I start out from the premise that your life is valuable. 

I can’t prove it. I can’t even really argue for it. It’s not the kind of thing you talk somebody into. 

The premise that your life valuable and worth saving is one of those things you either believe or you don’t— or you’re willing to accept or not. 

I’ve worked with lots and lots of suicidal people. 

In my job as an inpatient therapist on a hospital unit that worked almost exclusively with severe post traumatic and dissociative disorders, the overwhelming majority of my patients were suicidal. That’s how they wound up on the unit to begin with. 

I’ve been suicidal. I’ve been in intimate relationships of varying kinds with other people who have been suicidal. 

I cannot crawl inside anybody’s head and know exactly their experience— but I’m not coming at the subject of the value of life from an abstract, theoretical place, either. 

I know that I’m not going to “convince” a deeply suicidal person that life is worth living. 

There’s nothing I’m going to say to someone that will suddenly convince them, “OH! I hadn’t thought of THAT! OF COURSE I want to keep living now!” 

It’s not that simple— and acting as if it IS that simple is insulting to people who are already in a great deal of pain. 

I’ve never met a suicidal person who is happy to be in the amount of pain they’re in. 

Suicide is never anyone’s first option. 

Neither is self-injury, substance abuse, or dozens of other self-harmful behaviors. 

The world strangely likes to focus on some of those behaviors, rather than the pain behind them— as if the problem here isn’t the fundamental pain, but rather how an overwhelmed, suffering person responds to the pain they’re in. 

And we wonder why more people don’t seek help. 

Anyway: I don’t expect you to agree with me that your life is with living or saving right now. You’re in a lot of pain, and that pain has often been invisible to the people who should care about it. 

You may have often felt invisible to the people who are supposed to care about you. 

I don’t want your pain to be invisible anymore. 

I don’t want you to be invisible anymore. 

That’s why I start out from the premise that your life is valuable and worth saving— because to get into a philosophical discussion about the intrinsic value of life completely misses the point of why we’re even interacting, why you’re reading these words, why you even know who I am. 

I just accept it as given, so we can get on to talking about the REAL problem here: your pain. 

People respond to their pain in all sorts of ways— and they’re very often judged for it. 

They’re called cowards, they’re called weak, they’re called attention-seeking….as if the problem isn’t their pain, but how they respond to their pain. 

Don’t get me wrong, people respond to pain in all sorts of ways that creates more problems than it solves. 

But the pain is the thing. 

I believe your pain is worth trying to do something about— and in the vast majority of cases, there CAN be things done about your pain. 

I know, I know. You might be thoroughly convinced you’re the exception to that, you’re the one actually, truly hopeless case— and if you’re reading this, I probably don’t know you personally, I’m not going to arrogantly assert that you’re wrong.

Who am I to say? I’m no one, some prick on the internet. 

I will tell you this, though: I’ve met dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people who were thoroughly convinced that nothing could be done about their emotional pain. 

They were convinced they were nothing but the trauma of their pasts. 

Or they were nothing more than the everyday depression that weighed down their every waking moment. 

Or they were nothing more than the addiction that seemed to make every decision for them from a place of craving and desperation. 

They’d often tried a lot of things— and they were at the end of their rope. 

And they’re still with us— but more importantly, they feel better. 

Your pain matters BECAUSE your life matters. 

If your life didn’t matter, it wouldn’t matter that you were in pain. 

If you didn’t matter, your pain wouldn’t matter. 

But you do matter. 

That’s what I think, anyway. 

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One thought on “Your pain matters because your life matters.

  1. “…some prick on the internet.” Haha! Thanks for your writings. You’re right, I have no idea who you really are, but I do know that I greatly appreciate your essays. Cheers to you and yours!

    Like

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