Tag Archives: suicide

The deep, dark Lyme place (possible trigger warning)

* disclaimer: I am not suicidal, in any way shape or form. Please do not take this the wrong way and freak out.

There has been a story circulating the past few days on the internet about a girl named Heather with chronic Lyme disease who committed suicide because she was so sick she couldn’t go on and had no one to help her.

This is what she posted to Facebook as a last desperate plea for help.

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And here is a link to the YouTube video she posted a few months ago begging for help:

http://youtu.be/47aap_9DTT0

Let me just state the obvious and say, this is terrible.

But I get it.

This is a horribly isolating disease. You are very very sick, but doctors tell you you’re crazy and that there’s nothing wrong with you. If you have family they think you’re faking or they’re just sick of dealing with your problems; if you have any friends left who haven’t disappeared since you’ve been sick they probably have no concept of what you are going through and have no idea how to relate to you. If you’re lucky enough to still be able to work it takes every ounce of strength you have, leaving none left for anything else; and if you have any energy to do fun things you probably have no money to pay for them since you’re paying hundreds of dollars a month on treatment to try to get better (assuming you can afford to pay for treatment at all).

On top of Lyme being so isolating, it messes with your head. It makes you depressed, moody, angry, anxious, and a whole list of other emotions…usually all at the same time. I call this the deep, dark, Lyme place…I’ve been spending a fair amount of time there lately.

A lot of people on the internet are saying that this girl wouldn’t have felt the need to take her life if Lyme was a recognized disease, with insurance companies covering treatment costs. While this may have helped the situation, I feel like there is so much more to it than that. This disease fucks people up, and that’s the sad truth. 

This girl isn’t the first Lyme sufferer to decide to end it all, and she won’t be the last.

I get it.

My pain has been absolutely excruciating lately. I have no words to describe it. It is brain numbing, soul darkening, make you want to curl up in a ball and just die, pain. My pain medications aren’t strong enough, so they just make me feel sick and sleepy, and still in pain. It hurts to move, it hurts to breathe, it hurts just to think.

I don’t know how I can keep doing this. I can’t keep waking up, putting on my mask, and pretending everything is ok. Because it’s not, I’m not ok.

Now, I am one of the lucky ones…I have a wonderful family who believes that I am sick and pays for my treatment, I have a few really awesome friends who are there for me when I need them, and I have a place to live and a job. That is more than a lot of Lyme sufferers can say, and I am very thankful.

However, no one understands this pain. Apparently this is not one of the most common Lyme symptoms (joint pain is popular, but not this deep “every cell in my body is screaming in agony” type of pain), so even my wonderful friends who are also battling Lyme do not know how to relate to me because they have never felt this.

I am in a couple of online support groups, and have met wonderful friends that way, so I started to post on one telling them how badly I’m hurting and asking for pain relief suggestions…and then I realized that unless you have felt this pain you won’t really have any helpful suggestions, and besides I’ve tried everything anyway. Epsom salt baths, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, reiki, heating pads, TENS units, creams, stretching, yoga, meditation, tea, coffee enemas, deep breathing, muscle relaxers, anti inflammatories, pain killers (of varying strengths)…you name it I’ve probably tried it, and nothing gives much relief. If it helps at all, it’s only to dull the pain and it is always short lived.

So I get what lead Heather to her point of desperation; and while I am one of the lucky ones now, if that were to end for whatever reason, I could quickly end up right where Heather was…and maybe become just another casualty at the hands of the deep, dark, Lyme place. 

Don’t ever judge someone who has made this choice; I’ve heard people speak badly of suicide victims claiming they could have reached out or they must have had someone somewhere who could help, and “that’s what suicide hotlines are for”…please, don’t be those people. Never take for granted the fact that all of us are really just a a bad circumstance or two away from being in their shoes, especially those of us battling Lyme.  

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You can’t outrun insanity..

 I watched a show last night, actually I’ve been watching a lot of shows lately since my brain apparently doesn’t like to sleep until around 3:30am. This was a new show, however, just debuted on ABC, called Black Box. It’s very House, M.D.-esque. Brilliant neuroscientist who saves lives and fixes people, all the while being more than a little bit crazy and secretive…you get the picture.

I’ll go ahead and spoil the first episode for you, she’s Bipolar. Like me.

Her mind runs a million miles an hour, every second of the day, she sleeps with strange men (hypersexuality), runs down the street singing and laughing maniacally, talks a million miles an hour, stays up all night, struggles with the urge to jump off a balcony, and flushes her medication on a whim because it “slows down her mind”.  (All of this in the first episode!)

Part of me hates when shows portray characters as having mental illnesses; while the exposure is great I feel like they often over dramatize things to make the show more interesting. However, all of these symptoms are typical of bipolar…they just sometimes seem to be to the extreme and dramatic. Ok, off my soapbox now…

 

So I was watching, and thinking about my pre-medication days.

While my mental illness is not nearly as…drastic…as the woman on the show’s is, there were definitely times where I acted and felt much like she does. I used to stay up all night, go running at 3am because I had more nervous energy in me than I thought my body could stand, drive really fast, make questionable (to say the least!) decisions regarding men and sex, talk really fast without making much sense, and literally not give a shit about the consequences of any of my actions. It was kind of fun (sometimes). However, there are 2 problems with this, one being that there actually ARE consequences for every decision; the other being that for every high, every rush, there was an opposite (and often more extreme) depression or dark place.

I spent countless nights in bed crying, wanting to die and not understanding why; endless nights without sleep writing incredibly dark and sad poems, and sitting in the bathroom with a razor blade. I got so angry that I punched anything in sight. My favorite? Concrete telephone poles. I did a number on the knuckles of my hands many times, and went to school the next day with them swollen and bruised.  I found every way I could think of to hurt myself, because somehow that helped make some sense of the many emotions coursing through me. Many, many times I resisted the urge (sometimes just barely) to drive my car off the road, or to grab the nearest bottle of pills and down it…until one day I didn’t resist well enough.

