The first time I had suicidal thoughts was when I was 14. I had moved from middle school into high school. I had never felt comfortable in school or around people. School had been a slow torture for me from kindergarten.
There was a guy in school that I liked and I found out he liked me. He asked to take me to a hayride the school was sponsoring. I said yes, even though I was terrified. It was to be my first real date. I bought a beautiful blouse to wear. But the date was a disaster because I couldn’t speak. I answered his questions with one-word syllables and never asked him a thing. Eventually, he gave up trying to talk with me.
Later, at home, I realized what I had done and felt hopeless. The thought of going back to school and seeing him again and telling my girlfriends what had happened was too much. I took all my brother’s sleeping pills. They pumped my stomach and my parents took me out of school. They also sent me to a psychologist.
I was home-schooled by a government teacher and got straight A’s. I felt happy not having to try to cope with school. But by the end of that school year, they said I could go back to a regular school. I went back, and I did make some good friends. I got in trouble with my father though because in our church dancing was a sin, and he kept finding out I went to dances. He beat me with a belt. When I was young, he had sexually molested me, but I had somehow forgotten all that.
So, at seventeen, I was depressed about my life. I remember saying to myself, “No one in the whole world loves me.” And it was true. So, I drove to a cliff and was going to drive off of it. But I was too scared to die that way. I went home, went in my parent’s bedroom and stole money from my father’s wallet. I was going to run away and maybe find love somewhere else. But My father heard me and stopped me. Instead, they sent me away to relatives in Canada. I got a job and friends and felt better.
The last time I wanted to kill myself was a few years ago when my husband and I moved out of our daughter’s house into our own apartment. I had been babysitting their daughter who has OCD. She was 14 and didn’t need me anymore. But I wasn’t prepared for the deep depression that came upon me like a black cloud.
I was depressed because I was lonely and also sick. Because of my illness, I couldn’t leave the apartment. I was terribly lonely; I barely saw my daughters and grandchildren. I hated my new life so I decided to put a stop to it. I took my husbands sleeping pills and passed out on the living room floor. He found me like that and an ambulance took me to the hospital where I was saved once again. He only had 10 pills left, so they just put me in a bed where I hallucinated for hours and eventually became normal.
I have told some of this story before, but I heard something on a podcast last night that brought it all back to me. The podcast is: The Zeitcast with Jonathan Martin. The topic was: Religious Trauma, Depression, & Suicide in the Church. One of the things his guest, Tony Caldwell, said was wonderful. He said something like, “When someone wants to kill themselves, something has to die alright, but not the person. It is the thoughts that make you want to kill yourself.” Yes! Just wow! If only depressed people knew this was possible. We can change our thinking! We just have to learn how.
What helped me the most when I was depressed, besides therapy, and writing a journal, was reading this, “If you want to kill yourself, it is because you love that thing you are killing yourself over more than you love God.” I am a Christian, and I’ve been one since I was 19. I was sure I loved God more than anyone, but I was wrong. I knew God wouldn’t want me to kill myself, but I didn’t care. I was horribly lonely and hated my life the way it was, therefore, I loved my family more than God. I wanted them more than I wanted God. That is where my heart was.
So, I turned to God and said, “Well, Lord, it is just you and me now. I pray you will give me some purpose and something to live for. He did. He came close to me with comfort. I spent more time praying, especially when sad feelings came. I asked him to find things for me to do, and he did. I started painting and woodworking. I finally had a reason to get out of bed. Slowly, I became happy and now I feel full of joy almost all the time. Whenever I start feeling sad, I praise God out loud and quote the Bible. The feeling of joy returns. This is a daily struggle, but now that I know God always comes through for me, I never, ever feel hopeless.
I used to feel like such a misfit. I used to feel I didn’t belong. But God has shown me I am exactly the person he wants me to be and I always was because he has been with me, helping me. I now see my weakness as a great asset, for it has brought me to him and shown me how much I need him. Suffering has also made me sympathetic towards others.
After God refused to heal Paul of a “thorn” in his life he wrote,
“He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9,10