It has been a long hiatus – but I am back!
If you are new to my blog, and jumping into the middle of the story, please allow me to start over. And also, welcome. Your thoughts are safe here.
If you have been reading for a while, or even intermittently over the last couple of years, thank you. Your willingness to lean into my painful space with me does not go unnoticed. That being said, this post will be a very difficult one to read, so please be cognizant of your own heart and feelings so you can stop reading if anything is stirred up within you.
And finally, TRIGGER WARNING for all readers. This post is going to discuss suicidality, sexual assault, depression, intrusive thoughts, and content.
Wow, okay. I have been staring at the blinking cursor for some time now. I am frozen, unsure if I can really follow through writing this post. My mind has been quite fragile, and I wonder if I am safe enough to discuss these things. Safe enough with myself, that is. You see, that is the thing about living with chronic suicidal ideation: you never know when the obsession will tip into action.
I was born a “feeler”. Always so emotional and reactionary to other’s feelings. Many people use the term “empath” now to describe those of us whose souls feel so deeply for others. But when I was little, I felt like this was something to be embarrassed and ashamed of. I was a crybaby. I was too much. Why did I feel so much pain from something that didn’t have anything to do with me directly? Why did I feel drawn to others in pain, and felt like I needed to sit with them? I still don’t know the why, but I do know now that this is a gift that God has allowed me to share with others just by being present in their pain. Validation, support, empathy; these can be healing to all of us, and sometimes no words need to even be spoken. I wish I could tell myself as a little girl not to try to hide this part of me, or any part of me really, away. God created me to be this person, painful as it may sometimes be, and I am grateful He entrusted me to help others in this way. For today, anyway. Tomorrow, I may wish it all away as I have done time and time again, because sometimes the burden feels too heavy, and my heart just gives up.
I have vague memories of my childhood. I don’t have any real solid memories during my elementary years. I would say the only ones I can call up typically have to do with being in trouble. And when I say “being in trouble” what I have come to realize I actually mean is, times when I was a disappointment. Or rather, when I perceived I was a disappointment. I didn’t get perfect grades. I didn’t do good enough at gymnastics practice or a meet. I wasn’t strong enough. I was annoying with my medical and emotional needs. I spoke during class. I didn’t fit the church standard. On and on. Little things that felt colossal to my young mind.
I also have memories of a handful of traumatic events from that age range. And then I have zero memories of what I believe is likely other trauma.
If you are my family or loved ones, you may want to skip this part.
The reason I feel there is other unrecognized trauma from my childhood is two-fold: the lack of memories, and the actions I took to remedy the deep feelings I was experiencing.
As an adult, I have never had a fully acted out suicide attempt. However, I did as a child. At 8 years old, I desperately tried to end my life. I can recall where I was sitting in the house. I can tell you what had just happened at dinner time that pushed me over the edge. But that was more the last straw vs the reason for the attempt. I can tell you that my little mind had no idea how many pills I actually needed, or that I would need a certain type. I can tell you that my 8-year-old mind was already so methodical that I came up with a plan, decided on the pill and type, and then picked a number I thought would do the job but that wouldn’t be noticeably missing from the bottle so that nobody would have any suspicions. I was set on dying. I didn’t want my family to notice missing pills and then come check on me or something. When your mind has decided on death, apparently even as a young child, it also tries to plan for the contingencies.
This memory came back to me during EMDR. And once I remembered it had happened, all the details came back as well. It wasn’t something I had forgotten per se, but rather was something buried deep in my mind. EMDR helps you get those memories back out of the filing cabinet of your mind and then work through them. However, there is a period, around 7 or 8 years old that I just cannot access. I have tried during EMDR, and I am unable to do so. I hyperventilate and become upset and my mind freezes. It feels like I am maybe not yet ready to process whatever is in there. For these reasons, I have suspicions about unresolved trauma stemming from that time.
My 8-year-old self was very disappointed to wake up the next morning. I figured there was no point in trying again as I obviously couldn’t do it. Again, just another disappointment. These feelings would haunt me for years to come. I imagined taking my life many times throughout the next 15 years, give or take. I was bullied through middle school – I guess I should end my life. I was hormonal, depressed, and a “disappointment” throughout high school – I should definitely take my life. I remember during those years, however, being afraid of acting out those thoughts. So instead, I would just engage in risky behavior, hoping that I would die in the process. 120 down the freeway? Sure. Rock climbing without a rope? Why not? Skydiving? Sign me up. Etc. etc.
After high school, and into college, I just kind of floated. Was I living up to my “potential”? No. Did I care? I would like to say “no”; however, the truth is that it ate me alive that I was such a waste of space. I knew I was capable of more, but I just didn’t care to be whatever that more was.
And then when I was 19, I stopped floating. I stopped everything.
