May is mental health month. I decided to open up a little more about my mental struggles. When you hear the word scar you likely think about a physical scar that you can see. Just exactly what scars do you have? Do you have physical scars from an unfortunate slip of a knife while cutting up food in the kitchen? Maybe a cut from a broken piece of glass or jagged metal? How about a skinned up knee or elbow from a bike crash?

At my age I have made my share of trips to the emergency room for treatment of cuts and many other medical issues. The results are many physical scars on my body from head to toe. My right leg has had four surgeries with plenty of stiches and plastic surgery. For many years in my youth, I was reluctant to wear shorts because my battle scared leg would show. My poor left hand has endured multiple different encounters with sharp objects from saws, routers and mower blades. One required surgery, the others just stitches. I have a permanently crooked finger to show for it. I’ve had four different surgeries to remove a few organs and repair the inside of my abdomen thanks to pancreatitis. The result is a long scar from my breastbone to well below my belly button.

But what about emotional scars? We all have likely to some degree been traumatized in our life. Depending on what happened, how we process it and ultimately how we handle it, these scars can and do impact our lives. Physical scars are often a close relative of emotional scars. Military personal are subject to physical and emotional scars. The term PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, has been widely discussed among the military. The truth is, anyone can have PTSD. PTSD is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which there was serious physical harm or threat. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Examples of things that can bring on PTSD include sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster.

I have anxiety, depression and PTSD. Even though it covers all of my life, a large percentage of what I deal with mentally has been within the last 11 years. The brain is sort of like an odometer in a car. As we go through life the mileage accumulates. There is no way to turn back the miles on our brain. All the good things in life are stored in there along with the bad things. When my first pancreatic attack happened, things took off at warp speed. The unwelcome miles in my brain started accumulating faster and faster until I couldn’t control it. Some people deal with emotional scars by not wanting to talk about it. They push it to the back of their brains and basically try to forget about it. That is what I normally did until it overflowed. So now I’ve learned how to manage the symptoms and triggers most of the time. This was done mainly through counseling and medication. What triggers and sets off my anxiety or depression can be literally anything from a picture, a song, a smell, something on TV or seeing a particular object.

A few lyrics of the song Scars by Rush say a lot on how things have affected me over my life.  

Each emotional injury
Leaves behind its mark
Sometimes they come tumbling out
Like shadows in the dark
I get this feeling

When I think about all I have seen
And all I’ll never see
When I think about the people
Who have opened up to me
I get this feeling

Pleasure leaves a fingerprint
As surely as mortal pain
In memories they resonate
And echo back again…

The lyrics are very accurate on how I have accumulated the miles on my brain but also as a person who has met and talked to hundreds of others suffering from this disease. They have opened up to me and told me the struggles they have.

Seeking help for depression, anxiety or PTSD is not a weakness. In fact, it is a strength to admit you need help with how to handle these struggles. I would encourage anyone who needs help to seek it. Don’t keep it all bottled up.


What keeps you going?

What keeps you going on bad days? What keeps you going in life? What keeps you going in times of hardship or despair? What is the oil in your engine? Dealing with everyday life is difficult when plans get knocked off track. People with chronic illnesses whose quality of life (QOL) isn’t good can find it hard to “keep going”. A lot of people I’ve talked to say they “just exist”. The chronic illness has taken its toll on them to the point where they have difficulty functioning. Their quality of life isn’t good, they are unable to work or even get out of the house very much. They don’t have much if any social interaction. They feel guilty for their illness because it takes a toll on spouses, family and friends. They hate to ask for help with tasks they normally do. They feel like a burden or liability and that somehow, they did something wrong to get sick. A majority likely have PTSD, depression and anxiety. What is it that keeps them going and not giving up? Is it just the natural human instinct to survive or is it something else? Here is an excellent article from the Cleveland Clinic on coping with chronic illness.

Chronic Illness: Sources of Stress, How to Cope (

Support people may not always know what to do or say. It can be a difficult position for family or friends who suddenly find themselves in a supportive role. Here is a good article on being a caregiver.

