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.