When our state Attorney General’s wife, Bridgette Marshall, passed away last weekend, something about her – and his family – really affected me and I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Information started slowly trickling in, some from reputable news outlets, some rumors, but, by Sunday night, I understood that she had some mental health issues and had committed suicide.
My heart just broke for her sweet daughter, Faith, who is in the midst of planning her wedding, and I sent her a message of condolence.
I hadn’t heard much more until I received a notification on Facebook that the AG was going live on Wednesday – which seemed odd as his wife’s funeral wasn’t even until Friday. (I will link the entire conference at the bottom of this post.)
It turned out that there had been so many incorrect things blogged and published in the media that he and his family decided to tell his wife’s story – and listening was both heartbreaking and all too familiar.
As I could have predicted – or maybe just knew? – Bridgette suffered from chronic pain due to migraines throughout her life as well as depression and anxiety and gastroparesis that sounded like it was probably related to some eating disorder issues. As a result of her chronic pain, she also dealt with opioid dependence. Altogether she lived with so much suffering mentally and physically – and apparently the night before she died, strange blisters had popped up on her feet so yet another physical problem that she couldn’t figure out – and it was just too much to bear.
And here is what she said to her husband that just floored me: “I don’t have a purpose, and I’m tired. My body is failing me and I don’t know why. I’ve had pain for a long time and I don’t want to endure it anymore, and I’m just a burden.”
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, these are the very thoughts I’ve tried to express on the bad days of dealing with chronic illness. At times, I’ve typed damn near these exact words and then gone back and softened my language so as not to scare the ever-living hell out of my loved ones. But the bad feelings are real – and expressed by pretty much every spoonie I know at one time or another.
At the same time, I’ve been doing some reading for a piece I want to write and I’ve come across several brutally honest essays by fellow spoonies. The most striking perhaps listed suicide as her “retirement plan.” She also described being silenced by loved ones when she tries to discuss her feelings because it is too much for them to hear – which I can understand but this not helpful. After all of my reading, including some of the awful comments regarding Bridgette’s death, I think it is time for an honest conversation again about living with chronic pain and mental illness (at least what I know of it), not to be a bummer, but to help healthy people understand:
For me, my illness has taken a turn for the worse – for no apparent reason other than that it is a progressive illness. I’ve been spending a great deal of time working on my computer, sitting in my spot, because sitting – and napping – is about all I can do quite often. In response to this sudden worsening, I spoke to my doctor today and will be increasing my chemo injection again – which is guaranteed to make me sick as Hale, and lay me out even more for a day or two, so I am just dreading it terribly.
See, I already do feel like a burden quite often. It is absolutely nothing anyone is doing. My family is wonderful. It’s just that I used to have a good job and my own income and be able to keep up with housework and do the things that needed to be done and now I do none of those things. In addition to that, I have been so sick lately that my medication costs have been EVEN MORE ridiculous than normal – so not only do I not contribute, I cost a hell of a lot. Yes, it’s enough to make anybody feel like total pooh.
Feeling my body getting worse has brought on all kinds of crazy anxiety and the best thing I can do is breathe and rub on my Valor and pray hard and hang on to my lil’ weenie dog. The physical definitely triggers the mental. That’s true of everybody I think.
Also, living in constant pain is a total assault on a person. There is no escape from it. Sometimes it’s better; sometimes it’s worse – but it is ALWAYS there. And it sucks. There’s no way around it. I have written before – many times – that the suicide rate among the chronic pain population is three times that of the healthy population. I want to be sure that people understand how serious this is – and that they offer support to their loved ones who need it.
And all of this gets exhausting.
I am so thankful for my amazing support system – my husband, my daughter, my family, my bestie, the world’s best weenie dog. . . I am also thankful to be able to write and feel that I can be of service in this way. It helps tremendously.
And, as I posted earlier this week, I keep focusing on the good things and the things I want to do and seeking joy regardless.
As always, no matter what, we push forward. Always forward. It is the only way through.
Be well, everybody.
Grace and Blessings.
