Trigger warning (if you are sensitive to reading or thinking about suicide, please don’t read this).
“I know I am the most biggest loser failure in the world, a stupid defective human being.”
This is a quote from my journal from a few years ago. It was typical of many sentences I found written in my old journals.
I had been suffering for years with undiagnosed, untreated depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I grew up in an abusive home and was burdened with the “family secrets” and the inability to talk about it with anyone. I felt so anxious and depressed and afraid that I had become completely incapacitated in life. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go to college, and even if I wasn’t too anxious I couldn’t because I didn’t even have a high school diploma. I didn’t want to live with my abusers anymore and became homeless.
At the time, there seemed to be no hope. I felt stuck in this horrible situation, with no way for things to get better.
That night—my first night being homeless—I wrote about how I didn’t know why I was alive and that I wanted to kill myself. I wrote that my friends shouldn’t love me “cause I’m just worthless and should be thrown away like trash.” I wrote how I was a screw up and a loser and that I was so messed up inside. I wrote that I didn’t know what to do so I should just kill myself. I wrote about how everything was messed up, how inside of me felt like a big hole, how I couldn’t do anything to fulfill my dreams. I wrote that I was so alone. I wrote that I was in a horrible impossible situation and there was no chance of a happy life. I wrote about wanting to kill myself to be free from all of the sadness, distress, “complicatedness”, and feelings of overwhelm.
But here I am today. I didn’t kill myself. And I am SO GLAD I didn’t. Because since then, I have experienced more happiness in these last few years than I felt in the entire two decades before that night. I was able to get a job, go to college (and graduate with a 4.0!), make huge progress in overcoming depression and OCD and PTSD in therapy, and meet and become friends with the most loving people. People who I would have thought were just in fairy-tales when I was younger.
When I think back on that night, and on the years before and since, I can clearly see several things that stopped me from committing suicide.
First, was friends. My friends truly cared about me, and I could tell. They would take time to listen to me, even if I was talking about something I had talked about a dozen times before. They would listen every time because I was of so much worth to them. They expressed and showed their love. My friends helped me get a job and get into college. They spent time with me, usually doing physically active things, which I’m sure helped keep some endorphins swimming around. Without the loyalty of my friends, I would have given in to despair and killed myself.
Next, was hope. Although I felt so hopeless and in despair, there was always the tiniest flicker of hope that things could possibly get better. I kept hanging on one day at a time, and eventually, after years, the days got better and better, until they became happy and peaceful.
And finally, last but not least, God was there. At the time, I didn’t believe He was. I wasn’t sure I even believed He existed. If He did, I was angry at Him for sending me to an abusive family. I was angry at Him for letting me have debilitating anxiety and depression. I was angry at Him for letting me end up in the circumstance I was in. If God existed, I was sure He hated me and had abandoned me.
But all the miracles that have happened in my life since prove to me that He never left me. I’m still not sure why I have experienced all the suffering I have. But I trust that God has a reason He has allowed it, that God “shall consecrate my afflictions for my gain” https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2?lang=eng .
I have already had experiences where I have been able to help someone else because I could understand what they were going through. I think trials help us to grow in capacity to exercise faith and to love. It doesn’t feel that way at the time, and its not easy to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/james/1?lang=eng
But the scriptures and the lives of people throughout history are full of those who learned and grew because of their suffering.
Even God’s own beloved Son “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/heb/5?lang=eng
And God’s commandments that He desires us to learn to be obedient to aren’t just arbitrary rules. They are the rules God Himself lives by and how He experiences eternal peace and happiness, and that’s why He wants us, His children to live them as well. Those who disobey “have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/41.11?lang=eng#10
One of His commandments is to have faith, to keep believing and acting no matter how excruciatingly hard things get https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/20.27?lang=eng#26 and I believe that that flicker of hope and faith that I held onto allowed Him to carry me through those trials so that I could experience happiness.
One more scripture, that I try to remember whenever I am going through trials is in 1 Peter chapter 4, verses 12 and 19:
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
Trials and afflictions are part of life, and they aren’t a surprise to God and shouldn’t be to us. If we can just trust God, keep doing our best to obey His commandments, and keep exercising what little faith and hope we can in Him and that things can get better, we’ll make it through whatever life throws our way.
And as we go through life, let us remember to help one another. It was my friends—friends sent by God—who kept me from committing suicide during those dark years of my life. I was able to endure because I knew that “my friends did stand by me, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands” https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/121.9?lang=eng#8 Be a true and loyal friend, sacrifice for others, never give up on them.
I am SO GLAD I didn’t kill myself. No matter what, DON’T GIVE UP. I promise you that happiness is ahead. It may be years ahead, but it is worth fighting for.