Okay…I don’t want to write about this but I’m going to because I have to. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, my family, my friends. I didn’t want to upset people. Those days are over now. My Headcase Christian stuff is usually pretty lighthearted stuff. Usually people read my stuff and laugh, even. I’m sorry to say that my new Facebook page is not beginning that way but… hey. I’m not called “The Headcase Christian” for nothing.
Recently myself and my family experienced a loss that was…is…heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and in a way…inexcusable.
My brother by another mother – and I’ll call him that because he never stopped being my brother – took his own life. Even though there was a divorce, I never stopped loving any of my “married” family members. I never considered them no longer family. I stayed in their lives as much as I felt I could without being intrusive and did my best to always let them know they were welcome in mine and my kids’ lives. People who truly know me know this about me – it’s often to my own detriment but once my love is given it’s given for good.
Here’s the catch – often times people simply don’t have a clue of what to do, what to say, how to maintain a relationship, how to cry out, how to scream, how to hold a sign above their head that says, “Help me! I’m drowning!” Other times we’re so wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t see the sign they’re shoving right under our noses. I’m not scrutinizing, casting stones, or casting aspersions – not in our family’s situation nor anyone else’s and I’ll tell you why. Because after the fact doesn’t matter. All you can do is move forward and do better. That’s what I’m doing with this. That’s what I’m trying to do. So… I’m doing what some say I do best and I’m writing my feelings and thought and, yes… a painful as hell experience that forever changed my life.
I’m going to state an experience that happened in my life and you can believe it or not. Quite frankly I don’t care which and further it doesn’t really matter in the large scheme of things whether it even WAS real or not because the end result is that I’m still alive today and I have a beautiful family.
You see, after my brother-in-law took his life…and after I sobbed until I was sick… I was angry. I was livid and I couldn’t figure out why. Until now.
I was angry, am angry, at me. Because of what has happened, I feel a guilt…an albatross around my neck of which I feel is nearly drowning me because I didn’t share this experience with anyone but my immediate family before. So…here it is:
I nearly killed myself. In fact, I thought of it on so many occasions that it nearly became a daily occurrence for me. It wasn’t a matter of would the thought cross my mind but rather in what way and how heavy would the temptation be. Now, let’s be clear here. This wasn’t a “Look at me! I’m hurting and need attention!” thing. It sucks but some people do do that.* I mean even after being diagnosed with a serious chemical imbalance and taking Prozac since the age of 17, I was literally formulating a way to end myself and this completely inexplicable pain that only seemed to be growing in its intensity daily along with this completely consuming feeling of uselessness and strong sense of worthlessness. At this point I had a beautiful baby girl and… it didn’t matter. I loved her beyond comprehension and… it didn’t matter. Why? Because this level of depression and hurt doesn’t make sense. I had convinced myself… or the devil had… that my daughter would actually be better off without me. I honestly felt that I was a burden to everyone around me and hadn’t lived up to my potential subsequently being viewed as … less. In fact I felt as if I was less than “less.”
There was actually a day when someone held my daughter in front of me and said, “Fine! If you’re going to do this then don’t be a coward. Do it right here in front of her!”
Following this horrible incident that I’d prefer to not detail, I went to church as I did at least three times a week, every week. Trust me… no one knew what was going on inside of me. There are people right now reading this saying, “Holy crap. I had no idea and she sat next to me in choir.” I digress. There was a visiting pastor. I don’t even remember what he preached on. I was told he had preached on some message that easily applied to the body as a whole on how we treated one another. I was borderline catatonic in my own world of shame, pain, and misery that I could barely pay attention. All I remember was this – the most important part of this story: he invited people to the alter. My God! When you’ve done everything…you’ll do anything. Keep in mind that at this point I truly believed that even God looked down on me as if to say, “I can’t believe I took the time to make you.” So…for me to go to the alter was really an act of “What the heck…” I didn’t go believing ANYTHING was going to happen. I just went. And…something happened. Something that can’t be explained. Again,… don’t care if you believe me or not. It is what it is and it’s why I’m here today and why I’ll never consider suicide EVER again. I want to preface what I’m about to say by saying this: NO ONE but me and one other person knew that I was having these thoughts. And…trust me, this other person wasn’t a talker. This preacher made his way to me. He was very quiet for just a moment as he looked at me and then he prayed for me and it was over in a moment. It was only afterward that I realized that in that still quiet moment, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. In front of the only other person in the world that knew what was going on with me, this preacher laid his hand on my head and said the following (I paraphrase), “God this is your child and you love her and I rebuke any and every single thought of suicide that would ever enter her mind. She is a child of the most high and has a great purpose. The devil can’t have her because she’s already been claimed by You!” That was it for me.
That was it.
God is real. The Holy Spirit is real. He is here, there. He is near to you. He wants you to cry out to Him in your greatest hour of need. He wants to comfort you. He…is…REAL.
