A few days before my first book published, I found myself suicidal for the first time in my life. I’ve had rough times before, but I never before knew what it felt like to truly want to give up until that moment. That moment terrified me.
In a few years, I know that I will look back on that early morning – standing in the shower with my hand on my heart, shuddering in sobs until my back muscles ached, trying to tell myself that I was okay – and see it as one of the times when I got knocked down but got back up again. Per my own book, it’s what I’m in the practice of doing – getting knocked down. Getting back up again.
But that morning, I was just knocked down. Exhausted. Feeling broken.
I hadn’t been honest with myself that it was what I was heading for. That the slow burn had been happening for months. For me, someone who takes everything head on, I was instead burying my head in the sand, trying to find any means for avoidance.
If I had been honest with myself, I would have realized that I didn’t want to do this anymore. I didn’t want to talk about being sick anymore because it was a constant reminder that I just didn’t want to be sick, but I had no choice. I was worn down.
In the early hours of the morning in question, I woke up around 1am, my nightly panic attack that had become so standard over the prior months slowly burning in my gut. At the same time, my glucose monitor had started alarming.
63 – correct your low.
15 minutes later…
45 – correct your low.
I knew I needed to eat before I headed down further and ended up in hypoglycemic shock. I knew after that came seizures, and then death, as my body ran out of fuel to power my central nervous system. But I couldn’t will myself to get up.
It wasn’t the couldn’t-will-myself of the past, where my mind knew I needed to get up but my body just wasn’t cooperating. My mind didn’t want me to get up either. I wanted to be done. I started thinking about the fact that I am constantly attached to a source of lethal medicine and how easy it would be. I could let myself drift. I could even purposely give myself a few extra units and ensure the totality of my done-ness. Insulin could kill me. I had never thought about using it on purpose before that moment.
Thirty minutes later I pushed myself up. I had started thinking about how long it would take for someone to find me. That’s the part that scared me. Not dying, but dying and then being alone, laying in my bed for days afterward until my mom’s panic made someone knock my apartment door in.
I swung a reluctant leg over the side of my bed and plodded to my cabinet to grab a protein bar. I ate it, slowly, begrudgingly, piece by piece, some other part of me becoming the adult for my body and my mind. “We’re not doing this shit today. Eat your food.” I grabbed a few more protein bars and some juice, setting them up next to my bed before I climbed back in.
I couldn’t fall back asleep. My brain started sprinting, realizing what had just happened. I was devolving into a panic, past the suicidal thoughts but realizing just how intense they had been and how much they scared me. Hours passed before I forced myself back out of bed and ended up in the shower, gasping as sobs rocked my body. Whispering to myself “I love you, I love you, I love you, please don’t give up, I love you.”
My past blog posts on living with chronic illness – mental and physical – will always be here as a resource for anyone who needs them. My book Beyond Powerful: Your Chronic Illness is Not Your Kryptonite will of course always be available as well. I’d love for it to be one of those resources that friends pass along to friends as they need it for however long people need it.
But moving forward, I recognize that having this platform of talking about living with chronic illness is a very large part of what drove me to the darkest place I’ve ever been and I honestly just can’t do it to myself anymore.
As always, I am immensely grateful for all of your support. Next we get to dive into how I really do want to use my voice – all around the topic of courage and bravery – and I can’t wait to go there together.