World Suicide Prevention Day. PS- I REALLY hate running.

Before I wrote this, I didn’t even know it was World Suicide Prevention Day. Another blogger informed me. But it just so happens that a few weeks ago, I read a beautiful piece in the Associated Press on assisted suicide:

https://www.apnews.com/2ee08672b8c1445ca09e0e09ab262c30

I’ve been a proponent of the Hemlock Society for most of my adult life, death with dignity. Especially since Bill chose to bow out on his own terms.


Then this last week, I read an an article on Congresswoman Wild’s story on suicide prevention following the unexpected suicide of her partner. I wonder, how much less traumatic would it be if we could have a conversation and plan our death the way Robert Fuller did in the AP story? 

In the case of Rep. Wild’s partner, the article mentioned he was depressed partly because he had had a botched surgery that left him in chronic pain and the things that he enjoyed most such as jogging 5 miles a day, he could no longer do. And that struck me.


Maybe jogging was his coping mechanism. Like dancing is mine. Or maybe he just thoroughly enjoyed it so much that when it was taken from him, nothing else adequately filled that space. But I also know how chronic pain can suck the joy from us. My mother has been suffering for decades and until medical marijuana was legalized in my state and made the pain bearable, I was dreading but fully anticipating her eventually giving up.

You get so used to being in pain that you don’t even consciously think about it but unconsciously, it taints everything in your life. Low-grade, chronic pain is a current running through your nerves end-to-end, eroding your psyche and quality of life.

Combine chronic pain with being robbed of a daily activity you enjoy most like dancing or jogging… and it’s not that life is over but life as you needed it to be is over. The light has gone out. And shut the f-up about it being “selfish” or “just find something else to do that makes you happy”…
He loved running. And then he couldn’t run anymore.

And then I think about how much I hate running. I have at least a hundred excuses why I can’t or shouldn’t run. Everything ranging from bad knees to I need to have external motivation like Pennywise chasing me. The funny thing is I follow a few blogs from joggers. The reluctant joggers are my favorite because they are relatable. I try to find inspiration to run in their tales of miserable slogging and “just do it” attitude. They are inspiring but still not enough for me to run. It’s 100 degrees here. Global warming makes it 120. I could wait til the sun goes down but then I’ve lost my steam. My iPod isn’t charged or I’m not particularly feeling my current playlist. It’s wet. It’s dark. I might trip. I might get hit by a crazy driver speeding through the neighborhood. My dog doesn’t want to run either. He says we should call it an early night because he heard me reading aloud from some random health professional that sleep is just as important as exercise when you have an autoimmune disease. And life is short. Too short to do things I hate such as running.

But I can run. Not fast and not far but I am physically capable where others are not. Where the Congresswoman’s partner was not. And it eats at me a bit, clearly. Maybe I should run for him. Maybe I should run for everyone who can’t. Maybe I should run for my mother because she’s still hanging on through the pain, partly because she knows I need her to stick around. Maybe I need to run because for some, that simple act that I hate so much, might have been the difference between a life and death decision. Of course it doesn’t bring him back. And if he was alive, I’m guessing he wouldn’t give two shits to know anybody was running for him. Just like I wouldn’t be satisfied watching someone dance for me if my own legs were lost. I understand that much.

So I have a nagging sense that I might need to run for him. In my own struggle with pain, illness and depression…it’s a silent, lonely battle. I should run for us both. Because I still can.

But shortly into the slog, I began walking which ended up being a leisurely 22 minute per mile stroll while reviewing choreography in my head. Not a run. But it’s a start.

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“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, John…”

“…but did you have to stick your finger up my ass?” (Let’s Go to Prison)

Too late to take an Ambien, no Xanax to be had, Pinterest pictures of nail polish and funny cat memes weren’t doing the trick to decompress and disconnect. The rest of the world was asleep and I was having a meltdown. So I text the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

I wasn’t suicidal. Just desperately, at that moment, needed a live person to pop a mental zit. Shhhhhh! But Don’t tell my Uncle Sam!

My dancer’s legs are scarred with what look like mosquito bites but they are from my fingernails digging into my flesh. It’s a nervous habit. I used to pick at my face and pluck out my eyelashes like some people gnaw at their fingers. Still do sometimes. But I retrained and redirected my attention to my exposed legs. My face healed up but I wonder if my legs ever will.

Sometimes you pick a path because it’s familiar only to rediscover it’s a dead end. As I got turned around on my way from work to class, I wondered if that was foreshadowing my career choices. I’m flirting with returning to the organization and the job that I left last year. I’m told the regime has changed, “the bad guys are gone” but I’ve heard that before. In my experience, they can return just like I can. And what happens in a year when the regime changes again?

Like my experience with the Army, I’m not making a blanket statement that “the Army sucks”. My command sucked. It was corrupt all the way to the uppermost level of leadership. And while the VA may be a worthy mission and I know many folks who love their jobs, I suspect the regional office where I was recently hired may represent everything that’s wrong with the Department. From the attitudes – “What’s in it for me?” and “That ain’t my job” – to emphasis of quantity over quality and underwhelming leadership. I expected the inefficiencies and bureaucracy but this place may be a repository for the intellectually and socially inept.

I’m reminded of something another blogger wrote, A Fractured Faith, who admitted recently that “I am a Christian, but I don’t like people”. Me neither! I don’t dislike ALL of them but I dislike most of them. Those few that I do like, the few that came in with bright ideas and sincere smiles, are no longer smiling.

But the stable job is a prison sentence and going back to my “ex” feels like defeat.

Am I a failure if I go back? Am I a quitter if I don’t stay here?

” what’s the matter? Your chicken tastes like pork?” Janelle Monae

The simplest advice I can remind myself of today:

Even if I don’t get to retire from the military,

My life is not over.

Even if I get stuck for a while in a job that is not my goal career,

My life is not over.

Even if things don’t work out with The Man of My Dreams,

My life is not over.

If my plans don’t pan out,

My life is not over.

Even when I lose my loved ones,

My own life is not over.