I struggled with severe post-partum depression. Just as I was feeling “normal” after the birth of my daughter I found out I was pregnant for my son throwing my hormones completely out of whack again. I was taking anti-depressants but they weren’t helping and I was too prideful to seek counseling. After all, I had worked in Social Work for over 10 years thus, I knew how to counsel myself (at least that’s what my thought process was.) I was in a troublesome relationship, struggling with irrational fears that I would ruin my children’s lives and just completely bombarded with defeating thoughts about myself. I believed I was a horrible person that didn’t deserve to live. I thought about leaving my family. I convinced myself my children were better off without me but no matter how awful I thought of myself I couldn’t abandon them. Thoughts of dying crossed my mind but I never attempted. I actually thought so poorly of myself that death didn’t bring solace. I didn’t want people attending my funeral, fearing they would only remember me as a really bad person. At my worst I felt so defeated I didn’t want to exist. I prayed but felt nothing from the Holy Spirit-or perhaps I was too consumed with fighting my own battle that I just wasn’t listening.
One Saturday, after a very heated (and abusive argument) with my partner, I ended up in the emergency room expressing feelings of suicide. The ER gave me the drive-through form of treatment and sent me home. Prior to going to the ER, I had gone to the walk-in clinic. They weren’t equipped to handle someone having a mental breakdown so they sent me to the ER. But the doctor I spoke to at the clinic contacted my family physician that day, letting her know I had been there for post-partum depression. My doctor’s nurse called me first thing Monday morning and two doctor’s appointments and blood tests later, I was placed on hormone replacement therapy-two pregnancies had depleted my hormone levels to that of a woman who had already gone through menopause, and that had caused the mental breakdown.
At the first visit with my doctor I told her I just wanted to feel “normal” and no longer wanted to be a “head case” (the name I was called by my partner when we would have a heated argument.) She told me two things that day that I will never forget.
- Normal is just the setting on your dryer.
- There was something physically wrong with me causing the emotional meltdowns and mood swings. Not wanting to be on medication for depression is like a diabetic not wanting to take insulin.
The hormone replacement helped regulate my moods. But I still felt very low about myself. I had a dear friend who ministered to me through these struggles, sent me Christian books to read and even bought me a Bible that I used until the binding broke and the cover fell off. I cried out to Christ repeatedly but I still listened to the devil and entertained his lies about who I was and what my life was. It took the truth spoken from a beautiful friend of mine, who spent a weekend at my house, to open my eyes. Sitting around a bonfire in my front yard, sharing my struggles with her she said to me, “He’s turned you into somebody I don’t even recognize.” She was referencing the man I was in a relationship with at the time, but looking back, I can see that I had allowed the enemy to turn me into someone even I couldn’t recognize.
Since that experience God has brought me from a pit of despair and hopelessness and has grown in me a like for myself. I’m still a work in progress so that like has not turned to love just yet. He has shown me His love for me, how He sees me and who I am in Him repeatedly. There are days I believe His truths, but there are still days the enemy’s lies cast me down. I can’t tell you my life has been all “sunshine and roses” since that day because it hasn’t. I’ve still experienced pain, heartache and even depression. But I don’t take medication and I don’t see a counselor. What I do is pray. I meditate on God’s word. I read Psalms over and over reminding me of God’s great love and faithfulness. When I feel myself sinking into a pit and it feels too much for me to fight, I text friends and ask them to pray. I’m so thankful for the prayer warriors God has gifted to battle for me when the enemy’s attacks leave me battered and bruised. But no matter how bad life gets, I choose life-I choose to live. I stand on the promise that God knows the plans for me and they are plans for good, they are plans for prosperity. They are not plans to harm me but to give me hope and bright future. (Jeremiah 29:11) I can’t have any of that, if I end my life. And neither can you.
The topic of suicide has been on my heart because it’s been attacking family members I love dearly, because it took the lives of two people my best friend loved dearly and because in social media I see posts almost daily of people feeling death is a better choice than life. Death is not the better choice. Death will not solve the problem. Life is the best choice. God is the solution to every problem. Psalm 36:9 tells us “For you (God) are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.” (NLT) He is also our Redeemer and Deliverer. His plan for us is life-so much so that He sent His Son to conquer death! John 1:4 says “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” (NLT) The word was Jesus Christ. He came “that we may have life and have it abundantly.” (”John 10:10b ESV)
The Holy Spirit tugged at my heart to write this post a couple weeks ago but then I got “writer’s block.” I prayed for insight and words to type but got nothing until I saw a post on social media recently about Elijah’s desire to die in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was fleeing from the wrath of Jezebel. 1 Kings 19:4 tells us “But he himself (Elijah) went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’ ” God’s response was short and sweet: “Arise and eat.” Elijah in verse 8, “arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.”
God did not answer Elijah’s request with death. He answered Elijah with life. He put Elijah in a situation where he was solely dependent upon God for survival and it was during that time that He restored Elijah. If you’re at that point in your life, if you’ve cried out asking God to take your life because you think death is far better than life, I say to you, arise and allow God to sustain you. Cry out to Him minute by minute, day by day and surrender all your pain to Him. He will redeem you. He will heal you. He will deliver you from death because He wants you to live. His plan for you is greater than all that has knocked you down and pushed you to the brink of death. This is the same God who delivered Joseph from slavery and imprisonment, delivered Daniel’s friends from the fiery furnace and Daniel himself from the lions’ den. He is the same God who rose Lazarus and His own Son from the dead. Why-because He. Is. Life. And He calls us, to choose to live in Him.
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts I would like to encourage to not only pray and cry out to Jesus but to seek godly counsel, talk to your family physician, reach out to family members and friends who love you and will pray for you and with you or even call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Go to http://www.crisistextline.org/ and get a list of great resources available to you that will encourage you to choose life.
And here’s some God irony for my readers-just while writing this post I’m listening to a Todd White sermon (The Revelation of Your Value). In it he confesses his own testimony of battling suicide. Watch it: https://youtu.be/Vt_ShPgl-aU