Miranda, I cried as I read this blog. I cry because I understand as much as a caregiver can understand. I cry for you, your support system, for this family that lost their wife, mother, friend, etc. I cry for my Jerry. I cry for me. I dont know what y’all are going through, exactly. But I know it’s a hell of a lot harder than what I am going through. It is scary. To watch someone you love be in pain and not be able to help hurts. I try to be positive only to be afraid my message sounds like I am dismissing what he is going through. It’s scary knowing that Jerry not only is suffering physically but mentally as well. He is bipolar. He suffers from depression that puts him in the bed for days at a time. I know he’s scared too. He can’t work any more. He can barely walk to the mailbox. He’s on oxygen unless he is just in the house or sitting somewhere, for the most part. I know it’s hard for him to wrap his head around the fact that he simply isn’t able to do the things he wants to do and when he tries he pays for it for days, in pain. It’s scary being financially responsible. Are we going to end up being one of those folks that has to choose between medicine and groceries one day? Is this as good as it’s going to get? Will he ever get better? He doesn’t talk about how he feels. He doesn’t want to voice what he’s thinking. I can’t talk about how I feel. I dont want to sound like I’m complaining or that I dont want to take care of him. It’s just darn scary. Physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally. And then to deal with uncaring, insensitive people who should be supportive, and who may be publically, only to actually be hurtful and/or silent. So there’s my little rant. My unload. Quite a few tears over my coffee this morning and hopefully i got a little off my chest. I hope you dont mind. Who else can I say these things to?
I love you and I am so sorry you have to go through this. I wish i could change it for you. Please know I would if i could.
I love you, barbie.
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I love you so much and it is so scary and you can ALWAYS unload to me! I’m here and a message or text away! I’m praying and thinking of you both! ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you for your raw honesty. It’s important. ♡
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Thank you so much. 💜
Every word in your blog I have blogged about at one point or another. Mostly, constantly. It hit home… and then I got to the bottom to find that you are in Alabama too. From one Alabama sufferer to another, you are NOT alone. I know those words are said a lot and we take them with a grain of salt because they typically make me roll my eyes. No, I’m not alone. There are friends and family all around me. But my struggle is mine and mine ALONE. And that shit is heavy at times. Praying you make it through this dreadful heat so we can complain about being cold during the winter on our blogs. 😉
Prayers for you as well! We are in this together, friend. I hate that someone else suffers but it is comforting that someone else understands. Big love to you!
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Your words about the person you used to be hit me with a near-physical response. Before I got Fibromyalgia, I was a back office nurse for a busy family practitioner. It was my dream job. Then the car accident, then the diagnosis, then my man left. Suddenly I was good for nothing! I tried so hard for months to be able to work, but my various symptoms cut the core out of me. What was left over was overwhelmed , and unable to cope. Thank you so much for validating my experiences. At the time there was not a lot of that and revisiting with you “holding my hand” has been healing.
Since then I discovered Orthodox Christianity, truly my saving Grace. The Lord has gotten me through all the other diagnoses, and “this is a dependency I am grateful to accept!
Sending love and so many prayers to you! It is so difficult to walk through these things. I’m glad you’ve found a faith community and – again – will absolutely be praying. I do completely understand, my friend! 💚
I just want to thank you for this. Many days I feel I am in this battle alone and not even family understand the constant pain my body is in and the exhausting fatigue I have due to my kidney failing. One of the many wonderful side affects of it. Ha
Your blog allowed me to see others fighting just as hard or harder. Many days I have felt I have no purpose but I push on and keep trying. All my hopes for you as you continue your fight.
Sending you so much love and many prayers! It is a tough tough road and you are not alone. Wishing you the best Christmas with little pain and many spoons!
Thank you for this…lately I have had a hard time explaining to anyone my husband, therapist, psychiatrist, and doctors what I feel and you captured almost everything I would say. Sometimes the fog and lack of ability to find words is so frustrating. It seems lately the hardest thing is that my body seems to be failing so fast, that I use my brain less and less and as a nurse I am a very smart and intelligent person but I feel like I am losing brain cells but not using them. It’s so frustrating to want to be productive when it is impossible for your body to keep up! Thank you for sharing that someone else understands how I feel. Prayers for healing to you or at least more good days than bad.
Oh friend. I do understand and I’m so sorry. Sending love and so many prayers to you!