Sadly, I’ve known several people who’ve taken their own lives. When I broke my neck and was paralyzed, I too wanted to end it all. I didn’t want to live anymore. Even though it was my own fault (see Not Blaming), I felt like a victim.
That has been part of my motivation for starting this website. If we can share something here that helps people cope with their indescribable pain and if we can prevent even one person from feeling that ultimate hopelessness from whatever adversity they face, then it will all have been worth it.
It helped me to consider our time on this planet in the grand scheme of things. If we believe in eternal life (which I do), our time on Earth, in these earthly bodies, even if we live to be 100, is a mere blink of an eye.
Suffering through an injury, a disease, or something as excruciating as childbirth, is a lot more bearable when we know it will eventually be over (mothers even “sign up” for multiple pregnancies and deliveries). Similarly, even the most difficult chronic circumstances in this life can be endured when we consider they won’t last forever. As my pastor often says, “The worst thing is never the last.”
It also helped to consider the multitude of others who are worse off. Yes, paralysis was my worst nightmare as rugby-playing, single man, dating “profusely” in college. But I soon realized it could have been a lot worse than just breaking my neck.
We humans are wired to be fairly self-focused (for survival), so it takes effort to look beyond our own lives and our own interests – especially when we feel like a victim. But eventually forcing myself to think of others who were enduring greater adversity (those with Spina Bifda, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Downs Syndrome, Cancer, some terminal disease, or any of a host of other awful conditions) prompted me to find a way to fight through my grief.
In time, the unbearable pain and sadness that came from being paralyzed dissipated and I found surprising happiness in my “new” body. It took finding new perspectives and it took work to get there, but I’m immensely glad I chose to go on. I’m happier now than before I broke my neck.
What things can you offer someone who may have lost hope to help them see past their adversity to help them fight through? Please share in the Comments below.