“Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I haven’t wronged anyone, so why did this have to happen to me?”
“What is the essence of living any longer? I have been on treatment for so long but I haven’t seen any improvement, rather, I seem to be getting worse. Maybe I should just give up because I am so tired.”
These are some of the thoughts on the minds of people living with chronic diseases. I am not saying we all think like this, but I am sure that at some point in this journey, similar thoughts might have crossed our minds. The most important thing is our response to such thoughts.
Have you been diagnosed with a disease that currently has no known cure? Has it ever crossed your mind to end it all, either actively by committing suicide or passively by giving up the fight to survive? Whether actively or passively, it’s still suicide. If we would be honest with ourselves, we would admit that this has crossed our minds one time or the other.
Why are those living with chronic diseases prone to depression?
Being told that you have an illness without a cure, one that changes your life drastically, is a big blow. It affects you both physically and mentally and it takes the grace of God, mental strength and a lot of support from loved ones for an affected person not to dwell in depression.
The rising incidence of suicide cases lately brought back painful memories. I was depressed for a couple of months after I got my diagnosis because it was difficult for me to adjust to the new life that was dealt to me, a life of dependence on another human being just to get through the day. It was hard to accept this but I am grateful to God for using my family to help me get out of this phase.
For months I cried non-stop, feeling sorry for myself. I looked at my baby girl and wondered how I would care for her, all the while also hoping and praying to be alive long enough to see her grow up. One day, while crying, my husband said to me, “It could have happened to anyone, so why not you? Feeling sorry for yourself is not going to change the reality, you just have to think about how to live your life now inspite of your diagnosis.” At the time, I thought he was being mean (I must be honest), but his statement jolted me back to life and I snapped out of this phase. And as evidenced by this article, I didn’t succeed in committing suicide – whether actively or passively.
I believe, from experience and from talking to others like me, that the period immediately following such a diagnosis is very sensitive. Another sensitive period is when you have lived with a disease for so long and treatment doesn’t seem to bring obvious improvement. These periods can easily trigger depression, which can further trigger suicidal thoughts, and if there is no support, the thoughts become reality.
How can we help to prevent suicidal thoughts from becoming a reality?
Support plays a crucial role here. In my case, I had support from family and that helped me get out of this phase. Support doesn’t only come from families, it could come from good friends too.
My advice to those living with chronic illnesses – don’t isolate yourselves when you feel depressed or have thoughts like the examples above. Talk to someone, a friend or a family member, and open up to them about how you feel. They might not fully grasp the reality of what you are telling them, but they will be there for you.
And to those who have loved ones living with chronic illnesses, know that they are struggling and need your unconditional support all the time.
My final message to people like me is this – our lives are an inspiration to the world. We are strong enough to handle whatever life throws at us. Let us not give up the fight. Let us stay hopeful and find our purpose!
Facebook: Livingfreetolive // Kemi Olawaiye-Dampson
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