Sometimes as chronic Migraine and chronic pain sufferers, we find ourselves not necessarily in crisis or immediate danger, but close to the end our rope.The photo of the stuffed panda represents how I feel when I am close to the end of my rope. I see myself exhausted and vulnerable. Its sparse fur that stands on end, reminds me of how on stressed out I feel.
In the place where I am close to the end of my rope, I have had enough of chronic Migraines/pain and feel quite frazzled. In that moment, I have difficulty coping with it all and I feel stuck. The truth for me and for others is that when I am close to to the end of my rope, I might not be thinking about suicide as an option, but I need a way out of the place I am in because being close to the end of my rope could turn into being suicidal and being at the end of my rope.
However being close yet not at the end of my rope means I have at least a small amount (even if it is a tiny bit) of hope enough to think there might be a way to improve my situation. In the past, hope was just a wish that my situation would improve because I didn't know how to turn that hope into reality. And when you are close to the end of your rope, you are often too exhausted to try.
Let's talk about hope becoming reality. When we are close to the end of our rope, we need to rely on coping mechanisms to support us. Coping mechanisms will be the things that will help change our state of mind. Remember, if you're close to the end of your rope, you're probably pretty exhausted, so your ideas should be things that you can reasonably do. The following is a list of ideas came from some community members (whose responses are in quotes) and myself.
“Call your doctor. See what can be done/changed. Tell your doctor something has to change because you are having a hard time coping with the pain.”
- A couple months ago when I was pretty hopeless about the severe state of my fibromyalgia, I called and asked my doctor if he had any non-medication ideas for me. He did and much to my surprise it made a huge difference in my pain and thus my mood! Often times even a small amount of change can lift my spirits about the state of my chronic pain.
“Get professional help. If the first person you see, doesn't seem like a good fit, seek out someone else. I can't stress enough that not only the person with the illness needs a neutral party to talk to and help, but also the caregiver needs help too.”
- Getting professional help may be seeking out a therapist or even a psychiatrist to evaluate if you need anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications to help you through this phase. I see a psychiatrist and both my husband and I have been seeing a therapist jointly and individually for many years for support in journeying through chronic pain.
“Journaling has been literally my life saver a couple of times.”
- Journaling helps me to express and work through my feelings. Screaming on a page often feels very good.
“Dressing up to make myself feel better.”
- I wrote a post on this topic called Wearing the Turquoise Dress.
“Use your faith....I write bible verses daily”
- I have found great comfort in prayer. For me prayer is a practice of quiet mediation of listening and connecting with God. Whatever your faith practice is, perhaps reconnecting with it will center you in times when you feel you have come close to the end of your rope.
“Go to a mental health group.”
“Going for a walk.”
“Going for a walk.”
- Sometimes even when I am unable to walk around the block or on a treadmill, I will do some simple stretching or gentle tai chi which calms my mind and body.
- This summer I was in such a difficult place health wise that my husband, George, was having a difficult time keeping up with household tasks. A friend who lives close-by was persistent and started getting our groceries for us. I wrote about it in a post called Being Chronically Ill and Asking for Help
-Sketch or draw. Sometimes I'm quite literal in drawing the things things that are bothering me and sometimes I take a black or red crayon run and it back and forth across the page. Below is an example of some art I did about how I physically felt when I was having a difficult time.
-Reach out to others in the chronic illness community. Often I feel much better after talking with someone who has Migraines or another one of my chronic conditions because they “get it.” When you are close to the end of your rope there is no substitute for having someone validate your experience because they have lived it too.
-Though these websites are not meant to be lifelines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Below are a list of some websites where I find support. I specifically seek out the “forum” sections and join the groups pertinent to my health conditions because that is where I meet people with my conditions, ask questions, support others and am supported myself.
Chronic Illness Support Groups on Facebook
Do you have any ideas of what you do when you are close to the end of your rope that you'd like to share? Please post in the comment section! I would love to keep adding to this list.
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, go to: Experiences from the Community: Greater Appreciation