In my last post, I ended with the revelation that I attempted suicide multiple times between the ages of 16-18.
My family knew nothing of this. In fact, I didn’t tell anyone for years following. Many people believe that suicide is the coward’s way out of a situation. I’m here to attest to the fact that many people commit suicide because they see no other option to ending the pain; doctors are telling them they are crazy, family is often unsupportive, friends are disappearing and money is nowhere to be found for the expensive treatment options that have no guarantee of working. Suicide is not a cowardly move; it is a last resort for someone who has been bullied because of their illness.
My future looked very bleak and I had to concentrate on getting through life one hour, sometimes one minute, at a time. Panic attacks came often and were ferocious. I would rock my body back and forth for hours while blackness descended around me. It was like being in the middle of a tornado and just having to hold on for dear life.
Other symptoms during this time increased exponentially. My immune system was under attack and showing it. Although I tried every diet under the sun nothing seemed to make much of a difference. Nearly every month I was sick with yet another cold or flu. Fatigue was extreme and daily tasks such as going to the restroom would exhaust me. On top of the ever-constant headache, I also had 4-5 more types of headaches going on at the same time. The joint and muscle pain had also increased and I paid dearly for everything I did that required my muscles to move. Brain fog had taken away those things I enjoyed most including the hours I used to spend on the piano. All in all, my pain level on a daily basis was higher than ever before and getting out of bed was a miraculous occasion, whenever I dragged myself into another room or outside for a few minutes.
The two years I spent in bed during my teenage years were some of the darkest of my life. In fact, they were so bad I have effectively blocked many of the memories from my mind. It was hell on earth, and yet doctors continued to tell me it was “all in my head” and that all my tests (of which there were many) were completely normal.
During this time the only activities I could really engage in were watching tv or reading. I often read 3-5 books per week and the local Blockbuster made a killing off the many movies I rented from them (this was before the days of Netflix). Nights provided little relief as I could only sleep for an hour or two at a time before my body would force me awake. Friends disappeared, unable or unwilling to understand the intense battle I was facing every day due to this mysterious illness. Even my church ostracized me after I was unable to attend due to the pain, saying that I was “rebellious” and “a bad influence” to other young people.
My parents continued to search for new doctors for me. It confused me that each new doctor had to do their own testing, even if I had completed the same test recently. While many doctors were happy to throw prescription pills in my direction few were willing to really dig and discover the cause of my pain. My gratitude to my parents knows no bounds because they never wanted to simply mask the symptoms and move on, they truly wanted to get to the root of the problem.
Finally, after two years in bed, my parents were searching for any way to give me some kind of relief and decided to send me on an extended vacation. My sister accompanied me to Puerto Rico where we stayed for one month. It was there that a miracle occurred.
Although I had by this time abandoned many aspects of spirituality, I can attest to the fact that it was truly God who changed my life in Puerto Rico. Although I was not better and therefore forced to spend the majority of my time in a dark room, huddled up in bed, I did manage to make it to the beach a few times. While enjoying the gorgeous sun and white sand, I suddenly had a vision in my mind of going to college; it was like God was drawing back a curtain and giving me a dream to pursue. With all my might and power, I wanted to get out of bed and go back to school.
Readers, I invite you to keep your opinions to yourself regarding this life-change I experienced; I’ve already been called crazy enough in my life. What I went through was completely real to me and set me on a new path in life, and I am forever grateful to God for allowing this to happen.
When I got home, I shared with my parents that I had a plan: I was going to finish high school on my own, get my GED and learn to drive, get a job, and go to college. I was 18 years old at the time.
To Be Continued…