Caregivers – National Pancreas Foundation

Looking back over the past 8+ years of blogs I’ve written about many different subjects. A total of 256 so far, most of them deal with the struggles of pancreatic disease or chronic illness. Sometimes thinking of something to write about is easy, other times it is difficult to put words down on paper or a computer screen. I attempt not to repeat subjects but some certainly cross over. Today, as I start this blog, I’m listening to music which is often the case when I’m writing. But something has been different the last few days. I’m really feeling the lyrics deep in my soul. Depending on which song is playing I may be singing along, playing the air drums or guitar. It is also possible that tears might be running down my cheek. This happens when a certain song or songs triggers a sad memory. I avoid some music knowing that it will stir memories up from a dark place in time.

I have mentioned before how much music plays a big role in my life. One form of coping with life for me. If it is sitting at my desk with my stereo cranked, wearing my headphones sweeping or mowing, or maybe driving down the road, music is always available for me to listen. From a great drummer or guitar riff, a catchy beat or lyrics that just seem to fit perfectly. Lyrics may be interpreted anyway the listener chooses to. It may be different than what the song writer intended. But that is the wonder of music, you can listen to it and let it speak or entertain you anyway you wish. One thing I missed growing up was not having access to the lyrics of many songs. Yes, you could figure a lot of them out or maybe they came with the album but it wasn’t even close to finding lyrics today with a simple search on our phones or computer. It is also very effortless to have unlimited music at your fingertips anytime. No more boom box, carrying a portable CD player or Walkman cassette player with lots of CDs or cassettes.

It’s no secret that I have struggled accepting all the life altering events that have happened to me in the last 10+ years. Understanding and adapting to my current limitations has proved difficult for me. Nobody ever teaches you how to handle life when you get bombarded with multiple adversities until it happens. And then it is only if you are receptive to counseling. Kids are more resilient and can overcome things easier. It seems to be harder the older one gets. Family, friends, faith, support groups and counseling can only do so much. It comes down to the individual figuring out how to cope with the new reality.  

What impact do you have on people?

I read a book awhile back titled “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom. He is a writer, sports journalist, radio talk show host and musician. Working his way up through the ranks he became lead sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press. He also did a stent on ESPN which is where I remember him from 30+ years ago. As time continued on, I didn’t watch TV or ESPN that much and I didn’t hear about Mitch until just a couple years ago. My friend Daniele told me about the book and that I should read it. When I saw who the author was, it triggered memories back to his time on ESPN. I had no idea he had written a book or in his case, multiple books. Some of his notable books are “Tuesdays with Morrie”, “For one more day”, “The Time Keeper”, and Have a Little Faith”.

“The Five People You Meet In Heaven” is about the life and death of a ride mechanic named Eddie (inspired by Albom’s uncle[1]) who is killed in an amusement park accident and sent to heaven, where he encounters five people who had a significant impact on him while he was alive. It got me wondering how I have impacted people who I have encountered over my life. Not family, friends or people I know on an everyday basis, but total strangers. What about people who have made a good impact on my life? From the smallest things, smiling at someone, holding the door, paying it forward at a drive through, you never really know how that small gesture may create a positive for that person.

So how does this all connect with me? My job as a firefighter and working in EMS for over 30 years, I came across strangers all the time. I was there with my coworkers helping them out in some form. As I traveled around and met people with pancreatic disease and talked to even more in support groups online, I have been impacted by them. Some of them I call friends today but many more I only had brief contact with, maybe sharing our stories or offering support. The impact these people have had on me lead me to one of the things I do today in writing these blogs. Most of these people I would never or will never see again. Did I do anything that would impact them? Did they do anything that would impact me? Of course, I will likely never know the answer to that. But in life we cross paths with thousands and thousands of people all the time from the grocery store to the airport. What can you do that might impact someone’s life?


