Depression and Suicide planning: A self instructed guide
It should come as no surprise that depression was a big part of my story throughout the years. People don't typically throw themselves headlong into insane plans to escape loneliness, or play self harm games with their friends without having some type of self hatred.
As a teenager, probably about 14, I remember seeing a commercial on TV for some type of antidepressant. They described vividly the many different characteristics that I had been feeling and failing to put a name to. Suddenly I had it, a name for everything that I had been experiencing this entire time. Depression. And a simple pill was the cure! (Of course my sweep it under the rug parents weren't interested in my self diagnosis and were not interested in having me diagnosed, labeled, or treated). But finally, I had a name for what had been ailing me all this time, and it wasn't entirely because I was the worst person ever. I was imbalanced chemically.
After Elizabeth was adopted I did my best to fight back my depression without the prescribed anti-depressants. I reasoned to myself that I could manage my depression on my own. I tried many different ways of coping, some healthy (dieting and exercising), others less healthy (cutting), and some just plain ridiculous (binaural beats, herbal supplements, becoming temporarily vegetarian, seriously..). Ultimately I did end up on anti-depressants, and I was dependent on them for over 10 years.
I know some people think anti-depressants are placebos, and some people think they are poison. I cannot tell you honestly if the anti-depressants worked for me or not. I can tell you being on them made me feel like I was ok, they made me level. When I was taking my medication I felt like I was even. I know that is an odd way to describe it, but that's the best description I have for it honestly. The pills didn't make me happy. They made me feel like I had an extra layer around me, like I had a slightly thicker skin, like I could walk through the day without spontaneously bursting into tears or flying into an inexplicable rage. The anti-depressants were good for me in that they helped me feel even, so that I could walk through each day. Don't get me wrong, I was still sad. I was still sad every single day. But the pills helped me feel that sadness more like a pressure rather than a deep open wound. Although the meds did their job and kept me level, they didn't keep my mind from wandering, and on a regular basis I was thinking about and romaticizing suicide.
So hear me out, as a teenager I fantasized about suicide. It was this sad and horrific and really beautiful thing. It was romantic, and poetic, and just. Like if you really wanted to get back at someone the best way was the make them suffer with the fact that they caused your death. That was like the ultimate harm. To make someone have to live with someone else's death on their hands. Then as a teenager I started to watch anime and one of my favorites was this show "Serial Experiments: Lain". So hear me out, because this is a truly great anime and I still love it to this day. But as a teenager it was fairly harmful to my already reeling mind. This show is about a young girl "Lain" who becomes some kind of god through connecting and eventually uploading her existence into the internet. It is a very confusing and interesting show. But now here is the detrimental part. In the first episode (in fact in the first 5 minutes of the first episode) we are introduced to a young girl, 13 year old Chisa. Chisa, it seems, will be our heroine at first, but as quick as we meet her she very dramatically, beautifully, and poetically throws herself from the rooftop of a skyscraper and dies at the feet of some drunk adults coming out of a bar. The whole scene just stuck with me as a young 14 year old girl. I couldn't get this image of Chisa out of my mind. She was so confident. She was so at peace with the decision she had made. She was so graceful. She seemed to have complete relief in her face and body as she threw herself off that roof. I was so grateful to whoever seemed to be behind the camera capturing her final moments because it looked like such sweet release, I knew someday I would like to try it myself.
And so as the years passed and I grew older I would look, wherever I lived, and wherever I worked, I would look and find and know the perfect the spot. The spot that someday, when that day came (and I was sure I would know it when it was here) where I would throw myself from the roof dramatically the same beautiful way that Chisa did. And so years passed, and I would hold these spots in my mind and map them out and make sure I could access them, the whole time I was letting my depression take control of my life and letting bitterness hold me captive. Until one day, in July of 2012, that day came.
