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I Struggled To Find Help When My Rare Disease Medication Caused Suicidal Thoughts

As the world wraps up up National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I’m reflecting on the times I have sat with people who were suffering and who cannot see their value on this Earth. I, myself, have questioned whether I am too much of a burden on my family and they would be better off without me in this life.

Four years ago, I was in the darkest place I have ever been. I had switched medications for my rare disease and over four weeks had gradually increased the medication to achieve the desired outcome. As the dose increased, I began to have visions of ending my suffering.

Every time I closed my eyes, I would see myself sitting on my bathroom floor, ending my life, quietly asking for help while my husband and children slept in their rooms nearby.

I knew in my heart that I would not hurt myself, and I reached out to the doctor who prescribed the medication. I called their office and told them the medication was causing me to have thoughts of hurting myself and was told by the front office staff they would pass along the message. A few hours later, I would call back.

The next day, the same. No one ever returned my call.

This went on for days, calling different offices, asking for help with tapering off this drug that was causing me so much pain. I didn’t sleep for nearly a week. Every time I closed my eyes, I’d see that vision of me on the bathroom floor. I stayed awake, scared, and my husband would hold me while I cried.

On day three, one of my specialist doctor’s nurses returned my call and suggested they could put me on a three-week wait list to see a psychiatrist. I was certain that I could not continue this way for three more weeks.

I started tapering myself with the fear of knowing if I tapered too quickly, my suicidal thoughts may increase. I was scared and I felt very alone, even though my family was surrounding me.

I was broken, but I was not giving up.

On day five, my lifesaver, my primary care physician — who was off that week — called me at home after business hours and walked me through the process to remove this medication from my body. She sat with me on the phone while I cried and she cried too. I was saved.

Please be the one who returns the call. Please be the friend who sits in the darkness. Please be the one. Please let me be the one for you.

It is painful for me to share this story as I always want to be seen as the strong one, but I realize that genuine authenticity takes more strength than pretending.

I do not share this story for sympathy but rather understanding that mental health (and suicide) can grasp anyone: the “strong,” the educated, the mom, the brave, the happy, the one who appears to have it perfectly together… anyone.

To those who continue to sit with me, I owe you more than I can express. To those who have let me help carry your burdens, thank you. Together, our burdens become much easier to carry, and my life is better with you in it.

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