Family, friends, again, this may be a part to skip over.
When I was 19 years old, I was raped by a “friend”, by somebody I was seeing. Even still these words are incredibly hard to type. I wouldn’t even say the word “rape” until I started therapy after having Olivia. Because in my mind, I let it happen. This was, and still is, all my fault. I should have fought back harder. I shouldn’t have misunderstood his actions the first time, so there would be no violent follow up. I was raised to be tough and situationally aware – what a disappointment I was. What a stereotypical weak woman. Such a doormat. And I was clearly only good for one thing. These were my internal thoughts. And with those thoughts came active suicidality again. I wanted nothing more than to no longer suffer and to cease to exist. Death didn’t even seem the right call, because I still believed in the afterlife, and I didn’t want to exist there, either. The thought gave me panic attacks. Nonetheless, I focused on different ways to end my life, while also dropping out of college, barely keeping a job, and sabotaging relationships all over the place. I was so alone.
And then I wasn’t. But not because I had finally leaned into God. No, no. That would take me many, many years to fully realize that He was my only Savior. That He never left me.
No, I jumped into a relationship with the very next man who showed any interest in me. I knew things weren’t right, but I didn’t care because I was desperate to be loved and to be important to somebody. That relationship lasted over six years and found me with a box cutter in my hand more times than I would like to remember.
But then, about six months after being single and on my own, things changed. I can look back now and see that my soul was healthier and unloading all those toxic burdens helped lessen the SI. Not that there is necessarily a rhyme or reason, but I truly believe God was giving me a reprieve. Because, for nearly a decade, I lived without the torment of suicidality. It just wasn’t a thing. And I think it is for that reason that I felt so comfortable saying that I was not ever suicidal until after giving birth. Because it felt like a lifetime of freedom in between. But the truth is that I have been suicidal practically my entire life. 30 years I have lived with some sort of SI present. And it is these realizations that had me start deep diving into different books about mental health and religion. I know I have been talking about it a lot on Facebook, but truly, “Hiding in the Pews: Shining Light on Mental Illness in the Church” by Steve Austin has been such a wonderfully helpful book for me. Because the truth is this: I have never been part of a church that was “safe” for somebody with mental illness, let alone a chronically suicidal individual. And I thought that the worst of my suicidal days were behind me, so surely, I would be safe in a church I had joined leadership in. But that just wasn’t so. When my suicidality returned, I realized that I had nobody in that church that I could lean on. And this has been the case with every church I have been to. This must change. We, as Christians, have to do so much better at loving ALL the sick people in our pews.
I digress. Prior to having Olivia, there had been moments of passive suicidal thoughts following a work situation that really brought forth some of my sexual assault PTSD. Driving off a bridge was a common thought. And at the time, I didn’t consider that to be a suicidal thought. So wild what our brains convince us of, isn’t it?
After having Olivia, as you may have read in prior blog posts, I became very suicidal. I was saved by God’s mercy in the form of exhaustion. And then by Him opening doors to get me to the treatment I needed; by Him providing a last-minute miracle for the Zulresso infusion; by the support network that showed up for my little family; by just sitting in the darkness with me. Truly, surviving all of that was miraculous. I shouldn’t be alive. But I am. And yet, over the past several months, my mind has reverted to the same exact places. The sickness that was buried deep again resurfaced, telling me many different ways to take my life. Only this time, there was impulsiveness attached to it. When I tell you I was frightened, that is an understatement. I was certain I would die by suicide this year. Yes, you read that correctly…. This year. There are still moments when I am sure that my life will end from suicide at some point. But I am not giving up yet.
I have been through the ringer with various treatments these past few months – truly trying anything and everything to make this better. And then having adverse reactions that made things even more scary for a bit. But I am still breathing. The biggest motivator is Olivia. Even at my lowest point, I can firmly say that I know that little girl needs me and loves me so much. I can make an excuse for every other person in my life as to how I am a burden to them. But to my daughter, I am her world. She is my Velcro kiddo and would be lost without me should I die by suicide. I am grateful for God’s graciousness in allowing me to recognize that despite the pitch-black darkness I have been in, because that knowledge is in stark contrast to what I felt postpartum.
I write all of this because I want others to get a glimpse into the sick mind of a suicidal individual. We would never choose this. Ever. Just like nobody would choose a heart attack and the lifelong damage secondary to that. I want to be healthy. But remember friends, Lazarus died waiting for his miraculous healing. And so, some of us won’t be healed in this lifetime – does that mean God has forgotten us? Absolutely not. I can’t tell you what it means, because I am not God. I can only tell you that you are loved, worthy, and needed.
As always, my inbox is open. Whether I am a stranger or a loved one, I am here for you because your life matters. God created you and that is pretty dang special!! Much love to you all.