Note: If your life is in immediate danger, please contact the local emergency number. Or if you need someone to talk to, there is a list of suicide crisis centers at the end of this article.
“I wish I had cancer instead.” This is a statement I’ve heard numerous people with Meniere’s disease make, and to anyone who hasn’t experienced this disease, it must sound insane. After all, what sane person would possibly wish something so horrific on themselves?
But what they don’t get is that people with cancer at least have a clear foe to fight. There are treatments that can actually work, an enormous support network, and unlike Meniere’s, when you say you have cancer, people don’t give you a blank stare.
And if someone with cancer looks healthy, people still understand they’re sick. The same isn’t always true with Meniere’s disease, and people often react with statements like, “Oh, I’ve been dizzy before too. It wasn’t that bad.” Of course they can’t understand the debilitating bouts of vertigo, tinnitus and loss of balance that accompany episodes of this disease.
It should be no surprise that the lack of support and effective treatment options combine to create a huge suicide problem for sufferers of this disease. It is believed that disabled people already commit suicide at a much higher rate than the general population (though only limited studies have been completed), and anecdotal evidence shows that people with Meniere’s disease commit suicide at even higher rates than people with disabilities.
In fact, one of the first things my doctor told me when I was first diagnosed with Meniere’s disease is that most people with this disease eventually consider offing themselves. While he doesn’t win any awards for compassion, I soon found the truth in his words. There were virtually no viable treatment available for me, and as my life fell apart around me, I admit to considering suicide on a few occasions.
But I managed to survive, and I eventually created a list of reasons to keep slogging on through the worst this disease could throw at me. I’ve now decided to write my reasons down, in the hopes of helping others considering suicide with Meniere’s disease.
1. I’ve Been Through Worse Before
No matter how bad it gets now, I’ve been through worse in the past. And I’m sure this statement applies to most people with Meniere’s disease. While it can be hard to think this way while the disease has you in its grip, the truth is I’ve suffered far worse previously. And if I made it through it then, I’ll make it through it now.
For me it always helps to think of my early attacks before I was diagnosed. Half of the time I was convinced I was having a stroke, and the other half I thought I was going crazy. And when you combine severe vertigo with panic attacks, you end up with a very bad time indeed. If I was somehow able to survive those nights spent in the ER convinced I was going to die, I’ll can survive anything now.
2. Suicide is Selfish
I know how hard it is to think of others when you’re in the throes of this disease, but sometimes you really have to attempt to clear your foggy mind, and think about how selfish suicide is to your loved ones.
I’m not going to preach and try to say this is my foremost thought when the world is heaving and tilting around me, but the thought of what ending my life would do to my loved ones has brought me back from the edge more than once. As hard as it is to think of others when you’re barely hanging on yourself, it can help to stabilize you during dark times.
3. Meniere’s Disease Often Burns Itself Out
While it’s only a faint glimmer of hope right now, I keep hearing that Meniere’s disease often burns itself out in people. I haven’t been lucky enough to experience any reduction of symptoms yet, but the hope this may eventually become more manageable is something that I cling to like a drowning man holding onto a lifesaver.
I feel like if I can just hang on another month, another year, it may eventually become tolerable, and I can reclaim some small portion of my life. And as long as there is hope for the future, today becomes a little bit easier.
4. Other People Have Made it Through This
This is another mantra I often repeat to myself while I’m suffering from extended periods of severe vertigo. I’m going into year seven of my disease now, and for the first three years it was little more than a nuisance.
But I’ve met people who have been dealing with this disease for 30, or even 40 years. It seems to run in my family, and I have a great uncle in his 90s who has suffered from Meniere’s disease since he was a young man. If someone like that can last a lifetime with this disease, then there’s no reason someone like me can’t.
It truly helps to know other people have not only lived with this disease, but have thrived with it. If you haven’t met anyone else with this disease yet, find a support group in your area. It can help immeasurably, even if you only get to talk to someone who actually understands what you’re going through.
5. Relief is a Feeling You Have to be Alive to Experience
This is a common saying for people considering suicide. Most people considering suicide with Meniere’s disease are probably only doing it to get even a moment’s relief from the awful symptoms. I know I would give anything to have just one day without symptoms. Just a single day feeling normal – no dizziness, no tinnitus, and no feeling off balance.
But relief is a feeling, and if I ever did opt out, I wouldn’t get to experience that feeling. I know this disease will probably never go away completely, but I might have a decent day soon. So if I can just keep going, I may experience some relief – something I would never get if I chose to end my life.
6. There’s Always Hope for the Future
There’s no question that Meniere’s isn’t a sexy disease. There aren’t any campaigns headed up by celebrities, and you’ll never have a cashier ask you to donate a dollar to help fight Meniere’s disease. But there is new research being done every day, and there are new treatments in the pipe.
And anyone of those treatments could be the one that finally helps people with Meniere’s disease. Even though a cure is unlikely, anything that helps to alleviate the symptoms would be an amazing advance.
If you’re considering suicide, there are resources to help you. I’ve listed a few below, but if your life is in danger right now, call your local emergency number right now.
A list of Crisis Centers in Canada
A list of Crisis Centers in the United States
Get Help in the UK
Call Now – A Complete List of Suicide Hotlines by Country