The World kept on Turning

June 27, 2016

“I have been in Pennsylvania with  my family for four days. I did not bring any of the kids but Judah. It has been so hard. My family both here and away has been so supportive. I just continue to feel like a failure. Taking care of Judah twenty four hours a day has been so hard. I have not taken care of any of my children for a full twenty four hours since Judah was born. I went to see my best friend from high school on my second day here. Their new house was amazing. My friend was adorable and pregnant with her first baby. Life looked good for them. When I left, I began to cry and called her to apologize for not acting like myself. She was so wonderfully understanding. I cried the entire way home. I hate being sick and I hate being reminded that I am.

Yesterday we went to my aunt and uncle’s pool. It was lovely, my aunt didn’t know I had tried to commit suicide until I was there. Afterwards, she told me she heard a pastor say that suicide was the most selfish thing you could ever do. It hurt me to the core. I just never thought anyone could ever think that about what I did. Her friend was there. She was such a blessing. She lost a sister, had depression , and had contemplated suicide. She defended me. What a praise! 

Today, I woke up feeling depressed and like a failure.”

The road to recovery is rocky. You never know what each day will bring. Some are easy and smooth, others harder. Even when the meds are working, there will be bad days. Bad days were so hard for me. They scared me. I was constantly worried about a replace. Never knowing what the next five minutes would hold or where triggers would come from was paralyzing. 

Seeing my friends and family moving forward with their lives was crippling. It wasn’t their fault. They were just living their lives, but when you experience trauma, your world stops.  You go into survival mode and the world keeps turning. People get married, have babies, buy houses, graduate college, get raises, go on vacations. It feels like punch to the gut to see others blossoming when you are falling into the pit. Those two years, are almost completely lost in my mind. If it wasn’t for my journal, I wouldn’t even remember them. I even lost the first two years of my baby’s life. Someone just asked me yesterday whether he was a good baby, an easy baby. I can’t remember. It was as if time froze for two years, and when I opened my eyes, everything had changed. It was almost as if I was living someone else’s life, when I got back into the real world. My friends babies were now two, jobs had changed, people got married, people moved, people were pregnant. 

It was so hard to know how to plug back in. People didn’t understand what I was feeling. They didn’t know how to react. They some kind things and some cruel things. It was hard. I felt outcast, like I didn’t fit in anymore. Though, I couldn’t remember if I ever really had. My life had changed, I had changed, but the world had kept on moving without me.

A Hole In My Heart

May 6, 2016

“There is a hole that cant be filled. It resides in my heart and my soul. It is Hunter’s place. All I have left are my memories, pictures, and movies. I can’t fathom that I don’t get to see him again until I die. What a joyous day that will be. Suicide is hard to let go of. The pain is there. There is no escape. I know I am needed here and I want to stay, just without the pain. God has a purpose to all of this. However, I still feel blind. I can not see.”

In the early days after coming home, things were such a roller coaster. I never knew, when I woke up, whether today would be a good day or bad. It was so hard to surrender to the fact Hunter was gone. I fought against it with every bone in my body. I didn’t want to accept it because it made it real, true. I held onto the pain so I wasn’t moving on. I felt that to be a betrayal of my brother. I felt that, if I didn’t get better, I was betraying my family on Earth. I felt that if I let go and moved forward, I was betraying my brother. The not getting to say goodbye was what haunted me most. I never got to say those final words. I never got to know that he was aware he was dying and was okay. I didn’t know what his last moments were like. It haunted me not knowing if he was in pain or scared. I blamed myself for not knowing what was going on with his medical care and not intervening. The words “If I had only known….” haunted me. That and the fact that days before he died I begged him not to have the surgery. I told him that he didn’t really need his tonsils removed. I reminded him of the risks of anesthesia. As usual, he reminded me that I was over reacting and he would be fine. If we had only known.

