I hope I gave good suicide prevention tips that really helped!
Here’s a little about me: I have forgiven those who wronged me, so there is no need to recount the events between me and my abuser. But I will say that my family has some history of dysfunction, mental illness, and alcoholism. I myself developed mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as various addictions other than substance abuse. The first half of my life felt tragic and powerless. But I do believe that my experiences have great meaning in hindsight. I do believe that God meant for me to help others overcome, just as I overcame.
Many coping mechanisms can indeed be taught. The reason we
have such a high suicide rate in our world, I believe, is because healthy
ways of coping are not passed on from parents to children, as they could be. In essence, everybody is left guessing what to do. They can either re-invent the wheel or just follow what they see parents doing. Children eagerly latch onto ideas that are set by example, such as addictions to food, substances, codependency, self-harm, etc. These behaviors are clearly not an answer to gut-wrenching emotional pain. Nine times out of ten, they only cause more pain and loss. Addictions cause damage to the psyche, as well as the body, the finances, the job, the career, property, and relationships. I am hoping that my writings offer alternative solutions for people who are suicidal.
My transformation has taken years. It was a slow journey from being an abused, suicidal child to becoming independent, self-confident, and loving myself. It was a long process of adjustments to change my tendency to associate with people who were not good for me. My transformation was nurtured by reading the Bible, by outrageous life experiences, and by fellowshipping with other believers.
When I was a child in kindergarten, my mother went through a major personality transformation. Little did I know, but she had schizophrenia. That’s why she changed from being a kind, gentle, loving mother into a raging, critical, and oppressive presence in my life. She put the blame for her unhappiness on me. She was extremely harsh and critical of me. I despaired, believing that even my own mother did not love me.
One day, some Christians in a shopping mall gave me a booklet containing the Gospel of Luke. I was hooked on reading about Jesus until I finished the booklet at 2am. It was that moment that I committed myself to Jesus in prayer.
By family tradition, I was bound to become confirmed Catholic. By the time I turned 14, I asked my mother if I could attend church on Sundays. Mom’s answer was, “No, you can’t. I don’t want you becoming brainwashed. I went to Catholic school; I know what it’s like.” An argument followed, which I lost like always lost every argument. It ended with, “Why?!! Because I’M YOUR MOTHER!!!!!.” And that was it. I was devastated. I went to my room and cried. I promised God that, “Some day when I grow up and I’m able to make decisions for myself, I will worship You, Jesus.” Then I proceeded to push Jesus and church out of my mind, because it was just too painful to think about God.
One day I found myself 25 years old, living on my own, and I felt the desire to worship God in song. I remembered my promise to Jesus. So after a tumultuous life of living my own way, I joined a church choir.
I eventually joined a 7th Day Adventist Church, but I found that I still had my tendency to associate with people who were not good for me. I was working on this in therapy, 12-step, and even a codependency group therapy. I was attracted only to alcoholics. “Normal” people seemed boring to me. If anyone was too kind, I’d run the other direction. I realized that this was something within me that came from the way I had grown up. I was damaged in my formative years by my oppressive childhood. At that point I was no longer speaking to my mother. Her schizophrenia made her unbearable to be around. She hallucinated every day. She spoke non-stop in a booming voice that hurt my ears. Her criticisms were so hurtful to my already damaged self-esteem. I broke away from her for my own good. I continued going to church.
Reading the Bible changed me, providing a huge turn-around for my devastated self-esteem. The Bible convinced me that God loves me, and it opened the door for God to transform me. In the Book of Daniel, Daniel was fasting in sackcloth and ashes, confessing his sins and the sins of his people. I read Daniel 9:23:
[The angel Gabriel spoke to Daniel,] “At the beginning of your supplications (prayers) the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.”
God’s love for Daniel was easy to understand. I knew that Daniel prayed at his window each day, kneeling and praying for his people. Not only did he do this, but he was honest in all that he did. Not only this, but he had a most excellent spirit. He was positive, bright, helpful, and trustworthy. I realized that the only thing Daniel had that I didn’t have was that he prayed on his knees every day. This was something I could do. It sounded easy enough. So why wouldn’t God love me? Why not me? I determined to be that person that God would love.
It was God’s love for Daniel and all humanity that healed me. I decided that I would from now on see myself through the eyes of God, rather than through the eyes of any human being. And from that moment, I really didn’t care what people thought of me. I only cared what God thought of me. I lived under the stable love of my Creator.
