I Attempted Suicide: How My Spirituality Saved Me
I told no one of my plans. I did not cry out for help to anyone. There was no Facebook post giving some ambiguous or thinly veiled cry for attention. It was not a rash decision. It simply seemed like a very logical choice — to end my life that was a shamble, a disappointment, and had no real meaningful connection to anyone or anything else. Despair told me there was nothing to keep trying for.
Looking at me on the outside, I seemed to be a shy, quiet, hard-working graduate student who got along well with everyone. No one saw me as an individual who used an eating disorder, alcoholism and self-harm to battle the demons of shame and shattering child abuse I suffered growing up.
I thought I was thinking clearly that day. I thought that it made perfect sense to end my life, and that is the sad and crazy thing about suicide. I could not see beyond my perceived failings. I woke up in the emergency room, spent time in the ICU, and then spent more time in a mental hospital. Life after that was not all lovely. It was not easy. There would be many more days and years of deep pain, more battles with the eating disorder and the alcohol, treatment centers, and lots of mental health needs.
I could not see that I was part of something bigger than myself. I could not see that God had so many plans for me that entailed life, love and even happiness.
During the hard days after I attempted suicide, something kept urging me on to find freedom. Something gave me a twinge of hope. It was spirituality. I had to learn that overcoming my despair would be a spiritual journey.
Spirituality infuses vitality into our being.
We all long to know and feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. And it is a very well-researched fact that people who lead the most meaningful and fulfilled lives have a level of spirituality with hope and purpose.
Brené Brown in her powerful book, The Gifts of Imperfections writes that her research shows that, without exception, spirituality is the foundation and common factor among those with high levels of resiliency in overcoming adversity. These people are able to “transform trauma into Wholehearted thriving.” (p. 63)
There is no easy fix.
I do not have all the answers that would quell the rising number of people today seeing suicide as a solution. I do not have the perfect words to say to someone hurting with a pain that I truly do understand. I do know that there is no easy fix to pain. I know from experience that there is not.
What I can say is that, for me, growing spirituality in my life is what has made the difference. I am not talking about religion. I am talking about becoming and knowing you are part of something grander and greater than yourself.
My spirituality is a personal relationship with God. It has taken me years to understand what that really and honestly means. Each person’s spiritual journey will be different. My journey has had many people along the way hold me as I searched for my sense of belonging. Spirituality allows us to truly connect with others who also see that sense is made in our lives when we know there is more to our existence than our myopic vision of ourselves.
Today I am a very long way from that day when I attempted suicide as it seemed like the only answer. There have been many tears shed on my journey between that day and today. My life now has a great depth of meaning and purpose. I live with a sense of amazement and gratefulness to God for everything that my life has been and is now. I know I am loved and that I am part of a plan greater and more vast than I can ever know.
I personally think spirituality is a part of each of our beings. It has been the difference in my life and has walked me back from the place where I thought suicide was my only option. Maybe spirituality can be the difference in someone else’s life, too. That is my prayer as we contemplate ways to offer help during suicide prevention month.
In love with life now,