We had a fresh snowfall. The lake hadn’t frozen over yet but the snow was two feet deep, maybe deeper, behind the barn on this cold but gorgeous morning. I pushed through mid-thigh-high snow to get this photo of loons on the water. It was worth every step.
It wasn’t until later in the day, or maybe the next day, I don’t remember now, but it occurred to me that the last time I pushed my way through snow so deep, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would ever be walking back.
[self-harm trigger warning]
You see, I was in a very dark place a couple years ago. It seemed like everything in my life was going to sh*t faster than I could fix anything. I won’t go into details but trust me, there was so much going wrong and I had zero support. I had anxiety attacks so bad that the five senses grounding technique didn’t always work and I’d have to start it over again a second time. It wasn’t that I wanted to kill myself, but it just…. it just seemed like the right thing to do. I wanted to live. I dearly wanted to live, yet Satan regularly told my mind that it was the only way my family would be happy and no one would miss me, so why not just do the thoughtful thing and wink myself away.
As a professing Christian believer, I knew God loved me. I knew He didn’t want me to harm myself. He seemed so far away, though, and my prayers seemed to get stuck on the ceiling and never quite make it to His ears. Satan was louder.
Nearly every day I heard in my ear Satan saying “This is a good place. Just step on the gas.”
“It’s cold enough now.”
“No one will find you there.”
I’m telling you, my mind was a dark, dark place.
I turned to a so-called suicide prevention advocate who blew me off. I turned to a loved one who told me to just get over it already.
And then one night, deep in the winter, with snow all around and the air clear and crisp, I pulled open the fence and headed for the lake. Deep snow. Up to my thighs. Push through a bit. Weep. Push through some more. More tears. Now to the top of the stairs that lead thirty feet down a steep bank to the lake. I don’t really want to go any more but I don’t want anyone to see me, either, so I start down the stairs. Sit and cry. A few more stairs. Sit and cry. How far will I go this time?
And then my husband came outside. He followed me down the stairs and sat beside me. Just sat there while I bawled. Well now I can’t do anything – how can I while he’s there? If I go any further, he’ll just come too. I hoped he would come save me all along, and while he didn’t actually do any saving – he did some preventing. He didn’t make anything immediately better, and I don’t even remember him actually saying much if anything. His nearness just prevented me from going any further.
And sometimes, preventing is the most important thing.
Not fixing the problem. Not yet. Not cleaning it up. Not yet.
For right now, prevent.
I got better. It took time. I prayed even though I felt alone and I learned to trust God again and apply His Word to my life and heart again. I no longer hear the urge to put an end to myself because I see the need for ME in the world right now.
Because someone prevented me, and gave me time to learn this.
I have a music playlist that I like to listen to when I have a big day of housecleaning. And many of those songs were ones I picked out during those dark days, so I could sing and cry through the hurt in my heart. I still play those songs, most of them, but now I can dance to them, and when I dance, my feet stomp, because I have reclaimed my power, and I want to feel the strength in my legs when I stomp my dance.
Because someone prevented me, I had the time to learn this.
I can declare to myself like Mordecai did to Esther: You were born for such a time as THIS. This is MY time. I am HERE. NOW. Because the world needs ME in it. And God designed ME to be a warrior and a pillar for my children and without me in this world they will not see the warrior God intends them to see. Looking back, I see the following days as the time my personality shifted a little bit. Just a little big on the stronger side. Just a little bit on the “don’t push me around” side. Just a little bit on the “don’t you push other people around either” side.
And I declare to you too: The world needs YOU in it. I cannot come sit with you on the stairs to your water, but if I could, I would.
So, if you are in a dark place, I say to you, find someone who will prevent you. Don’t worry so much about fixing everything right now. That takes time and you can do it. You will do it. And you will find helpers who can be there for you while you work through things. Right now, though, find someone who will prevent you from doing anything you can’t come back from.
Because the world
The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline phone number is 988. Just those three numbers.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.
If you are unsure what happens when you call a suicide prevention hotline, it’s explained here so that you know what to expect. An automated greeting will ask you a few questions and then you will be routed to a local crisis center, where a trained counselor will come on the line.
The Five Senses Grounding Technique helps you focus your mind and calm your heart rate by consciously breathing slowly in and out, while naming (out loud if it helps):
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste