Shaynation forever.

Death by suicide leaves so many open wounds. One of my dearest friends recently chose to end her life. I post this only in the hopes that it may bring understanding and peace to some, and as a cry for help from the chronic pain community. Our health system is one of the most destructive things I have ever witnessed in my life, and the options we leave for people in daily agony are not enough. People are fighting every day to survive, against their own bodies and against a system that literally does not care for their suffering. A system that will watch you slowly dying while begging for help and not blink.

Stay strong #shaynation.

Anyone who knew Shalyn knew she was a fucking warrior. She told me stories of past traumas that wrecked me just in the listening, let alone the thought of her living through it. She morbidly laughed when she told me that she had reduced more than one therapist to tears within the first half-hour of her sharing her past. When I told her you are one of the toughest motherfuckers I have ever met, she said “I didn’t get much of a choice.”

For years Shay had been a marathon runner, destroying her ankles in the process. This past year, she suffered a horrific fall that required intense reconstructive surgery to her “good” ankle, which — in classic Shay fashion — she dubbed Shankenankle. She was told recovery would be a very long, painful process. After Shankenankle happened, she was tormented by being a semi-functional cripple. The struggle was compounded by the national crack-down on opiates, which left her on bare-minimum dosages that were constantly in threat of being taken away. She and I had a discussion last month during which we jokingly and not so jokingly talked about the fact that, old as we are and fucked up as our bodies are, this is the best we are ever going to feel. It’s all downhill from here. Even the sight of a puddle would give her major anxiety because she was so afraid of another fall. Her job required her to stand for long hours, and she couldn’t work the hours she needed to meet bills. She was in so much physical pain all the time, and she suffered from severe PTSD and anxiety that she managed to largely camouflage with her vibrant personality.

Personally, I think she fought the hardest fight I’ve ever seen anyone fight, for her ENTIRE life, and she was in unimaginable pain. She was exhausted and didn’t want to do it anymore.

As much as it hurts, I understand her decision, but what tortures me is knowing that she had to face this last battle alone.That dying by suicide is such a taboo in our culture that we can’t even talk about it, let alone allow someone to make a choice that would offer them the possibility of dying by their own choice, surrounded by people they trust and love. Toward the end of her life, Shay was in daily torturous pain from a multitude of major injuries and chronic illness issues. She suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. She was a fucking survivor like no one I’ve ever known. And when she decided that it was too much — that the pain was too unbearable – unendurable — she had to make that decision completely alone. She was thoughtful even in death – she packed up her belongings and labeled them for different friends. She didn’t end her life where loved ones would be traumatized by finding her. She tried to make it as painless for us as she could, seeing through her own unmanageable pain to the impact she would make on those around her. And she did it all alone.

Shay went out as she did everything in life, on her own fucking terms. I take consolation that she is no longer trapped in a broken body. She is literally the strongest person I’ve ever known, and I am honored to call her friend.



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15 responses to “Shaynation forever.

  1. Heather

    Wow. This is so beautiful. What an honorable thing to do for your friend.

  2. Jo Morley

    It hit me hard. Evan’s 16th birthday was that day, may they both rest in peace.

  3. Mary Apodaca

    Pain that cannot be Dx’d and treated, along with anxiety & chronic clinical depression is reason enough for suicide. THEY, told me it was my anxiety &depression that was causing my physical pain and treated me drugs for the mentally disturbed.
    Ha ! The pain continued even though I was a walking zombie. Now, I have pain medications … the kind that is being denied others & I live in fear THEY will take mine. I’m not an abusive user. Never have been. If my pain meds are taken from me, I will probably find a way to end my life.
    I’ve seen dying ppl denied morphine because they might become addicted.
    Yeah right. Sent home to die with maybe three weeks to live, and THEY’RE concerned about addiction.
    If THEY cannot allow the suffering medication to relieve the pain, then PLEASE, allow us the option to leave the pain & world behind.
    It’s heartbreaking your friend had to leave this life without benefit of the loving support of family & friends.

  4. Bobbie

    Heartbreaking.We’ve got to find a way to get people connected to the help they need..temporary financial help,medical help….whatever…I suspect it IS out there..but as I read this I realized I haven’t a clue how to find it if I needed it….so there are lots of us that could have been in your friends’ shoes.Such a lovely woman gone..for not very good reasons..except to her.

  5. Anonymous

    I am not as pretty or worthy as your friend, but I feel some of her echoes. I grieve with you, but I truly empathize her story. I live in chronic pain from several autoimmune diseases. I suffered a decade of child rape and molestation. I suffered a decade of emotional abuse by the hands of a psychopath who still was the closest to loved I ever felt and to this day the closest to alive I ever felt was when I grew the closest to dead with him. PTSD and I go way back. I suffered a lifetime of abuse by the bullies who thought they saw what they saw in me–just the fat, ugly, awkward. And I am still recovering over some shenanigans with two bad ankles incidentally that hate me and the heavy body they can barely carry physically or emotionally. That last ankle injury down the stairs did me in.

    I’m not sharing this trauma to form a self pity party, but I think we all feel a lot of how Shay felt. We all feel like addiction numbs what doctors don’t care to truly mend, or worse, what doesn’t exist to fix what has been wronged too deeply to recover from. Sometimes there’s no coming back. There’s no easy way to say that only someone who has lived your pain will ever really understand it and the last thing you want to hear is the truth, which is sometimes it doesn’t get better at all. Sometimes it’s just hard and unjust.

    Love and light are sometimes not enough. Especially without enough resources–financial, medical, or physical. It’s a rough life. It’s not really freedom when you’re living in the asylum of your traumas during this long sober stretch of healthy. A real fun time at parties sometimes. I didn’t know Shay and I take some liberties here that are inappropriate probably. I honestly just wanted to shed some light on how someone who might feel that way from time to time might see it. You paid an amazing tribute to your friend–she was lucky to have you. But sometimes the saddest thing in the world is that love and happiness are not always enough. And I guess I just understand. I’m pretty positive day to day and all that, I care about my fellow humans. I want to lift them up. But at the end of the day, I respect the hell out of the bravery it takes to fight just as much as the courage to know when you’ve met your match.

    Mad respect beautiful angel. Fly high, in peace.

  6. joy K,

    Why are people judging her, Walk in her shoes first, Rest in peace you touched many people lives,

  7. JLN

    I lost my best friend to suicide in March 2017. We had been friends since we were 5 and it left a huge hole. She suffered from depression, and more. I would suggest doing something in her honor that she would appreciate. For my friend, who was an artist, we donated money and bought a large art display board for our high school.

  8. Teresa

    Well said!
    But sometimes the pain in someones heart and soul is so much more than they can accually bare.
    To all that loved her,I’m so sorry for your loss.

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