Tag Archives: health aging suicide dying

Where I’m At

21 Oct

I’ve been considering writing this blog post for quite some time (at least 6 months off & on). I’m still not sure if it’s wise or not. However having watched my father need residential care in a Church run facility & his gradual decline into death & followed the various debates around suicide, assisted dying & mental health I’ve decided to commit my thoughts, feelings, rants & considered opinion to record.

I have a history of physical abuse as a child, alcohol & other substance abuse throughout my life & subsequent treatment. I have always had an inquiring mind & a degree of introspection & self-criticism/analysis coupled with a belief in truth & honesty inculcated(brainwashed/punished) into me from a young age. These factors have had a profound effect on my development, my ability (or otherwise) to form healthy (whatever the hell that means given our societal propensity for producing damaged adults) relationships & my ability to have a stable inner personal landscape.

So this blog is intended to be a truthful missive based on where I’m at recently (& possibly now). I don’t intend to edit it, although I will correct spelling mistakes & punctuation.

I’m in my early 60s & live alone. I much prefer to live alone, in my own space. I find it more relaxing & it induces less difficulties presenting a ‘stable’ face to the world. Am I lonely? No. Hardly ever. Certainly l find it less painful to keep my own company than to have to adjust to others on a regular, possibly daily basis ‘in the flesh’.

I cannot say whether I was always prone to mood swings, depression, euphoric episodes & paranoia as a child or adolescent or whether they are a consequence of my drug use. In either case the end result is where I am now. As I age I am fully aware of my changing physical, mental & psychological states. As a functioning & habitual drug user one has to monitor where one’s at on the particular hit in order to figure out when to take the next one. Therefore I KNOW that my physical fitness, suppleness & stamina are deteriorating. I know that my mental faculties are nowhere near as good as they used to be (memory for example), my energy levels & stamina are much less and that this awareness feeds into my insecurities & mood swings to exacerbate depressive episodes. It is an interesting process to experience & I’m not convinced that ‘fighting ‘ it is a wise, productive or efficient use of my time & resources. That said I really am NOT yet ready to lie down & die.

I am at heart a selfish personality although I am/have been loving, supportive & generous with my time & heart in my life. But underneath it all I am who I am & I do what I do & really & truly am answerable only to my maker. I am, as may well be obvious, a product of a Western, Protestant, Christian, UK Public School education, and was, & indeed still am a 60s/70s hippy at heart. I do not believe that the world we live in has been improved since the era of my teens. Indeed the return of racism, the misogyny & blatant disregard for all life appalls me. But I have a spiritual life. I enjoy being alive & take responsibility for my life, my actions & my opinions.

I’m not sure how I came to be (yeah yeah I KNOW the biology). Consciousness fascinates me & my life is MINE. It is a gift given to ME. Therefore it follows (in my logic) that I can end it as I lived it by my choice.

I do not want to end up in a home like so many of my fellow citizens no matter how comfortable it may be. I do not want to be a drain on medical resources. If I have a prayer it is that I die quickly and that the ‘caring’ medical profession does not resuscitate¬† or prolong my life.

I repeat again I am NOT suicidal, nor am I particularly depressed tonight. I just decided to share these thoughts.

D

 

 

 

 

Assisted Suicide …what’s in a word.

28 Jul

This post is really a set of connected musings that wander in & out of my consciousness, sometimes seemingly at random & sometimes triggered by predictable events. Sometimes prompted by (on the surface) unrelated media articles etc.

It was a media headline (for an article I didn’t have time to read) about the worrying rise in suicide among the mid-fifties & upwards male population (my demographic). This headline started me thinking (unconsciously at first).

The first set of musings were around why suicide? Possible drivers/motives? To me the most obvious (from experience with suicidal thinking) is depression/no way out. Why would this age group possibly be depressed?
1) Realisation that they’ve got as far they can career/health wise? Frustration.
2) Family grown up & gone + spouse has developed their own interests & relationship isn’t what it was? Lonliness.
3) Given the ongoing austerity pension either non-existent, not available till later date or much reduced? Despair/frustration.
4) Having to care for (or organise care for) elderly/ill relative & realising just how mind-numbingly tedious being house-bound/confined to a home or bed-bound actually is & how deoressed said relative rightly is with their own powerlessness? Dread/fear.

The first thing to say is that these are my own thoughts & feelings but I long ago realised that I am not so terribly unique so there must be many others in my situation to a greater or lesser degree. I have several supports/coping mechanisms & whilst I do experience down swings & sometimes depressed phases so far I have passed thru them.

But having witnessed my dad’s deterioration from active, healthy elderly man (he’s now approaching his 90th birthday) to a bed ridden person trapped in a physical shell in a very good quality residential home I am increasingly convinced that I do NOT want this to be my fate.
Indeed if this is the end which most people foresee is in store for their elderly relatives & by extension themselves then I for one can understand their depression & desire to choose to die with some dignity & before they have become a burden to the society & to their children.

Which brings me to my final point the term “assisted suicide” is a deeply offensive term loaded as it is with all the societal stigma attached to suicide.
Surely the right to die when one chooses is as fundamental as the right to live as one chooses? Many cultures have permitted the old & infirm to walk away & die. Indeed one of the most quintessentially “heroic” of English stories is of Capt Oates of Scott of the Antarctic fame. Not to mention the crucifixion myth at the heart of our Christian religious belief where Christ goes willingly to his death for OUR SINS.
To deny others the choice of dying with dignity or clinging on till the bitter end seems at best hypocritical & at worst sadistic to me. I fail to understand the reasoning behind it unless of course its partly driven by the profits of the “elderly care industry”.
On a related note I have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) letter in my wallet but here in Ireland the “caring” medical profession will blithely ignore my express wishes. This is my biggest fear that despite my expressed desire to NOT BE RESUSCITATED I will regain consciousness to find my self bed-bound & therefore incapable of escaping the long slow lingering death as experienced by my father & MOST IMPORTANTLY be a burden on my kids & take resources from my grandkids.

I have lived my life by and large on my own terms I DO NOT hold to the major religions, although I do pray & my thinking is grounded in Scottish Christian traditions. I have a daily relationship with a God of my understanding & if/when He decides that I die then that’s when I die hopefully quickly & of natural causes NOT prolonged by human interference. I DO REALISE there are contradictions in this position as there are with every religious doctrine I have studied.

I have made my choice it is NOT up to you to judge. If my God is displeased then we can discuss that in the hereafter (in which I most certainly do not believe).