This post has taken me some time to put together. Probably due to the fact that it is so close to my heart.
Yesterday, I was scrolling through my social media and I saw that September 9th-15th is National Suicide Prevention Week, with today, September 10th, being World Suicide Prevention Day.
Sadly, it has left its scar in my life personally–my uncle in 2014, and then my brother-in-law in 2016.
With that being said, please hear my heart for a few minutes.
We have to be willing to do more than just share our thoughts on the subjects of depression, anxiety, suicide, and mental illness.
Friends, we have to actually begin to see the PERSON instead of the DISORDER. One common question I often hear or read is, “Why didn’t they reach out?”
Please, hear me when I say they most likely did reach out. It’s just that it probably went unnoticed.
Or did you notice?
They might be sitting beside you at church, or in the next cubicle at work.
Perhaps they live next door, attend the same Bible study as you.
They even shop at the same boutique, and frequent the same gym.
Maybe they deposit their money at the same bank, or stop every morning at the same local donut shop as you.
They might even be a family member.
Did you see them?
It is not always easy for those with these struggles to come right out and tell someone. I was literally told I shouldn’t have or even be struggling with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
Because I am a Christian AND a Pastor’s wife?
Heartbroken, I remember being told to “sit down and be quiet” at church.
Another time someone felt they needed to “rebuke the devil out of me”. I am down at the altar one night at church crying, praying, and begging God.
“WHY did this happen to me? Please take it!”
Nevertheless, for the first 5-6 months after my acute stress reaction, I wrestled with suicidal thoughts. Sometimes daily.
There was no escaping the darkness and sheer torment that was going on in my mind.
When I finally became brave enough to ask for help, I got shut down.
“You know better than that.”
“Don’t tell anyone. We will keep this between us.”
Hence one of the reasons I believe that my struggle continued on for as long as it did.
No one heard me. And no one heard me because no one knew how to HELP me. It scared them. Apparently I scared them.
My husband was by my side as often as he was able to be, and did what he could when he could. After all, he was the sole bread-winner in the house, especially at this time in our lives.
There were lessons for me along the way.
Something that I learned those five years ago, (along with what I am seeing now), is that we are consumed with ourselves.
We focus on how we are right and others are wrong.
We focus on “us four and no more”, and then we tend to IGNORE the very ones God has been bringing across our path. We pray for Him to send us people to help!
But, when He does, we disregard or cast them aside because they didn’t meet our “criteria” of WHO we want to help or HOW we want to help.
Shame on us.
I am overjoyed to share that God has since healed me of my depression and anxiety.
When suicidal thoughts were ravaging my mind, I learned to pray scriptures like 2 Corinthians 10:5.
“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive into the obedience of Christ“.
And of course, Psalm 139, the entire chapter.
I now know it is something that I personally had to endure and experience myself. I lived it for 5 years.
I know how it feels to go from crying one minute to happy and laughing the next. I understand what it’s like to want to sleep all day, because your body is exhausted from your mind NEVER SHUTTING OFF.
I know what it’s like to celebrate little things!
Being able to walk all the way to the back of the store for a gallon of milk and not have a panic attack.
Courageous enough to shop by myself and not need someone with me for safety.
I know what it’s like to want to end it all.
I see how my personal journey with mental illness has strengthened and prepared. As a result, I know and understand how to help my husband. Sunrise to sunset he lives daily with a traumatic brain injury.
The chronic pain. A mind that won’t shut off. The right side of his brain functioning slower than the left.
And sadly… even suicidal thoughts.
Being jolted awake at 2am because he is sitting on the side of our bed, sobbing in anguish because he is ready to give up, and end it all.
I just be still and know that God has given me the courage, wisdom, and strength to handle this.
In this moment he is tired of it all and just wants to leave this world.
He needs me to hold him tight, speak words of life, and encourage him.
Then… remind him of how far he HAS come and that God is not done with him yet!
We have a powerful story and testimony to share. God has given us a platform, a ministry, and a calling to reach those that go unnoticed, unheard, and unloved.
**Know this…YOU ARE LOVED! You are seen and you are heard, loud and clear. If you are struggling with suicide, PLEASE, reach out! The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, as well as the website for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention link is listed above.**