I opened my computer, and googled “effects of aspirin overdose”, I read the wikipedia details. Then I locked my door, sat on my bed, and consciously counted out how many pills were in the bottle. I downed them 2 by 2, with each set I said “after this maybe I’ll stop, it’s not enough to hurt me, just make me not feel like this anymore”, yet each time down another 2 pills went. 22 in all. I don’t know why I never stopped, hell, I don’t know why I started in the first place. It was like someone else was inside my brain telling me what to do, over-riding my brain’s automatic self-preservation instincts. Like I was possessed.

As I sat in the pediatric psychiatric unit of my local hospital and cried (for what felt like an eternity…but was actually only like 2 days), I replayed that afternoon in my head over and over again. What scared me, and still scares me, was the consciousness with which I did it. I mean who sits down and researches how to kill themselves, reads and understands exactly what will happen to their body, and then goes and does it?!

I remember that time in the hospital in snap shots. Being wheeled on a stretcher to the ambulance, with my neighbors watching because there was an ambulance, a fire truck, and 2 police cars in my quiet suburb neighborhood. Staring out the back window of the ambulance at my dad following us in his car, and realizing the pain in his face. Laying in the hospital bed not understanding why the doctor kept asking me exactly how many pills I took and how many milligrams, then pulling out his calculator and looking so worried. Drinking charcoal and being sick to my stomach all night long. Listening to the doctor explain to my dad what a Baker Act is. Sitting on a couch in the psych unit for hours just crying and crying. The abandonment I felt when it was “parent visitation night”, and no one came to see me. The people I met there; a 16 year old girl who woke up one day (her 16th birthday) hearing voices telling her that her parents hated her, the 8 year old boy brought in by the police for threatening to punch another kid in the throat at school, the 12 year old girl who was pregnant, the 14 year old girl with arms covered in scars who knew exactly how many there were and the stories behind them, including the time she barricaded herself in her room with a dresser and cut herself 72 times until she passed out in a pool of blood for her parents to find later, the nice girl who had been there for 6 weeks and as she was leaving was only concerned with how she would explain to her little sister where she had been without telling her the truth and hurting/scaring her. The isolation. The fear. The feeling of being insane, and yet not belonging there with those people. The denial, the “but I’m not like THEM”. The elation I felt when I was told I could leave.

After about 2 days in the hospital, a couple of meetings with the psychiatrist, an anger management class, a music therapy class, a class that involved “drawing our feelings”, some sort of strange in-hospital school class, and a harsh talking to from a nurse to “quit my crying or they would never let me out of here”, I managed to convince the doctor that I had ZERO intention of trying that again (totally true, by the way) and she let me go home. The resulting diagnosis? Rapid cycling bipolar, of the depressive type.

(This means that a. my moods cycle very quickly, like over the course of an hour or two sometimes, verses the couple of weeks most people experience and b. that I spend the majority of my time in a depressive state, rather than a manic one)

This began my long journey to finding mental health…I say long, which was really like 3 years, but that’s a long time to feel like I felt. It took 2 psychiatrists, 2 therapists, at least 4 different mood stabilizers and antidepressants, some permanent side drug side effects, a ton of weight gain, and multiple times of stopping meds cold turkey (we all know what happens when you try that, right?) before I finally found what works for me. Luckily I am stable now, remarkably stable for someone with bipolar disorder, actually. I found a medication that works for me, and works really well. I have no side effects from it, and NO desire to stop taking it, EVER…finally feel like I know who I am. I like my psychiatrist, he’s a nice guy; I like my therapist, the same guy I saw 2 days after being discharged from the hospital 7 years ago, who I still see for periods of time when I feel like I need a “mental health booster shot”, as he calls it. And I like my life. I can’t imagine ever wanting to end it again. I have learned to recognize, for the most part, what is “me” and what is my “crazy”…so even when I do have the occasional mood swing, or manic urge, I remind myself that it is just chemicals in my brain, and not who I am.

And yes, I do still have mood swings. Not often, and not to the extremes that I used to experience, but it happens. I still sometimes find myself with the urge to drive realllyyyy fast, with the windows down, and scream at the top of my lungs…or make really stupid decisions regarding men. I still have dark nights; I no longer hurt myself or want to die, but the darkness that invades my mind sometimes is really dark. I have days where I feel as though I am experiencing every single emotion possible, at the exact same time; as though I am being crushed by all of the emotion and the energy and the darkness all at the same time. I still get so angry I can’t contain it. But I am strong. I am no longer a lost, hurting, scared little soul begging for help. My mind is clear now, I know who I am and who I’m not; i know which thoughts are mine and which belong to the disease. I am me now.

I don’t talk about these experiences much; I am completely open with anyone about the fact that I have a mental illness, but I try really hard to block the memories of those times from my mind, most likely as an act of self-preservation. I spent days trying to form this post in my mind, and hours writing it. It’s made me rather uncomfortable to write about; I feel raw inside now, naked and vulnerable…

But in the end it’s my truth, and I am owning it.

“Bipolar robs you of that which is you. It can take from you the very core of your being and replace it with something that is completely opposite of who and what you truly are. Because my bipolar went untreated for so long, I spent many years looking in the mirror and seeing a person I did not recognize or understand. Not only did bipolar rob me of my sanity, but it robbed me of my ability to see beyond the space it dictated me to look. I no longer could tell reality from fantasy, and I walked in a world no longer my own.” 
― Alyssa ReyansLetters from a Bipolar Mother

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