This one is pretty difficult to write. But I want to write it because it weighs heavily on my mind. And maybe writing it will help me see a different perspective. From now on I will try to keep it to happy thoughts and nature photos and stories!
Like everyone else, I’ve been through a lot in my life. Most of it good, some not so good, and some just darned bad. The day they told me I have cancer is probably the worst day I have had. Except for the day I decided I wanted to end my live. This was a few months ago when the toll that chemo and radiation have taken on my body felt like it would drown me. I dropped my grandson off at the kids’ house after a sleep-over and cried the whole way home, knowing I was going back to an empty house. When I got home I sat down and figured out how much money the kids would get if I died that day. I was still employed, but on LOA. I felt worthless and lonely and afraid. I actually scared myself to think that I would seriously contemplate ending my own life. I have lots of drugs–one of the “pleasures” of this whole cancer thing. It would be so crazy easy to take a bunch and go to sleep. I cried and cried and cried for three days as I thought about what it would be like to just sleep away, and how easy it would be.
After I terrified myself and got my crying under control, I sat down and thought how that would affect my family. My grandson would be devastated. My son would be really upset with me. And my daughter-in-law would have to deal with both of them, along with all of the estate stuff. I decided I should stick around. Taking those drugs would be the easy way out.
I was determined to think about how very fortunate I am to have this life I live. I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. I have more than I need and am grateful that I can help others in small ways. I have family that loves me, and friends who are just like family. I have tried since those days a few months ago to dwell on the positives and ignore the negatives (I can’t totally forget them–the physical issues are real and always with me). I try to find something each day that makes me happy. I sincerely hope that anyone else who contemplates taking their own life seeks help. I was fortunate that I was able to work through that scary time. But not everyone can think of the positives in a way that is meaningful and turn their thoughts around. Not everyone has a support system that they can count on, even if they are not there with them.
Some people are afraid to ask for help, like me. I never told my son or daughter-in-law how I was feeling. I told them about a month ago when they asked how I was doing, and they were so upset that I had not shared my feelings with them. I told them I know they are busy–they are young and have friends and they are constantly on the go. I didn’t want them worrying about me. But I then realized that I wasn’t fair to them to hide my feelings. They were genuinely concerned and made it clear that they wanted me to call them any time I felt alone and depressed. They might not always be able to come to visit, but they could always talk to me and reassure me that they are there for me. I now see a therapist twice a month, and I’m slowly learning how to make my way back to who I was before. It’s not an easy road, but I’m working on it!
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please let them know there are resources to help them. Most areas have community reach centers where they can get help at little to no cost. They can go to their local hospital emergency room, and they will help to get them the help they need. And there is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And now they even have a Chat option on their web site for younger people who would prefer to communicate that way. Actually, that makes me sad… Our younger generation prefers to communicate in such impersonal ways–they are relying too much on electronics and are not learning to interact with other people face to face or voice to voice.
I worked in healthcare my entire life, and let me make one thing clear to anyone reading this… No one is without emergency healthcare in this country. You may not have insurance, but emergency healthcare is available at any Medicare-participating hospital that has an emergency room, regardless of your ability to pay. There is a law called EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act ). It requires emergency departments to screen and treat any person who presents with an emergent condition. Hospitals can’t even ask about insurance coverage or method of payment before the patient is screened and treatment started.
There is a big difference between having no healthcare and having no insurance. We all have healthcare in The United States in an emergency situation. No one should be afraid to seek treatment in an emergency–and suicidal thoughts are an emergent condition, regardless of your financial situation. If you have questions, there is a ton of information about EMTALA on the Internet.
I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve been to that dark place, and I don’t want to go there again. It’s easy to think about taking the easy way out, and it’s hard work to stick around, but the work and life are worth it. I am grateful for finding the courage to resist the pills, and thankful that I’m here to share this story and maybe help someone else who is going through a difficult time in their lives.