I decided to try an experiment to attempt changing my tendency to associate with addicts/alcoholics. The experiment was this: I determined to force myself to associate with some “normal” people. This was more difficult than I had predicted. In fact, it made me so uncomfortable that I could hardly stand it. It felt like something was wrong. Full of anxiety, I wanted to dart out the door. But I tried to act as though nothing was wrong. I tried to be social. I accepted everything these “normal” people gave me. I smiled. I continued my experiment no matter how I felt. Eventually, the anxious feelings and scariness became less and less. I became accustomed to being treated well. I changed somewhat.
One day, I decided to forgive my mother for abusing me, because I knew she was sick. I prayed a short prayer for her while I was laying in bed. I said, “Dear God, I pray that my mother will be healed of her schizophrenia. I pray for her health and happiness.” Then I rolled over and went to sleep in my sadness. It was a meager prayer of good will, based in true forgiveness. I never expected that God would answer it!!!! Within a month my mother healed of her schizophrenia! I started to visit her again. Her hallucinations were gone. Her raging stopped. She no longer criticized me. She even gave me the acceptance I had always yearned for.
Then I relapsed into my old ways. I latched onto a man I met in group therapy. He had many problems: He was sober from alcoholism and heroin addiction a short time. I eventually learned that he was deeply emotionally disturbed, but I could not stop loving him. I was so in love. My old challenge came to mind: How do I stop associating with those mixed up people I love, and learn to love “normal” people who make me feel so uncomfortable? I came up with no answer. But God had the answer. He allowed that man to take me through the biggest roller coaster of a ride I had ever experienced! My love for this man turned to horror. My love was not like a light switch I could turn off at will. I rode it out, and finally broke free of that marriage. I saw the error of my ways. I determined to stick to “normal” people from now on. And it wasn’t that difficult any more after my experiment. I learned that “normal” people are actually not boring. Each person is a universe in himself/herself, patterned after the plan God fashioned them by.
I was now ready to meet my current husband. He is one of those “normal” people, but I am endlessly fascinated by him. He is a very hard worker, a reliable bread-earner, and has so much to offer me! I finished nursing school while married to him. Now I am an elementary school nurse. Through my husband’s support, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I am developing my spiritual gifts more and more every day! I have found that I also am a universe, full of talent and creativity. I enjoy teaching children’s Sabbath School. I minister to others through my own suicide prevention website. My testimony proves that healing is possible. I now live the happy life God had always planned for me.
“God, when will my life be over? (Soon, I hope.)”
“How will I die? (Any way is fine.)”
“Why can’t I exchange places with someone dying, so they can live? After all, there are so many people with cancer and so many who will die in car accidents. That could be me. Let them live. I want to die.”
“I beg you, PLEASE!”
So at ten years old, I waited patiently for God to make His move. I was in the fifth grade (the worst year of my life). Suffice to say, my life was a living hell. There was no real nurturing…only torture. So I began a waiting game, waiting for God to take me.
“Is suicide a sin? What about my family? Will they be devastated? I think so. Then it is WRONG. I must not die by my own hand. It has to be God who makes the decision, and He makes it every day for someone. Today, it will be me.”
I dragged my feet into the dirt to stop the motion of my swing. Recess was finally over, thank God. I was tired of swinging on these swings alone. My loneliness was only comforted when I could swing so high that my foot touched the branch of a pine tree in front of the swing set. I was GOOD at swinging. Small relief. I ran towards the school door, as the teachers blew their whistles to call us in; that is, them and me. I sat alone at recess every day on those swings. I disliked those other kids. They would never be seen playing with me. That is because I am ugly, and my rolled-up pants need to be hemmed, they say. I pushed back my greasy hair out of my eyes, and the wind pushed against me as I ran. Should I have persevered to live my life at all? Should I have ended my life in the fifth grade for God, to help Him out? But no, I decided to wait for God to make His move on me.
(Two months later):
“God…..what happened? Didn’t we make an agreement? Things would be so much better if I was dead. Don’t you agree? What’s wrong with You? Why are You taking so long? CAR ACCIDENT! LIGHTNING! CANCER! PLEASE! I’m sick of this. This is crazy! Why would God want ME alive? I’m worthless; I’m stupid; even my mother says so, along with everybody else.
Hmmmmmmmmm……..maybe I can figure this out. What reason could God have for making me live, against my will? ………….
What if………what if my family would really miss me too much? Naaaaaa…..They’d get over it. (I learned the hard way: One cannot live for someone else while in a depression. Depression wears thin that kind of motivation within two or three weeks of dire unhappiness.) What if………something might happen in the future? Yeah, what if there’s something I may do that will change things for somebody else, or maybe for a bunch of people? Will I invent something? Or maybe I will die to save someone else. I feel like I will be in elementary school forever, but what if I grow up and become a good adult (someone who earns the right to be alive)? Maybe. Hehe……I’d have to save the planet or something…….. I doubt I’ll ever be happy, that’s for sure. No, that will never happen to me.”
