Are Faith and Despair Opposites? A Christian’s Experience With Suicide

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2015 Nancy Virden

photo-25180003-exterior-stock-image-of-churchI had reached the end of my life. Breathing seemed a strain while emotional pain consumed my lungs and took control of my mind.

In despair, I knew that whatever I might have offered to the world or my family was worthless.  No reason to hope for change remained.  I fully accepted that continuing to exist meant only more loss.  Thoughts had recently circled less around a fight for survival, and more on the ultimate escape.

I wanted out. 

Major depression had for months challenged rationale. Impulsivity rose while judgment declined. My once hard-fought battle against suicidal thoughts was over.  I questioned not if, but how.  Depression continued to limit my cognitive abilities as I worked to reason out a plan.

Only one hesitation stopped me – my deep wish to honor God.  I did not want to hurt him or my eternal chances.  My goal was to join my Heavenly Father, and Savior Jesus Christ.

I needed his approval before I could end my life.

Moments before follow-through, I said, “God, is it time yet?” It seemed he said “Come home,” and great calm filled my spirit. 

The suicide attempt landed me in the hospital with full medical care for body and mind. Doubt and sensibility began to peek through the cloud of misery and irrationality. Had it actually been ok with God for me to kill myself? Is he the one who said “Come home?”photo-24803711-praying-hands

Christians who have major depression are often advised to read the Bible and pray more. Some form of “just give it to God and he will meet you and give you peace and joy” is the most common sentiment I have heard.

Yet I had poured hours per day into Bible reading and prayer while despair crept ever closer.  Communication with God was dear and intimate.  After the attempt,  acute grief broke my heart because I feared that misunderstanding his permission meant I could not recognize his voice anymore.

We Christians can believe wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ, his cross, and resurrection. We can know in our hearts that he has conquered death, and fully understand he is above all the trials of this earth.  Nonetheless, a shroud of major depression may steal our positive emotions.  We can begin to feel we have lost touch with the God we love and desperately miss.

Major depression and its accompanying despair and negative thinking are not loss of faith. They are not denial of the power and presence of Christ! If these issues are present in a believer’s life, depression is not the proof of it.  

Recovery from major depression and the suicide attempt took years. For sixteen months despite a death wish, I yielded to God’s will each day when I got out of bed and stayed alive. Another year passed before a renewed vision of purpose grew. 

From the outside maybe it looked as if I did not believe in God’s goodness, when in reality I was counting on it.  Church folks could have assumed I wept during services out of sadness. Truth is, God’s grace was overwhelming.

I am a Christian with Major Depression Recurrent.  I know who is King of Kings.  My hope clings to the truth of his Word and in one day being with him for eternity.

In his time.

*********

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

-pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com

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