I have had a couple of people who were contemplating killing themselves recently and I was forced to re-examine my own life and death struggle with suicide. There came a time in my life where I had to decide whether I was going to continue the way I was going and doing something radically different.
I stormed out of aftercare thinking that this was it and I no longer felt like trying anymore and I was wanted by the police because of suicidal tendencies. I drove over to the church and decided there and then that I did not want to give the priest who sexually harassed me the satisfaction of destroying me. I became angry and wanted to live just to spite him. I talked to my sister into giving me some gas money to get down to San Angelo to a facility there where I could get some help. I wanted to do something different.
I spent about two or three weeks there and then came back a changed person. I was put on some medication where I could finally function without the mood swings that had plagued me most of my life. The depression had lifted because I was journaling daily and making a gratitude list. The depression lifted. I came back to Abilene and started aftercare and found a counselor. The counselor wanted to take the spiritual approach with me and I was eager to do anything I could to stay healthy and become healthier.
I have also been on the other side of suicide because a little over 10 years ago a friend blew her brains out in front of her sister and her children. I will never forget the sadness surrounding the funeral that this much loved person in the community could not feel the all the love that was surrounding her. She failed to realize what a wonderful person she was. It had a huge impact on me and I told those people that you do not know who will be affected by your death. It can affect people in ways that are unpredictable. Life is a gift from God and suicide is like trashing God’s gift to you. In other words, you are saying that you know better than God what should happen. To me it is incredibly selfish and self-centered not to mentioned very sick and distorted.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The problem will go away eventually but when you are dead there is no going back. You’re dead.
I have lived through many dark days and now it feels really good to be on the other side of depression and suicide. I have spent 30 or 40 years in the hell of mental illness. Now I am finally free and it feels good.
I was writing in my journal this morning having my coffee when it occurred to me that I have everything that I have ever wanted out of life. Life is not perfect. I don’t have the fancy car, but I have a car that gets me from point A to point B and I can afford the gas to put into it. I have an apartment where I receive housing assistance where I get free cable. I have a computer that works that I can take different places. I can afford yarn to make prayer shawls and Afghans. I have money for food and basic necessities of life. I feel I am truly blessed.
I don’t have a lot of things that people have, but I have decided to focus on the things that I do have and be grateful that I have them. I find by doing that I am a lot happier than if I focused on the things that I don’t have. I have seen people who focus just on things and having the material things of life and how miserable they are because no amount of money or things will fill up that hole in their soul.
I have learned since I have been in Abilene that it is more important to be of service to those less fortunate than I am. There is always someone worse off than I am and even if I cannot help them monetarily, I can be there cheering them on. Sometimes that is what they need the most.
There is a spiritual side of recovery that includes things like gratitude, being of service to others, and giving of oneself. For so many years I wanted to be the top dog and the center of attention. I had to learn to allow others to shine and be supportive of others’ gifts and talents and not focused just on me and what I was going to get out of it.
Life is not perfect. All this talk about spirituality does not mean that there will not be problems, but that I will be able to deal with them in calm and sensible manner. I don’t have as many melt-downs like I use to. That doesn’t mean that I won’t have one when I go out to start my car and it doesn’t start. It just means that I have tools now to use when faced with a crisis and I have people I can call that will help me out. I just need to keep a cool head and try to think my way through a situation instead of reacting emotionally.
It has taken me many years to develop this manner of dealing with life. I know that this too shall pass. This gets me through many overwhelming problems. Life will not be like this all the time. Each episode that I overcome I get stronger and stronger. Life is all about choices and how I choose to react to them.
One more time I am congested from all the dust and pollen in the air. Hot coffee and hot tea seem to help some, but fortunately it goes away sometime during the day. Being an asthmatic in the Dust Bowl is not easy and watching the documentary about it makes me glad that I live now instead of back then. If it gets that bad, I will have to move. I will have to move to save my life. I don’t know where I will go, but I think I will have to move back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area which I don’t want to do unless it is absolutely necessary. I am kind of attached to the area and the people here and they have seen me during my worst times and my good times.
We are slowly running out of water here because most of the underground water is gone and with the drought makes for scarce water. Efforts are being made to reuse waste water which I think is a good idea. It is cheaper than having water shipped in and much more readily available. I like the area I live in and its people and I don’t want to have to go somewhere else. I have finally found a church where I fit in and am accepted by it. I will have to wait and see what the Good Lord does and hope for more rainfall soon.
Events this week made me think how lucky and blessed I am that I have the recovery that I do from bipolar/depression. I was told by two different people that they were hearing voices that told them to kill themselves which I reported as soon as I could and I told them to get the help that they needed. I then started thinking about my own recovery and that odds are I shouldn’t be where I am right now and doing the things that I am doing right now.
Exactly five years ago, I was making the rounds of the psychiatric hospitals when it occurred to me to do something different than what I had done before. I entered a psych hospital for what was going to be for the last time where my medication was adjusted and I learned about gratitude lists. I had heard from 12-step programs about gratitude lists before, but I became willing to do whatever was suggested to me and wrote one daily in my journal. I did not realize how powerful that tool was until my depression started to lift and I felt better and was more positive.
After getting out of the hospital, I entered an after-care program where I learned a lot about my illness and how to take care of myself. I learned that I was more than my diagnosis and began to go back to church but a different church than I had been going to. I started going to counseling with a woman who decided to use the spiritual approach with me which I decided I would do anything that she told me to do. Life was still rough and I was unable to work. Then one day my mental obsession left me when it occurred to me that not all men would be like the priest that was sexually harassing me. I woke up one day and all the obsession was gone and I could think clearly for the first time in years.
That fall, I became a student at FaithWorks of Abilene and developed a resume and got on a regular daily schedule. From there I became an employee and worked there for one year until the contract with AmeriCorps VISTA ran out. I was unemployed for a year where I volunteered at the church and various places until I have the job I have now which is the direct result of my recovery work.
Now I get to help others recover from their illness and talk about my own recovery to anyone that will listen. I am truly grateful.
I am without a car right now because it is being repaired. It sucks to have to take the bus, but I am grateful that I have a bus to take. I am also grateful that I have housing and food to eat. There are many other things for which I am grateful.
I find that when I list the things for which I am grateful, my whole perception of what is going on changes in a positive way. I am no longer whining and complaining about how bad things are, but focus on all the good things that are. I am grateful for a sister who is willing to take a chance on me and put the expense on her credit card with the promise that I will pay her back. It will take almost everything I now have to do so, but I am grateful that I have a job that will help with this expense. I am grateful that I have disability money coming in each week to pay for basic expenses that I have each week to pay for food and gas.
I just hope things do not get much worse and I lose my job. That would make it very hard to get back on my feet. I hate to ask the church for more money than I have right now. They have so many other people who are in worse shape that I am in to take care of. All I know to do is take it one day at a time and hope for the best.