IBD Doesn't Define Me
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide or assisted suicide are big topics of discussion. The ethical views on this vary greatly from one person to the next. I am of the mind that every life is precious and worth living. Despite the pain that often plagues those with chronic illnesses. I can honestly say that I’ve never been suicidal… but, I have often wished for death.
When I was in college, I learned that a friend of mine that I grew up with in church committed suicide right in front of his mother and grandmother. I had lost touch with this friend, so I don’t know what drove him to that point. All I know is that the feelings of hurt and shock were widespread. How could someone get to that point? And did he not consider how much this would destroy his mother?
I’m not going to pretend to understand what goes on in the mind of someone who is suicidal. But my heart breaks for them.
During the roughest parts of my disease, I definitely found myself giving up hope and thinking, “You know, it wouldn’t be so bad if I just died. At least it wouldn’t hurt anymore.” I found myself praying and saying, “God, if this is the end… so be it. Just take me.”
Just as I prayed those prayers, however, I would think of my husband. “But he loves me. If I died, he would be devastated. Lord, please, spare him of this…” In the end, it was my husband who kept me from falling into a pit of despair.
I remember vividly one night. I felt deeply depressed. I did not feel any joy or excitement for life. My negative moods were greatly affecting my husband as well. We all have a right to have our moments. And our caregivers also have a right to have theirs… But my husband said something to me that changed my life forever.
He said, “Amber, you can’t give up. You have to find something to help you cope and get through this. Do not give up on hope.”
I didn't want to hear what he had to say at the time, but I knew that he was right. I finally resolved myself to not only seek support, but also start blogging. That night I drew a little cartoon ninja and took to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). I typed in all the appropriate hashtags #IBD, #Colitis, #ulcerativecolitis #Crohns #CrohnsDisease, etc. I was instantly connected to so many other patients who were going through exactly the same things I was.
Shortly after I found support, I found out I had to have surgery. I can’t tell you how amazing and freeing it is when you are finally connected with others who “get it.” I found so many amazing people who understood the darkness and despair. People who were about to have the exact same surgery I was. People who puked their guts out all night, and attempted to be a normal person during the day.
To everyone out there who feels like they are at the end of their rope. To everyone who feels like that have no one to turn to. Please remember you are definitely not alone. Support is out there. And it is because of the support I found in fellow patients that I was able to regain my footing and sense of who I was. I’m not my disease. My disease does not determine my destiny. I do.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need help.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
Crisis Text Line – Text “TWLOHA” to 741-741
[Both resources are available 24x7]