I’ve looked suicide in the face. And other secrets of the good church girl.

.

This post was originally posted September 2013.

I have been asked recently to tell part of my story again If for the only reason for one person to know they are not alone. You see when we start live in truth others don’t feel so isolated. When we live in truth we stop placing people on pedestals and expect them to remain there. It’s exhausting to live there. To know within your soul that you will never be the image other need you to be. When we live in truth we get messy and real. Let’s be messy women. Truth telling women.

*I understand that this topic and subject are very sensitive. Everyone’s story is different with many different outcomes. I completely respect differing opinions and value your story. I just ask that you respect my story for what it is as well.-sheli

Today is Suicide Prevention Day. Which if you think about it may seem a bit bent. Why would we want to have a day that recognizes suicide? Others might argue that we should not draw more attention to it. I actually feel the complete opposite. I believe that we should draw attention to it. I believe that we need to quit saying that people we love died of “unknown causes” because we ourselves cannot look in the mirror and say the word suicide. I believe we do need to talk about it. We need to quit being silent about it, looking the other way, keeping it in the whispers. Because do you know what that does? It gives it more power. It gives the darkness more control over our lives. Over their lives. Over all of us.

I wish I could say I have no experience with suicide. That no one I loved and adored took their own life. But this is just not true. I remember at a very young age watching as my parents grieved the death of close friends. And the aftermath that ensued for years. I have lost those I have worked with, worshipped with, been in school with and even called family.

But the hard reality of it is that suicide itself has looked me in the face.

I have battled depression since I was a teenager. Using any chemical I could get into my body to make it go away. The demons have at times seem to have a tighter grip on me than not. When I became a mother I was sure that it would all go away. Yet as I soon discovered that postpartum depression and even psychosis is an ugliness that invaded my soul and mind. There were many times that I dreamt of running away. Far away and starting over. I begged God to take me in the middle of the night because I could no longer take the darkness that had assaulted my mind. I was hopeless. I wish I could say that when I became a Christian I never had to deal with this. Yet it was even more when I became a Christian. I knew that the spiritual battle for my soul was real. I feel like it still is. It is and always will be a battle. This is not a war we are fighting here on earth; it is in the spiritual realms.

This is what I know from my situation. Talk to each other. Be real with each other. Get in each other’s business .If you know of a friend or even an acquaintance that is withdrawing. Go to them. Now. Don’t worry about invading their space or being politically correct. Go now. Be the voice for them. So many times we don’t know what to say. We don’t want to ask for help. We don’t know how to ask for help. We think that no one will understand. We think that we will be called a freak. We don’t want to bring shame to our family. We think that no one will ever forgive us. We think that this will make it easier on everyone else. So this is my plea to you. Be invasive. Open the door and walk in. Get them help. We will many times deny it. We think it’s not that bad. We are scared. We don’t want to get locked up. We think it will ruin us for life. We are embarrassed. We think no one will believe that we are really sick. Do it anyways. I beg of you. Open the door.

I have been on the journey of healing for years. Months at times I can carry the darkness and no one can see it. I learn to hide well. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned that I am nothing without clinging to Jesus’ feet every day. I have learned that medication and therapy are a must-have for my well-being. I have learned that exercise and calm need to be a part of my every day. I have learned that my family and friends will get me help, hold my hand, and give me grace. I know that they and we have all messed up. It is messy and painful but they are not giving up on me.

I know the pain of loss and I know the pain of darkness. I pray that wherever you are on the journey, that you know you are not alone.

Charcoal stained lips.

Image

Second floor of the dorm, they had just completed it that spring.

I  lay on the bathroom floor.

Cold tile against my ribs. Hair matted, crusted with last night’s red pasta sauce. Head propped on the toilet.

Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. Psalm 38:3

 Not sure if my roommate could hear me crying.

This time. This time I had taken too many. Too many little blue pills that promised to make me feel better and look thinner. She had tried to hide them in her room behind her Biology book.

 I lay there and could taste the tears, salty, wondering who would find me first.

Maybe she hears me.

Maybe she hears my emptiness.

I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. Psalm 38;8

 I can’t move.

 My heart is going too fast.

Help.

Someone see me.

My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light is gone from my eyes. Psalm 38:10

The ambulance came that night. As morning pushed her way in.

 My brother knelt over me crying. I could hear them say someone had found me like this.