Suicide was something that was so hard to give up. It was like an addiction, it was something I cringed to for dear life. Ironic, I know. Knowing it was an option kept me going. I knew that if things got too bad, I could make it all stop. It was a source of control. After the hospital, it was used against me. I knew that if I tried again, it was likely I would go back to the psychiatric hospital. I knew if I cut, I would loose my family’s trust and they would continue to view me as broken. So there was this inner turmoil, always at the back of my mind. The back and forth and stress was maddening. My mind was a whir of thought at all moments of the day. I had started to loose track of what was sane and what was not. The days ahead would be long and hard.

What I Wish People Knew About Suicide

Suicide is something that scares people. You friend, mother, brother, colleague slips into depression. The next thing you know, they are suicidal. It seems so intimidating, unknown. You feel you don’t have the words to say or you are worried you will say or do the wrong thing. I want to share some insight from my time struggling with suicidal thoughts to help give you some information that may help someone you know.

Don’t abandon your loved one – The worst thing you can do to someone struggling with suicidal thoughts is to abandon them, withdraw. People don’t usually commit suicide when other people are present. Your abandon just makes their shame and pain greater. It reinforces that no one cares and people wouldn’t miss them if they were gone. Go sit with them, watch a movie, just let them talk. 

Don’t try to tell them why they shouldn’t commit suicide – When someone is in that dark and deep a place, telling them not to will go in one ear and out the other. Stay away from things like, “how could you think about doing this to your family, don’t you care about us, suicide is selfish.” These common comments do not register because this person’s brain is no longer thinking rationally. Let them know that you don’t know what they are going through but you see their pain and you are here for them no matter what.

If you suspect someone is suicidal, talk to them directly before you go behind their back – Not everyone who is self harming is suicidal. These are two totally different situations. Some people cut themselves to release pain or to allow themselves to feel something, as the numbness sets in. You can simply ask the person if they are suicidal. If they say no, you can ask them to explain how they are feeling. If they say yes, you can ask if they have a plan. Having a plan makes it much more likely the person will carry out their suicide. At that point, you need to encourage that person to seek a professional counselor and a psychiatrist. A general practitioner is not specialized enough to handle the significant nuances of severe mental illness.

You asking a person whether or not they are suicidal is not going to make someone carry out their plan – If anything, it will give the person an outlet to share their pain and no that someone cares. You need to be ready for whatever they and react without judgement. It can feel painful to hear a loved one wants to leave this life and you behind. However, with the significance of the illness in this moment, you can not make the situation about yourself and your feelings. This individual needs all the love and support you have to give.

Don’t try to fix the problem – Unless you are a trained professional with experience with mental illness and suicide, do not offer solutions. This is an area where people over step and can lead to hurting the person instead of helping. Seek professional counsel and advice. While a pastor may be a good support person, they do not have the medical treatment knowledge to give sound medical advice. 

Don’t tell the person to have more faith or pray harder, this is a measurable observable illness – Just as you wouldn’t tell a diabetic not to take their insulin or a person with vision impairment to take off their glasses while driving, mental illness of this severity needs chemical intervention. The brain neurotransmitter imbalances that lead to suicidal thoughts are measurable and observable on scans of the time. Their brain is not making enough of the chemicals needed to feel hope and joy. They are likely lacking in serotonin and dopamine. They may even need medication for mood stabilizing, if rapid changes in mood are triggering suicidal thoughts. Encourage medical intervention while continuing faith practices the person has always followed. They should not be abandoned but should also not be used to replace proper medical care. This illness is the same as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other illnesses that we take medications for. Just because you can’t see the problem, doesn’t mean it is “all in their head.”

This person is not feeling pain and sadness like you are, you are not stronger than they are – Anyone is capable of feelings of suicide with the right combination of life events and chemical imbalances in the brain. When are trauma or significant life event occurs, the brain reroutes its pathways for preservation. Suicide is an extreme version of fight or flight. In this case, the brain is experiencing so much pain and anxiety it can not process it. Therefore, the brain tells the person to run but to an extreme. Death may feel like the only way to escape the unbearable hurt and their brain is reinforcing this belief. Your loved ones body is literally propelling them towards this option and it may consume their thoughts. 

You do not understand unless you have been there – Even the best psychiatrist has only read about the experience of suicidality and has only observed patients. Unless you are a survivor of a suicide attempt or a thought disorder that led to suicidal ideation, do not share what you think you know. It may lead to more harm than good. Sharing about another persons experience you read about does not help. Telling the person a story about someone that “had it worse” only leads to feelings of greater pain and frustration. It makes the individual feel like you are invalidating their experience.

If encourage you to share this today. You never know who may be experiencing pain and suicidal thoughts. You never know who may have a loved one who is struggling. This person is not selfish. They are sick, as you can be sick. Their illness is real and needs treatment. Do not abandon people suffering with mental illness or stigmatize them, it only makes them worse. Don’t try to fix them. That is not your job. Lay aside your feelings and judgments and try to approach them with love and acceptance. Validate their pain and be there for them in whatever capacity they will allow. If you loved one has attempted or is currently planning a suicide attempt and hasn’t received medical help. Get it for them today, you just may save their life.

Standing on a Ledge

April 7, 2016 – Journal Entry 6

Changes to treatment – therapeutic yoga
Lithium – watch for kidney damage, platelet changes, tremors, gait disturbance
Wean off Wellbutrin – thinking it is making my anxiety worse

April 8, 216 – Journal Entry 7

“‘Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover his heart. To discover his heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.’ – Max Lucado

I am grateful for last nights episode and subsequent desire for suicide. It helped the doctors to see what my mood fluctuations look like and to know how to treat me better.”

I sat in my room. My thoughts were racing. My eyes darting around, trying to see anything I could use to harm myself. “No, stop,” I tell myself. It is not use, the thoughts come barreling back again. If I could just stand up on my bed, I could use the edge of the sprinkler to slice my wrists open. “No, don’t think it, don’t do it, you will be locked up. You will be put in a room alone or sent back to crisis. It is not worth it.” I can’t shake the feeling. The urge consumes me. I can taste the sensation. I can feel the release that would come. The anxiety, the panic, the pain, I can’t make it stop. My breast pump tubing. I could tie it around my neck and tie myself to the bed. It will slow circulation to my brain until I pass out, that will be it. “I can’t do this, I have to stop myself. I can’t risk loosing this unit and its privileges. I have to tell someone.”

It is dark, it is nearly midnight. I shuffle my way to the nurses station in tears. “I think I am going to kill myself, if someone can’t help me.” They immediately respond. The calmly walk me into the common room and sit me on the couch. One nurse stays with me, while the other gets me a towel with lavender. They soak the towel and I press it to my forehead. I take deep slow breaths in and out. The essential oils tingle my nose. Then, there is music. Soft, slow, calm music. It plays lightly in the background. I keep taking my breaths. The nurse rubs my back and tells me she will be back in a few minutes. I sit there in the dark, breathing deeply. A calm starts to come over me. My thoughts begin to slow down. I can feel my tense muscles begin to relax. It is working. After about twenty minutes, I decide to lay down. They cover me with a blanket. I decide to stay in the common room until I am just about asleep. Another twenty minutes, and I am there. I tell the nurses I am no longer suicidal and I go back to my room. That is all it takes. A few minutes. Minutes between life and death. That is what I have needed so desperately. Support, no judgement. I think I am going to get better here.

Suicide and Miracles

Psalm 18:6 – “In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice, my cry came before him, into his ears.”

The days and weeks that followed were filled with constant anxiety and a deepening depression. I only ate Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I was not taking care of my children. My countenance became downcast. The clouds rolled in and every thought was taken captive by the enemy. I rarely talked to God, except to ask him why this was happening. I wasn’t rejoicing in my suffering. I wasn’t looking to the Lord to be my rock. I had lost all hope. I hoped in nothing. When stress came, there was only one out. I began fanitsizing about cutting. This physical pain would replace my emotional but it was only ever temporary. My family locked up all of the knives and threw away the razors. I spent most of my time at counseling or psychiatrist appointments. It wasn’t until one overwhelming counseling session that it all came to a head.

