Chronic Pain and Suicide
Note: This SharePost was written based on early information I had received. Please be sure to read the updates at the end of this post, which better explain what actually happened to Carla.
I'm saddened to have to tell you that one of our community members passed away last week. From what one of her friends said – “She could no longer tolerate life here on Earth and we hope she has found peace.” – it appears she took her own life. Carla was just 29 but had lived in pain for 14 years. Like so many in chronic pain, she was surrounded by people and doctors who repeatedly told her the pain was all in her head and gave her psychotropic medications. Apparently she just couldn't fight it any longer. I, too, pray she has found peace.
In honor of Carla, I'd like to discuss this subject that we're so often afraid to mention. If pressed, the vast majority of people I've talked to who live with chronic pain admit to having had thoughts of suicide, asking God to take their lives, or at least wishing for a terminal illness that would put them out of their misery. I can still vividly remember several years ago thinking that if I got some kind of serious, potentially terminal, illness, I wouldn't do anything about it. And at one point I even remember asking God to take me home. Now I can say I am thankful that was one prayer He answered with a “No.”
At the time I was having those thoughts, very little was known about fibromyalgia. My pain had been getting progressively worse for four or five years and doctors wouldn't give me anything stronger than ibuprofen. I was living alone in a city where the only people I knew were a few co-workers. Despite my pain and extreme fatigue, I had to keep working because I had no other means of support. Worst of all, I saw absolutely no hope that anything would change.
That is the key word – HOPE. Somehow, in spite of those feelings of hopelessness, I managed to hang on to a seed of hope. Eventually that seed of hope grew and multiplied. Now I can look back and see how much I would have missed if I had given in to the hopelessness. I would never have seen my eight precious grandchildren who have brought me unbelievable joy. I wouldn't have fulfilled my lifelong dream of a career in writing. And I wouldn't have gotten to know so many wonderful people in the chronic pain community.
I know – hindsight is easy. My point is, none of us knows what is just around the corner. My lowest moments came only a few months before I found the first key element in my treatment plan and things began to change for the better. Hope is worth hanging on to.
So let's remember Carla, and keep hope alive in our lives.
Wishing you hope and joy,
Note: 10/22/08 – As you will see in the comments, Carla's aunt notified us that as yet the cause of Carla's death has not been determined. I sincerely apologize to Carla's family and friends for any misunderstanding and misstatement of the situation. I was basing my comments on what one of her friends told us. Carla touched my heart, as she did so many others, and those of you who loved her have my deepest sympathy. I can't even begin to imagine the depths of pain and loss you must be feeling.
Update: 12/27/08 – Carla's boyfriend wrote to tell us what happened to her and set the record straight. Please read his SharePost at: http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/c/201654/53571/fitzgerald/