Called To Live

CALLED TO LIVE: A Chronicle of Recovery After Attempted Suicide

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Insightful. Inspiring. Hopeful. Scary. Dark. Real.  Called to Live covers one year of Nancy Virden’s life as she returns from hopelessness to a clearer sense of purpose.  This wild ride on waves of unpredictable emotions was recorded as her battle with Major Depression progressed. 

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“I won’t drink it.”

A young surgical resident had been using all his persuasive powers to convince me to swallow a dish soap flavored liquid. “This test is important for you to be well,” he had been insisting for nearly fifteen minutes.

“Now why would I care about that? I will not drink it. It tastes nasty.”

Frustrated, he pulled out a new tactic. “All these people here in this room cannot go home until you take this test. Their shift ends at eleven o’clock, and as long as you resist they will have to stay and be unable to go home to their families.”

It was nearly eleven p.m. The young woman serving as my suicide watch-guard had already mentioned her shift ended at that hour. Otherwise, dismissing his ploy would have been easy. He had stirred the one thing I did still care about, not wanting to make someone else’s life miserable.

To continue stubbornly refusing medical treatment could possibly keep these techs and nurses from going home. What if that were true? Looking the radiologist in the eye, I inquired whether she would be one who had to stay.

“No,” she replied keeping intense eye contact. “But I am the only radiologist on this shift qualified to read films. As long as I am with you other patients will have to wait.”

“So, go help the other people.”

“I’m not allowed to leave you.”

A few minutes later, picturing the halls lined with groaning patients who could not get medical help because of me, I grudgingly agreed to take the test that could potentially save my life.

Major Depression had been hammering away for months at any reasons I may have held for living. In one final blow, it had managed to convince me God wanted me to give up. As a committed Christian, I did not want to disobey my Heavenly Father. His permission for suicide was necessary. I asked him, “Please, God. Is it time?”

The reply was not God’s voice. My fractured mind said, “Yes, it’s okay. Come home.” Peace came over me, and tremendous relief. It would soon be over—all the fear, guilt, loneliness, aching, longing, heaviness of heart, disappointment, and despair would be past. The future held promise of peace, security, and love for eternity with Christ. Soon I would be with him!

That is when I died. Physically, I survived the suicide attempt. Three days in critical condition on the Intensive Care Unit, followed by five more on the medical ward, had done the trick. My body was breathing, talking, eating, walking, smiling, and even laughing. By the end of that period, my entire being was worn out from chatting with the women whose job it was to keep an eye on me around-the-clock. Nevertheless, I was dead.

One afternoon, a hospital psychiatrist brought with her a journal and a pen. “Write,” she said.

“Why not?” I figured. “It is something to do.”

Recording this journey began that day.

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