Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Migraine and Suicide: Experiences from the Community- Greater Appreciation

The following is a personal story from someone who lives with Chronic Migraines and Fibromyalgia.

"For me, the chronic pain and how it affected my life was very depressing. The worse things would get the more depressed I would get. I never really sought help for the depression and when it was offered, I refused. I felt like I just had to stay strong and would do it on my own. After I had been in and out of the hospital for migraine treatment several times, I knew the doctors didn't really have any more ideas on how to treat me and they didn't understand why I wasn't responding to treatment. I felt hopeless like they weren't going to help me get better. As that hopeless feeling kept growing I kept getting more and more depressed. I didn’t know how to get out of the hopeless helpless depressed state I was in. This is when I would start to think, “if I don’t have any more options, I am either going to live like this the rest of my life or I’m going to stop my life.”

Suicidal thoughts would come into my mind, but they weren’t so severe that I was going to act on them. I would try to find hope in things, such as if a migraine doctor appointment went well or if I had a good day or so. But the more hope diminished, the more depressed I would get, and I would start to feel more helpless. Then I started having more serious  suicidal thoughts.

After my last hospital stay for Migraines, I was still in more pain than I thought I could handle. They had tried everything they had thought of to try and I felt completely hopeless.  I got out of the hospital thinking I was going to be constantly ill.  And I thought I couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel strong enough to keep doing it.

When I got home from the hospital feeling this way, I also had to face the family issues at home. The combination of the stress of fighting with family, and thinking that there was no other way to treat my chronic Migraines was so overwhelming that the suicidal thoughts I had before hit me hard. It was a matter of “I’m done now.” I decided then to try to end my life.

My parents intervened and got me to hospital. By the time I got to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), I was at risk for a heart attack, kidney damage, liver damage and brain damage and the doctors were worried about all of these. They questioned if I would wake up or if I did, I could have the damage that they were worried about. I spent four days in the ICU.  When I first started waking up, I was surprised I was alive. As I was more conscious, I became more thankful I was alive and that I had survived with out any damage. I wasn't meant to die at that time. I knew for a fact that God wasn't ready for me to come home yet, I still had purpose in my life and He had saved me. The depression did not get much better. But I knew that there was still a purpose and that gave me a little bit of hope. I realized I didn’t want to die. I thought that I did but I truly didn't want to die. I still had something left to do with my life.

It has now been nearly a year and a half since the attempt and the hospital stay. I have definitely struggled since I was released from the hospital and behavioral health unit. I can’t say it has been easy, it is like a roller coaster ride. I start feeling hopeless sometimes and that can affect how depressed I get. But finding and having hope will lift the depression and that will get me through. It is definitely up and down. I have had bouts of the depression and when I did, I thought about how I attempted before and how maybe I could complete. But then I would remember I made it through for a reason. I was given that second chance and I didn’t want to take it for granted. The second chance gives me hope of a better life ahead of me. I remind myself that there was still a purpose for my life. This would be enough to bring me out of the the depression or suicidal thinking.

I definitely changed after the attempt. I know now that it is okay to reach out for help. After the attempt, when I was suicidal again, I reached out and called my best friend for support. I got into therapy. I didn’t just keep the suicidal thoughts to myself because I knew that I could reach the point that I would act on them again. I knew I needed to have help to get out of the way I was thinking once I got to that point. I know to reach out now, and I don’t want to attempt suicide again. But life hasn’t been all about fighting off suicidal thoughts. Surviving my attempt gave me a new appreciation for life. I still struggle with chronic pain and depression, but I cope with it better now. I know that I can still do something with my life and that keeps me going."

If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For the next post in this series, please go to: What Are You Doing For Prevention?

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