Once upon a time, I thought suicide was a choice people made when they were too selfish to suck it up and find a solution for their pain. Just think of all the aching, grieving people they left behind while they got to escape, be free.
How could they DO such a thing?
Selfish, selfish, selfish.
(Once upon a time, I had a lot of very-most-absolutely-true, solid, immovable, unshakeable, don’t-mess-with-my-carefully-constructed-box-thanks ideas. I knew many, many, many things. And I was dead right about all of them. If you dared argue, I could-and-would shoot you down with all-the-Bible-in-the-world to back me up. Boom.)
I’m not exactly sure when I began to have a little more empathy, when I began to consider the possibility that someone who attempts suicide is feeling something so deep, enduring pain so intense, experiencing darkness I don’t even have a category for in my unaffected-by-mental-illness brain.
Isn’t that just like us though? Even if our intentions are pure, and we want to have compassion, we still see the world through our own unique lenses. We lack the ability to step inside someone else’s skin and imagine an alternative reality.
But that’s what we’ve got to do.
One way I want to help us start to do that is by sharing some very real, very personal stories from some of my friends, told in their own words.
There is power in stories. There is healing. There is validation and understanding and making sense of things that make no sense.
We need to tell our stories. And we need to listen to the stories of others. We cannot view the world through the lens of our own limited experience and ignore/discount/scorn the experiences of our fellow human beings.
Will you take a journey with me into the hearts and minds of some dear people who suffer from depression?
I met my friend, Dee, here in Cambodia just days after arriving in January. She lives in Australia but will be back for a visit in a few months.
When you feel like you have lost everything, caused by the death of a child, and you cant understand why, how, etc… I personally sank into a deep depression. I didn’t really understand that I was in a deep depression at the time, but looking back now, I know that I was. The suicidal thoughts came, and sometimes went…but sometimes stayed for many days at the time. The only way I can describe it, is being in a deep dark hole, that was so deep and so dark that you couldn’t see a glimmer of light. It was made worse by thinking that people didn’t understand my grief.
I do remember one very significant day, that was very dark, and I had actually planned out what I was going to do. To this day I am grateful that a friend saw me go to leave, and dragged me physically out of the car..the car that would have been my weapon of death. And I have to say, that whatever was about to happen that day, compared to what did…..it snapped something. I still had suicidal thoughts, but nothing as extreme as that day. And although my friend is no longer here, I am grateful that I still have life, and that my life should be used, not just to glorify Him, but to show thankfulness that I still have life.
This friend asked to remain anonymous.
For me, I think that it’s important to note that those struggling with depression and contemplating suicide DON’T want to die. They just want to make the pain go away. In the moments of my darkest periods of depression, I remember being fearful of suicide. It didn’t feel like a choice but a spiritual attack. I remember begging God to not let the enemy convince me that I had no other choice. The enemy was crafty, and planted the idea that I couldn’t go on anymore and that I was without hope, even while it fought and begged God to spare my life. Does that make sense? So to me it really didn’t feel like a choice, but a battle I had to fight against. I felt like I was dying, and had to crawl back to the land of the living again.
Even today, I sometimes fear that I will get back to that place. Relapse is not an option, and I work really hard to maintain my joy in The Lord. Thankfully, our God is stronger and He pulled me out of depression only the way He knew how to. I could feel and hear him even while I felt like I was drowning in a sea of grief and lies. His soft whispers comforted my soul. I could hear him whisper soft instructions and nursing me back to health only the way a Father could. “[Name], you need to get out of bed.” “[Name], try to take a shower for me.” “[Name], you really need to eat something.” “[Name], I love you, I love you, I love you. I’m here. You are going to be okay.” So I can confidently say that God saved me. I have absolutely no doubt that I would not be alive right now if it weren’t for Him.
This is from my sweet friend, Jamie, who I’ve known for lots of years. I had no idea what she was going through.
I didn’t realize I dealt with depression until I after I delivered my firstborn. Thought it was the “baby blues”, but then after my 2nd came along… I soon was to recognize it was more than that. The feelings I had reminded me of what I felt like when I was in college. These were similar feelings I had before, but I didn’t know what they were. Feelings of overwhelmingness. Doubt. Fear. Inadequateness. Unworthiness. This was when I first came to realize I suffered from depression. My suicidal thoughts didn’t come until later…until my 4th child was born. At this point I was beyond overwhelmed. I was medicated but it honestly was a “heal all.” The struggle to find the right drugs for me was SO stinking annoying. It takes 2 weeks to have an antidepressant take into effect and by then, if it’s not working, you need to up your dose. If you up your dose, your sex life takes a hit and then you’re not happy, and now your spouse isn’t happy. If that dosage and medicine isn’t working, then you have to try yet another drug. It’s a long and emotional process. NO ONE seems to understand…unless you find someone close to you who KNOWS. People around you think you are making it up. Using it as a crutch. My husband who is a pharmacist still, to this day I don’t believe, doesn’t have a clue what I go through. It’s a DAILY struggle. DAILY.
I actually went to a Beth Moore Simulcast in September with a close friend. It was a VERY prayer-filled conference and Beth asked for others around us to pray for us. a 60-year-old woman came up to my friend and me and said she felt the need to pray for us. I shared my struggle with depression. She then knelt down and prayed over me and my friend and startled me by speaking in tongues, but I had an experience that I have NEVER HAD in my life. I felt healed. Completely and utterly healed. I couldn’t and still can’t quite explain it. It was a moment that I will NEVER forget. I went home and stayed on my medicine for a couple weeks but felt the Lord urging me to go off my meds. It took me a couple weeks and I did. I have been off my meds now for 9 months now. I have had some moments (mainly during my period) that can be rough..:but if I stay close into the Word and by sending out prayer requests to my close friends who also deal with anxiety and depression, I manage good. I still to this day hate that I have this sickness. I know that it can be easily triggered, and am aware of what can…but I know I cannot deal with it alone.
I have many more stories to share and some thoughts of my own. And hopefully I’ll have some words to share from someone in my own family who contemplated suicide not that long ago.
If you want to share your story in the comments or email it to me, please feel free. And, if you need prayer, please ask for that too.