It wasn't a special day, there was nothing in particular that happened on this day that should have made it any different from any other day. I just somehow knew that today was the day. I was going to make my dramatic exit from this world. I was going to do it the same beautiful way that Chisa did it. It didn't matter if other people saw it that way, I just needed to know for myself that I had done it my way. And so in July of 2012, in Pittsburgh PA, I was up on the rooftop of the parking garage at Oliver and 5th standing at the edge of the beautiful yellow railing and staring out at the city, right where the three rivers meet. And as I stood against that railing, looking out of the over city, I knew it was time to do it. And so I took off my shoes so I could feel the steel below my feet and slipped under the railing. I stood out at the edge of the rooftop, my feet pressed on the railing, now behind me. I removed my glasses, as Chisa had done, and with one hand holding to the rail leaned my full weight out into the open air. I could feel the cold breeze against me. I knew a small slip and that was the end, dangling out 500 ft above the earth, but I wasn't scared. Writing this now I feel my heart pounding thinking of that treacherous position I was in, but in that moment I was at total peace. I wasn't afraid, I was ready. The world was so quiet. Everything stopped, and I swayed in quiet serenity over the earth listening to the silence of death below me. Another few seconds, feeling only my heart beat, two more deep breaths, and I pulled myself back under the railing. I put my glasses back on my face, slipped my shoes back on, and got back in my car. I went home, I didn't tell anyone about what had happened.
So did I intend to kill myself? I did. So why didn't I? I couldn't tell you. Somehow, feeling death washing over me in that moment, it was like peaceful. And suddenly as quickly as that peace came to me, I didn't need it anymore. And so I abandoned my plan to kill myself and went home to live my life. After that day I put my suicide plan to rest. It sounds strange, but suddenly I didn't need it anymore. I no longer was looking for death places. I had romanticized this suicide plan in my mind all of these years, and suddenly the need to see it come to fruition was gone. I felt free of the thing.
Why talk about this all these years later? Why not just leave it in the past where I left it in the first place? It's not as if it did me any good then, what good should any of this do now? Well for starters let me say that depression has become an epidemic in our society. Many people feel depressed, they feel alone, they feel abandoned. Society has become a place of selfish and lonely people. There is nothing to get in this world, and yet everyone, it seems, is out there grinding away trying to get their piece of the nothing. We hear a lot about suicide prevention, and how to spot the signs of depression and suicide, and yet suicide and depression continue to happen to greater numbers each year. People are out there spotting the signs in others, but are too concerned with the signs they are seeing in themselves to care about their neighbors. So what can you do?
We know Matthew 7:3-5 to be about not judging our neighbor.
" Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. "
The same principle applies here. I cannot and will not do any good in this world if I am not first taking care of my own demons. Suicide is something that many people have experienced in some capacities. Some have attempted it, some have considered it, some have fantasized or planned for it, some have had a family member or loved one attempt or be successful at it. Regardless of the level of involvement, suicide is a very personal thing to whomever is involved in it. When a person dies, whether it is by natural causes or suicide, it is that individuals big moment, so to say. Let me say this, if you are experiencing depression and are having feelings of suicide in any capacity, please seek help. Just because you have not "attempted" suicide, does not make you any less suicidal than someone else. I always felt I was not "suicidal" because I hadn't tried to kill myself, until one day I genuinely considered it. If you are having suicidal thoughts, even if you are just romanticizing the idea, it is serious and you need to take it seriously. Let me also add that you need to take it more seriously than anyone around you, because your life is the life at stake here.
More importantly let me tell you Christ loves you. He died for you, and he put you here with a plan and a purpose. You may not know your purpose, you may not feel important. To be honest many days I still don't feel important myself. To be honest many days I'm not sure what purpose Christ has for my own life. It doesn't matter. He put you here. That wasn't a mistake. It was intentional, part of his plan. Guess what else. He doesn't need you to fulfill his plan. If you kill yourself tomorrow, Christs plan will still proceed as planned. Hear me out. Christ doesn't need you to fulfill his plan, but he WANTS you to be part of his plan, so he can BLESS YOU! Christ loves you so much he wants you have the blessing of being a HUGE PART of what he has planned for his kingdom!
