As National Suicide Prevention Week draws to a close, I want to say thanks to the hundreds of you who have shared your stories of pain, struggle and yes, HOPE. I asked a few days ago for anyone who lives with major depression or suicidal thoughts to let me know what keeps you tethered to life – and how you make it through the darkest moments of despair. You have responded with such amazing, vulnerable, and authentic words.
Most of you mentioned three “ties:” Family, faith, and friends who don’t walk out when things get tough. Yep. I would agree wholeheartedly. These are the three “ties” that have given me the strength to live again after Matthew’s death. My family – my husband and my other children and grandchildren; my faith – my heart is more turned towards Him than ever before; my friends – faithful, compassionate, sacrificial friends who have allowed our grief to be theirs. Many of you also spoke of good medical care – caring therapists, plus treatments and medication that alleviate or manage some of the most troublesome symptoms. I’ve read stories that are so painful I can’t keep the tears from flowing down my face as years and years (sometimes decades) of suffering from crushing depression and suicidal thoughts are recounted. It’s been hard to read.
HOWEVER... and this is the most beautiful part... I’ve also read stories of hope. Stories of men and women who are survivors of the bleak despair... people who are now living happier, more fulfilling lives than they ever thought possible. I am ending this week with more joy and hope than ever before. Major depression and suicidal thoughts are NOT automatic guarantees of an awful life, nor is suicide inevitable. God is with you and will never leave you. There are medical breakthroughs and resources and proven treatments available. Whether your biological family loves you the way you deserve to be loved or not, the family of God – which is eternal – will listen, encourage, pray with you, give you a hand when the darkness settles in. As brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, soul-satisfying friendships can be formed. YOU MATTER! Your life matters. As my friend Jamie Tworkowski says, “No one else can play your part!” For those in the black pit of pain: There is hope. There IS hope! There is HOPE!