I have a broken back. I had fusion surgery in 2014, but it didn’t work. As a result, I deal with severe pain on a daily basis. I cannot stand, I cannot sit, I cannot lay in a position that stops the pain. The narrowing of my lumbar spine has gotten so bad that it is constantly putting pressure on my sciatic nerves. My spine gives a new and literal meaning to “getting on my nerves.”

You see, I cannot function in daily life without controlled substances in my body. Due to the pain, I’ve often wondered how much of that medication it would take to kill me. As my pain increases at various points throughout any given day, the more I think about dying. Really, I want the pain to end. I want it all to stop. Over the last several years, suicidal thoughts have become routine mental fodder for me.

In addition to the pain, I suffer from a mental illness called major depressive disorder. That’s what the doctors are calling depression nowadays. It’s not surprising really because mental illness runs in my family. My maternal grandfather spent periods of his life in and out of mental institutions. His mental state combined with his severe alcoholism meant that I never really spent any time with him. I only really knew my mom’s stepdad, who was a wonderful husband to my grandmother until she passed away several years ago. In family terms, Phil was my grandpa, not Don. And yet, it is impossible to deny your own DNA.

Adding up the chronic pain, my familial predisposition for mental illness, and having a medically complex kid who likely won’t outlive me (which is always a joyful reality to ponder), my life is a bundle of uplifting, encouraging good news. In case you missed it, the previous sentence was sarcasm.

Earlier this year, I was asked a question by a man more than 15 years my senior regarding social media and sharing information online. He asked, “why do you feel the need to post about your life online? What good could come of it?”

I briefly mentioned my daughter, Savannah. Her medical issues include a compromised immune system, so my wife and I don’t get to have much of social life because of germs. They’re everywhere! I generally go to work, but that’s about as far out of the house as I go. I don’t interact with people on any social level, except for online.

My response to the man stemmed from that reality. Posting small snippets of my life on the internet gives me a small social-esque form of interaction with my family, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers. While social media and online “interaction” is by no means perfect, there is powerful good that can come from it.

That’s why I’m writing this post. It’s honest.  I don’t want some pity party, rather quite the opposite. I hope these few words will connect with you that may be battling depression, suicidal thoughts, chronic pain, the potential loss of a loved one or whatever else is going on in your life.

The beginning of this post isn’t very encouraging, but it is real life. It’s my life. Sometimes we need to share what we’ve been through or are currently going through for the benefit of others. That’s what I hope to do while I’m still here to do something. God didn’t put us on the earth to go through life all alone.

I don’t understand this pervasive mindset of never showing your weakness, your troubles, or your fears. It’s as if we must always keep an appearance of perfection on our faces, despite utter turmoil devouring us from the inside out.

“Yeah, I’m broken, but guess what? I’m okay with that because so is everyone else. After all, broken pots spill more water.”

Ryan G Hensler

Disclaimer: I know many of you are genuinely concerned about the revelations made in this post. Please know that I have a wonderful team of doctors, surgeons, mental health professionals, as well as family members that keep me going and keep me accountable day after day. There’s a big difference between suicidal thoughts and suicidal actions or tendencies. Thoughts you can’t always control, actions you can.

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