Advocate: to support or argue for (a cause, policy, etc.) 

   to plead in favor of

   : to act as advocate for someone or something

A health commercial caught my attention the other day. Not the ones for type 2 diabetes medications that give the side effects of pancreatitis. I shake my head at those commercials. The one that caught my attention was about heart health. Toward the end of the commercial it mentioned that a person must advocate for themselves. The mention of that had me saying YES, YES, YES. A person must advocate for themselves. This is very important for those with pancreatic disease or any chronic disease.   

There was a time when a person went to the doctor and did what the doctor said. Take this medicine, have this surgery, your problem is this or that with little or no questions asked. Patients didn’t question what the doctor was telling them because of their expertise. Patients also feared being poorly treated. Responding to calls when I was at the fire department, many patients didn’t even know why they were taking medications. Well, the times have changed some, maybe because of the internet and search engines, insurance companies or people taking a more involved interest in their health. Many people have learned how to ask important questions and more importantly stand up to the doctor when they disagree with them. If not the patient, a support person can also be a great advocate. I would always recommend a support person go with the patient to doctor appointments. This just gives another set of ears to listen to what the doctors says.

Those with pancreatic disease are often reluctant to go to the emergency room because of how they have been treated in the past. Fear of how they will get treated or “labeled”. Almost every person I have talked to with pancreatic disease has an ER “horror story” they can talk about. Being judged, called an alcoholic, drug seeker or discounted to the problem is all too common. Even going to the family doctor or gastroenterologist can be stressful trying to get them to understand what is going on. Sadly many doctors and those in the medical community are not educated enough or have a poor understanding of pancreatic disease. And even if you think everything is going okay for you, sometimes notes are added in your medical records that aren’t accurate or truthful. While these are available for you on request, they are not always easily obtained. It is getting easier to see some of your records online. I know of a few people who have had to fight to get things changed on their records. Once again, advocating for yourself.

There are some problems in my opinion with today’s modern medicine. Many doctors are forced by the health system they work for, to get you in and out of an appointment within an allotted amount of time. It often doesn’t allow ample time for a patient to ask many questions or you feel like the doctor dismisses your symptoms. A multidisciplinary approach with patients who have complex medical problems can be beneficial but also have limitations. Lack of communication, not reading what other doctors have noted in the chart, not wanting to address the problem instead saying it is the other doctors problem. This can be an issue when you have chronic problems involving multiply systems. I appreciate it when a doctor tells me they don’t know what is going on or they are not sure what is causing the problem. Being honest with the patient instead of writing it off as xyz problem will gain a lot more trust and respect. Being a doctor is practicing medicine, it isn’t an exact science at times. Don’t just give a diagnosis just to appease us. Your doctor should also be an advocate for you. Be prepared when you go to the doctor. Have your list of questions written down. If you don’t feel like you are treated fairly, you need to make your voice heard.

I hate taking pills

Have you ever felt that you take a lot of pills? Maybe it’s vitamins or supplements. Or maybe it is part of the 4.38 billion prescriptions written every year in the U.S.  

When I worked at the fire department, we would go on calls and of course ask about the patient’s medicines. Sometimes we were handed a grocery bag full of prescription bottles. I always shook my head thinking my gosh that’s a lot of medicine. How in the world could anybody take that many pills? How could anybody keep track of that many pills? Lots of patients didn’t even know what or why they were taking medications. What happens when all those pills get in your stomach? What kind of reaction does it have in your stomach mixing all those together? Obviously, some pills are taken at different times depending on what they are for. Truth is, we have become a nation that takes a large number of pills for thousands of reasons. The pharmaceutical companies are huge money-making operations trying to get your business. We are constantly bombarded on TV with advertisements for medications. You would think that there is a pill to fix everything.

I take a lot of pills in my mind, give or take about 26 pills a day. Some of that depends how much I eat and how many enzymes I take for my digestion. I know to some that isn’t a large number as they may take many more. I don’t take insulin shots for my diabetes but rather have a pump that I need to change the needle and tubing every three days. I do poke myself 3-4 times a day for a glucose reading to keep my CGM (continues glucose monitor) happy. I change my CGM once a week which requires another small needle stick. Even though the pump can be aggravating at times, having the CGM and insulin pump makes life with diabetes much easier.

