Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speaking From the Heart ... Suicide is the S Word

I am sure a lot will be said in the public realm about the passing of Robin Williams.  Some will be compassionate, and some not. I speak as one who knows that dark hour, who has personally walked thorugh that "dark night of the soul" and yet somehow for me the "glass did break" and I was restored and returned and am here today to speak out.

It was after the death of my mother who succumbed to breast cancer that I went on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts, and the Lord found me and captured my heart. I truly do not know if I would still be here had I not found Jesus. I know that having faith is no assurance you will make it through the depths of despair. Yet I will never forget the night that I was so despondent that my husband had to hide all the pills and knives in our home. I crawled out of bed that night and crept downstairs. I opened the phone book and found the Suicide Prevention hotline (LINK HERE) As I was talking to the agent, there was an odd click and I thought I was disconnected. Instead, I found myself talking to the head nurse at Meriter Hospital Psych Ward, the ward I had just been discharged from several weeks prior. She was confused and asked who I was and why I was calling. I explained I had been calling Suicide Prevention but was somehow disconnected and patched through to them. She actually remembered me which as you read below may not be surprising. I was the "psychotic depressed postpartum woman" who ended up in her Psych Ward for two inpatient stays over a period of three weeks just after my son was born. She said to me "TRACEY, YOU DO NOT WANT TO COME BACK HERE! You will be OK. You will make it through it. Just go back to sleep and get some rest, you are going to get better."  It was true, I did NOT want to go back there. Being hospitalized in the psych ward was a scary thing in a scary place. It was not comforting to be there. So I hung up the phone, woke up my husband, and you know what he did? He opened his Bible and all I remember from my haze of non-sleep that night is that he read, and read, and read those words over me nonstop for hours until the morning and the painful desire to END IT ALL finally left.  That was truly my darkest night.  I still had over 9 months to go before the depression fully lifted. But I was shaken to the core by how God's hand reached out through that darkness (and literally through the phone lines), how not only was He holding me moment by moment through it--even when it didn't feel like He was there--but He lifted me out of it by His grace.

For those who have not personally endured mental illness, I am so thankful. So thankful that you have not had to endure the personal and crippling pain, and the pain of the stigma that you carry for the inward challenges that are upon you and at times consume your life. Yet for any who wonder how someone could ever think of doing something "so selfish", I want to share a video, a video that is painful to watch, as you hear the parents of a soldier sharing his final note. In sharing this video, I hope we are shaken to the core to reach out to those around us in our own corner of the world, to speak Hope, Love, and Truth to these people walking through their darkest nights; this man's story is tragic and so hard to bear. Yet in watching it, we are honoring his life, honoring his pain, and allowing the Lord to open our eyes to the numbing pain so many people in this world are walking through. Like the verse from 1Corinthians 2:11a "For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? ....  Here is the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BiNq677QQQ

In my life, I now see that Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and it is only when we cling to Him, truly cling to Him with all we've got, that we can ever hope to find the true peace that passes all understanding (Phillipians 4:7)

Below I will share what I posted on Facebook, in the hopes that by not being silent, others can come to know the Lord's healing, that the way we approach mental illness will be transformed, and those suffering will be restored to a sense of purpose and hope.
From my Facebook status: In light of the tragic news we heard today of Robin Williams' passing, I wrote a comment on my sister's Facebook post that gave me courage to speak out and share some of my own story.
There was an incredible article recently in USA today that powerfully delves into this epidemic (link below). Having been there myself, this resonates in a way I can't easily put into words. The figure I'm reading is that 1 in 4 adults are currently struggling with mental illness and 1 in 5 children. That is staggering. Having been a patient more than once in "the system" myself, I can attest to how broken it is -- one example was the Director of Inpatient Psychiatry somehow thought it would make me feel better during my postpartum hospitalization to know "they were poring over all the latest medical articles and research" so they could best treat me as they had little experience dealing with postpartum psychosis. Really???? What a wake up call. This was in 2008.
As my illness dragged on for 18 months and I fell into utter despair, I truly began to feel that my husband, my family would be better off without me. It was not until I felt this complete and utter despair that I could truly understand how it felt to want to end your life. And now I will never forget it.
In one part of the article linked below they quote Rick Warren, the well known author/pastor who lost his son to his depression. They said "Warren compares the stigma of mental illness to that of AIDS and HIV. In both cases, people are blamed for bringing suffering upon themselves."
What is on my heart more than anything else, is that we need a system that brings hope, dignity, and restoration to those who are suffering. It is my prayer that this tragedy would resonate in every community and household that what "we" are doing as a society to bring restoration and hope for those affected, is in dire need of overhaul.

Thank you so much for reading! This is a subject that is dear to my heart. I have such a clear memory of the many things I endured as I walked through the depression, and now have a true understanding of my husband who has lived with cyclical depression all of his adult life. Somehow I think in all this there is a book in me, and I hope to write it. Maybe this will be the first chapter. But my heart is so thankful for the love and support of those who ministered to us through our journey. I have a new understanding of the true power of prayer. We will never know on this side of heaven how the Lord hears and answers prayers, but me being here today is truly an answer to prayer. May the Lord Bless all who see this page. Amen.

I want to leave you with a song that has blessed my heart. A song of hope that has for me a feel of an anthem. May you be blessed. Oceans by Hillsong United


Brigitte said...

This is a great post Tracey. Thank you for sharing.

Buttons Thoughts said...

HUGS you are brave to post this and I thank you as many have never had that courage and that is what those suffering need to hear the most from someone who has been there and made it through.. Thank you HUGS B

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words Tracey, as are you! I definitely think you should write a book about it. What a testament to the phrase "The Lord is GOOD." Praying for your husband and your family! We who have struggled with mental illness are hungry for more courageous folks like you to help everyone know we are in need of LOVE and PRAYERS, understanding and compassion! LOVE AND HUGS!!! re-re

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Tracey. I do believe that you have a book in you. Your words drew me in and made me feel a part of your experience. Our stories are, perhaps, the best education tools that we can use. Keep sharing and writing! I look forward to more.

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