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Sometimes I Want to Die – and It Has Nothing to Do With Clinical Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I have times when I want to die. I know this isn’t because of clinical depression. I’ve experienced that oppressive weight in the past and that’s not what this is. My desire to die is due to something different.

I suffer from the chronic illness ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). I’ve been ill now for over three years, and I’m not really any better than I was at the beginning. In fact, I’m worse than when it started, though it has been a roller coaster of minor improvements and declines. The illness has hugely altered my life, and I feel like I have a very low quality of life now. I am mostly housebound and everyday tasks like showering, cooking or even reading on the computer exhaust me. I do occasionally manage to go out, or to have friends visit, but I always pay for this afterwards with a worsening of my symptoms.

There are so many things I still want to do in my life, but I’m trapped in a body that won’t let me. Sometimes I will push myself to do things I want to do, such as attend a friend’s wedding, but because I’m in so much pain and discomfort I find it hard to enjoy even though I desperately want to take part. Then, of course, I still have to pay afterwards for doing the activity, often crashing for weeks or months.

I dream of traveling, having a family, being able to work again and being self-sufficient, but I know these things are impossible for me right now. I even dream of simply being able to go for a walk or ride my bike again. I just want to feel like a normal 20-something.

The suffering feels relentless. As a result of my illness, I have to deal with the endless fight to get welfare. I’ve had to endure the breakdown of my long-term relationship and the subsequent struggle to find somewhere to live. I feel like a burden: a burden on my parents who have to help me in so many ways, a burden on society as I am unable to work and a burden on friends and family. I’ve undergone a profound loss of self-worth, as I am now able to do so little and I’m so dependent on help from others.

Sometimes it just all feels too much, and I feel like it would be better if I weren’t here. That it would be better if I were no longer around to feel like a burden on my family, or on the state. I can’t face the thought of a lifetime feeling so unwell and so unable to be part of the world, of seeing my life pass me by while I watch helplessly from the sidelines.

Of course I do experience feelings of depression, but I’m sad because it is sad, not because I’m clinically depressed. I know that some people are able to stay positive in the face of extreme adversity, though I’m sure many people with ME will at some point experience wanting to “give up.” ME is a cruel illness to have. The symptoms often appear invisible to onlookers, and there’s a lot of stigma surrounding the illness. We are dismissed, disbelieved and ignored, and this all adds to the anguish we endure.

I know it could be worse for me. I could be bedbound, unable to feed myself or speak. However, I feel like I am well enough to know what I am missing, but not well enough to take part, and it just feels so hard.

What keeps me going is knowing how much it would hurt those who love me if I left this world, my fear it might encourage others to make the same choice, as well as having hope that things will improve. I still feel like I need to have the choice to opt out, though I do try to tell myself it’s not an option for me. I have to find my inner strength and work on understanding my value despite my limitations. We live in a society that values external achievements above all else, so I have to learn a new way to view what it means to be successful. I’m getting there, I think, but it’s an ongoing lesson and I have to keep trying.

If you’re reading this and you empathize with what I’m saying, know that you’re not alone and we’re in this fight together.

Photo by Angello Lopez on Unsplash

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