy, who wrote the following as a comment to Elissa’s words:
These days my clinical depression is coupled with the illness of FM/CFS/ME [Fibromyaglia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis]. It affects the entire central and autonomic nervous system. So another “cross” to pick up and drag along with me each day. That’s if it allows me to get out of the bed.
Some things are just downright brutal, and yes, Elissa, I dare anyone to walk in your shoes and not complain.
If I didn’t talk about it and oh, how I know about putting on a happy face, (probably most of us do here), I’d be self-destructing. Prayer is vital for me, as well.
There are those days where I hope for the relief and reprieve of the “suffering” and have Isaiah 40:31 on my bulletin board above my desk. In the meantime. I am grateful that God brought me to this Beyond Blue blog one messy day. It’s a gift along with journey.
Thank you to all each day for your input and honesty. We’re all coming together from different places and experiences, while helping and holding each other up and along. The encouragement I see here is so helpful. Being mostly housebound these days, it’s a vital part of my connection to an arena of sharing that has been otherwise greatly diminished in my life.
“It’s absolutely necessary to bare our souls, to tell the truth and not lie about our conditions, it’s called humility.” – Elissa, this may be my favorite line of all in your writing. It is essential.
Elissa and Nancy make me think that the key to living with chronic pain is the same as the requisite to coping with depression: support, support, support, and, of course, lots of prayer.
Because there are a percentage of us with chronic pain and/or mood disorders that will never find the right medication. Many unlucky souls will never be relieved, completely, of their pain. For those persons, our illness will forever remain our thorn in the side.
But that doesn’t have to be the end of hope. Because we still have each other, and we have God. On the good days, that’s enough. On the bad days … there’s … um … well, prayer beads and Dove’s dark chocolate squares???