Brian and I had argued on the way home. To this day, I do not even remember it. I was supposed to go inside and stay with my mom, when my husband dropped me off. Instead, I waited until he drove away and I ran. I had a suicide plan in mind. I would run two miles to my in-laws and finish the plan there. I ran as fast as I could. Okay, lets ben honest, there was some walking. I thought about the people passing me on the road, they had no idea what I was going to do. If they did, would they even care, would they even try to stop me. I arrived at my in laws and used their spare key to open the door. I went inside, intent to find the knives. I knew they had to be in their closet. All the time I had stayed with them, I never looked for the knives. Today, however, I was moving as if driven by a motor. I was not in control of my own thoughts or actions. I finally found a tiny hiding place behind the clothes. There it was, my box of treasure. I would choose my weapon carefully. I settled on a sharp pairing knife. I took it, my food, a water bottle, my devotional, and my cell phone and packed a bag. I knew where I was headed, I was not sure how long I would stay or when I would come back.

I went outside and began walking across the field to a row of tall trees. I had loved these trees for so long. They were in the middle of a field, and it was so peaceful. I wanted to be alone in the end. I wanted beauty and calm. It took about five minutes to get there. I laid everything out on the ground and debated what to do first. I decided to eat my food, as a last meal. Then, I started talking to God. It is funny how we can be angry and reject God when we are in pain. In the end, however, I cried out to him to help me, to save me. I needed a miracle. That is exactly what I would get. I pulled the knife out of my backpack and prayed. I said, “God, if you do not want me to kill myself today, I can’t see blood. Not a single drop can come out or I wont be able to stop.” I prayed to my brother as well, for him to be with me. I was filled with terrible anxiety. I didn’t want to die, but I felt there was no other choice. This pain had to stop. I had to stop hurting those around me. I thought everyone would be better off without me.

I began cutting, back and forth, back and forth. It was pain but not like I expected. It was a hot searing sort of pain. As I cut, I wept. I could even feel a presence around me. It was the Holy Spirit or an angel, I don’t know. The other presence, I am sure was my brother. He was kneeling, praying, petitioning on my behalf. I cut harder and faster. A mark started forming. It was brown, not red. There was no blood. I examined the knife, put it down and cut harder. Nothing, no blood, not one drop. After five minutes of trying my hardest, I stopped. God was saving me. It was time for me to surrender. I stopped what I was doing. I wept as I turned to the tree behind me. I started carving a cross in the tree, a cross with a heart in the middle. The cross was the only thing that had enough saving power to heal me. I needed to see it, to remember this Ebenezar of what God had done for me. In case you doubted the strength and sharpness of the knife, it was a carving a tree. When I was satisfied, I prayed and thanked God for sparing my life. I buried that knife there. The carving and the knife are there to this day.

Moments later, Brian pulled in the driveway. My mother must have called him because I was not home. I didn’t answer. He, then, began yelling that if I didn’t come he was calling the police. I didn’t want to get the police involved. So, I called him and told him I was only my way back. I gathered my things and trekked back across the field. I told him what happened and showed him my wrist. We knew it was time for greater help. Brian called the postpartum unit at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Neurosciences Hospital. The unit was full, but I could come in and wait on a room. We decided that Brian and I would go to a cabin together and rest, while we waited. Two days into our stay, I knew I wouldn’t last much longer. My mother helped me buy clothes without and strings, and shoes without laces. I packed my things. Brian, my father, Judah, and I headed to North Carolina. I would spend the next two days going through the psychiatric ER and the general population floor. The experience would be traumatizing.

Journal Entry 2 – March 29 2016

“Yesterday was the lowest and one of the best days of my life. I love paradoxes. Yesterday started well by going to counseling. Brian and I had a two hours session. The first was just me and the second was both of us. I could see the light draining from my hubsand’s eyes. I felt that flame of passionate love fading. That, it turns out, is the thing I can’t live without. I always joke with him that his love is too great for me. That if it would calm down a little it would be okay. I learned, yesterday, that is not true.

We got in an argument in the car. Brian was so tired. I wanted to go get the kids with my mom but he wouldn’t budge. I got out of the van and sat on the side of the driveway, when he drove off. I walked to his parents house. I decided, on the way there, I may take pills or cut my wrists. I am not afraid of death. I want to see God, my brother, and be free of this earthly pain. I found the knives but not my pills. They have hid them well, props to them. I packed a small Cutco pairing knife, m+ms, a granola bar, a flashlight, some water, a sweatshirt, pants, my journal, devotional, and phone. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I knew, however, where I wanted to go.

I went out behind my in-laws to where I want to build our house. I love it there. There is a completely straight row of trees that I nestled into. I sat and I thought and I prayed. I was overcome by sadness. I was worried I was going to loose everything. I wanted to know what it felt like to cut through my flesh. Suicide is a choice. It makes you feel in control. It feels like you have a choice, when all other choices seem to have been taken away.

So, I took the knife and I slowly began cutting. It was a harp and high pitched squeal of pain. I pressed harder and harder, wanting to release the blood and pain. I wanted a scar. A mark to help me never forget this pain. A physical testimony to my internal struggle.I asked God to not let it work, if I wasn’t supposed to die. I could feel a presence with me. Weeping with me. Asking me to stop. I think Hunter was there with a heavenly spirit. Despite my attempts, it wouldn’t cut past the surface. At that moment, I buried that knife beside that tree, promising to never again try to kill myself. First, however, I carved a cross in the tree with a heart in the middle. Something profound happened there. God saved me. I can’t ignore that. It was profound and life changing. Mom mentioned I should tattoo over it. I tend to agree.”

Journal Entry 3 – March 30, 2016

“I listened to a hymn ‘Take My Hand Precious Lord.’ Yesterday was a hard day. It was difficult to process the days before. It was a hard and painful journey. You think that after you walk the path of potential suicide you would feel different. While I know a barrier has been broken, that my life was supernaturally saved, I still think of it in the dead of night. I think of the blade. The marks it has made. I can see it. It is a memory of the pain. As I have said, before, I believe this happened for a reason. I believe I will survive it, but I have my doubts too. I doubt because those dark moments become so dark. My pain becomes so deep so quickly. I feel that I may need to change my medications. One that is more mood stabilizing. I decided that I wanted to do inpatient at UNC Chapel Hill. Everytime, everyone told me to try traveling first. So, Brian and I are going to a cabin for a few days. It is wonderful. If I am not doing better after, I will do inpatient. Otherwise, we are going to Period Key in Alabama.

I just listened to the song ‘Blackbird’ and the song ‘I Need Thee Every Hour.’ My heart is so there. The anthem of right now is ‘It Is Well With My Soul.” Praying for healing and reconnection with my husband here.”

Unveiled

Ephesians 5:8 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”

Darkness

It hangs like a blanket, heavy over my head,

I can not stand up straight, I bend in submission,

My choices are not my own, my mind is not my own,

the darkness is like a puppet master, moving me at its will,

I am powerless to stop it,

Crushing bending, twisting under its weight,

There is only one end in sight, to submit to the darkness,

the fall under its spell, to allow it to consume,

then there will be nothing, I will be nothing,

Return to dust,

BUT THEN;

The darkness fades, like a fog leaving the surface of a lake,

images arise,

there are people here,

something outside myself,

I see unclearly at first but these lives take shape,

the veil turned grey, then white, then,

they are my family, my friends, strangers,

they are reaching for me, crying, arms extended,

they see my veil, they have been calling to me,

I have been deaf and blind,

one person lifts the veil, it is my Savior

now they can see me and I can see them,

I feel warmth on my face, it is the light

my body feels weightless, I can stand upright again,

I smile, I embrace,

I was never alone,

I just could not hear, I could not see, I could not feel for the veil covered me

Now it is gone, I step into the light, into love

I AM FREE