by Cherie T. Buisson, DVM, CHPV
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Originally published on DrAndyRoark.com
There’s a liar that lives inside us all. The conniving, evil voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough, or that we need to be afraid, or that something bad is coming, or that we’re not loved. In some of us, the liar’s voice is quiet and only able to be heard during the worst of times. In others, it is seductive and convincing, wrapping around the brain like a snake and squeezing to get its way. In a very unfortunate few, it is a scream that drowns out everything else. It can happen occasionally or be there every minute of every day. Just when you think it’s gone, the voice whispers in your ear, “You WISH”.
I have trouble understanding suicide. I used to be one of those people who thought those who committed suicide were selfish. I felt anger towards those in my life who had left me much too early. With the help of an online support group for veterinarians, I realized that isn’t the case at all. To the person contemplating suicide, it seems like the only option. Because the liar says so, and the liar is loud and strong.
My liar tells me to be afraid. It tells me that if I make a mistake, my career will be over. It tells me that catastrophes are around every corner. It keeps me awake at night. It taunts me for my imperfections. It stares out from my eyes in the mirror and says, “Why don’t you work out more? You’re getting flabby. You aren’t as smart as you think. You’re going to fail. You’re getting old. The people you love will die”. When I was a child, the voice was terrifying. As I learned to live with its constant prattle, I got used to being ready for disaster any second. My stomach lining suffered and I couldn’t sleep. When I did sleep, I had nightmares.
Medication can make the liar weak. It’s like that terrified dog that wants to eat everyone in the clinic. A little something to take the edge off, and things get better. The side effects may be unpleasant, but for the two times in my life when I was overcome and needed help, it was worth it. With a combination of self-awareness, meditation, exercise, hormones and acupuncture, the liar’s voice has become quiet. It still shouts out and takes me by surprise here and there but in general, I’m much happier. I don’t work as many hours in the clinic as most veterinarians, but that’s the only way I stay healthy. This felt like failure in the beginning, but not anymore.
The liar’s agenda is to get you alone and have you all to itself. Like an abusive spouse, it isolates you from anyone who can help. Your loved ones sit helpless and agonized as you withdraw and push them away. In order to defeat the liar, you have to ask for help. Preventing you from doing this is the liar’s priority. It will whisper (or shout) that you are unloved, beyond help, hopeless. Don’t listen. While I’ve never been suicidal, I have experience with the liar telling me to be afraid, and believing even though I know it’s a lie. I have been paralyzed with terror for absolutely no reason except the liar desires that it is so.
Reaching out can save you. The liar will pin your arms to your sides to prevent it, but you can do it. If all that is left in your mind is to end your life, you have NOTHING to lose by reaching out. Post on social media, call a friend, call your parents, ask your partner, call the police, go to the hospital. If you knew someone in the same boat, do what you would tell them to do. I promise you, the world is full of people who will lift you up. Surrender yourself to the voices around you, and not to the one in your head – even if you feel sure no one will care. Ask yourself if the hand up you’re being offered belongs to a good and decent person. If it does, try believing them. Grab on tight and let the liar howl and scream and writhe in your head. Focus on that connection you make with another human being until the liar is silenced.
Use that part of your brain that can keep you calm while the pet in front of you is dying. Use that capacity you have to put everything in a box until the crisis is over. At the moment when the person in the mirror is in danger of dying, nothing else matters. Your reputation, your job, even your family needs to take a back seat so you can save yourself. You are worth it, I promise.