Once a week I sort my pills out into a pill organizer. Another thing I never thought I would have. I know my pills and what they do, what the side effects are and how they affect me. Of course, I would be much happier if I didn’t have to take any pills. The bottom line here is you need to know what you take and why you take it. Make the doctor explain why they are giving you that medicine. Research it or talk to your pharmacist. Understand how it is supposed to help your body. Ask about interactions between medications. That is your responsibility as a patient. And after all, it is your body!

Venting vs Complaining

Venting – to give often vigorous or emotional expression to.

Complaining -to express grief, pain, or discontent.

Is it venting or is it complaining?

I started writing these blogs back in 2015 to tell about the trip taken by Dad and myself on our way to Arizona to visit some of Dads friends. As we started planning it took on another role as between here and there we would meet up with many people also fighting pancreatic disease. Many of the people that we met on that trip and future trips had never met anyone in person who had pancreatic disease. Most of them opened up to me, venting about their struggles. They vented their frustrations about anything and everything. Many told me things they had been reluctant to tell their doctors scared they would be labeled something unfairly. Meeting someone face to face is very different than chatting on a online support group. That turned into writing more blogs about the experience of meeting those who were struggling with the disease. It became a way to share not only what I was going through, but also what they were going through. A way to educate others about the everyday battles, possible treatments and other options connected with pancreatic disease. I’ve never viewed it as complaining but rather as sharing information. At times I did vent about certain subjects that bothered me and the pancreas community. Other times I’m sure it was complaining about something as I was trying to make a point.

The difference between venting and complaining is a fine line. In fact, the 2 are very similar and can be interpreted differently. Venting is normally viewed as a healthy activity for the person. Venting to a counselor, friend or family member can validate your feelings. Complaining is looked at negatively. A lot of people look at venting as complaining and unfairly judge that person who is doing the venting.

A person fighting a chronic illness can have a tough time venting. Venting to family members, friends and even a councilor can become redundant and seem like complaining. The person tends to vent or complain about the same thing over and over. The support people the person has, will grow tired of the seemly never-ending negativity. This is a critical time when many support people will leave the person needing the support. I’ve lost count of people I’ve talked to of how many spouses have left a chronically ill person. The support people say things like “the person has changed, I didn’t marry them to be like this, or I’m tired of being a care person.”

I realize that a lot of people don’t read my blogs. They just skip over my post when they see I’ve written another blog. Maybe they are tired of my venting or complaining. More likely, most of the people reading this also have a chronic illness, probably pancreatic disease. I understand skipping over the post. I have said before that writing has become my therapy, venting. I tend to vent or complain about my health and lots of things associated with it. For the last 10+ years it has consumed me in many ways. It has become difficult for me to find things to do and write about besides my health problems. But it is one of my outlets that I use to vent/complain. It helps keep my sanity as I continue to figure out how to navigate this life physically and mentally.

Winning and losing

I’ve been watching the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and it got me thinking about winning and losing. 68 men teams and 64 women teams make the playoff. They are put into brackets playing one another until a champion is crowned. The same can be said about football, baseball, basketball and so on. Teams good enough or lucky enough to make the playoffs, play each other with one team winning and advancing and the other team losing. The team winning is happy, fans are joyful and celebrating as they continue in the playoffs. Sports betting is legal in many states now and people who bet on the winner are happy to win some money. The losing team heads for the locker room, heads down, tired and frustrated that they didn’t win. People will cry over the loss and some will lose money on the bets they placed. In the different sports tournaments, every team except one, the champions, will end the season losing. 67 of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament will lose their final game of the season. 67 teams will be dejected over losing the chance to become champions. Only the LSU girls and UConn boys will be happy!

