As we progress through the summer and we experience the bright and sunny days and cool evenings and see the flowers in the various gardens with their lovely colors and pleasant aroma we can say to ourselves that “life is worth living”. Our spirits are elevated during this time of the year and we love to look outside or be outside to breathe in the fresh air and hear the various songs of the birds feeding at the bird feeders or just singing their little hearts away in the trees. This could be a scene for a Norman Rockwell picture.
For people who are suffering from the excruciating pain of mental illness such a scene is not going to make life worth living. Nothing is going to make life worth living to these hurting souls because they have come to the conclusion that life is not worth living. For those of us who view the world with relatively healthy eyes life is worth living and our lives are enhanced because of the lovely bucolic scene of summer. Our spirits sing because the beauty of the outside world has enhanced our inner spirit and life is very enjoyable and there is a renewed desire to want to live and experience the beauty of the world around us. For people who are dead inside there is no possibility of having an inner spirit enhanced because this inner spirit is dead and lifeless. It is difficult to comprehend why someone would want to take their life during such a pleasant time of the year and miss all of the good times and outdoor activities that go with our pleasant weather. For someone who is suffering through hopelessness and despair there is not the possibility of having a good time. Even when these hurting souls appear to be enjoying themselves it is usually just an act because they don’t want to appear to be different from the rest of the crowd. They view the world around them enjoying life and they wish that they could engage in the fun and frolic of life but their illness prevents this from happening. Inside their spirits are dead and lifeless. Not only is life not worth living but the pain has become intolerable and unbearable. The pain must end and there is no way out except to take things into their own hands. “Enough of living”, they say to themselves. ” I don’t want to live like this anymore.” It is not that they don’t want to live anymore. They can’t live like this anymore. It is not so much that they want their life to end. They want their pain to end. In this confused state they can’t distinguish between the two concepts. These hurting souls are so desperate to get out of their pain that they end their lives in order to escape from their pain. If there was another way to end the pain they would gladly follow the lead but with their distorted view of life suicide is the only answer and the only way out.
One question that survivors ask themselves is whether there had been some type of intervention would the outcome have been different? This is a very difficult question to answer. Because of the intricacy of human chemistry it can be very difficult to get just the right balance in medication. Some medications work and some do not. There usually is a lot of trial and error in getting the right medication to bring one’s mind and psyche into the right balance. Often times, this takes a lot of experimentation and often the suffering person lacks patience to get the right balance. They feel that their cause is a lost cause. Sometimes psychotherapy works and sometimes it does not. Sometimes talking out the problems can alleviate the pain and sometimes it does not work. Again, these hurting souls find it next to impossible to take the time and make the effort to share their pain. They might ask, “For what end am I doing this?” It seems so futile to them to try any type of intervention. The point is that sometimes these interventions are effective and sometimes they are not. There is no miraculous elixir that is going to take the pain away and is going to work every time. That is how uncertain this whole field of study is.
Many survivors wonder if their loved one was given another chance at an intervention would that intervention have been the one that would work and give hope to those who are hopeless and despairing? That is a very common question and one that is impossible to answer. That question is relegated to the world of mystery. Last month I spoke of the mystery element involved in suicide. This is a very concrete example of the mystery about suicide. There is no way that a survivor can know if and when their loved one would be ready for a successful intervention. Survivors are asked to wrestle in the world of mystery and much of the world of suicide is cloaked in mystery. Survivors can only wonder if there loved ones would have responded. The only thing that survivors do know is that at the time of the suicide the pain had become too much to bear and their loved one could no longer continue the journey of life.
I am confident that some time in the future there will be a break through in treating the various forms of mental illness. We are not there yet but we should not give up hope. There is a lot of research going on in the field of mental illness and my only plea is that we remain patient and hope and pray that the break through will come sooner rather than later. I am doubtful that any break through is going to wipe out all incidents of suicide but I am confident that there will be a significant decrease in the numbers of suicide that we are currently experiencing in our society.
“Life is worth living” and it is our goal to see that this phrase is applicable to all of us –both those who are suffering from mental illness and those who are relatively free of mental illness.
As always, I want to assure each member of the LOSS family of my prayers for each and every one of you on a daily basis and I encourage you to do the same for each other –especially for those who have recently joined our family.
Keep On Keepin’ On,