This is a response to my to the question of Giving Up. I have championed in a few interviews that I have done over the last few years that giving up is harder than not. I was recently asked to explain my perspective by the editor of a blog. I will keep my answer pragmatic and I will avoid bringing spiritual and etherial concepts into it.
I have, in some capacity, tried to kill myself two times in the past. My reasons were always in response to my life getting too hard, and not being able to see some sort of end to the “torture” that I was going through.
To be clear, the reasons I put torture in quotes is because, in retrospect, the trails and tribulations I was experiencing was juvenile and petty. At the time, however, I felt them too strong to ignore and I was having a hard time even leaving my room due to the fear of having to deal with them in any matter.
When I became bound to a wheelchair, I was forced to face my family and friends all trying very hard to keep me alive. They wanted, even needed, to see me succeed. They put all their resources into making sure that I could see tomorrow. This was not regardless of what I wanted, even if it felt like it some days.
After a short time, I noticed that me giving up would destroy them far worse than me continuing to breathe could ever destroy me. I had, by complete accident, become a reason for them to continue. It might not have been entirely true, and it might be selfish for me to think that way. I will concede that I made this leap of logic without consulting anyone around me.
The most shattering thing for my death wish was seeing the pages, literal pages, of goodwill that my friends had written on public forums. For all intents and purposes, I was not a great person. Everyone else was telling me otherwise.
What was my take-away? That if i died, I would be crushing everyone that has ever taken part in my life. Would anyone understand the issues that I face on a daly basis? No, and that is a good thing for them. This should not make me lonely. This should not make me seek isolation or death. I need to keep going to show everyone what can be done. I need to tell my story whenever I get the chance so that no one wonders. I need to explain how my nerves are shot, my brain is damaged, and my body is broken. I need them to see how fantastic everyone else has it and I need to make sure no one else goes through anything similar if it is avoidable.
Is that vain? Maybe. It helps me get through my day, though. It is what I need to keep going. Writing this blog and sharing my perspective is far more cathartic to me than maybe it actually helps anyone else. I write for me. I do research for this blog, and in the mean time I learn far more than what I write. Does that make me an expert? I actually had to force myself to finish that thought without interrupting it because I find the very concept hilarious. Is anyone an expert in fields like these?
Does my bleak outlook help? Maybe. Does art, writing, and music help? Again, maybe. It helps me. It reminds me who I was/am and helps me focus.
Do I actually believe my statement? Very much so. Am I chastising those who couldn’t do it? Very much no. I am saying that I get it. I know life can be overwhelming at times, and I know how bleak life can be. You do not need to suffer from a chronic illness or brain damage to feel hardship. Life is difficult. Anyone who say “can be difficult” is underselling just how crushing day to day can be.
Just remember that someone, somewhere, needs you to see tomorrow. You know that person you haven’t seen in a decade? Yeah, they need you. That guy who just wrote a page worth of bullshit on the internet telling you that it’s okay to feel sad? They need you, too.
Now, in response to those who became disabled later in life and feel like a burden. I get feeling like a burden to your family. You have no way of rectifying such an event, and you never asked to be put into the situation you find yourself in. I get it. I was just starting to gain my independence at 24, and I was stricken down by encephalitis enduced by, what they assume was, meningitis. I had to keep remembering that if my parents did not want to do what they did, they didn’t have to. I had to keep reminding myself that, though it would be caused of them, they did not have to keep doing what they were doing. If I was a true burden, I could have been placed into a home and ignored for the remainder of time. They didn’t, because it would be ridiculous if they did.
Friends and my wife I put into a similar category. I have lost friends. I have disappointed my wife. I have never hid my capabilities, I have also tried to make everything better. I probably exaggerate my disabilities in my mind towards some situations, but I don’t want to be a disappointment later.
What I do have to remember is that they would leave if they found me an actual hinderance. My wife would divorce me if I was an actual burden to the household. I cannot work, so I write. I am always trying to cover my expenses for the household.
The point I am trying to make in this ramble is that, you might feel like a burden and that life would be easier without you, but that is wrong. Very wrong. People who you don’t really know might need you.
Oh, you didn’t know? You matter more than you realize.
I love you.