I’ve had it on my heart to talk about loss, depression, and suicide for some time but have been waiting for the “right” time. Christmas is approaching. The holidays are well under way with lights and festive music and parties happening all around. Yet many are not in the festive mood. Reasons vary. But the end result is the same. For those in pain, festivity can make us want to run for the hills and never return! Down through my life, I’ve experienced depression. I’ve been so down that thoughts of escape were pulling at me so strong! After I lost Clint, I have learned the difference between grief and depression. They are very different. Yet, they can run in very similar lines. I’ve learned that when you are one in a marriage, when that person dies, they take you with them. It’s a struggle and fight to be “born again”. The process is painful and often I wanted to stay dead. I most assuredly wanted to be in heaven with Jesus and Clint! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about suicide. I did. I had three main reasons I didn’t go thru with it. I’ve decided to talk about this to give hope. We all need hope and this is the time of year that can be so very hard. So if you are needing hope or a reason to stay, here are my three main reason for why I not only decided to stay but to do life:
1. God can see everything! I’ve walked with Him in close relationship for years and His words are true! He’s proven to me over and over again that I can trust Him, so, in my darkest hour, I can trust Him in this too and believe that if I was chosen to stay, then He has to have a reason!
2. I have studied from a “counseling” perspective what suicide does to those left behind. I would never want those I love and love me to have to deal with wondering why they didn’t see it coming? What could they have done to stop it? I never want my family to doubt my great love for them! I never want them to feel they aren’t enough reason to continue living even when it feels too hard to do so.
3. Lastly, I do not want my last act on earth to be me “raising my fist at God” in defiance that I think my way is better than His. I do not want to say by my actions that I in fact did not trust His plan and my way is better. **DISCLAIMER –I want to add, that I am not making that statement with any judgment for those that do end their lives. This isn’t about our final destination. This is a personal matter between me and my God. I didn’t want to speak with my mouth that I trusted Him, only to meet Him in Heaven and have to look at Him and say, “I really didn’t”. My personal opinion based on what I believe about God and the Bible, is that He wouldn’t love me any less. I just didn’t want to personally say one thing and do another.
I’ve often wondered what makes people get so desperate to think suicide is the only way out. I’ve been there before but didn’t. And losing Clint got me there again and the fight was far greater than anything I’ve ever known. From my perspective, the answer is PAIN! And, I’ve come to another conclusion. This is a personal feeling, not clinical or professional…I don’t think our world knows what to do with GREAT PAIN! Most run away from their own. So how much more so when it’s someone else’s?!?!?! If a person is in agony and feels their pain is too much for people, I feel it can make them go inward, thinking “if my pain is too great for me and I can see it’s too great for them, then where do I go with my pain?” Since living through all sorts of pain in my life and now the greatest I have ever known, I wonder if that may be the biggest reason why people choose suicide. I don’t know. Maybe I’m waaayyy off track. It’s just a thought. I wonder if it’s why people choose to stuff their feelings because strong emotion feels like it scares those around us. I have been blessed with an unbelievable support system!! I thank God that I had people in my life that have not been too afraid of my pain to step into it and hold me when I felt my whole world spinning out of control!! Yet, even in that place, I still felt so sad I wanted to die! I was never suicidal but thoughts came. I would feel guilty about having those thoughts but that’s all they were…thoughts. They don’t own me or you.
I am saying all this to say, if you are in a place this holiday season where you feel down or hopeless or like dying, please be intentional about finding someone to talk to!! Your life matters! You are here for a reason!! People do care…you just need to find people that are gifted with the ability to come alongside of your pain and help you get to the other side. Some people are born with that gift. Others are trained. Either way, don’t let the enemy trick you into believing this is the end or no one cares about you. Or your pain is too big for anyone to be able to step into it and sit with you in it. I also want to say this…PLEASE…PLEASE do NOT allow the worry that people will think you are mentally ill to keep you from voicing your pain or getting help! We all have issues in one way or another. If I am physically sick, I go to the doctor for medication. If someone is mentally ill, they may need medication. But not everyone in pain that is struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide is mentally ill. Great loss/pain/trauma can bring on depression and suicidal thoughts. This is NOT mental illness. I have personally found that in talking, it releases a “valve” of sorts. The pain seems to lessen a bit with voicing my feelings to the right person and being validated. And, when I speak up, others are able to feel less alone and able to voice their pain too.
I also want to say “I’m sorry” if anyone has ever made you feel that your pain is too big or you’re too much! It doesn’t make you weak to feel pain or struggle. We all will at one point or another. And just because others appear to be navigating it quite well, does not mean there is anything wrong with you if you aren’t.
If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, I’d love to introduce you to Him. Without Him I would not be where I am now! If you’re wondering where you can go to talk to someone, there are numerous outlets. Churches around the country have a ministry called Stephens Ministry. Average people like you and me are trained to come alongside those that are hurting and just be with them to listen and love and encourage. Maybe you need someone more trained to talk with. There are professionals available. And lastly, there is a hotline you can call if you are at your wits end and need someone to talk to immediately. It’s the national suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8253.
Your life matters!! It is not random that you are living and breathing! As long as you have breath given to you by God, your Creator, you have purpose! Let Him decide when that should come to an end and find your purpose. Choose LIFE! Choose JOY! And, Merry Christmas!