Over the past 10 ½ years I’ve talked to and met several hundred people who fight pancreatic disease and associated illnesses. Fighting a chronic illness is much like being in a playoff against the everyday challenges that are trying to disrupt your life. You are entered into the tournament automatically by getting a disease. The war has begun even if you don’t realize it. You begin the illness with lots of hope and courage that you’re going to get better. You might even be encouraged by a treatment or surgery. Your team, family, friends, and doctors, support you as you begin your battle. As time goes on and you realize that it will become chronic, you begin to lose some of that hope and fight. Your team begins to crumble, sometimes they’re good players and sometimes they’re not. I’ve lost count how many people I’ve conversed with end up divorced because their spouse or partner couldn’t handle them being sick. Being a caregiver is difficult, mentally challenging, however not a reason to leave in my opinion. Chronically ill patients often get worn down from constantly losing the endless daily battles. For many it will physically and mentally be the hardest challenge they ever encounter. A mental battle that never seems to end. Without even realizing it until later, people’s hopes and dreams slowly disappear. People look for help with their faith in God and prayer. Some who have faith in God might say that losing the battle and dying, they will ultimately win by going to heaven. However, many others lose faith in God and ask many questions of why it is happening to them? Why are they being punished? Why did I deserve this illness?

Life isn’t always about winning and losing, it is about living. How to win graciously and how to lose with dignity. There will be plenty of days when you win and lots of days you will lose. Dealing with a chronic illness and learning from the bad days vs the good days. On good days we want to enjoy them without overdoing it and turning it into a bad day. On bad days we must learn to accept that we may not be able to accomplish as much or anything at all. We need to learn how to treat ourselves with compassion and kindness. That can be difficult for me. Some days it is hard to tell if we are winning or losing. Maybe it is a tie at the end of the day, neither good or bad winning. Regardless if a chronically ill person is winning or losing, there is always another battle the next day. It will likely never get better, in fact it will normally get worse. But if a person can overcome the bad days and cherish the good days they will be the champion.  



Are you happy? If you’re not, why?  Where is it? What is it that makes you happy?  Why can it be so difficult to find or create happiness?  These are questions I have asked myself and is something I continue to struggle with. I have done a lot of soul searching about this subject. If you could change one thing in your life to become a happier person — like your income, a job, your relationships or your health — what would make the biggest difference? According to the experts the most prominent is that people should invest in their relationships with other people!

I don’t feel like I have really been happy for a long time now. Yes, when I’m doing something with friends or family, those times can be happy. I’m talking about overall happiness, happy with my current life deep in my soul. More good things versus bad things. If I look back, I would say 2012 is the last time I felt really happy. Coincidentally that’s the year my health took a downturn. Things were going well before 2012, certainly not perfect but I had lots to be grateful and happy about. Karen and I were enjoying life together, I had friends and family, kids and grandkids to enjoy. I was working at the fire department. I was healthy and felt great. Most of the things in my life were going well and certainly outweighed any negative things. For all purposes I was very happy. Research suggests that our overall happiness with life may be strongly associated with our satisfaction with and quality of life. Quality of life is a phrase I have used often fighting through my ordeal. My quality of life has certainly declined in the past 10+ years.

So what happened? What was it that took my happiness away? Was it something sudden or did it take time to dissolve? Can I find happiness again? Can I just look under a rock, look behind a door or in the junk drawer?

To connect with my last blog, many days I fear I won’t be happy again and my quality of life will not get better. I think my happiness slowly eroded away as I struggled to find answers to my illness. When Karen passed away it really took a major hit. Now each and every day is physically and mentally challenging. I admit I still have a lot of internal anger with several things.  I’m angry about getting sick, angry about losing Karen, angry I couldn’t keep working and retire on my terms. I feel cheated, left behind. Resolving this anger must be done before I can find happiness. Many of my hopes and dreams I’ve had, now are seemingly unreachable.

The following is from Psychology Today – Happiness | Psychology Today

Happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; researchers find that achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort. Genetic makeup, life circumstances,

achievements, marital status, social relationships, even your neighbors—all influence how happy you are. Or can be. So do individual ways of thinking and expressing feelings. Research shows that much of happiness is under personal control.

Regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself all increase life satisfaction. It isn’t happiness per se that promotes well-being, it’s the actual pursuit that’s key.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m complaining, I’m just trying to figure out how to regain some much-needed happiness in my life. I’m trying to do this while struggling with physical and mental challenges depression, anxiety and PTSD. I have tried multiple things including things I did prior to my illness and some new hobbies. I do not get on social media as much and have removed people who were very negative. I’ve read multiple articles and had suggestions from people. Doing things that include very much physical activity can still be a problem but I’m trying. Projects that require me to mentally focus are also a problem. I have a lot of “brain fog” for lack of better terms.  I am also a very negative person towards myself. Although I’ve accomplished many good things in life, I feel like I have failed in many areas. Hindsight is 20/20 and I shouldn’t keep looking in the rearview mirror trying to move forward.

It says above, much of this is under personal control. So, I have to find things that I can personally do that promote happiness in my life. Maybe the key is finding more things to be grateful for. Studies have shown that being grateful can make you more optimistic, improve your mood, and even lower rates of stress and depression.  I have to persuade my brain to focus on the good things no matter how small they may be. I have made progress in being more positive. Sometimes I just need to push myself a little harder even though it’s difficult and many times has consequences.

If you have read my blogs over the past 8+ years, you know my story and struggles. I know everyone has struggles and handles them differently. I share my story for others to know they are not alone in their battle with any illness. I have a lot of plans or goals this year, many carried over from last year. My bowel resection last April changed many of my plans. Writing is also therapy for me, my way to vent sometimes. I’m grateful I can use a computer and tell my story.  So I’m going to keep writing, keep working on goals, keep myself mentally focused the best I can to find happiness. Fingers crossed!


It’s really strange what my brain thinks about when I wake up at 3:30 AM. Sometimes I’m able to go back to sleep, but many other times I’m not. On those mornings I usually do the wordle or wait for the 4 o’clock local news to come on. And then my brain starts thinking weird thoughts. Last night I sat at my desk, trying to think of something to write about. My mind was completely blank. But at 4 AM in the morning  my brain is exploding with one particular thought, fear.

What is fear? We can all define the answer to that pretty easily. More the question would be, what do we fear? The answer to that question depends on each person individually. Everyone has different fears. Fear goes hand in hand with anxiety. Lately some people fear their bank going belly up and losing their money. So they pull their money out of their bank on fear.

The following is a list of top 10 fears (Phobias)

Arachnophobia: an intense fear of spiders and other arachnids

Ophidiophobia: an intense fear of snakes

Acrophobia: an intense fear of heights

Aerophobia: an intense fear of flying

Cynophobia: an intense fear of dogs

Astraphobia: an intense fear of thunder and lightning

Trypanophobia: an intense fear of injections

Social phobia: an intense fear of social interactions

Agoraphobia: an intense fear of places that are difficult to escape, sometimes involving a fear of crowded or open spaces

Mysophobia: an intense fear of germs, dirt, and other contaminants

10 most fears that hold people back in life.






Something bad happening

Getting hurt

Being judged


Loss of freedom

The first list I really don’t have a fear to any of those. Maybe a little on social interactions depending on the situation. The second list is totally different. I have anxiety and a fear of each of these to some extent. Losing Karen, fighting pancreatitis, fallout from multiple surgeries and having to retire has contributed greatly to these. I’m challenged on a daily basis to overcome the anxiety that fear brings.

Sometimes the fear isn’t warranted but it happens anyway. Our minds have a weird way of working at times. I attended several hazmat schools when I was working and learning about how terrorism works, just the fear people have of a terrorist attack is often worse than the actual attack. There are also documented times in history where many people died trying to flee a building because someone yelled fire. Fear of dying in a fire sent them running in panic. Some people fear not going to heaven and their belief in God keeps them strong against that fear and other fears.

Fears are an everyday occurrence for many. Overcoming them is a challenge but can be done. How we do that depends on our mental focus, patients and practice. Will we ever get over our fears completely, not likely.

