- Posted June 30, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
CARLOS MANUEL AGUILAR WRITES ABOUT A COMPASSIONATE WRITER AND HIS GOODBYE LETTER TO HIS FAMILY
BY: CARLOS MANUEL AGUILAR
Jason moved from Tucson, Arizona to the Philippines a little over three years ago. He is a compassionate writer. He has energy, generosity and blindness. On May 29th he wrote a beautiful goodbye letter to his family. It was poignant, compassionate and thoughtful. Sometime later he was in a hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. He has since broken through the pain realizing that asking for help appears to be the best solution.
How far back does your history of suicide go?
My first “official” suicide attempt was back in 2003. But there was a time in the early 1990s, before I was seeing any doctors or taking medication where I wanted to take my life. I was self-medicating with hardcore illegal substances and one night I was very depressed and hopeless. I locked myself in the closet naked with a gun and sat for hours with it cocked in my mouth. The only thing that saved me was a fortunate call from my parents, who talked me out of it.
What makes you feel so despondent and hopeless as to want to take your own life?
Mostly, I’m tired of being ill. I’ve dealt with this for so long, without any real relief, that I get very depressed. During my attempt on May 29th 2014 I was feeling very horrible – depressed, anxious, delusional and I was hearing voices telling me that killing myself was the only way to solve my problems. After some family issues that proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, I decided to stop thinking and just do it.
Do you reach out for help when you've felt suicidal?
The last time, I didn’t tell anyone I was feeling suicidal and it was probably the worst mistake I made. After I failed, I found I had so many people who would have helped had I only asked, but at the time, I felt alone in my pain.
Has reaching out ever helped before?
Yes. I often talk to my parents and wife when I am feeling suicidal and it does help, because if I had no one, I would have attempted suicide many more times than I did.
How has this affected your family?
Most haven’t come right out and said it, but I know I hurt my family very much. My oldest son did say it was the worst day of his life, waiting to hear if I was dead or not. On the good side, my family and friends are being so much more supportive and helpful.
They say that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Does that help you understand that the feelings of despair will pass?
It does now, but when you are stuck deep in the rabbit hole, you don’t think about anything but ending the pain. Permanent sounds good to you - never having to feel such horrible pain again. Also, I don’t feel my issues are temporary. I’ve been told by several doctors that I will be sick the rest of my life - barring some miracle cure.
You say that you've tried all types of medications but sometimes it's about the right combination. Is there any hope in finding the right combination?
Sometimes I think I’ve tried every combination of medications there are. I feel like a guinea pig. Most will give some relief for a short time, but the dosage has to be constantly raised until they stop working altogether. Now I have the problem that where I live there are very few psych medications available, so I’m try to make what I am taking work for me the best I can.
Medications can help a chemical imbalance but therapy can change behavior and the way we think, which leads to a different thought pattern. What is it about therapy that doesn't sink in to help you?
Back when I was in therapy, I didn’t really think it would help me, and I wasn’t really ready to put in the work needed for it to be successful. You can’t just sit there and hope something sinks in and you will be cured. Now that I think I am ready to put the work into recovery, I can’t afford therapy, and I don’t really trust the counselors who offer it.
When did you move to the Philippines?
I moved from Tucson, Arizona to the Philippines a little over three years ago and have been here off and on. I do love living here – it’s beautiful and the people are great.
How is it there as far as treating your condition?
They are a little behind the rest of the world in treating mental illness. I don’t think the doctors are as well trained as some other countries and there are not many medications available at a reasonable price. There is no medical insurance, so I have to pay full price for my doctors, medications and hospital stays.
Would living in the US be more helpful with support and state-of-the-art treatments?
I would say partly yes - the US or some other country with good mental health treatment would be better for me, but my wife and child are Filipino and it’s very hard to get a Visa to go to another country. Plus, it’s inexpensive to live here and I can survive on the little I make, where I couldn’t in the US. I have been on Social Security Disability since 2003, but its not enough to support a family and pay for everything in the US. I am legally, according to Social Security, living in the Philippines because everything is much cheaper and it's a better choice for my family, but not my mental health. My SSDI is due to expire in 2016.
On the other hand, I lived in the US for many years and was part of the mental health system and I have to say it’s broken - so many sick people and so few services available to them. Unless you are working and have great medical insurance, which many people with severe mental illnesses can’t and don’t, you have to take what is available, and what is available is not really that good.
Are you aware that Obamacare is precisely meant for people like you? Would that help?
I don't know much about Obamacare, but from what I've heard, the poor people who cannot afford to buy their own health insurance will be penalized.
OBAMACARE PROVISIONS: In January of 2014, provisions of the health law instituted a broader impact for 20 million to 30 million more Americans when subsidies became available for people to buy private coverage from an array of health plans sold by insurers such as Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth Group and various Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.