Sunday, January 20, 2013

Death is an option

She tried to take her life twice in two weeks.

I got a call from the hospital in the early morning on a 16 year old patient of mine who had ingested a whole slab of paracetamol tablets and several antibiotics and whatever medicines she could find in the house. When I entered the hospital room, she had a nasogastric tube up her nose with activated charcoal running through and blood was being drawn by the nurse for paracetamol levels. She was oblivious of my presence. On seeing me, her mom had rushed to me and we both cried a river.

There are days when the cup is just full.

Whether you're dealing with depression over a job lost or failing grades or love gone wrong, dealing depression is one of the most difficult challenges we face. To some, it's a challenge that we need to overcome. Something about only the "strong surviving" the storms of life. To others, death becomes an option.

Regina Brett, author of "God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours" provides the reader with a different perspective of life's ups and downs. One of the best chapters is Chapter 46 entitled "No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up for life."

Brett provides the insight that no matter who you are - we have those days where we get into a rut. We can blame our body or even our mental health, but at the end of the day, we need to be responsible for everything that gets thrown our way - whether we catch it or just let it fall on the ground. Brett points out that "We've all been to those places. We all have a personal pool of quicksand inside us where we begin to sink and need friends and family to find us and remind us of all the good that has been and will be."

Her practical advice heeds well when you're having a shitty day: avoid mean people...don't do anything you don't absolutely have to do that day...make no major decisions about your career or self-worth...don't analyze anything...stay out of your head - it's not a safe place to be.

Most importantly she puts her friend Don's advice into the picture:
1. Get up - face the day vertical instead of surrendering to it horizontally.

2. Dress up - Put on your clothes, from head to toes. It triggers hope.

3. Show up - Most of life is showing up. It's a come-as-you-are day. To be a success, you do the best you can, which varies from day to day. My best today might suck, but if I show up, I've done the best I can do today.

And I believe I can relate to that.

Some people think that I have the best of the world being a doctor, a writer, an administrator and whatever successful facade I show. We all have that facade. What we don't show and sometimes keep bottled-up inside us is the sad self during the bluest days of our lives.

I had a quiet talk with the family and friends and my patient (when she was much better). I know what they're all going through and empathize with them. I could not understand how cyber-bullying could push some people into a bit of madness, but now it is clear to me. Even social network can reel its ugly head. And there will always be innocent victims along the way.

There will always be a second, third and nth attempts. Each suicide attempt is a cry for help. And the family needs to understand her a bit more than saying "teenagers are a tough bunch!" Sometimes they don't stop until death becomes their final option.

After the second attempt to face death, with the help of some psychiatrists and some medicines, my patient looks at life in a better light.

No one said that the road we travel is an easy path. But when the "day serves up more than what we could hope for, no matter how you feel, just get up, dress up and show up for life. Each day truly is a slice of heaven. Some days, the slices are just smaller than others."

No comments: