{The following is a guest post by a dear person who accepted my invitation and request that she share her experiences from the dark abyss of suicide. I applaud her for her courage in writing, and I trust and pray that her words will reach even just one. Please understand that only gentle and loving comments on this delicate and painful topic will be allowed. Thank you.}

 

When I was asked to write this guest blog post on such a personal and sensitive topic, I prayed diligently before agreeing because writing (and reading) this is such a tricky thing. It mimics the fact that you cannot say anything to an anorexic and expect the desired outcome. Any and everything you say to an anorexic will be twisted in their mind – always supporting their belief that they are fat and don’t deserve to eat, yet alone live. I can say that with all respect and honesty because I was anorexic. It is just the way an anorexic mind works. Very similarly complex is the mind of a person plagued with suicidal thoughts. I can also say that with all respect and honesty because I was that person also. Over twenty years ago, and with four young children, I attempted suicide three different times. (Even my anorexia was deemed a slow suicide.) Obviously, I failed—Praise God!—because I am living and am here writing this blog.

Church photo. Happy on the outside. Pain on the inside.

In preparation for writing this, I read a couple of blogs on this tender subject. I was touched by and agreed with one especially in her desire to teach others not to be critical or judgmental of people who have attempted or even succeeded in taking their own life.

In my own story, it was my eleven-year-old son who later said to me, “Mom, don’t you know that that is the most selfish thing you could have done!” I can’t even tell you how hard it was to hear such an adult statement from my young son.

But mostly, I was so hurt and perplexed. It was then that I realized that people really do not understand a mind in that deeply dark state. When my son said that to me, I was startled. Because in my [sick] mind, suicide would have been by far the most selfless thing I could possibly have done. I knew that my sweet husband and precious children would be so so much better off without me. I was pain to them. I was an abject failure as their mother and wife. My being gone would be freedom for them from all the darkness and ugliness and pain that I was. Or so my sick brain thought.

Commerce_family_2

I mentioned that writing this is a tricky venture. It is so partly because I remember feeling that I was an utter failure and not as good as others because I couldn’t even succeed at ending my own existence. I remember getting such courage and motivation from the mere mention of the word or when others were successful in committing suicide. Not courage and motivation to survive and live, but—and here is the tricky part—to go through with it myself. Please, if you are in this frame of mind at this season of your life, please read on. Read on because there is HOPE. If you noticed, I said “season” of your life. Please know that that is exactly what it is—a season. And just like the seasons in nature, this will most definitely pass. It may be a very long time or it may be very brief. But it will pass. I promise.

It crushes my very soul to hear of someone who has taken their own life because I know the absolute depth of despair and utter sadness, hopelessness and helplessness they felt. It throws me back to that most dark moment of my life. This is an ugly, hideous place to be. It brings no pleasure to anyone to live there or do the only thing they think they can do. Life for them is total pain and powerlessness. Every mere breath, even blinking of an eyelid, takes far more effort than can at times be mustered up. And even then, each breath is like a dagger stabbing into your soul, reminding you that you are indeed still alive. Existence. Excruciating existence.

Whenever I hear of someone taking their own life, I dare peer again into that deep dark bottomless abyss. I put my toes in only enough to remember…To never forget from whence I came. It frightens me to realize that we all are such fragile beings. BUT.THERE.IS.HOPE. And that HOPE has a Name—JESUS.

God knows each one of us so intimately, whether or not we are Christ-followers. God knows even the deepest, darkest secret recesses of our hearts, our souls, our minds. AND HE IS NOT ASHAMED OF US OR SHOCKED BY US. HE LOVES US—PURELY AND COMPLETELY.

He knows exactly what it would take to bring us up out of the seemingly bottomless darkness of our pain and despair. If we will only listen and let Him. Let Him love us back into life. LET.HIM.BE.GOD.

In that dark season of my life, I was already a Christ-follower. My husband and I were in the ministry, on church staff. So I was in double jeopardy. Christians aren’t supposed to feel like that. We are supposed to have the faith to pull ourselves up by our holy bootstraps [or sandal straps]. This double whammy only added to my shame and guilt and desperateness. You see, I couldn’t live up to anything that was expected of me.

But, I did love God, although I did not believe that He loved me. That He even could. In my desperate search for a way, or even a reason to live, I went to the Bible. It’s all I knew to do. There were many passages that described how I felt because there were people in the Bible who felt exactly the way I did. That rather surprised me. For example, “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snare of death confronted me.” WOW! It was describing ME! But the passage went on to say, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy…He rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:4-6,16-17,19). WHAT!? ME? No way.

Another example is Psalm 107:18-19. “They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” [Did you actually know that there were anorexics in the Bible!?]

But the one thing I kept seeing was that these people, who were in the same desolate state that I was in, cried out to the LORD. Not only that—HE HEARD THEM AND RESCUED THEM! so I cried. and cried. and cried.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” I did not feel radiant. In fact, I felt very much covered with shame. But something in me wanted to believe it, to cling to this hope. But the sweetest testimony came to me in Isaiah 42:3: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” I was indeed very bruised. Bruised from the “beatings” of life. And believe me, my wick was barely smoldering. That became my lifeline that I held onto, however weakly. I begged God to be that kind to me.

He indeed became my breath when I did not have the energy or desire to inhale or exhale. He was my very heartbeat. He clung to me as I held on to Him for dear life.

There is no need to go into any gory details about my attempts at taking my own life. There is to be no glory in that. The glory comes in that each time, something—SOMEONE—kept me from succeeding. I don’t know why me. But I do know that HE is my RESCUER, my DELIVERER.

My heart goes out to those who have to watch someone you love walk or crawl or even just lie there in this horribly sad state of existence. I can only imagine your own pain. But please be gentle and kind with their hearts. This is not the time to be critical or judgmental. Your friend or loved one gets no pleasure living there. This is not a road they chose nor one they can simply choose to rise from. This is NOT a choice. If it were, I guarantee you I would gladly have taken that choice to NOT feel suicidal. It sure would have been a lot easier than walking through what I walked through.

For those with friends or family in that abyss, there are possibly no words that you can say to “fix” it or even change their mind, BUT BE THERE with that person, even if it takes staying up all night or being by their side all day. They are worth it. Their life is worth it. Don’t try to understand their thinking. You can’t. They don’t. Just be there. Love them.

I will say that in those many dark months, even years, I never appreciated hearing people say, “God isn’t through with you yet” or “God saved you for a purpose.” While these statements may be true and may even help some people, for me—in such serious and desperate times—these words were insulting, disingenuous, and meaningless clichés. They were just words that did not speak love and concern for the intense pain in which I was living. I had some tell me to just get over it. Boy! I wish that I could have!

I don’t mean to put down or disregard people’s genuine efforts to reach out to me and to help. I’m not quite sure that there would have been any human words to actually help me. Counseling certainly taught me great tools with which to live a healthy life now. {I was in-patient for ten months out of a two-year period and in out-patient therapy for a decade.} So PLEASE seek professional help. I did. And I hope you do. But for me, it was ultimately God. PURELY.GOD.

And to those who would call suicide a “selfish” or “cowardly” act, here is what you do not understand. In my “sick” thinking, though I wanted to end my pain, suicide for me was both a selfless and courageous act. Remember, this is sick thinking. Every breath I took was nothing but pain, but I wanted to keep the ugliness of my pain from hurting my husband and children. So for me, suicide was the bravest and most self-less thing I could have done.

Finally and most importantly, to those who are there now, in that dark, despairing, painful emptiness with no energy or desire to breathe, please reach out. Maybe you can’t reach out to a person, but perhaps you can reach even the tiniest of bit to God. Find a Bible (www.biblegateway.com is an excellent source). Google verses about God being our Deliverer, our Salvation, our Strength, our Rescuer. They are there to be found. HE is there to be found. And He is True to His Word. If you are reading these scratchings, THERE.IS.HOPE. And HOPE is a Person—my Friend, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Rescuer, my Rock, my Strength. MY JESUS.

Now, on this side of that hideous abyss called depression with suicidal tendencies, I never want to take a day for granted. I never want to waste a precious moment of LIFE. I never want to waste a single breath. I never want to waste a moment of not loving those around me. I’m still here. I’m breathing—happily. I’m LIVING and loving it!

I made it. And YOU.CAN.TOO.

-Nancy


Please read on…

From Heidi @ Out of She Mind:

To all of my readers:

I want to extend a special thanks for reading this particular post. Not merely because of the nature of the topic, but because this survivor, this writer, this brave woman is my own mother. Yes, this is an issue that is very real to me. I don’t know why and how my mom survived when others didn’t. I don’t know why I was spared the death of my mother multiple times over my childhood so that my eleven kids and I can now visit her a mile and a half away in her living room instead of at a grave site. I have no answers. I only have gratitude—to my mom for making it, and to my God for redeeming it all.


If you wish to read another well-written and raw post on this topic, please visit my friend Lindsey’s heartfelt blogpost HERE, as her family has very recently walked this dark road.


And MOST IMPORTANTLY: To those who need help, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. Or just Google “suicide.” It’s the first result you’ll get. Get whatever help you need to get through the moment. Please.


24 thoughts on “Up From the Suicidal Abyss : the soul of one who lived to tell

  1. Beth

    To say I LOVE YOU, somehow feels inadequate. You’re such a gift and to have had a small season of life with you in it was more impactul than you’ll ever know. The love I have for you and your family can only be described as a Godly, agape, love. Praising Him for your life. Your bravery and courage and your redemption!! Carry on, warrior, carry on!!

    Reply

  2. Mary (Owlhaven)

    I am so thankful to your mom for sharing her story. Someone in my own family committed suicide, and it is such a horrendous wound and a terrible loss to the entire family. Each life is God-created and oh so precious. I really appreciate her insight, and most of all the hope she shares in her story.

    Mary

    Reply

  3. Pingback: On suicide | Owlhaven

  4. Corrin

    Thank you Nancy for your transparency, honesty, and message of hope. I know God will use your journey to touch lives. Thank you for being brave enough to allow Him to.

    Reply

  5. PlainJane

    Thank you for having the courage to speak about this. I needed to read it. I am walking with husband through the valley of PTSD, where depression and suicide are so often found, and those thoughts are never far from his mind. There are so many days that I don’t know how to respond, other than to keep crying out to Jesus for His healing. Thank you for the reminder that there is hope.

    Reply

  6. Tamara

    I lost my brother in law to suicide. Depression decimated him physically and robbed him of seeing his young sons grow into men. One of the most insulting things someone said to me afterward was that he was selfish. I knew him well enough to know that he was not defined by selfishness, and everything about his suicide indicated that he was truly convinced that he was doing his family a favor. I, too, am finding that many people are misinformed and am grateful for survivors like you who can shed some light on what a cruel disease this is.

    Reply

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  9. Tonya

    Beautiful and brave words spoken here. I have battled depression, anxiety, bipolar 2 for most of my life, all while following Jesus. I only considered suicide as a teen and young adult but it was only last year at the age of 40 that I felt a measure of true healing at the hands of my Savior. In the midst of the seasons of pain, prayer and worship are very difficult (as is everything) and I found praise music to be tremendously helpful. When I was unable to find words to pray I could passively fill my mind with life-giving words from Scripture and praises to God put to music. Even still, as I do believe I have experienced healing, I still live with the cycles of bipolar 2 and music is my lifeline some days.

    I love that your mom mentioned Psalm 18:16, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Last spring I found myself broken at the foot of the Cross and Christ met me in my pain as I’ve never known Him. I learned the difference between loving Christ and being in love with Him, and while I still deal with my emotional cycles, something changed in me and I will never be the same. Whenever I was in the midst of depression I always felt like I was drowning so shortly after Christ rescued me last spring I did something I have wanted to do for years – I got not one, but two tattoos. On my right wrist is Psalm 18:16 and on my right wrist is Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you; I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Topped with a crown because I am the daughter of the King. My tattoos mean that I believe God so much that I wanted to burn it into my flesh as a reminder of all He has done for me, and not a day goes by that I don’t look at them and remember.

    Reply

  10. Tonya

    Beautiful and brave words spoken here. I have battled depression, anxiety, bipolar 2 for most of my life, all while following Jesus. I only considered suicide as a teen and young adult but it was only last year at the age of 40 that I felt a measure of true healing at the hands of my Savior. In the midst of the seasons of pain, prayer and worship are very difficult (as is everything) and I found praise music to be tremendously helpful. When I was unable to find words to pray I could passively fill my mind with life-giving words from Scripture and praises to God put to music. Even still, as I do believe I have experienced healing, I still live with the cycles of bipolar 2 and music is my lifeline some days.

    Tell your mom thank you for sharing her story.

    I love that your mom mentioned Psalm 18:16, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Last spring I found myself broken at the foot of the Cross and Christ met me in my pain as I’ve never known Him. I learned the difference between loving Christ and being in love with Him, and while I still deal with my emotional cycles, something changed in me and I will never be the same. Whenever I was in the midst of depression I always felt like I was drowning so shortly after Christ rescued me last spring I did something I have wanted to do for years – I got not one, but two tattoos. On my right wrist is Psalm 18:16 and on my right wrist is Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you; I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Topped with a crown because I am the daughter of the King. My tattoos mean that I believe God so much that I wanted to burn it into my flesh as a reminder of all He has done for me, and not a day goes by that I don’t look at them and remember.

    Reply

  11. InThatPlace...

    A friend shared your blog post with me today. This on the heels of yesterday when I finalized a plan. When the thoughts cloud any rational thinking. You speak of hope. You speak of this being a season. I want to cling to your words just as I cling to the Scriptures God continues to put in front of me at just the right times. I’m holding on with all I have left. It’s hard. It’s really hard to not let go. Thank you for your story, for a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I can hold on a little longer.

    Reply

    1. Becca

      Sweet Friend (In That Place)…yes, you can hold on for the Hope that created you holds you in His mighty hand. He will never leave you nor forsake you, precious child. He loves you more than anyone could ever imagine. I know the place is dark. I know the pressure rises all around you. I know you can no longer hear the beauty of the music around you but He is there. He lurks and watches and keeps a careful eye on you – for you are His. He is your Creator and He wants you to live. He wants you to live for Him. He wants you to be here to share your story! He wants you to hang on until He sees fit to bring you home. You are more precious than silver and more costly than gold. You are the apple of His eye! Hold fast the Truth that has set you free and will continue to set you free until He takes you to Glory. Reach out to those that understand and can feel your pain. Crawl up in your Heavenly Father’s arms and let Him hold you. Rest in Him, rest in His comfort. Find hope and healing in Him and Him alone. You are loved!

      Reply

    2. Erin

      Praying for you now. You’re not alone. If you live alone, please have a trusted friend or family member on speed dial. Let them know you’ll call/text if you need them and them reach out to them if you do. Having someone physically there with you will not only protect you, but also encourage you to see that you don’t have to fight alone. I’ve lost people to suicide and have depression in my family. I’ve seen that isolation is what’s hard. You’re so brave and courageous to write here. Thank you for sharing and letting us see and hear you. You are not a mistake and while your past may affect you, it doesn’t define you. I felt you may need to hear that. The Lord rejoices over you and has never left your side. You’re not alone. ((Hugs)) and prayers.

      Reply

    3. Pete Juvinall

      Hi!

      Been there. Some thoughts and scriptures that God used to move me through my season (it took the better part of a year and some change):

      1 Peter 5:

      6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

      You, dear friend, are loved. You are cared for. The God who created the Universe created you and loves you as his treasure. What do you know? God knows you. God loves -you-, and God understands. You are also not alone in your suffering. There are dear brothers and sisters out there that have been there. You also know that God, himself, will restore you. For me? It looked different than what i expected, but God’s grace extended to -me- and will to you and he *will* establish you. Not sure what that means, but you are brave and you can hold out. You’re not alone.

      My other passage that was encouraging to me was Genesis 26:22 “22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth,[a] saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.””

      We transitioned to a new state that is much colder than where we were. Lots of waiting, lots of house not selling, and I was here by myself for 6 months and our family stayed with friends in town for 7 more months. But…and this is a big but – God eventually provided. We are in a duplex and it is perfect, for us. What we expected? Nope. But perfect? Yup. Answers look different than what we expect, but God seeks to make room for us. For me – it’s a new address for being unsettled, in my 40’s, for the better part of a year because I followed God to do something risky.

      Not sure where you’re at, but I can guess it’s legitimately scary, and you are strong. You’re here, breath is in your lungs and you are loved by a God who pursues you.

      You are in my prayers, dear friend, I know it’s hard. You are loved.

      Reply

    4. Esther

      Praying for you. Just keep holding on and wrestling with the truths of God’s love for you. I am praying for Him to feel real to you, to show Himself personal to you and for realized hope that He can completely heal. Just keep hanging on – to Him.

      Reply

    5. Misti

      You are so precious. Treasured. Set into movement by the king for his glory and your worth surpasses understanding. I wish I knew you so I could come read God’s word to you and allow you to rest your mind deeply on the love he pours out for you, his beloved inheritant. I feel desperate to convey your worth and beauty but mostly I want you to rest your weary mind and gain reprieve from the depths of pain and your own internal cries of hopelessness. And to be able to sustain you until that hope overflows from you. I promise, dear one, hope comes. Hope lives. And while you may not feel it right this moment I beg you to go to someone you feel safe with and let them show it to you. Let them show you god’s word which flows with adoration for you his precious child, and let them hold you and caress your sweet head while you ride this wave of despair. Weeping endures for a night (and oh what a long long night) but joy comes in the morning. And if for a moment you feel that your pain and darkness somehow exclude you from god’s care, go into the word and look at the ways his people have cried out to him, declaring their inability to feel his love, and know he gives us permission to say and cry out that we are alone and apart from him. He gives us permission to be both in darkness and to stand before him crying out. “Oh Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you; let my prayer come before you, incline your ear to my cry; for my soul is full of troubles…” Dear one, this world is meant to hold you, we are not better off without you, we are meant to surround and love you. You who are fearfully and wonderfully made…you are loved.

      Reply

    6. Lindsey

      In that Place-

      On February 9, 2014 my baby brother, one month after his 29th birthday sent me a text message. It was the last one I ever got from him.
      “the answers will come in time I’m sorry sis” was all it said. A year later, I still don’t know the answers; I know now I may never. I miss him every moment of every day. I am not mad at him, only at myself because he did not let me know how he was feeling so I could remind him of how tremendously loved he is and how no one in the history of ever could make a joke like he can. I am praying for you today. Praying that you are reminded of what a precious, beautiful gift to this life that you are. It is not always rainbows and sunshine, but often there are times that the light peeks through the clouds enough just for you to remember there are rainbows. Wishing you a rainbow today!

      Hugs and love,

      Linz

      Reply

  12. Laura

    Oh dear one In That Place,
    Please hear you are loved and needed. Hang on. May hope and truth arise in your soul tonight. Praying over you tonight.

    Reply

  13. Susan

    InThatPlace…,
    I am praying for you. YOU ARE LOVED!

    Jesus knows storms. He calms the storms for us. I am asking him to calm yours. He loves you. He knows you and he loves you. He will calm your storm. He wants to. He will.

    But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

    The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (‭Mark‬ ‭4‬:‭37-39, 41‬ NLT)

    Reply

  14. Sarah

    Thank you for this beautiful post. My daughter has struggled with this and I have spent nights listening to her cry out that she is just so tired of the mental battles. The immense effort it takes for her to make it through a day when she is in the depths of her depression would astound most people. I tell her that she is the strongest person I know because she fights her way through those days. I’m terrified that some day she will be so tired of fighting through it that she will lose the battle. No one would ever choose to have this. Thank you for explaining the “sick” mind. I used to think it was selfishness too but now I realize how in that state of mind they feel like it is the right thing for the ones they love. My daughter says she feels like a burden to others. I try and remind her over and over what a gift she is and how much she is loved.

    Reply

  15. Tiffany

    I’m so sorry for your pain. Please know that you are loved and valued. Praying for your pain to ease and your strength.

    Reply

  16. Sarah

    InThatPlace,

    Please don’t stop fighting! I know you are tired. Just know that you are deeply loved. You are precious. God wants to show you His Love. Don’t give in to the darkness. He made you and He loves you.

    Reply

  17. Angie

    Dear In That Place,
    If I could reach out to hold your hand or heal your hurt I certainly would. God truly does love you and has a plan for your life. He has plans for your good and not harm. He has plans for your hope and future. Jeremiah 29:11
    What courage you show to share your transparency on this forum! Hold on sweet one. Hold on and continue to confide in those whom you trust. ❤️

    Reply

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