The extract below is from my diary, written while stuck in the miry pit of severe depression. I had virtually no hope, could see no future, and feared depression would never end.
29th April 1990 -
How many other people are out there like me?
I wish I could help them, comfort them,
But I wouldn’t know how.
I don’t even know how to survive myself.
What was it that stopped me from ending it all?
Why did I persist?
Jesus was some of the reason, sure,
But even my spiritual life was in a complete shambles.
The one main thing that stopped me from ending it was my mother.
I had to keep going for her,
And for the others who cared for me.
How could they cope if I had killed myself?
I saw the devastating effects a suicide could have on a family,
And there’s no way I could put others through such an ordeal.
A common reaction if experiencing unbearable suffering such as depression, is to want to die or kill ourselves. Unable to see an end to the suffering, and not knowing how to be free from it, suicide or wanting to die may seem like the only escape route available.
This is a lie from Satan. Capitalising upon our fears and feelings of hopelessness, Satan tries to convince suffering people that death is the only way out. He tries to hide the truth from us because he wants to destroy us. We must not give into Satan; we must not give him the victory.
John 8:44 “the devil…was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Another extract from my diary, 14th June 1990 –
I keep asking myself, why am I still here?
Why am I still even trying?
Why don’t I just give up and end it?
I mean, is this all there is to human life?
Is this it?
But regardless of how hard it gets,
I can’t end it, for my mother could not handle it.
I’ve seen the effects suicide can have on a family,
And I would not willingly do that to anyone.
I feel so like Job. “Curse God and die!” my thoughts yell at me.
“Look at this suffering!
How can He be faithful,
When He’s apparently done nothing for six whole months now –
Curse Him and die!”
But God is faithful, and I know that -
It is His name – Faithful and True.
The main thing that stopped me from ending it was that I had witnessed the effects suicide has upon a person’s family, and I loved my family too much to destroy their lives by ending my own. They loved me, cared for me, and were supporting me the best they could, as were my friends. If I had taken my own life, it would have destroyed their lives by causing them to enter a depression worse than what I was experiencing. I refused to put them through that.
And as to the fear that depression would never end – that was a lie as well. I did recover. The fact is, if I had succumbed to Satan’s lies that death was the only way out of depression, I would have been robbed of all the wonderful blessings that God was yet to give me.
1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him."
Once I came to understand how depression worked and how to recover, hope re-entered my life. During the next four years, while I slowly healed, I learnt to live with it and got on with my life. I made a lot of new friends, took up new hobbies such as writing and computer games, and joined a new church where I played the piano and taught Sunday school.
And then, when I recovered from depression, God continued to pour His blessings upon me. I bought a house, married a wonderful lady and had two beautiful (busy!) children.
Quality of life after depression was also much better than it had been before depression. Why? Because it was through depression that had I finally learnt how to deal with anxiety and panic attacks – I was finally free of them for the first time in my life! And best of all, I came to receive a much deeper understanding of God’s love for me, I learnt how to trust Him during difficult times, and I came so much closer to Jesus.
Another thing that helped me to press on, where the memories of my relationship with Jesus before I became depressed. I often reflected upon the times He had comforted me, the times I had felt His wonderful presence, and upon Bible passages that offered encouragement. Most of all, I remembered when Jesus so clearly revealed His love for me - a love so deep and touching that I had wept for joy afterwards. I focused on the fact that God is faithful and true, irrespective of my circumstances.
Ephesians 3:17-19 ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’
One thought that helped me persevere was the joy of reaching heaven and hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!” Matthew 25:23. How could Jesus say that if I had taken my own life? That is not being a good and faithful servant, making the most of the life and gifts He had given me – that is giving up!
I also kept in mind that God rewards the overcomers, those who persevere in times of trouble. The book of Revelation lists several wonderful rewards that Christ gives to the overcomers. If you have a moment, please check them out. Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 3:5, 3:12
In conclusion, if plagued by thoughts that suicide is the only way out of depression, remember that this is a lie - there is a way out, we can recover, and we can enjoy the richness of life again.
And some advice - we need to talk to those who are supporting and caring for us, and tell them if we are having suicidal thoughts. When I confided to my mother that I felt like ending it all, she immediately arranged for me to see her doctor. The anti-depressants the doctor gave me were very effective in reducing the severity of depression’s symptoms, which made life much more bearable. So if having such thoughts, please see a good doctor and follow his or her advice.
As well as seeing a doctor, we need to get help from a professional therapist or counsellor and deal with the underlying issues that are causing the depression. I also recommend reading “Self Help for Your Nerves” by Dr Claire Weekes. It was after reading this book that hope returned to my life.
And most of all, we need to cling to, rely upon, and trust in Jesus. He will not abandon us if we turn to Him.
If no one is available and you need to talk about suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone at a suicide helpline. Here is a helpful listing of such helplines available in a number of different countries.
All verses from the NIV.