If I were to sum up why people commit suicide to a single reason, it would simply be Life vs. Pain. What do I mean by this? Well, just imagine life as a balance. One one side you have life as a whole, including your dreams, your family, your job(s), etc. On the other side, you have your pain, physical, emotional and mental. Dealing with mental illness is basically trying to keep both sides in balance, or even have life be slightly greater. It is when your pain weighs more than your life, that suicide seems like the only option. I can easily explain all of my suicide attempts using this reason. My pain outweighed my life, therefore I couldn’t live anymore. Now something you may not know about me, I live in constant physical pain. I suffered an injury in high school to my lower back, and it has never healed. Of course, some days are more tolerable than others, but you get my point. While I was depressed, I was not only in physical pain, but emotional and mental pain as well, every second of every day. I spent nearly all of my time either distracting myself from suicide, or actively fighting my suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately for me, my pain almost always weighed more than my life.
As you can imagine, or even relate, this made my life absolutely miserable. Fortunately, I was able to alleviate the pain associated with my depression through successful treatment. Now all that is left is my physical pain. For the past week or so, that pain has been excruciating. Now I am not saying that I am going to kill myself because of my physical pain, though I would do anything to be pain free. What I am saying, is that I’ve done it with depression, so now I have to do it with my body. I have once freed myself from my pain through successful treatment, and now it is time to do it again. I am seriously considering having spinal surgery, either a spinal fusion, or removal of my herniated disc. The issue is, that I have to convince my doctor that I am a candidate for surgery. Still, there is something holding me back. I don’t know what it is, but I keep putting off setting up an appointment with my doctor. I’m not afraid of “going under the knife”, I’m not afraid of general anesthesia, I’m not afraid of recovery time, I’m not afraid of really any part of the surgery, but what is holding me back? Is it simply procrastination? Is is just poor memory, forgetting to call my doctor during normal office hours? I am hyper analytical, so the fact that I can’t put my finger on the reason for my hesitation irks me.
Enough about me, back to the subject at hand. Life is full, to the brim, with painful experiences. Some worse than others. Have you ever heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!”. I would be surprised if you haven’t honestly. I don’t really like this saying, as it doesn’t make complete sense to me. For example, If we were to see our bodies (or lives) as a physical structure, say a house, and a category 5 hurricane goes directly over the house, but doesn’t completely destroy it. There would still be damage done to the house, no? It’s not like the hurricane rips the roof off of the house, and then replaces it with a better, stronger roof. So what doesn’t kill us, actually makes us weaker, in my opinion. Eventually, the damage from life’s pain builds up. It doesn’t just disappear once you’ve acclimated to it. It consistently does damage to our physical and mental well-being, and unless we actively repair this damage, eventually the pain will overwhelm us. If you couldn’t tell, I sincerely enjoy metaphors, I feel like they make understanding a foreign concept much easier. Though, this is only my opinion, it’s not like I’ve studied pain in any form, or human tolerance to said pain. I am only using my own experiences as a teacher, accumulating all the knowledge I can, so that my years of suffering were not in vain.
Now, what do you do when the pain gets so great, that you can’t stand it anymore? (ie it weighs more than life on the balance) You seek help, professionally trained help. There are people in this world (ex: Doctors) that have spent a significant portion of their time here on earth, honing their craft, and discovering ways to ease our pain. You try all the options, no matter how outlandish they seem. No matter how scared you may be. Of course, not all of them will work. Honestly, most of them won’t. But that is no reason to stop trying, as there are more professionals on this planet than you can imagine. Just because one, or two, or twenty couldn’t help you, doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone out there who can. If we go back to the balance metaphor, with your life on one side, and your pain on the other, failure would be the pin in the middle holding the whole thing together. There are tons of quotes out there about how you can’t succeed without failing a few (hundred) times, but I don’t really like any of them. The more you fail, the greater your chance of success, as you’ve eliminated what doesn’t work. At least that’s the way it all boils down in my mind. The key to success, in anything really, is never giving up. Cheesy, I know, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Take me as an example. I was deep, deep in depression for over 20 years. My balance didn’t even function anymore. I had resigned myself to being depressed for the rest of my life. Going through the motions for the next 50-70 years, that was my future. Yet, everything changed for me, because I tried something that I never thought I would do, and it was a resounding success. I can’t even tell you the amount of different medications I’ve tried, the different therapies, therapists, doctors, meditations, etc, that I tried to conquer my depression. When I had lost all hope of ever getting better, is when I finally said F*CK IT, and tried more out-of-the-box treatments. Sure, I’m still on meds, sure I still occasionally get depressed, sure I have crippling anxiety, but you know what? My balance is finally in working order, allowing me to keep trying different things to make my life more weighted than my pain. I took my depression by the throat, and choke-slammed it into the ground, because I was fed up being depressed. So basically what I am saying, is don’t let failures and pain get the better of you. There are infinite ways to treat and manage mental illness, more getting added all the time. So try them all!! Eventually, thanks to probability, you will succeed, and ultimately feel better. Just always remember to never give up, and always keep fighting. from my mind to yours, Alan Wolfgang, signing off