I want to be clear here. I had seen therapists off and on since I was SIXTEEN years old. And you see…it wasn’t some miraculous prayer over me, some psychological awakening. It wasn’t this preacher laying his hands on me. It wasn’t some spiritual transplant that I received that day. It was simply the fact that oh my God….You heard me! God had heard me. God knew me and knew what I was going through. He wasn’t unaware. He wasn’t apathetic. He saw me. That was all I needed – to know that God was there, He saw me, and I mattered to Him. I didn’t need Him to tell me my life would be roses and it would all turn around. Literally all I needed to know was that I existed for a reason, He knew me, He loved me, and I … mattered.
After that, any time a thought of suicide or harming myself came in to my mind my reaction was nearly one of a since of ridiculousness. The thought of killing myself after knowing that I was worth something, no matter how much, to God… was absurd. There is literally no way suicide will ever be the way I go out. No way.
Here’s the thing: I got to have a great gift that not everyone gets to have. And do you know what I did with it? I failed. I may not have failed my brother-in-law. But at the very least I failed myself. I failed applying this testimony to God’s kingdom so that if even only ONE person’s life was changed… my pain was well worth it. I can’t tell you why I did this other than to say that to visit that time in life even now is inexplicable… it still hurts painfully to remember that time in life. The pain is so strong that right now I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest as my body is shaking and I’m crying. It sucked. It really, really, sucked.
So…here it is! If you’re a Christian, then you need to understand that we’re the hands and feet of God. We’re the light. We’re the salt. We are the world-changers, the earth shakers. If you’re not a Christian, man how I wish you were because without the hope of God I would not be here today. I’m not going to high jack what I believe God wants to do here, though, by preaching to you though because God already knows you, loves you, and is just waiting on you to talk to Him. He’s a gentleman and won’t beat you over the head so neither will I. Either way, though, all you have to do is be a decent person to understand that we are responsible for the ones around us. I know that doesn’t sound like fun; but, guess what? Suck it up because that’s life! You can recognize that you effect people and do something with that or you can find out on Monday that Todd, just two cubicles down, drove his car off the dock and never even left a letter to let anyone know why. That is reality. This is my plea to you to stop living in your bubble, stop living in your social-media-perfect world and SEE people, visit them. This is me begging you to love people, especially the ones that make it nearly impossible to even like them.
If you can’t think of one person in your life that even appears as if they’re considering hurting themselves then allow me to destroy your cotton candy world – you’re wrong. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013. That means you know SOMEONE who has thought about it.
“Suicide is an increasing public health concern. In 2009, the number of deaths from suicide surpassed the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the United States.” #CDC
If you think this is something that only happens amongst angsty, drama-riddled, teens… you’re WRONG.
In 2013 the CDC published an article titled “Suicide Among Adults Aged 35–64 Years — United States, 1999–2010.” It stated the following: “To investigate trends in suicide rates among adults aged 35–64 years over the last decade, CDC analyzed National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) mortality data from 1999–2010…The results of this analysis indicated that the annual, age-adjusted suicide rate among persons aged 35–64 years increased 28.4%, from 13.7 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 17.6 in 2010.”
Did you read that?! THE SUICIDE RATE (for ages 35-64) INCREASED BY 28 AND A HALF FREAKIN’ PERCENT. That’s more than a quarter. Are you picking up what I’m throwing down?! I hope you are because you KNOW someone, RIGHT NOW, that is hurting.
It is estimated that 8.3 million people in the U.S. had thoughts of suicide in 2013, with 2.3 million people developing a suicide plan and 1 million people attempting suicide. Eighty-three percent of suicide attempts involve poisoning. #Emory And these numbers GROW every single year.
Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24
Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18
More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED
Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12 (GRADE SEVEN IS 12-YEAR-OLDS FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!)
Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs. #TheYouthRiskBehavioralSurveillanceSystem
This is real. This is today. This is not just someone else’s life. This is your life. If you’ve not experienced this, then you’re one of the lucky ones – SO DO SOMETHING WITH THAT! If you’re a kid reading this, go sit with that weird kid that no one will sit with. If you’re a teenager reading this then befriend that girl who talks to no one and don’t assume the cheerleader is living the highlife because chances are she’s anorexic and hates herself more than you could ever consider hating her. If you’re an adult NEVER think that you’re age bracket, circle of friends, and family is safe because you’re all past this point in your life. The statistics I put above PROVE YOU WRONG. Love your family. Forgive them. Talk with your elderly neighbor. Speak with your postman. When the guy behind the register says, “How are you today?” in return, look them in the eye and say, “I’m okay. How are YOU doing?” and MEAN IT.
Finally, if someone comes to you and they’re telling you they’re unhappy. ASK QUESTIONS. Don’t try and fix them. You are NOT equipped. Don’t give them advice. Suicide and depression doesn’t make sense to someone who HAS experienced it because it’s a personal thing, it certainly won’t make sense to someone who has never experienced it at all. Ask them things…
How long have you been feeling this way?
How bad does it get?
What can I do?
Do you want to talk to someone who knows more about this than me?
You matter to me so, if I went with you, would you talk to someone?
Last: DON’T TELL THEM TO GET HELP. GO WITH THEM TO GET IT.
*Even if you THINK someone is looking for attention. NEVER ignore someone who is even pretending to consider suicide or self-harm. Your act of not giving them the attention they seek can be the very thing that makes them subsequently feel worthless and as if no one would miss them.
RIP David Richard Pozorski (05/03/79-03/24/17)