So I lived for God, because I concluded that God must have a reason for putting me through all this. I wasn’t too happy about this whole scenario, but I persevered. And believe me, persevering was HARD.
“To live or not to live…..it’s a question of obedience,” I thought.
After all, who am I to challenge God? If He has a reason, then He has a reason. End of story.
This got me through most of my life. But God did offer me a consolation: I fell madly in love with another student named Jerry. Jerry was very handsome. One day, he played with me and some other kids from his class. They did not know me, of course. They were from another class, because Jerry and they were one year older than I was. He played with me on the swing set across the playground from the barren one I usually haunted. This one was bustling with activity. The two swing sets were a zillion miles apart, with a great field of grass in between. He talked to me. But after that day, he did not want to play again. Maybe he saw that I was interested in him. I couldn’t try to tell him how I felt. I just couldn’t. And he refused to play with me any more anyhow. Our relationship was over. Maybe he figured out that I am me, a bad person; someone that no one likes. This was crushing, but I wasn’t about to let go of this immensely good feeling of falling deeply in love. So I crossed back to the other side of the huge field, back to my lonely swing set. But instead of trying to touch my toes to the pine tree, I swung only gently, for I was on the lookout for Jerry. I could see him every recess, from a million miles away. He looked small as an ant from that distance, but I could pick him out. And this I did every day at recess. I stared. I stared at him in the lunchroom too. And I dreamed of being his girlfriend.
Once we ended up next to each other when we were in line to get our lunch trays. I felt a surge of adrenaline rush through me, making me sort of dizzy. What should I say? He spoke to me, small talk. I tried to respond, but I could only manage gibberish. I was so severely nervous next to this wonderful person on this momentous occasion. I can’t even remember what he said, or what I replied. I could only remember, clear as day, the adrenaline feeling that made my world spin in his presence.
“Oh well,” I thought. “I guess I will never be able to have him as my boyfriend. I’m just too nervous.” I was only 12 years old, and my body looked like an ugly pear, though I was underweight at 108 Lbs. I still didn’t have the best hygiene, but things were starting to look up for me. I actually made some friends in junior high school. Not that it helped my depression much; it didn’t. I was still back and forth between existential thinking and living in the moment.
Today I am 42 years old. And I am happy. What a surprise! It took a long time to gain social skills, to build up a life through education and employment, and through knowing God better. I also got married, and we love each other very much. I no longer regret my decision to persevere through all that I went through. Most happily of all, God has revealed to me a life purpose. My self-esteem has been healed. My talents have been nurtured. I have many relationships and I feel love for all people everywhere. I think positively nearly all of the time. I focus on the good in life. I make jokes, sing songs, help others, and work hard at things that are important to me. I no longer feel any need to redeem myself by doing anything “great.” No need to save the world. I just have to be me, and I like being me. I recognize my virtues and talents. Now I have achieved two careers: I am a teacher and a nurse. I want to help people who feel hopeless like I did, way back when. Unfortunately, there was nobody to help me back then. Only God helped me, and I helped me. I have a message for people with mental illness. It is a message of recovery and hope. So how did I get to where I am today?
I learned in my early twenties that I have mental illness. I started taking antidepressants back then. The pills worked a miracle for me, as far as my mood. However, they did nothing to change my life, my weak boundaries, and my views toward myself. I had to work on those myself. It took many years, but it did work out for me. And God helped tremendously. So did friends, counselors, and other people I met along the way. My recovery was fostered by a combination of medication, individual and group therapy, self-help books, reading the Bible, various experiences, and support from friends. I give credit to all these, because I could not have done it alone. Some have called my reliance on others weakness, but they do not know or understand the great meaning and connection that relationships can give. Accepting help when one needs it is a sign of maturity and self-esteem. I have no regrets. I believe in solutions; I believe in healing.
So if you have mental illness, physical illness, or some other challenge, my message to you is: Hang in there and keep trying. You cannot change a disability sometimes, but you can work around it. Do what you CAN do, and do it well. Find enjoyment in something. Share it with others. Follow suggestions. Brainstorm as to what would make you happy. Then make a plan to achieve your goals. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make connections with others. Forge bonds for a lifetime. If one friend turns out to be an “empty well,” go find another “well” that has what you need. Never stop learning and growing and connecting. Forgive and live without regrets. Do this for yourself, because you deserve peace.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: