Ready for a morbid post?
Life is never boring when you are constantly being observed by an inquisitive seven-year-old. This weekend my daughter asked us, “What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying?”
I told her about a car accident I was in when I was a teenager. I was a very inexperienced driver – it was the morning after I got my driver’s license. I went around a bend and lost control on black ice. I nearly put my car in the river but a tree stopped me. My car landed mangled and on its side. I escaped through the passenger-side window. I walked away from the accident with very minor injuries but it could have easily been a lot worse. I have a scar on my chin because I was very petite and the seat belt didn’t fit me properly.
My husband also responded with a car accident.
Kids are curious about everything, but how often do you think about death?
I have to admit, I think about death a lot more often than I used to. Last weekend was my 41st birthday. I don’t think I’m old, but I do find my health struggles very discouraging. Every weekend I sit down and pack out my meds for the following week. There are just that many. I always keep an updated list of my meds in my purse so I have it at every doctor’s appointment. I am simply on too many meds to reliably recite them by memory, and lately, I have had many changes in my meds. It’s hard not to think that I’m too young to be going through this.
The thing is, I’m actually doing a lot better. My ambition and motivation are coming back and I am more engaged with the people around me. Those have always been markers that I’m doing well in my recovery. Thankfully, my kidney functioning is also doing better. I am so grateful that I am finally feeling relief. I am in a good place now.
When I came off of lithium due to kidney problems I almost immediately went manic, but what goes up must come down, and I eventually landed in some crushing depression. I had suicidal thoughts and they felt different than when I had suicidal thoughts in the past. In the past when I’ve been suicidal, I felt desperate, trapped, but also subdued and sluggish. This time I felt anxious and panicky. I was afraid I would get impulsive and just do it. These thoughts actually caused a physical reaction. I would get hot and my heart would race. I’ve never felt anything like it.
I was honest with my husband and doctor about my suicidal thoughts. It was really hard and I was reluctant, but I was aware that it was a symptom of my mental illness. Thankfully the thoughts were fleeting and they went away after a few med adjustments.
The past few months have been absolutely grueling both physically and mentally and I think it would have been odd if I didn’t think about death. Not only due to suicidal thoughts but also kidney failure is serious. My grandpa died of kidney failure although he was much, much older than me.
I want to share a poem I wrote several months back — prior to my most recent health struggles. It always gets a big reaction from my husband every time he reads it, but it happens to be one of my favorite poems that I’ve ever written.
It’s unforgiving and final –
the conclusion of your story.
You hope to slip into the darkness
unscathed and ready
but your end is unpredictable.
Each day brings you closer to your goodbyes –
if a goodbye can even be said at all.
Your memory lingers at first
but time passes and everyone must move on
Savor every connection a little more
because your demise is always just around the corner.
Not every finale is grand
but we all end up the same –
crumbling into nothingness.
Say what you need to say
before the silence
and don’t look back
because your countdown
has already begun.
I feel I should end this post with a resource – the suicide and crisis lifeline. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can call or text 988 for help. Feelings are temporary and worthwhile and practical help is available. We are never alone.
Let’s entertain my daughter’s question. If you are comfortable sharing, what’s the closest you’ve ever been to death? How often do you think about death?