This way. The way where the price of being thin had now caught the attention of the entire campus. The sirens rang my addiction for the seminary students to judge.

 Tubes shoved down.

Raw throat, black charcoal spewed over the grey tattered t-shirt of the boy who broke my heart that winter.

Friends that would never come. Never come to see the girl with the charcoal lips. They had given up watching me pile bowls of cereal on my cafeteria tray. Cereal they knew they would hear coming back up within the hour.

They stopped asking me to go out to dinner with them. Wasting money on food . Wasted on a girl who cared more about the size of her jeans, than the relationships she left walking through the bathroom door.

My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds, my neighbors stay far away. Psalm 38:11

They had tried to save me. Tried to send me nutritional printouts through campus mail. Tried to distract me with activities and conversations.

I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. Psalm 38:14

But where the mind wants to go, there the addiction stays.

Trapped in the image of emaciation is where control was found. Where no one would see the pain that I forced out multiple times a day. Toilets, trash cans, napkins, pillow cases, showers, ditches. When grief would surface, the quicker it could be driven out, the more I could breathe. The more I could have control again.

Yet this morning.

When night was leaving me there on the tiled floor.

When the secret was made public.

Here is where He found me.

Here is where I began to see the emptiness. Emptiness  in the sin that had bled me of actual feelings. Another addiction that clouded any connection others tried to grasp from me.

Oh Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. Psalm 38:21-22

Here on the tiled floor is where He met me. That is where He is meeting you.

#shereadstruth

blue walls and other things of going off the deep end.

This is a portion of a journal entries written over six months ago. It is only a fraction of what God has been doing in my life these past five years. He is changing me. Renewing me. And it is His story of healing that I am in the process of putting into a memoir of redemption and the unexpected struggles of depression and anxiety. Grace.

She stared at the walls. Blue. Light blue. Not light robin egg blue. Or you’re near an ocean blue. More like you have just been locked up blue. You have just officially hit rock bottom blue. Your dignity and pride are stripped away blue. Your soul is naked blue. The no one who can protect you now blue. She sat. Staring. Tears running down her cheeks, raw from the tears that had been shed in the last 24 hours. Hours filled with question after question. Name? Date of birth? Medications? Next of kin? Children? Where are they? Insurance? Are you going to harm yourself?

That is the question that got her here. That landed her in this hallway. That brought her to this dejected place. A place where she was just a shell of who she used to be. Frail and exposed. When she looked at the nurse with some sort of cheery scrub on, something that a toddler would find delight in and vacantly said “I don’t know”.

She wanted to disappear. She wanted it all to just stop. She wanted her heart to stop beating so fast. She wanted it to just end. To wake up far away from where she was. With no responsibility. No decisions to make. No one to ask her anything anymore. She wanted to hide. She wanted the voices in her head to cease. The voices that told her things she would never utter out loud. The voices that took control of who she was of who she never wanted to be. The voices that told her she wasn’t safe. She wasn’t safe to be in her own skin. She wasn’t safe to be around.

This is where it had all landed her. The months of anguish she had endured all boiled over her that Sunday morning. And by Sunday evening she was being watched by a police officer. Monitored one on one so that she wouldn’t harm herself. Her purse was taken away. Her clothes gone. She was left laying with a paper gown trying to plead with the doctor to not lock her up .She hadn’t shaved her legs or worn pretty underwear. Her mother always told her to do these things. Although I am sure her mother never thought her daughter would be laid out on a gurney being evaluated by a psychiatrist that December. She wanted to melt into the bed. She wanted to disappear. She wanted to wake up from this nightmare. “Please” she is pleading with him just don’t lock me up. She knows what it’s like. She does . She knows how they over medicate. She knows that people at church will find out. They say that they will look past this and forgive her. But they won’t. She knows.They say grace. But judge by the law. She knows that she will be looked at as the “crazy mom who had to be locked up” “ The mom who couldn’t handle it” “ The one who fell off the deep end” She knows how she will never be the same. She will never be who she was meant to be.

She sat staring at the blue wall pleading with God to show up. Begging Him to be real. In this moment of all moments in her life she needed to feel Him. To hear His voice. To feel His arms wrap around her. She pictured herself at His feet barely able to lift her head clinging to His ankles. Begging for mercy to be tangible. For this one moment all she ached for was hope.