September is National Suicide Prevention Month so I thought it best to pen this post now. Along the way, I’ve wanted to die.
If you are in that place now, please
*Call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800- 273-8255.
*Reach out to those who can help (counselor, clergy or close friend).
*Seek professional input from your medical doctor or local hospital emergency room.
Reading my post is no substitute for imminent action. Though you may resonate with my experience written here, please do not put off a phone call or a trip to get help. Now.
For me, in my experience, there has been a distinct difference in wanting to die and suicidal feelings and ideations. I would define ‘wanting to die’ as a dark night of the soul; despair; curled up in a ball and ineffective; deep dark depression; thinking life would be better without me around; hoping for an illness or accident to incapacitate me and other low self-worth driven preoccupations. I wanted to be gone. I wanted to not exist. I wanted to make it all go away. While that definition may sound similar to suicidal ideation, for me it was not.
Many Biblical characters wanted to die at some point in their lives. Job, Jonah, David, Solomon, Elijah— several Old Testament characters expressed some form of despair that included the question, “why am I alive?!” And, “Wouldn’t it be better if I were never born?“ or “Wouldn’t it be better if I just died?” It is a relatively common human experience (especially for us lefties and creatives) to ask the existential questions and to face unbearable suffering on this earth while questioning one’s value in living as opposed to dying.
Even in my darkest hour, I knew I would never take my own life. One, I had a faith (more, a Faithful One) that loomed larger than myself and kept me connected to Hope even when... Secondly, I would never make the choice to leave my husband a widower, my children without a mother or my parents without their youngest child. As well, I didn’t have any sense of what resources could be used to carry out such a task, nor did I have the perceived courage it would take to end my life. Last, the Lord reached down to rescue me with good counsel, medication and a path toward healing. He reached out to rescue me with Himself.
I always hope you never have that kind of courage either.
In October of 1988, (Un)incredible Hulk and I had another encounter. I was barely twenty years old. It wasn’t THE encounter that ended our relationship in May of that same year, but it was a dramatic, emotionally driven, physically rough and verbally abusive exchange. I retreated to my friend’s house.
My head was pounding. I was likely having an early PTSD reaction to the first interaction with him since THE encounter. I was wracked with anxiety and despair. As in, my entire body was viscerally reacting. I asked my friend for Tylenol. And told her I wanted to take the whole bottle, “To end it all’. She was more savvy than I and I never got relief for my headache that night. She never gave me any pain medication. I fell asleep in a sobbing heap. She stayed up all night watching and worrying.
I always hope you have that kind of friend.
Fast forward fourteen years- shortly after the birth of our fourth child and postpartum blues took an ugly turn. Postpartum depression is real and needs treated. Hormones, surgery, anesthesia’s aftermath, an unkempt past, a young marriage, a full house with its demands — this soon became THE season my emotions came to collect rent on my body and soul. I was going to deal with my past now, or it was going to deal with me. I, again, wanted to die.
It’s not like the years between wanting to die the first time and wanting to die the next didn’t hold heartache and pain, depression and loss. It well did. But it held very happy days rearing a young family and enjoying a thriving ministry. It held incredible joys, too. Those joys were a welcome reprieve and part of the season and the story I needed to be primed to heal. It was a respite from the loud noises in my head that didn’t have a voice yet.
Wanting to die when you are a Pastor’s wife, a mom to four littles and the primary (home) educator of your children isn’t ideal. I was lost, but the encouragement of my two older sisters, my dear friend Loretta & my spiritual confidante Mary Ann helped my feet to find footing. They met me in my reality and worried not that my ideal was eschewed.
On their promptings, it was in 2002 I first sought a professional counselor to help me not want to die. I sought a medical doctor, who had walked through my miscarriage with me and who had delivered my rainbow baby, to prescribe me medication that helped me not want to die. In 2003, I ran a half marathon as a symbol that I could do hard things when it hurts (and that there is always someone running with me). I ran to quiet the wanting to die. And I purposed in that season to work hard to heal, as only I could, by the Healer’s Hands.
I always hope your feet find footing. I always hope you’re safe in your reality. I always hope you seek help.
The last time I can remember wanting to die, I was not processing the pain of my past well. Mr. Magoo was not playing nice. Normal every day communication with my husband had become strained and argumentative. We were both weary of the same story line as I tried to cope with sometimes wanting to die.
In a hurry, I jerked my way out of the driveway with fitful determination. It seems less movie-like when you imagine a ‘Mom Van’ speeding to the nearest drive thru. This was the day. This girl who doesn’t drink (at all) was going to drink herself numb. And drive drunk. And see what just might happen with alcohol and erratic driving.
I find the sketchier part of town. I whip in. I order my alcohol. Heart pounding. I’ll show them. Mom van, Mom hair, Mom jeans and Mom gets I.D.’d. Mom blush. Mom fail. In all my bluster, my Mom wallet didn’t make it to the Mom Van. There I sat, penniless. I sat without an I.D. No alcohol or fast cars for me. I couldn’t even ‘want to die’ that night without being thwarted by my own confusion and Mom Brain.
I always hope you leave the house without your wallet.
I was the girl without an identity and I knew it. I didn’t even know who I was as a grown woman. That night marks the last time I remember wanting to die. And my Mom pride crept back into the house quietly, no alcohol on my breath.
I always hope you know who you are.
Through a long road of healing, I don’t want to die any more. I’ve still been depressed, or sad, longing for heaven, and disenchanted by this earth, but I want to live. I didn’t get to this part of the journey alone; there were so many life-givers along the way. The Life-Giver Himself deserves all of my gratitude.
I always hope you are not alone.
I always hope you want to live.
I always hope you live.
I always hope.
Along the way, I’ve wanted to die.
For me, in my experience, I now want to live.
Take the Hand of the Life-Giver and let’s do life together.
I always hope you find Hope.