On October 4, 2014 my world was shaken, broken. We went to pick my dad up to take him with us to our son’s soccer game, but my dad didn’t come to the door. Fear filled my body and I rushed to the car to tell my husband he had to go in and check on him. As I waited outside I will never forget the anxious, awful feelings I felt, but they can’t even compare to the feelings that came next when my sweet husband had to tell me that my dad had passed away. In the split second before I knew how, I thought heart attack? It had to be a heart attack! It wasn’t. My dad chose to end his own life. The heartbreak, confusion, anxiety, the questions, it all came flooding in. Like a rush of lies at first. I laid on the grass making noise but not sure I made sense. I was in disbelief and shock. I wanted to cry but no tears came because my body hadn’t processed the fact that this was real. The days that followed were full of tears. Planning a funeral, cleaning out an apartment, and visiting with an overwhelming number of people was truly an emotional experience.
I love to write and share my life. It is a great joy of mine. I have wrestled multiple times in the last 11 months about writing this but could never bring myself to do it. See suicide is a touchy subject. Not everyone can talk about it. Not everyone wants to talk about it. It is difficult to know what to say. How much is too much? Will I offend anyone? Will I offend my family by telling this story? But I feel now, more than ever that now is the time to share this story. You see, in the last week I have learned of 4 suicides in our community. One of which was the 2nd student in our town to take their life this year. To add to this, in the past year, 2 students have taken their lives in the very tiny community where I grew up. I am devastated, heartbroken, and just plain sad over this. The day my dad died I was praying and telling God I wanted to wake up from this. I did not want this to be part of my story. I wanted nothing to do with suicide. I wanted it to just go away. But I felt peace after I was done praying and I felt as though God said to me “You will be better equipped for the purpose I have for you on the other side of this. I will not waste an ounce of this pain.”
In the midst of all this tragedy, I want to share a few truths. They are truths to me anyway. I am not an expert on suicide or depression, in fact until my dad died I knew very little about suicide. All I really knew was it seemed very sad and confusing. My prayer is that these words, this story, could at least touch a few lives and help people see things a little different.
Depression is real. It may not always look “text book”. It doesn’t always play out like you see in a movie. People who are depressed often continue to live life normally on the outside. A lot of times, depression is an inward struggle. I have experienced it, felt it, endured it. It is not fun and there were times where it felt like the world was just caving in around me. I wondered if I could go on. I wondered if I just left if the people in my life would be better off. I was in darkness. It was all I could do to just take care of the absolute things. I was not functioning like I use to or knew I could. I battled hard everyday. I cried a lot. But everyone else outside of my house, they thought I was fine. I smiled, I kept my responsibilities, I tried to be happy. I even told several friends I wasn’t ok but they dismissed it. “You are fine, you are just in a rough season” but it was more then that. I was hurting, in darkness. Sometimes when you are there in the darkness you can’t see any hope for the light.
If someone asks for your help, please offer it. Don’t try to down play their feelings or tell them they are not valid or real. I promise, even if you can see the truth, they might not be able to. Be supportive and loving. Don’t stop letting them know how much they are cared for and needed.
If you need help, set your pride aside and get it. I have been in counseling since my dad died and it has been a huge help. I did a year at Celebrate Recovery to overcome self esteem issues, codependency, and lots of other things. (Learn more about my Celebrate Recovery journey here) Getting help is hard. Going to the difficult places it takes to get better are emotionally are hard, but you know what? Hurting is just as hard. The difference is the outcome! You CAN be healthy. You CAN overcome things. It won’t happen over night, but you can do it!
Suicide is the most painful thing I have ever had to deal with. I don’t understand why my dad chose to leave us and I never will. If you are reading this and feel like suicide is an option for you, I beg you to please take that option off the table. Check yourself into a rehabilitation facility. Go see a counselor. Just get help. I promise that leaving those in your life behind will hurt them deeply. It will create a hole in their soul. It will leave them with guilt. They will never stop questioning why. Your loved ones need you.
This is a plea for everyone to look around you. This world is full of hurting people. You may not see it, but the person you pass at the grocery store may be living in darkness even though no one knows. The lady who greeted you at church on Sunday, may be dealing with struggles that she keeps to herself. Your boss at work, his life may be a mess on the inside. We are all human. We all need to feel loved, wanted, needed. Start looking around and seeing people. Start giving out hugs, high fives, or even just flashing a smile. Slow down, look people in the eyes, and be genuine. I don’t know how to end this tragic thing called suicide, but all I know is, I want to do whatever I can to help and I ask that you join me.