“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
When I was 16, I was crushed by the constant abuse from the men in my family, the lack of understanding and supportive friends at the time and the empty pursuit of meaning through alcohol, drugs, late night parties and men.
There were also the personal battles I was fighting: I was struggling with my appearance, having been rejected and called ugly. I was also struggling with my weight and made it a goal to work out and throw up my food until I could become skinny like the models in the magazines. Needless to say, I was crippled with a depression so strong that it took all my energy to get up out of bed in the morning. To make it worse, I kept all of this inside. I distrusted people having being let down by them all the time and I firmly believed that I had to make it through alone or die trying. I refused to get help, even from a doctor, and I was sick at the thought of being dependent on somebody.
I remember coming home one day after faking a smile the whole day, and out of nowhere I fell on the ground and started crying uncontrollably, unable to contain how broken I felt. I called and I cried and I pleaded to God over and over again, “Take me home.” Looking back, I asked God to take me home more than I asked anything of Him. It was the prayer of my life.
I had no intention to take my own life, but rather, I felt like I was already dead inside. I didn’t have a reason to live, and I certainly had no purpose in life. I was struggling to believe that there could be more than to life than this pain. I didn’t try to kill myself, but I always wished I were dead.
I am truly blessed to be able to say that someone pulled me up out of those lonely, deep and dark waters I felt like I was drowning in. I don’t know what it was that made me trust and open up to her, but I did. My best friend chose to save me. She breathed life into my bones and showed me light when I felt like there was none. I always say to people that the best thing she has ever done for me was not judge me, leave me or try to lead me. She listened to me, loved me and cried with me in my pain. She walked with me, side by side, and has never left it since. And I believe that it was God that sent her into my life, because in everything she did, she pointed me back to him. Her hope and her love was of God’s, and it was God’s hope and love that brought me back to life again. In the midst of my suicidal thoughts and struggles with depression, He gave me the unthinkable – a passion and a purpose. I found that I thrived the most when I was helping those less fortunate that I was. The more I did it, the closer to God I drew, so that I did. A friend and I raised money for abused children in Thailand, I joined a group that helped the homeless, and I made myself as educated as possible so that I could give to causes I knew would change someone’s life.
Then, when I was 18, it all spiraled down again. I had fallen deeply in love, but the man I gave myself completely to chose another woman. It broke me because I was so careful not to trust any man. The heartbreak that followed was life crushing. I would wake up and start crying, and it scared my family. The shine from my eyes left and I looked dead. My eating habits were awful, and my sleep pattern was worse. I would stay up until 10 in the morning and sleep for only a few hours during the day. Most of all, I wanted to die. It was overwhelming. There were many times I would find myself crying on the floor, in the car, in my bed. I would think of all the ways I could take my life: I could drive out to the ocean and swim. I could overdose on my medication. I could cut myself. The night that I thought of all those suicide possibilities, I admitted to myself with fear that I was at the very bottom of my life. While I was in agony, my mind drifted to the only reason in my life that I had to live: the people I loved. I thought about my little sister Sarah, my mum and my best friends, all people who loved me and all who I couldn’t bear to inflict this pain on. I then asked God why I should live, and a voice spoke to me out of the silence: “Because one day, you will save a girl’s life.”
In both those instances in my life, I have found that it was love that saved me. It was the love of my friends and my family, but most of all, it was the love of God. That love that was my lifeline.
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, I could tell you that everything will be okay or that things will get better, but I won’t. I know from experience that if you’re thinking about suicide, you’re beyond a pat on the back or some half-hearted cliche. I won’t say that I understand what you’re going through, because I don’t. Your pain and your struggle is so real and so unique to you. It’s hard not to cry when I’m writing this, because I’m sad that you have had to feel what it’s like to want to kill yourself.
There’s two things I can offer you. One, my friendship, and two, His hope.
I hope you know that despite what the world says, there’s no need to try. There is grace enough for you to cry when you don’t feel strong, to scream when you feel overwhelmed and to sleep when you have no energy. The thoughts you think are overwhelming and dark, and they must let off its steam somehow, so let it – but in a way that doesn’t harm yourself or others. I know that if you have been abused, abandoned and rejected, you may feel justified to turn to a razor, an alcohol bottle, or those bottle of pills. It takes strength to reach for those things, but it takes courage to seek help.
When I was struggling with my own suicidal thoughts, it took all I can to finally open up to a friend who I felt safe with and tell her that I wanted to die. But, it was the best thing I ever did to overcome it. When you are on the edge of a cliff, try not to let pride, shame or fear stop you from reaching out to someone who might just be able to pull you back. When things became overwhelming for me, I also drew strength from thinking about my loved ones. When you think about the people you love who love you, you realize that taking your own life doesn’t end the pain, as one quote says, it inflicts it onto others. The last important thing for me in overcoming suicidal thoughts is finding a purpose. For me, it could be as simple as seeing a friend that day, listening to my favorite song on the way to school and watching my favorite movie or as big as figuring out what my passions in life were and working toward it. It doesn’t matter how small or big it is – as long as it gives you something to look forward to, as long as it gives you a reason to live, it’s important.
I also hope you know that my heart aches in knowing how much God cares about you, you daughter of God, in your pain and brokenness and hopelessness. How he loves you. I believe that he is not far from your pain, but in the very midst of it. I believe that his comfort, his strength and the hope in his eyes will give you the courage to live. And I also believe that when you feel like you can’t go on anymore, he will uplift you to a place that is higher than the storm that rages around you, a place safe in his arms. His love will rescue you.
One morning during my struggle with suicidal thoughts, my mum came to my room. This was so unusual in itself. She woke me up and told me that a woman she knew had killed herself and left behind a son. I couldn’t help but feel that somehow my mum knew I was losing the will to live. While we sat in a sad silence, my mum told me, “When you feel like you can’t go on anymore and that you can’t even take one more step, call out to God and see what He does. He will carry you over.”