There’s always been something about thunderstorms that I love, but also hate. As the clouds roll in, bringing much needed rain to the land, they also bring a gloomy, gray blanket that seems to immerse everything within its reach.
As I laid in bed one evening this past week, listening to the thunder rumble in the distance, I started thinking about when things went gray in my life.
Let’s discuss a subject that has had so many talking lately – and frankly effects far more youth than I could have ever imagined. If you haven’t dealt with it yourself, you know someone who has.
This is a topic I’ve never broached before. Not on paper. Not online. Not even in person. In all honesty, only one person in my life really knows all that went on and all that I went through (and even she might not know/remember some of the details I’m about to share). But I’ve had it on my heart for months now to share my story.
I can’t tell you what triggered it. I wasn’t bullied. There was no event that brought on the feelings. One day, my 10yr old self (yes at just 10 years of age), woke up like every other day – the difference came that night when I tried to go to sleep.
That night, when I turned the lights out and curled up in bed, it started. It was a quiet, little voice at first but when I gave it place, it quickly became the loudest thing I heard each night.
“No one would miss you”
“No one really loves you”
I had two parents who loved me unconditionally. A pesky little brother. Grandparents who thought the world of me. And a church and pastor that considered me their own. Yet all I could think about each evening was how I should do it and what I’d write in a note to leave behind.
I don’t quite remember how much time passed before I began to talk about it. But I do remember countless nights of insomnia. And I remember crying one night and my mother coming in and telling her I was afraid to go to sleep because I thought I’d die. It became so drastic a fear that I began to believe my own body would forget how to breathe in and out.
Here I was, a prepubescent child, dealing with a very (not to get overly spiritual) demonic spirit of fear and death. I was tortured with thoughts of killing myself (down to the details of what I’d use, how, when, etc) and yet in the moments I tried to find peace and rest, I was plagued with the fear of dying – of not waking up or forgetting how to breathe.
I’d like to say there is a magic answer to make feelings like these go away. Perhaps for some there is. But for me, there wasn’t. It was countless nights (months) of tossing, turning, crying, pacing my floor, and even actually writing a note out one night and sneaking in to my parents room as they were sleeping because I knew they kept a gun in there. My mother played a “Peaceful Praise” tape on repeat in my room each evening and she prayed with me often. I even prayed myself. I knew this wasn’t what God wanted for me – I found myself literally crying out to Him.
Months passed before the suicidal thoughts and fear of death began to subside.
I never fully acted on it. I never had any professional counseling. No medication. Frankly, in the early 90’s, it wasn’t talked about much and people didn’t go to counsellors like they do now. And unlike today, there were no wonderful female ministers teaching about your immeasurable value in Christ; No books about how God created you beautiful just as your are. No – It was simply the grace of God that saved me and the sheer determination of a 10yr old who wanted to live and not die.
I don’t know why I went through this all at such a young age aside from I truly believe: Satan wants to destroy anything and everything that could ever bring glory for the kingdom of God.
I’d be lying if I said the thoughts never tried to creep in after that. But I’m older and wiser now. I know where the voices of despair, depression, and death come from and I know exactly where they belong. I know that His word says He had a plan for my life before I was even formed in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5), that His plans are for my good not for my demise (Jeremiah 29:11), and that the spirit of fear doesn’t come from God because He gives us power, love, and a peaceful mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
I don’t know why I’ve had it on my heart to share. Especially to share something so personal that I’ve never even talked to my best friend about it. Maybe there is someone that needed to read it. And if it reaches just one person, then it is all worth it.
No matter how bleak things may appear. When everything in your life seems to go gray. When there seems to be no answer to the problems you’re facing. When you feel more alone than you ever thought possible. When the voices speak so loud you can’t hear your own. Know that:
You are not alone
You are valuable
You are beautiful
You are wanted
You are loved
You have a purpose
You have a plan
You are needed
You are alive
And know, it’s ok to talk about it. There is no shame – no stigmas – no condemnation. The torturous thoughts and feelings of suicide are no respecter of age, race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, etc – it doesn’t matter if you are 10 years old or 100 years old. Talk to your family. Your friends. Your pastor. A leader in your church. A counselor. Someone you trust. Anyone. And if you feel you have no one you can talk to about it – call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255 or suicide.org). There is NOTHING so horrible that it is worth taking your own life for and you don’t have to face it alone.