Why Not Commit Suicide When I Have Nothing To Offer?

By Lisa Copen:

When you live with chronic pain there can be many times we question, “why not commit suicide?”

It is easy to look around at our circumstances and believe that we are not making a difference for anyone else in this world. Do we matter?

Is there any part of us left that isn’t all about fighting off chronic pain and illness, but just living? Having relationships? Experiencing joy?

Most people go through times when they feel they are not making a difference to anyone, but for those who cope with deep depression, the feelings of why not commit suicide? I am not worth anything to anyone, are much more serious. When you believe I am worthless, I can’t cope with life, I am not like other people, I will never be successful, I am just surviving this life but not really living, it can be nearly impossible to understand how you make a difference.

But you do.

I know, because I have had people in my life who have lived with these turmoil of emotions. . . and they have made a positive difference in my life. They have encouraged me and given me hope. As I see their pain, but also the dedication to getting up one more day and then one more day, I think, if they can do it, so can I.

Despite the fact that you are considering “why not commit suicide?” you still do make a difference! You may think:

“Why not commit suicide? No one will even miss me. I don’t matter to anyone.”
“Why not commit suicide? No one will hardly realize I am gone, since I am just surviving this life–not contributing to it in any way.”
“Why not commit suicide? People will just be better off without me.”

But consider for a moment that you don’t have to make a difference to the entire world. You only have to touch a life. And if you are here on this earth, it is impossible not to touch someone’s life. Millions of people log on to social networks daily and post a message that encourages someone else. I have seen many people who live with incredible chronic pain and yet they make it their purpose to try to smile at someone who serves them, such as a nurse, a doctor, a home health care worker–someone! Anyone!

Because you may be the only person who encourages a nurse who was beaten by her husband last night and has hidden her bruises. You may be the first patient a doctor sees tomorrow morning after he found out last night his wife is having an affair. You may be the one who smiles at the receptionist who has a teenage daughter who ran away from home yesterday. You never know what pain someone else is going through.

You are special because God created you. You are struggling because earth is filled with pain and suffering. But your value and worth does not come from what you can do here on earth, it comes because you are precious to God.

Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

God created you, and He doesn’t abandon anything He begins. Even when you don’t realize it, you are making a difference in someone’s life. How you face each day can determine if it’s a positive difference or not. But whether you realize it or not, even when you share your struggles, admit defeat, allow yourself to be vulnerable, or just smile at someone, you are inspiring someone. You matter.

So, why not commit suicide? Because you matter–and no feeling or circumstance will ever change that fact.

Did you know that some people believe that the popular “The Legend of the Starfish” was originally about a sand dollar? This video is a simple reminder that you matter–you don’t need to change the world, you don’t need to find the energy or emotional ability to take on a huge ministry or a campaign to end world hunger. You only have to offer what you can and it will make a difference for one, and then another one, and then another one.

Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nineteen years, and has found purpose in her pain by reaching out to others with chronic illness. Her organization, Rest Ministries, serves those with chronic illness or pain through daily devotionals and other programs.

Stop the Pain: Doesn’t God Understand Physical Pain?

By Lisa Copen

God does understand how you feel when you want the pain to stop.

 

Physical pain is one of the most difficult things I believe any human being can cope with. Over seventy percent of suicides are said to have been because of physical pain.* And as far back as Biblical times, even the greatest burden God allowed Job to be given by Satan–the one that hurt the most– was boils on his skin (Job 2:7).

Many people have heard the story about how Jesus went up to the desert for forty days and fasted and prayed and Satan showed up for a bit with a few temptations (Luke 4:1-2). It is easy to start interpreting this time as some kind of endurance test; the challenge Jesus takes can sound more like someone we might see on a combined show of “The Biggest Loser” meets “The Amazing Race.”

When we cry out–literally–day after day, asking God to please stop the pain, it can be easy to question, does God really understand what long-term physical pain is like?

Look more closely at this scripture, “for forty days He was tempted by the devil.” Forty days! Satan was hanging around many hours–every day. Just a snippet of conversation is in the Bible between Satan and Jesus, but I would imagine their many words between each other could easily have filled an entire book on its own.

And yes, Jesus is God, but sitting on that mountain side He was also fully human. Verse 2 says, “He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Hungry, just like you or I would be.

He didn’t fast as a human being, but then make His stomach feel all full as God had the power to do. He was hungry for food, tired, I am sure His back hurt, perhaps he suffered from a sunburn, yet was freezing cold at night. His stomach was growling and He thirsty. I am sure He dealt with great physical pain and kept His eyes out for scorpions. It was likely the weakest He had ever been in His lifetime, and this is when Satan kept appearing and trying to entice Him to make Himself more comfortable.

And when the forty days was up, Satan gave up, right? Nope. “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

Physical pain is weakening. It weakens our body, our ability to process information in our brain, and it is can tarnish the sparkle in our relationship with Christ. Jesus has walked in your shoes. I know some days it doesn’t feel like it, but don’t base your reality on your feelings. Believe God truly does understand.

It can be easy to become bitter when it feels like no one understands your pain, but there is no situation, no feeling, that we will encounter that someone in the Bible has not already experienced. And God always understands.

I hope the video below, song by Phil Wickham, reminds you of just how much God does hear your pleas for relief and cares about you. Many who are suicidal have shared that this song came on the radio just when they need reminded that God still had a plan for their life.

Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nineteen years, and has found purpose in her pain by reaching out to others with chronic illness. Her organization, Rest Ministries, serves those with chronic illness or pain through daily devotionals and other programs.

* Mackenzie TB, Popkin MK: “Suicide in the medical patient.”. Intl J Psych in Med 17:3-22, 1987

Why Not End My Life If I Have Nothing Left to Give?

By Lisa Copen

“I am exhausted. I am in so much pain. No one knows how hard it is to just get through each day. I am of no value to anyone. . . Why choose to live?

Have you ever felt that way? It can be hard to see value in life when you don’t feel productive, but even when we don’t have a list of accomplishments, we are still cherished by God. And you never know how your situation may actually be encouraging someone when you don’t even realize it.

When my grandfather was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, my grandmother basically couldn’t see the need for him to keep living. She was–coldly–ready to move on and felt like he was holding her back. As she complained about him for the umpteenth time I looked her firmly in the eye and spoke my mind.

“Grandma, he may not know what is going on, but he is joyful. Every day, every single person that comes into his room has their day brightened by his joy. They love him. You don’t know what those people may have been going through. A nurse could have been beaten by her spouse last night; an attendant may be losing his own father to this disease but he lives across the country and he can’t be with him. Grandpa may be the only person in their life who makes them smile. You don’t know how God is still using him.”

I am not certain she understood. But even as I said the words, I realized just how true they were. Even while he was suffering and not completely aware of who people were, he radiated joy and passed that on.

I have heard the saying, “It all works out in the end and if it has not worked out, then it is not the end.” Perhaps you have asked, “Why choose to live when I have nothing left to give?” Maybe you wonder if you are of use because of your disabilities, mental health challenges, financial struggles, etc. But whatever it is, these are just your circumstances–not you.

We all have something to give, even though some days we can only give our tears. What? How can crying help someone? Each day I see people who are discouraged and downtrodden who live with physical chronic pain, and even as they share their discouragement, their needs, their depression, others step up and encourage them. Not only do people who woke up feeling useless feel needed, they also have their own sufferings validated.

Yes, inspirational, encouraging videos and words are always welcome, but some days we just need to know that someone else is suffering too and and it is not all rainbows and smiley faces. We are all in this thing called life together. You are always valuable to the Lord, but your willingness to be vulnerable, to share the real you, can make you vessel to reach someone else who feels unneeded, when no one else can.

In 2011, following a discouraging appointment with my rheumatologist and frustrated with the circumstances of my illness, I came home and made a “real” video. Instead of my typical “Latte with Lisa” this one was called “Lisa: Unfiltered“. . . And I cried. If you feel up to seeing a gal fall apart, but still see God in it, you may want to take a listen. It’s not pretty, but it is honest.

To date, this is the highest watched video I have ever done, but even as I pressed that publish button I wondered, “what have I done?” What I had done was just allow people to see me–the real me that gets discouraged sometimes like everyone else. If you ever wonder if your tears can encourage someone else, this video may help you see how that happens.

You may think: Why not end my life if I have nothing left to give? But that’s not true: your life itself is a gift, and there is hope.

Your life has value because you are you. Suicide is never the answer. You don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to have it all together, you don’t need to be happy-go-lucky all the time. God loves you. . . just the way you are.

Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nineteen years, and has found purpose in her pain by reaching out to others with chronic illness. Her organization, Rest Ministries, serves those with chronic illness or pain through daily devotionals and other programs.

Why Bother Living When Facing a Serious Infection?

By Lisa Copen:

When you cope with health problems, you hold on and fight to stay positive, but there are days when you can easily wonder, “Why bother living when I am facing the pain of a serious infection?”

It was the seventh day of being hospitalized with the flesh eating bacteria and I felt so alone. The couple of people who had visited were friends my husband had emailed or called and pleaded that they stop by to say hello, since the original announcement of my hospitalization had not resulted in any visitors or calls.

Sitting there feeling so alone, I refused to cry. If I started, I knew the tears wouldn’t stop. My husband had to work. My mom was flying to town to help once I was released from the hospital, but now I had to have the big, painful procedure of debriding the dead skin that had turned black on my ankle.

I may live with painful rheumatoid arthritis daily, but the truth is, I am a wimp when it comes to painful procedures where I have no control over someone else’s actions.

The nurse came in and helped the surgeon prepare, and then she grabbed my hand. “I know it is scary, honey, but I am not going anywhere. I will be here the entire time and hold your hand. Squeeze if hurts. Just pretend I am your mom.”

I squeezed when the pain of the procedure became unbearable and tears flowed down my cheeks without a sound, but having that hand to hold made the difference.

So often we feel like life is just not worth living anymore and it is not unusual when you are dealing with a serious infection or illness to have suicidal thoughts. If we have to go through the tough times alone, and the people who know us and love us cannot even be here, why bother hanging on? When you live with daily chronic pain and then additional infections threaten to take your life, why not just give in and end the pain?

Because someone will hold your hand. Pray for a hand to hold, whether it be a stranger or a best friend. In Genesis 21:17 we read that when the fourteen-year-old Ishmael cried, God heard him and sent His angel to tell his mother, “Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand. . .”

And those times when no one appears? God is there to hold your hand.

When you see someone who is hurting, ask them if you can take their hand in some way. You may find purpose in your life today by just holding the door open for one who is struggling, taking a box into the post office for one who is in need. Lift someone up by taking your hand and offering it to someone in need. You may never know the difference you have made. They may have been wondering that very day, “Why bother living?” and you have let them know there is hope.

This song below, “Hold Her Hands,” is written by Carolynn Grace who shares, “I wrote this song about a close friend of mine who went through a stage of depression, but God pulled her through. He is always faithful and his love never fails.”

nEIPoV-eU-U

 Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nineteen years, and has found purpose in her pain by reaching out to others with chronic illness. Her organization,  Rest Ministries, serves those with chronic illness or pain through daily devotionals and other programs.

Help for Chronic Pain with Suicidal Thoughts

By Karen Boerger

While vacationing recently in Florida, we were walking through the hotel lobby to begin our day when I heard my husband ask, “Are you OK?”  Again he asked, “Are you OK?” He had stopped beside a man bent over a chair. The man said he had two herniated disks in his back and was in extreme pain 24 hours a day, with no relief. He said at one point he had unloaded his guns at home. Chronic pain with suicidal thoughts threatened his life, but he showed wisdom in protecting himself when he knew the pain was causing him to not think rationally.

That comment quickly took me back to a time in our lives when my husband was having severe depression. Before he was hospitalized he had sent our 16-year-old daughter to our friend’s house with our guns.  My friend still talks about that morning; she still can’t believe it. I can’t out of my mind the look of bewilderment and concern she had as she delivered the firearms back to us later.

It’s good that my husband began a dialogue with the gentleman at the hotel, because with depression one of the helpful treatments is talking about your feelings. Social support is very important. Talking regularly with supportive family and friends is extremely helpful.  Healing from depression takes time, and patience is necessary; but making the choice to share your feelings with someone else is so important. You can also talk with others dealing with chronic pain (some hospitals have support groups), plus find hope and help online at www.restministries.org.

With treatment and support, even when experiencing chronic pain with suicidal thoughts when someone says, “Are You OK?” you will be able to boldly say, “Yes, I am!”

 A friend loves at all times . . .  (Proverbs 17:17)

Other pages here at this site:

Feeling Suicidal?

Letter 4 U?