“It Won’t All Be Doom & Gloom”

When much of your life has been stripped away, you come to appreciate some of the simplest, most basic things—food and water, the Internet, a warm breeze, nice music, the trees, your comfy pajamas, a nice pair of socks, the appearance and company of another person, your pet, and the list goes on. My online friend, homebound and ravaged by severe chronic fatigue for years, appreciated his subscription to YouTube TV the most. It allowed him to watch the sports he loved so much. He would lie around on the couch each day and just stare at the boob tube, unable to do much else.

When I heard that he died by suicide at age 30 a few months ago, I was saddened but not shocked. After all, he had said something to me a couple of months prior: “It wouldn’t be a tragedy if I had to die,” he said—he had attempted suicide once before and failed—“but it would be a great tragedy if I continued to live in the condition I am in.”

See, he very much wanted to die. Having felt that all options for treatment had been explored, there would be nothing left for him to do but to suffer cruelly every day for the rest of his life. He even went so far as to wire $6K to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland, with, as heartbreaking as this sounds, his very own mother’s approval. Although, when his sister found out, she immediately called the police and, early the next morning, he found himself surrounded by four cops in his bedroom, while still half-asleep.

They put him in the hospital psych ward for 10 days. He reported to me that it was the worst experience of his life. While in there, he didn’t sleep at all for 9 days straight. Of course, I was aware of his plans to end his life because he told me of them. I said that I would do anything to stop him from carrying out his plans, if I didn’t understand his situation, but, sadly, I did understand it all too well. I feel I did my best to support him emotionally, and I think he did his best to support me emotionally in my struggles with severe chronic illness.

I later learned that his friends and family from all over the country flew in to attend his wake and funeral. Numerous tributes were left on his Facebook page, all heartwarming and heart-wrenching at the same time. A few days after the funeral, I received an email from his mother. I don’t know how she got my email address, but here’s what she wrote:

“Michael wanted to make sure that you knew that he passed away on his terms. The funeral was this past Sunday. He spoke of you often and enjoyed your conversations. Many of his friends are posting tributes to him on his facebook page - if you would like to read them. I hope your health improves and that you continue to have the strength to endure.”

I’m not sure what lessons to take from my online friend’s death. He faced an impossible situation, and I myself feel the same way at times. In fact, just two and a half years ago, I attempted suicide. I’d swallowed a boatload of pills and my wife and son came home to find me lying on the bed, unconscious. Having landed in a coma for three days, I would subsequently spend three painstaking weeks in the psych ward.

Where was I? I just think that, if anything, the message can be life-affirming instead: that despite the impossible struggles, there is always hope. And it helps to love the hell out of your life every now and then, if you can. I know many of you probably appreciate the simplicities of life. I know that I appreciate in my very limited capacity every decent moment I get, all the wonderful simple things, and, of course, the amazing loved ones I have by my side.

Comments

I wrote something there which I deleted, probably lamely.

I'm very sorry your friend had to leave in this manner.

We have several friends who aren't here anymore, as life happened. And I think a bout them, rather often.

For me, this illness is a type of continuous flux, so in that regard, finding moments to appreciate happen fairly often, in between the wearisome whining and flailing and resentments which also happen.

Surfing all these issues, there is an art to staying upright.
 
Thank you. He had reached his breaking point, sadly. Sorry for the friends you have lost, as well. I think you’re absolutely right in that it is a continuous flux, for many of us I’m sure. I’m just advocating for people to hang on if they can, though I can also understand if the burden is too much to bear for some. There’s a reason ME has a high suicide rate, as this illness is cruel to no end. Which goes without saying, obviously. It was even too much for me, evidently, with my attempt in 2019.
 
We all endure as much and as long as we can, but there is a breaking point, a sort of point-of-no-return, where we can no longer perceive any upside or any hope, and moving beyond that is difficult if not impossible.

I'm so sorry that you lost your friend, and that he felt it was time to leave.

You're right .... this is one of the crueler illnesses, often leavig you with just enough brain to appreciate the horror, but not enough to do much about it, and all this in a world that has zero concept of its reality or even its existence. And I include the medical community in that assessment ....


On the subject of hanging on if you can, I was at a point where, if I could have figured out how to do it while vegetatively bedbound, I would have. Luckily, I couldnt, and gradually, thru some lucky flukes that looked like anything but at the time, I was able to slowly pull myself from severe to mod'ly severe, depending on the day.

So hang on, hang in, dont give up.....
 
We all endure as much and as long as we can, but there is a breaking point, a sort of point-of-no-return, where we can no longer perceive any upside or any hope, and moving beyond that is difficult if not impossible.

I'm so sorry that you lost your friend, and that he felt it was time to leave.

You're right .... this is one of the crueler illnesses, often leavig you with just enough brain to appreciate the horror, but not enough to do much about it, and all this in a world that has zero concept of its reality or even its existence. And I include the medical community in that assessment ....


On the subject of hanging on if you can, I was at a point where, if I could have figured out how to do it while vegetatively bedbound, I would have. Luckily, I couldnt, and gradually, thru some lucky flukes that looked like anything but at the time, I was able to slowly pull myself from severe to mod'ly severe, depending on the day.

So hang on, hang in, dont give up.....
Thank you and very well said. I am glad you found some much-needed improvement. Keep going.
 
It's almost painful that we treat our animals with love until the very end, yet we as humans suffer endlessly.

Having said that, and having been in a psych unit because of a suicide attempt, I have to say that I'm glad it wasn't successful. It's a lot for one's family to bear and once again, out of its many stages, I've learned and have become a different person. Perhaps that's what having this illness "gives" us each and every day.

In many respects, the "out" of suicide has allowed me to go on living and living with meaning. Would I have chosen this? Of course not. Would I have missed plenty without it? Absolutely. I've lived a life of sadness and pain...no question of that. I've also lived a life of giving to others (for which I'm grateful), enjoying my family, each day, the knowledge that I can make up my own mind about things.

Sooner or later it seems that most people suffer, and suffering is a big part of life. At least we know more about it than those just starting this route.

Do I think suicide is wrong? Who am I to make a decision for another human being? I don't know all of their circumstances, but I would encourage them to go the distance and grow within our world, but that's for them to decide.

In my own family I've seen what suicide and attempted suicides can do. I don't think anything could be worse....that somehow you failed a loved one to such an extent, and yet I'm not responsible. I know that, but to know they've been in such emotional pain is rather horrific. We have something called "free will" and people exercise it whether we're aware of it or not. I don't know what my future holds; you don't know what yours does....but I can assure you that after so many years I have learned far more than my life "before" would ever have taken me. The bigger questions and some of the answers to them....not all, because we'll probably never have them.

As I love, so am I also loved and that's the duty right there. IN my way of thinking, anyway. I'm always open to hearing about others and their thinking...always. Yours, Lenora.
 
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