That day on the roof, I could have killed myself. I intended to kill myself. I didn't though. And since then, what exactly has my life impacted? Not much, and yet SO MUCH! I can honestly say there are 4 babies alive today because I chose to live. Two of those babies are my own 2 children. Two of those babies are children whose mothers were considering abortion, whom I was able to discourage from that path. Those children are living because I was alive to encourage their mothers.
I understand that all of this may seem irrelevant to you. If you are in a place where suicide is seeming like an escape or if you are just tired of being exhausted and depressed and suicide seems like where your life is probably heading. I would like to first say to you, I am so sorry that you are feeling that way. I understand it, it's an awful way to feel. It's an awful existence to feel that your life doesn't matter. I am truly saddened that you feel that way. Secondly, I would like you to know that Christ loves you wholly, completely, and relentlessly. He loves you with such a passion that he died so that you could live. Don't let his death be for nothing! He has big plans for you. You don't need to be a high paid doctor or a powerful CEO for his big plans to play out in your life. As I stated above, some of my biggest accomplishments have been small moments when I was able to positively influence someone elses life. Your life does matter and if you allow Christ to be the center and to guide your life then you will find your purpose and peace and you will experience great joyous moments in your life, moments when you really know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that your life matters. Thirdly, again I would like to encourage you to please seek help. Even if you don't have a plan, but you find yourself thinking of suicide in a positive light in any way, please seek help. You need support. You don't have to have a suicide plan to be suicidal. You don't have to have attempted suicide to be suicidal. You don't have to even have "symptoms" to be suicidal. If you think of suicide as anything other than something tragic, you need to talk to someone because you are at risk of suicide.
If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from depression, but you do not consider yourself suicidal, I would still like to encourage you to get help when necessary. Many people look at therapy as something that weak people do. It is not that! Therapy is something that hurting people do. If you had a broken bone you would go to the Emergency Room to have the bone set and cast. It is the same concept with your mental health. You wouldn't ignore the broken bone, if you are feeling depressed you should not ignore it. Please seek help, talk to a therapist, get (and take!) medication if you need it, exercise, eat right, journal, surround yourself with positive people, go to church every week.
My depression was not shocking to me, but my suicidal impulses were. I never realized I was suicidal until one day I was. I was honestly never going to tell this part of my story, and I never did share it with anyone, my own husband included (whom I went home to that night, but never said a word of it). I am only now sharing this because I know it is something important and I'm hoping if you are reading this and have had these kinds of impulses that my story would help you. Hear me out, you don't need to go hang off the side of a building to be suicidal, if you are experiencing depression regularly and find suicide to be anything other than awful, then you are at risk of suicide and you need to talk to someone. If you would like to reach out to me directly you can do so through the website. I'm available to talk and I'm happy to speak with anyone experiencing depression or suicidal ideations. I'm also happy to help you find a local counselor/resources/churches in your area if you need help.
I'll end this post by saying you aren't alone in how you feel, though depression and loneliness go hand in hand. There are millions of other people out there experiencing loneliness and depression, and there are also millions of professionals out there ready and willing to help. We don't all have it figured out (in fact, no one has everything figured out ever, we are all humans!). You are important. You may not know it and you probably don't feel it, but you are important. Christ loves you and he died for you specifically and he has a plan and a purpose for you specifically, and he may not reveal that plan to you all at once! You aren't going to wake up one day feeling bright and shiny. You aren't going to wake up some day knowing your purpose, but if you are following after Christ then he will lead you into your purpose. You're probably going to be shocked what Christ has for you, but if you continue to pursue him he will use your life and your experiences and your depression to bless you and bless those around you, so KEEP GOING! DON'T GIVE UP THE FIGHT THAT CHRIST HAS ALREADY WON FOR YOU!