Depression is a curse no one escapes, for some it is rare to occasional due to environmental factors while others struggle a lifetime with the demon. My family and many close friends live with the latter. I cannot move, I cannot breathe, I cannot speak or eat. Despite all of the physical loss, life is a walk in the park compared to living with fading hope. There have been some hopeless periods over the last 25 years of living with ALS including two selfish suicide attempts. They were selfish in the sense I was fed up, couldn’t take it any more and thought of no one but myself. It was interesting how both were thwarted. There was a closed horse park in Rex a mile from my house. My plan was to go to the deserted park out of sight and hearing of others then recline my chair on the ventilator hose suffocating myself.
I embarked on the terminal quest and was almost out of the neighborhood when a gentleman walking in the opposite direction stopped me, introduced himself as Roger Tyler and said he lived a few doors down from me. Well, Roger stuck to me like a bad stain. We talked and talked fifty feet from the stop sign at Hayes Lane and Coatsworth Drive. I was carrying on an internal dialogue with myself and Roger,:”Well, it was nice meeting you, but I need to go commit suicide.” He would not leave as the sun fell below the horizon. Accepting this was not going to be the end of my dash I turned the chair around and Roger walked me to my backdoor.
A few years later I exceeded the threshold of what I could bear, off to the horse park again. As I topped the rise on Hayes Lane seeing nothing but the stop sign at the corner I was bathed with a sense of relief knowing my misery would be concluding momentarily. As I was approaching the spot where Roger arrested my efforts I thought about him and how our friendship grew out of that unlikely encounter. When I reached the precise location Roger derailed my progress the wheelchair turned ninety degrees, jumped the curb throwing my feet and hands off of the chair; my head bounced off the headrest and flopping around like a rag doll. I was stuck! My first reaction was a huge belly laugh and the thought, “OK, I GET IT!” I cannot explain why the chair turned abruptly. I scan drive with directional arrows and the forward arrow was latched. With the wheelchair jacked up on the curb unable to communicate I entertained simultaneous thoughts. One of the musings was, “How in the hell are you going to get yourself out of this fine mess David?” the other was, “This was more than a coincidence!”
I accepted and decided I was in it for the duration, now if one of the spectators gathered would lift my head and place it on the headrest so I could breathe. Multiple cars were stopped my audience was expanding when a face I recognized asked me if she should get my Dad? I winked for yes. Leslie departed with my head dangling like an abused bobble head. The traffic jam caught the attention of a police officer patrolling. The cop walked up to me and carefully placed my head on the headrest. Ah, an unobstructed breath! Suffocation isn’t the way to check out.
I retell this story, because everyone must fan the flame of hope especially when it seems there is no reason to try. I have doubts about the other side mostly because I cannot comprehend how a loving creator allows the innocent to suffer and has destroyed the innocent in horrific deaths, but I do appreciate the present is the only guarantee there is. Along this seated journey I have come to understand that nothing lasts forever, difficult times will pass or if the departure is tardy adjust your perspective, new normals should be embraced. Also, anything good in life requires nurturing to sustain it and flourish.
I gave it another day and another and another……., but I eventually hit the jackpot of all jackpots! An extraordinary wife that loves me unconditionally in my useless condition, the large family I dreamed of with six children that love me to the moon and back only desiring my love in return. I would not trade places with anyone!
Carey and I have both experienced the never ending pain of losing a sibling by suicide. The loss never heals and the void widens. I will never forgive myself for not being aware my sister was so hopeless she tied belts together to hang herself from attic rafters. Unforgivable!
If you’re at the bottom of bottoms please find the strength to tell someone you need help. This facebook world is invasive turning us into voyeurs at a fatal accident and whores the meaning of a friend. Please take the time to know the people close to you. An occasional “like” scanning the news feed isn’t going to help someone in need. I wish for no one to be burdened with the regret I know.
Give it another day! The storm will cease, the clouds part and the waters calm. Carpe diem! Have a great day! dj