***TW/CW: discussion of mental health, suicidal ideation, suicide, and use of cr*pple slur***
Recently I made a post about my feelings behind language like, “you’re so brave” being used in regards to my disability. I wrote about how I don’t see living as a disabled person as an act of bravery, and I do not feel like I am “brave” for handling my chronic illnesses. That conversation cannot be had without talking about the times when people cannot cope with being chronically ill.
Many people who are chronically ill have to deal with both physical illnesses and mental illnesses. Sometimes there is no correlation, and other times the experience of having physical disabilities can spark mental illness. On the contrary mental illnesses can also spark physical illnesses; even though they are sometimes psychosomatic, the feeling of pain can be just as distressing as pain that stems from physical illness.
Chronic illness often leads to isolation, which is a hard enough thing to deal with on its own without being sick. Being in constant pain is also emotionally and psychologically taxing. I’ve personally had periods of time where the inevitability of death was comforting instead of terrifying. I begged God to kill me on more than one occasion, and those kinds of thoughts are not easy to get over. There have been days where I felt as if I couldn’t handle everything and it was all too much. Fortunately, I’ve been able to swallow those thoughts/feelings and haven’t attempted suicide, even when I really wanted to and it seemed like the best option. This doesn’t make me stronger than anyone who has self-harmed or attempted suicide, but I feel privileged that my suicidal ideation did not lead me to actually attempt suicide.
In November of 2017, the creator of the Cripple Punk Movement, Tai, committed suicide. I did not know them personally, but I followed them on social media as well as their friends, who are also prevalent in the disabled community. Their loss is one that really shook me to my core, even though I had no personal connection to them. Tai had fibromyalgia and had dealt with an eating disorder as well as PTSD. They are just one of many chronically ill people who suffered with suicidal thoughts, and debilitating illnesses. Due to the fact that I did not know them, I do not want to make any assumptions surrounding their life or death, however I do think a conversation about chronic pain should come out of this terrible and heartbreaking situation.
Tai was an avid disability activist, which is why they created the Cripple Punk movement in the first place. The Cripple Punk Movement aimed to “reject pity, inspiration porn, and all other forms of ableism and fully support those who struggle with it.” I found liberation and felt supported due to this movement. Their idea’s are incredibly inspiring to me, and I aim to be as strong and care-free as they were. I hope I can use my voice for good and advocate for my communities like Tai did. Staying positive is important, but we so desperately have to recognize the “dark” and horrible parts of being chronically ill.
Suicide is an epidemic within the disabled community. I believe this is due to inadequate care, and an ableist society. Chronic pain, specifically, goes beyond the physical components. Doctors need to recognize how psychologically taxing it is to have chronic pain, while also not belittling us and telling us “it’s all in our heads.” We need support groups and connections with other disabled people. We need representation in the media, and in our daily lives. We need to be seen, but most importantly we need to be heard.
People had been asking if they could do anything for Tai’s family, and so if you feel inclined, Tai’s family has asked that people donate to The Loft (an LGBT community services center) in their name.
If you’re hurting or struggling please call 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat online with someone if that would make you more comfortable