Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, a good time to repost an old blog, ‘This is called the I wish I didn’t have to write this,’ post. On my former Pools of Blessing site my post on suicide received the most hits. I have to believe there’s a reason for that. Someone asked me yesterday if I thought the stigma that comes along with having a mental illness is going away. I can’t say for sure that it is, or that it will ever go completely away, but I can do my part to break that stigma.
I understand what it’s like to contemplate suicide, even as a Christian. I hope and pray that this post helps many people who feel there’s nothing in life worth living for any more. Dig down deep into your soul and figure out another way to deal with your pain and suffering. Be honest with others. Don’t try to hide your misery. Find people you can share it with so you don’t feel so alone and isolated. I’ve found the more honest I am, the lighter my burden becomes. Reach out. Get help. Most of all, believe that you’re important and that there is a vital role that you still have to play on this side of heaven.
You don’t try to kill yourself because death’s appealing — but because life’s agonizing. We don’t want to die. But we can’t stand to be devoured. ~ Ann Voskamp
Should I, or should I not? That was the question I pondered this past week as I looked ahead to Monday's new post. It's been everywhere, the news of Robin Williams—how he took his own life. So many thoughts, questions, opinions have been expressed—was there any room for me to share my own experiences?
But I decided not to pass this up—this opportunity to share my own suffering and grief. And I hope I won't share these words in vain. I hope they will help someone, somewhere.
Suicide? Yes, I considered it. I pondered what it would be like. How I would end my own life. I was a Christian who contemplated suicide. But, I wasn't thinking selfish thoughts like, "Gee, I can't wait 'til they find my body and feel sorry for all the mean things they did to me." It was never about that. It was never about being selfish. It was about finding a way out of the pain that seemed never-ending. I was dying inside and nobody knew it. Not even those closest to me.
I don't like to suffer, so I thought a car running in an enclosed garage would be the way I would do it. I knew I couldn't slit my wrists, too painful. I wanted to go quietly and simply end my life by falling asleep.
Meanwhile I cried out to God to save me. There were so many times when I would lie on the floor, curled up in a fetal position, crying out to God, begging him, 'Please, please take away my pain.' Much like Job, I sat in agony wondering why God had left me and what I was doing wrong.
Only I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was just suffering.
In an old post called the, Colors of My World, I tried to describe depression using the color gray. Though I did my best, even those words didn't tell the whole story, the whole truth of how it feels to be deeply depressed. It's silent. It's hidden. It's hell.
The one thing that truly kept me going—hope. The hope that things would get better, that change would come. But sometimes that golden thread of hope stretched very thin. So I got out my Bible and started to underline passages—like, Jeremiah 29:11:
11" For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I put dates beside each verse and shoved them into God's face and reminded him that when he makes a promise, he always keeps it. And I waited for the day when all those promises of God would come through for me. Promises like Psalm 9:18:
For the needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.
And verses like Psalm 90:15:
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.
I waited patiently, persistently for the day when God would turn my 'valley of weeping,' into 'pools of blessing'. And he did. Since my diagnosis in 2004, my life is a 180 degree turnaround from where it was—a fact that I am grateful for every day.
I can't promise you that the pain of depression will go away all together, because it won't. I can't promise you that you'll never deal with another bout of anxiety, because you will. It's inevitable. But I can promise you this; Hope is a good thing, and it will not disappoint you. That's not my promise. It's God's.
Psalm 12:6 The Lord's promises are pure. Like silver refined in a furnace purified seven times over.