I Let Her Die: A Story of Suicide by Starvation

What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to live a dignified life? Should the two not go together? When a person no longer has any real awareness of her existence, no recognition of previously loved friends and family, no control over body functions, no ability to feed herself, is this a dignified life? Is this a human existence? How much worse the situation must be to a person who exhibits all of the above losses, but who still retains enough lucidity to understand the situation. Living must be a torment, a “hell” on earth, except to those who still retain a belief in a “heaven” after death. To someone like that, the only control left, is over food. Whether to eat and live, or refuse to live, and die. Suicide by starvation. I was faced with just that situation.

I let her die. When my aunt was admitted to a nursing home, she weighed about ninety pounds, and was hardly eating. The team of doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, suggested a feeding tube. They were shocked by my immediate refusal, as they felt it was the only way to keep her alive. I was the [...] continue the story

My Rise From Near-Self Destruction

To be or not, as Shakespeare said, or to live or not to live. That was the question which plagued me. I was now seventy-seven years old. Did I want to live into my very senior years, given that I had developed neuropathy which was hampering my ability to walk and causing me great pain? Then, a further question appeared; would it take more courage to commit suicide, and avoid the painful future which would include a lessening of my faculties, both physical and intellectual, and would include requiring someone to look after me, or to choose to live, and accept the years and changes to come, as a challenge?

I had always been healthy, strong, and independent. Thus the concept of not walking, and needing someone to look after my daily needs was an anathema to me. The neuropathy had probably been developing over many years, as I can now recall getting tired faster, and not being able to walk as far. Also there appeared a numbness and tingling sensation in my legs, along with pain up my legs and into my back. As well, the tingling had begun in my fingertips. So now fear really set in. How long [...] continue the story

Dying and the nature of friendship.

By Doug Gosling January 7, 2012

Having cancer can significantly change your friendships. You lose some and others surprise you by becoming closer. This has certainly been my experience. And when I became terminal, it changed even more. I’m finding that this is quite common. I thought it would useful to share some examples with you to help you understand what life can be like for those of us on the downslide.

You can lose friends for lots of reasons. One way is pretty obvious. If your illness prevents you from working, you are going to suddenly find yourself disconnected from dozens of people who have been your “”friends”" for years. Unless you have established a couple of strong friendships outside of work, you just won’t see them anymore. I’ve left behind lots of work friends as I’ve moved around jobs and really don’t see any of them anymore. Once in a while I will get a call or an email, which I really appreciate, but none of them are part of my support system now.

But then there are your other friends, the ones who have been with you for years before you were ill. Many of our friends are couples, originally met [...] continue the story

Dare To Be Happy

By Candy Czernicki June 27, 2011

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. ~ Frederick Douglass

Let’s get this out in the open: I am bipolar II. That means the mania is really low-key and infrequent and the depression, at least in my case, for most of my life, has been pretty much nonstop.

There are degrees of depression, of course. Mine gets severe relatively quickly and stays that way a relatively long time. Yes, I have been an inpatient at psychiatric hospitals. Yes, I have self-harmed. Yes, I have been on every psychotropic medication known to man, and failed most of them. The two that I’m on right now combine for one really annoying side effect.

I have even, since about New Year’s, been undergoing a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). My memory is shot, along with many other things, but the suggestion to do it came up in month 6 of an unrelenting depressive episode. Nothing else was working.

Despite all this, I’ve managed to push through as best I can. I’ve found work, and a work schedule, that works for me, as well as a compassionate employer.

It’s still hard, though, and most people still don’t understand. They tell me to snap out [...] continue the story

Moment by Moment

Moment By Moment is a film by Emmy-winning film-maker Dorothy Fadiman. It is the documentary of Molly Hale, who suffered a spinal cord injury in an automobile rollover, and after being told there was no hope for movement below her shoulders, proceeded to rehabilitate herself and continues to recover. “Moment By Moment” is Molly’s story, a story about disabilities, health and healing, attitude, choice and intention, sex, intimacy, and relationships.

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