There’s a pretty famous song called “Suicide is Painless.” I bet you know it even if you don’t think you do. It’s the theme song from the movie and TV show M*A*S*H.
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…
Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
‘is it to be or not to be’
and I replied ‘oh why ask me?’
‘Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
…and you can do the same thing if you choose.
Suicide isn’t painless. For some, it’s a hopeful end to suffering, either mental or physical. Or it’s the ultimate revenge for a jilted lover. But for most, it’s the last act of despair.
Unless you’ve been in a desperate situation like this, you probably can’t relate. You can’t relate to the feelings someone is having in the moment. You can’t possibly understand the potential lifetime of suffering a person has endured. And you can’t simply make it all better.
I’ve never been suicidal. But I can tell you that a few years after I got married, I developed excruciating headaches. They started out as a pain in the right side of my head. I would take some Advil and lay down. Then one day my husband came in from outside and saw me laying down on the couch with tears quietly rolling out of my eyes. I wasn’t sad or upset. I was in pain and couldn’t make it go away.
After a while, the Advil didn’t help. I went to doctors and neurologists. I had a CAT scan and an MRI. Nobody could find anything. More importantly, nobody could give me any relief from the pain. It was so severe that it literally felt like someone was stabbing the side of my head with an icepick. It was almost constant.
I stopped working, I stopped eating, I stopped laughing, I stopped living. I couldn’t bear to do simple things like sing to a song on the radio. Because the pain was all-consuming. I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to live in pain. I couldn’t bear to live in constant and excruciating pain. I told myself and even my husband that if I was destined to live out my life in that kind of pain, that I didn’t want to go on living.
I was not suicidal. I didn’t want to die. I wanted the pain to stop. I remember watching a show about a little girl who had half of her brain removed due to cancer. She suffered with crippling headaches for over 2 years. She lived through it. It made me want to live through it.
Thank God I found a medication that helped (one that I still say saved my life, even though they took it off the market). We never found a cause but speculated it was related to orthodontic work I was having done. I still get twinges of pain every once in a while. It’s a reminder to me of how bad it used to be and how good it is now.
Depression and mental illness causes pain too. And again, if you’ve never suffered, it’s something you can’t fathom. You can’t take a pill and magically be all better. It’s complicated. I know because I’ve suffered in that arena too. About a year after my son was born, I experienced severe insomnia and depression. There was no quick fix. It was a process and I’m thankful I made it through.
So I get it. I get how people can get to the point of despair. I can’t necessarily relate to their breaking point but I know how it happens and maybe have a clue as to how it feels. And when you know someone at that point, what do you do?
On Tuesday, there was a blogger who posted what was intended to be her final blog entry. She wrote her own obituary. She’s a mother with three children. She’s had a difficult childhood and a less than successful marriage. She’s had a past I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But the people who know her, at least online, say that she’s a sweet and caring person.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of person she is. She is someone hurting and lonely and needing help. So why did I see comments like this on her post:
You’re going to take yourself off the face of the earth for all eternity because of bad brain chemistry? Girl, get help. Antidepressants may not be the most appetizing thing but a chemical assistance beats no existence. They don’t have to be permanent, just enough to get you through the valleys.
If I was drowning, would you say “hey, you better learn how to swim” or would you reach your hand out to me?
So did she walk out on her family or is she dead? I’m not going to say anything but I don’t approve either way.
And this comment I can’t even fathom. You see, loss and devastation and pain and desperation and depression don’t require approval. Especially your approval.
My faith in humanity dies a little when I see uncaring, heartless, and most importantly, unnecessary comments like these. My faith is luckily restored when I see many more comments offering prayer, hope, love to a woman they don’t even know.
If you have ever been down to the dark depths or know someone who is there, I hope you will consider sending them to this resource that the blogger above tweeted about a few days ago. I read it in detail today and it gave me a lot of perspective.
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose
Then you really might know what it’s like