Talking about the study and suicide

I have written about mental health before but felt I needed to touch on the subject again. Some for your reading pleasure but mainly for my wellbeing. My last post was about a Study from the University of Cincinnati as it followed a patient’s long-term health after having pancreatic surgery. At 10 years out after surgery, 4 out of 10 patients had died. The study listed that people died from infection, cancer, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, suicide and so on. The aftermath of pancreatic disease likely contributed to those problems. I started thinking about a reason that wasn’t listed. What about people who just plain gave up? Patients who didn’t commit suicide but said enough is enough and mentally quit. They stopped eating or taking supplements, maybe stopped taking medication, or stopped taking treatments of some sort. They might become isolated and won’t go out or engage in social activities. These people are physically depleted and mentally defeated. They give up trying to live anymore and continue to decline until death.

After years of being sick they are tired of –


-feeling crappy


– mental fog

-embarrassing situations

-unable to work

-not keeping the housework up

-feeling alone

-relationship problems

-being socially awkward

-feeling like a failure or burden

-seeing doctors

-feeling abandoned by doctors

-having tests

-being in the hospital

-fighting for good care

-fighting insurance

-taking pills

-financial difficulties

or any number of things.

I didn’t see a category for people who just gave up. I know a few people who gave up and died soon after. A couple of them were likely included in the UC study. I wonder what category they were listed under? What is the breaking point for people to just give up? I’m sure it is different for everyone depending on many of the reasons listed above. A study from 2018 found that people can die from giving up. Yes, People Can Die From Giving Up on Life (

I recently watched a few news stories and another TV show on college athletes who commit suicide. In most cases nobody knew they were depressed let alone suicidal. Most were excellent students and excelled in sports. They didn’t have any serious physical health conditions. A common theme with them however seemed to be how negative they were on themselves. If they made a mistake in the classroom or in their sport, they had very negative images of themselves. Many felt pressure or bullied from multiple people like coaches, family, teammates or social media. They would hide the thoughts and stress they were feeling. They would not seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health. Often people who are depressed are very good at hiding the depression. Putting on the mask as I say.

Family and friends get the impression that everything is going great for the person and don’t suspect anything. Maybe they wonder about it but don’t ask because of the mask one puts on.

The large majority of doctors, nurses and councilors do not have a good understanding of the connection between pancreatic disease, pain and mental health. I have mentioned before that I think people when talking with their doctor, or councilors are not always truthful. Being labeled a drug seeker, alcoholic or other is an all too often problem. Mention the wrong word (suicide) and you will end up going to the hospital for evaluation for admission to the mental health wing. Been there done that. When asked if I thought about suicide, I said yes it had crossed my mind but no intention to do it. I was given 2 choices, go to the hospital willingly for evaluation or be escorted by the police. I was just being honest. If I can’t speak honestly to my councilor without them freaking out, what good is it? Who can I trust with my deepest memories and thoughts if I’m truthful about what I think? Sometimes digging up old memories isn’t the best thing to do?

I’m trying to write more again and post my blogs for others to read. Writing has been a way for me to vent and get out some frustration while helping others learn about the issues involved with pancreatitis and chronic illness. I know only a handful of people read my blogs which is OK. Sometimes I feel stupid sharing my struggles at my age. I get my therapy writing and hopefully others can learn or know they are not alone in their fight. This is made harder because of difficulty concentrating. I’m going to work on writing about things that involve my everyday world in a good way. Somedays it is very difficult to see the sun though the clouds, but it is there. I must be careful because that is one of the ways I use a mask when things are not so well. Getting up some mornings is extremely difficult while trying to convince myself that good things are going to happen. I am cautiously planning a few things to do this summer. I did the same last year and almost everything was derailed by two problems and three surgeries. I spent most of the time recovering.

Mental health is certainly a much needed and appropriate treatment for many people, myself included. I encourage anyone who has depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide to seek counseling. I still struggle with depression and anxiety but have learned how to deal with it. Most of the time I’m successful in using the tools I have learned to keep it in check. It isn’t always easy.