It seemed like within seconds I went from feeling like I was floating, to laying on the cold tile floor vomiting the dinner I had eaten hours before. I could hear my husband Doug pacing back and forth, anxiously speaking to 911, desperation in his voice. If you could hear tears in someones voice, that was his voice the night I overdosed on sleeping pills.
There are details of that night that are clear as a still ocean to me, so easy to see. There some that seem like a tsunami of emotions, rough and unclear. I recall the ride in the ambulance, the EMT urging me to continue to talk to him, to stay awake and alert. I recall arriving at the ER and the rush of the cold night air hitting me as the wheels of the gurney thumped to the asphalt. The dark night juxtaposed by the bright fluorescent lights of the ER, but most of all the sadness and disbelief on Doug’s face as he sat next to me in the exam room of that ER in Temple Texas. After that night, I ‘m not sure what took place in the next 48+ hours, except we took Deven to the airport, but other than that, I have no clear memories.
I remember thinking a few weeks later why I was still alive. I thought taking 70-80 sleeping pills would be enough to die that night, so why didn’t I? I went through what I thought was a normal step, therapy. As someone who suffers from depression, I have been in therapy multiple times. With that said, I was never completely honest with my therapist, any of them. It wasn’t until after the overdose that I finally had to let it all go, be honest with myself and my therapist; I just tried to end my life! This wasn’t waking up the next day thinking I should not have threatened to kill myself, this was me sitting in a room bearing my soul saying that I had in fact overdosed in an attempt to end my pain and suffering.
From that day forward I worked on being open with my therapist and doing the work that was needed to move forward. Just when I was comfortable sharing we had to move… again. After moving I went on through the next year avoiding what I had done. I did not consider getting a therapist, I just did what I wanted to do. All the while, I met people but I didn’t engage with anyone on a deep level for fear I might share my secret, my shame. No one knew what was behind the mask I wore.
But this mask, the pretending didn’t just happen after my suicide attempt, I had been doing it for years. There were moments before that night where I had contemplated suicide, but I hadn’t followed through, but in those moments satan crept into my life. He slowly worked his way into all the details of my life. The saying of “give him an inch and he will take a mile” applied and I had given him that inch. I allowed myself to become a person of my circumstances, worldly circumstances and I did not cry out to God to help me. Just like wearing that mask in public, I was now doing that same act in private. God knows my heart and He was aware of what was going on, but I pushed Him further away, as if to say I had it all figured out.
To describe that time in my life as tumultuous would be an understatement. My husband had served multiple deployments to a combat zone, not feeling like an effective parent, and knowing my sister was dying of cancer; I just let each of those things overwhelm my life. I did not pray to God for help, for peace or comfort; instead I pretended like my life was in order. Please understand, I do not consider my life as a whole to be horrible, or all the choices I made wrong, I just allowed myself to be overwhelmed by them and I did not ask for help.
I was blessed with an amazing Dad, sadly he was taken from me at a young age and I didn’t understand why. After he died in 1984, I continued to attend church but I was angry with God and wondered why he would take my Dad. In his past he use to drink, but he quit years before his death, found Christ and was saved. So why did he die at such a young age? I felt like I had no one to talk to, I wasn’t close with my mom and I just wondered what kind of God would take a man who had turned his life around? I resented God for that and no one helped me understand how to not resent God, but to find peace in Gods plan. Losing my dad was the biggest tragedy in my 12 years on earth. I recall the night before I was leaving to stay at my friend Raquels house, but before I left I hugged my Dad and told him that I loved him. I felt this need to hug him tightly, but I was 12 and I had no idea what I would find out 24 hours later. It changed my life and shook my faith. I believe if my Dad had the opportunity to come back and leave Heaven, I don’t think he would. I don’t think anyone would.
I also have a thoughtful and loving son, who is now 22 years old. We have had some highs and lows through the years, but I love him with my whole heart. Unfortunately there were times in my life where my heart was empty and my brain was numb and he was left to suffer the repercussions of that darkness. I wish I could take it back, or at least let him know it was my mental illness, not him. There are many choices he made that I know were a result of my inaction or emotional absence.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful, loving and funny spouse who loves me without condition. He supports me through good and bad. He stood by me through achievements and heartaches, wins and losses. He sat beside me in the bathroom while I held a gun, afraid to pull the trigger but scared to live at the same time, and yet he still loves me. God has truly chosen the perfect partner for me to go through life with.
Do you remember a time in your childhood where you had gotten into trouble, maybe at school, a neighbor or relatives house? That feeling of dread, fear to go home because you knew one or both of your parents already knew what you had done, and the fear of the punishment that was coming? I had a little (uh-hem…big) issue with fire when I was younger. My cousin and I were thick as thieves, we had our catch phrase of “right behind ya baby“, and we were known to light a few matches in our day. Well one day we lit a fire outside of our grandparents fence in the dry, tall brush. It caught quickly but they put it out . I don’t recall the extent of what we burned, other than grass, but I do recall the punishment I received from that fire. I sat on my dads lap in front of the fireplace and had to light and burn each match in an entire book of matches until the flame was close enough to feel the heat on my fingertip, and then I was allowed to throw it into the fireplace. My dads intent was to teach me what a fire does, and though it may seem harsh to the reader, his manner was nothing but love of a parent teaching a child. I didn’t start another fire again!
Many times in my life as adult I felt like that obstinate child, and I was afraid to ask God to allow me to come home. But His love has never failed and He was right there waiting. He has been waiting for me to come home for the last four years. My friend Traci said that satan knows that God has great plans for someone and he does his best to wreak havoc with those plans. He certainly tried to destroy what God has planned for me.
I fully embrace that God kept me alive that night for a reason, and I acknowledge that the devil did try to aid me in ending my life, but he didn’t win, God won! God always wins! The devil could not have my life, so he kept at me in the little things; shopping and drinking too much and distant and cold to family and friends.
There was a time before, during and after the overdose that I did not, and could not love myself. I think if I heard my story from someone else, I would understand how it would be hard to love oneself. Something I realized after talking to Jay Golden and prepping for the storytelling seminar, I didn’t love myself, so how could I fully commit to loving my family in a way they needed and deserved. They love me, and I often felt more love than I deserved. They have stood by my side through the good and the bad, even when it was more bad than good. To my husband and son, I love you both and I am grateful for your continued love and support.
As I lay my head down each night I pray and thanking God for my life, for the lesson, and most importantly for loving me even when I feel unworthy. I know with every prayer the devils grasp on me loosens and I wake with a song in my heart for the Lord.
I haven’t had a perfect life, but I never asked for one, and I keep in perspective I was never promised a perfect life. I was given the life God knew I would live. I have floated in the clouds and drug my heels in the valleys many times. My prayer for me and you, is that when you are in that valley that you will not drag your heels, but fall to your knees. Do not crawl, let Him pick you up, carry and guide you. Allow Him to hold you hand, speak words of love and help you up that next hill and walk in the clouds again. By Gods grace alone I sit here today, happy to be alive!