by Anna Glass
I have suffered from depression since I was a child. At the age of five I had reoccurring nightmares that I walked home only to find a large square hole in the ground where our house used to be. I didn’t know where my family went, and I didn’t know what to do or how to find them. I would wake up in a panic and be afraid of going back to sleep.
At thirteen, I wanted to end my life and, in an attempt to do so, I swallowed an entire bottle of aspirin. I was deeply disappointed when I woke up the next morning. I cried because I was still alive and then I got dressed and went to school. In each class I mentioned to one of the students what I had done. They reacted by calling me a liar or saying that if I had swallowed that many aspirin, I would have died. No one told a teacher what I had said. No one asked, “Why?” The only effect that attempt had was that my ears rang for about two weeks. My parents never knew what I had done.
Later that year my mother swallowed narcotics in an attempt to end her life. My father found her barely alive and she was rushed to the hospital, eventually recovering. A year or two after that I found out that was not her first attempt; she had tried suicide before I was born. I later learned that depression is sometimes inherited and many years later I learned that my mother’s immediate family lost four people to suicide.
As an adult in a high pressure job, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into depression. My doctor tried to convince me to take an anti-depressant. I resisted for more than a year. I heard others say that anti-depressants are for losers or that problems with depression were because people were lazy or lacking in character quality. My Christian friends said that if I really was following Christ, I would be able to shake off the depression and just learn to have more faith. Needless to say, this was not helpful.
I finally relented and followed my doctor’s advice. “What made you change your mind?” she asked me. “Well,” I replied, “I was checking out at the grocery store and the clerk said, ‘Paper or plastic?’ and I broke down sobbing and saying, ‘Please, please, don’t make me decide.’” That’s when I knew that all the struggling to be a better Christian or develop better character was not going to work. I needed help.
They say that anti-depressants may take up to six weeks before you feel the effect. I had a major change for the better within three days. It was like night and day, but I also had to learn to re-frame my thinking from negative suspicions born out of a slight paranoia to seeing reality from a positive frame of mind. Even if negative things were happening, I could sometimes see them for what they were and better deal with them. It’s an area I continue to work on.
I also cried out to God. “Help me to understand why I am alive! Help me to see from your perspective!” I had the habit of reading through Proverbs and Psalms every month and God began to show me what I call “God’s reasons for me to live.” I now carry these with me and pull them out and read them whenever I feel down. I share them and my story in hopes that others may find hope in them too.
God’s Reasons for You to Live
Psalm 30:9 “What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
– God wants me to live in order to praise him and declare his truth to others.
Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and gray headed,
O God, do not forsake me, until I declare
Your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come.
– Even when I’m old, God wants me to declare his strength to this generation and his power to the upcoming generations.
Psalm 30:12 To the end that my glory may sing praise
to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I
will give thanks to You forever.
– God wants me to not be silent in my praise of him. My thanks to him should be clear so that others may be inspired to do the same.
Matthew 5: 15,16 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under
a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives
light to all who are in the house. Let your
light so shine before men, that they may
see your good works and glorify your
Father in heaven.
– God wants my light to shine so that others may see God’s work in my life and glorify God.
Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
– Have I declared all the works of the Lord? If not, I’m not ready for death.
Psalm 146:2 While I live, I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God
while I have my being.
– As long as I am alive, God wants me to sing praises.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out for help: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Not suicidal, but need help with anxiety or depression? Go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/.
Writer Anna Glass is a member of Joy of All Who Sorrow and serves on the Board and Capital Campaign Steering Committee. Comments about and submissions to the blog may be sent to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will also send a more extended list of “God’s Reasons for You to Live” to anyone who requests it. Even if you might not need it, a friend or relative might.