The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why I Didn't Die By Suicide That Night


I know this story may be hard for many of you to read, but I want to write it to show that you can have an impact on whether someone you know dies or lives.  Also, I want to show you who may have attempted suicide that the things that stopped your life from ending may very well have been arranged by God ahead of time.

My purpose is to show that God did indeed love me even in the midst of a horrible time as he does love you in the midst of your horrible time too.

I struggled with depression for many years of my life.  The mental and emotional pain from it became so bad that I started wanting to die and was thinking about suicide.  Every day I would have to decide if I would live another day or end my life.  Finally, I decided that I could not be in the world any longer.  I decided that I would kill myself.

There were some reasons that had kept me from completely going through with killing myself up until then.

The biggest was that I was afraid that suicide meant that I was rejecting God forever and that I'd go to hell if I followed through with it.  I was pretty sure that He would understand my pain, and love me, and accept me into heaven, but there was still a tiny doubt.  On that night though, I decided that my pain was too great and that God may be sad that I went to heaven that way, but that I would still be accepted.

Another reason that I had not gone through with killing myself yet was because there was uncertainty in my mind if the process of killing myself would be painful.  I had plenty of pills that I could swallow.  I had cut my wrist numerous times, and I knew I could do it, but I had not yet lost enough blood to actually die.  That night though, I wanted death to come, and decided that I would let it happen.

I made an attempt at suicide that night, but to my dismay at the time, I did not die.

These are some of the reasons why my suicide was not completed that night.

  • A couple that I trusted had me stay at their house after I had cut my wrist really bad the day before and because I was saying how I wanted to die.
  • I was writing a suicide note while at their house, and I think it was seen when I was called outside for a moment to talk to one of them.
  • When it was time to get ready for bed, I went into the bathroom at my friend's house, shut and locked the door, and cut my wrist.  I was not going to stop until I died, but somehow the door opened!  They  came into the bathroom and stopped me.  I have never figured out how that bathroom door could have been opened, but that is what really came in the way of my suicide.
  • A towel was wrapped around my bleeding wrist, and I was held in love while I tried to shut out the world in my mind.  I was held as I cried from the deepest place in me in anguish until I could cry no longer.
  • They finally left me to sleep on the couch and went to bed.  I lay awake in the same state of wanting to kill myself as they fell asleep.  Finally, I got up and went into the bathroom again.  I was ready finish the process of killing myself, but I felt too guilty about the fact that my friends would have to find me dead in the morning.  I couldn't do that after they had already stopped me once, so I went back to the couch to wait until the morning.
  • It just so happened that I had an appointment the following morning with my doctor who prescribed my depression medications.  And not only that, but it just so happened that my friend had an appointment at about the same time at the same clinic that morning.  He talked to my doctor about what was happening, and they set it up for me to get checked into the psychiatric ward at the hospital.
  • While in the hospital, the psychiatrist, my counselor, and my parents worked together to set up a plan for me to get more long term intensive help.  My parents had received some money for their kids education, and even though I had already completed my college degree, they were able to use that money they were given for me to go to an outpatient program that would teach me how to survive and live again.  I had gone down so far that I didn't even know how to live.
All the above things stopped me from dieing that night.  I didn't know why or how all those things happened to align to keep me living.  I can only say that someone higher than I, knew what was going to happen and arranged ahead of time that I would live.  It could only be God.  He was loving me and saving me even in the midst of my darkness.

Today, many years later, and with many years of recovery and finding out how to live, I can say that I am glad that God did not allow me to die that day.  God has given me a new future and a hope in Him like I never knew before.  I know that God wants me to live and rest in Him.  He wants me to know that I can trust Him to know the perfect time to take me home.  He knows my life and my steps so intimately even before they happen that He prepares a way for life.

God knew that I would give up on that particular day.  God gave me friends that listened to my cries for help, friends that stepped out of their comfort zones and took me into their lives.  God planned that my friend might see the suicide note I was writing and take things seriously.  God planned that the door of the bathroom would open somehow.  God gave me someone to hold me safely in the depths of the pain.  God gave me the thought that I didn't want to scar my friends by having them find me dead.  God planned ahead of time that I would have a doctor's appointment the next morning.  God planned that my friend would also have an appointment at the same clinic at the same time.  God provided a bed in the hospital and a counselor, psychiatrist, and parents who wanted to work together to help me.  God provided the money needed for me to get help just at the right time.

Why did I not die by suicide that night?  God planned for me to live.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cindy's Mental Illness Reveal


My reveal.  

I am a person who lives with a mental illness.  

I write this today to show some of the real stories in the midst of my mental illness.  It is not vague.  They are short glimpses in the midst of pain and "craziness".  Maybe by me sharing some of my hidden moments, you may be able to have a little understanding of the places a person's mind can go.  Maybe also, you may be able to think of some ways that a person like me could be helped.  Depression and other mental illnesses are not something to be ignored or pushed out of the way.  They are real and need to be talked about.


There was a time that I didn’t know what depression was.

During high school, I got to a point where I was sad most of the time.  I didn’t share my feelings with my family.  I made mixed tapes of songs about Jesus holding me.  I hated sleep, and tried to stay up as late as I could.  I figured what was the point?  I felt like I was a fraud, that what was inside of me was different than the smart, good Christian girl that everyone thought I was on the outside.  I felt that I didn’t really know how to live in the world, and even one time imagined a heavy light fixture in the church falling on me and crushing me.  I didn’t know that these were signs of depression and that I could have used help.  Later in college I was told that someone in my family had depression and they were taking medication for it.  I thought to myself, “That is what was wrong with me.  I had it first.”


Even a “strong” Christian with a great background can get depressed and have a mental illness.

I became a Christian when I was four.  I went to church, Sunday school, and a Christian school when I was growing up.  My family were all Christians.  I was shown the love of Jesus.  I became a leader in my high school youth group at church.  During my college years I volunteered playing the piano for church services in nursing homes.  I helped lead in a few Christian youth programs, and also played the piano in a college worship band and sang in the choir.  The most spiritual thing that I felt I did was to go to a Bible College and study International Ministries for my degree.  I went on mission trips in Canada, the US, and England, then I went to Kenya as a missionary for a year to tell people about Jesus.  After returning to the US, I, who had served God all my life, became clinically depressed and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  I didn't know that it was not my fault.


How do you know what feeling bad means?

The first time I went to see a counselor, he asked me how I felt.  I said, “Bad.”  He wanted to know what that meant.  I said, “Bad.”  I did not know how to express the complexity of what bad could be.  He actually had to write on a white board all the different feelings that bad could be.  Here are some examples: angry, anxious, ashamed, cautious, confused, depressed, disappointed, disgusted, embarrassed, enraged, exasperated, exhausted, frightened, frustrated, grieved, guilty, hurt, lonely, miserable, overwhelmed, pained, puzzled, regretful, sad, stupid, suspicious, withdrawn, and more.  If only I could have learned these ways of expressing my feelings along with what I learned in school, I may have been better able to understand and get through what I was going through.


I was going to be a best selling author and a famous artist.

Mania can make a person have grandiose thinking.  This is what happened to me and one of the reasons why I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  One example of this grandiose thinking is when I came up with an idea that I was going to start making art.  I don’t remember what kind of art it was going to be, but whatever it was it was instantly going to be world famous.  The truth was I had not done any art for maybe ten years, but I truly believed that it would happen, until the next day when my mind was back in reality.  Another time something similar happened, this time I had a great idea for writing a book about missionaries and their experiences.  I planned it all out in my head for hours as I lay in bed.  I was convinced that it would immediately be a best seller and reach number one on the charts.  At that point I had done no writing.  Again, the next morning I was embarrassed by my grandiose thoughts.  Mania will do that.


At one point, all I had in the refrigerator was ketchup and a loaf of bread that didn’t rise.

True.  I was afraid.  My anxiety was so strong that the only time I left the house was to go to counseling.  I slowly ate everything that I had for food in the house.  My anxiety would not let me go to the store.  In fact the only human interaction that I had besides counseling was a friend that came over to check on me.  He saw that I was extremely depressed and shut up in my house.  He asked if I needed any food and said that his wife could take me grocery shopping.  I was so ashamed that I said I was ok even though truly I was not.  I do not even remember how I got food to keep me going.  I think sometimes people don't need to just ask what they can do, but to think of something and just do it.


It is hard to search the internet for how to kill yourself.

When I was had suicidal ideation, I wanted to find out all the ways a person could kill themselves and what the process would be like.  I found out that this is very hard to do.  The first things that come up when you try to search ways to kill yourself are ways to get help.  This angered me at the time, but I am thankful for that now and know it saves lives.


I didn't cut myself to try to get attention.

Some people think that a person cuts themselves to try to get attention.  Not so for me.  You may not think that anyone needs to be able to cut themselves, but for a person who is in debilitation mental anguish like I was, knowing there was a way out available (suicide) brought the comfort that was needed.  I felt hopeless so often that death was always on my mind.  When the pain would become too great, I would cut myself as a reminder that there could be a way out.  Also, the act of cutting caused an intense physical pain that took my mind off the even more intense mental pain, at least for a moment.  I didn’t know how else to find relief.  I had not yet learned other skills to cope with the depths of despair.  That came later.


Is a partial truth the truth?

Depression, bipolar, self-injury, and my need to be secretive about it caused me to do things that I normally would not have done.  One thing was that I told partial truths.  I thought that because what I said was truth that I was still being honorable.  As I Christian, I did't want to lie so I found a way around it and rationalized what I was doing.  When asked how I was doing, I would just ask the person right back how they were without answering.  When asked if I had eaten anything, I would say that I had eaten even if it was only one bite of something.  When my doctor asked if I had cut myself, I would just say that I had not cut my wrist, when in fact I had cut myself in another spot.  Who would have thought that I would get to that level of shame and destructive behavior that I would do what I could to keep it going.


Poison control sent a police officer to my door.

I wanted to die and thought that taking pills would be an easy way to do it, hopefully without pain.  I did not want to do it partway though.  What if I didn’t take enough pills?  What would happen?  So I called Poison Control and made up that my friend took pills, and I wanted to know if she would need help.  The gal on the phone knew what I was asking for though, then I acted like everything was ok and hung up.  Not too much longer, there was a knock at my door.  It was a police officer checking to see if I was planning on killing myself.  I was scared that he would take me to the hospital so I said everything was ok.  He went on his way, and I was left in my misery.  Obviously, I was not ok.


The edge of the train platform seemed the safest.

During my time of depression, I found comfort in the thought of the closeness of death.  For a while I was afraid to take the step to kill myself so I just put myself in positions where something could cause my death accidentally.  One of those things was to stand in the yellow zone right on the edge of the light rail train platform when if was coming by.  I was inches from it as it went past and could feel the breeze on my face.  I thought that God might decide then to cause me to fall, and then I would have a quick ending.  It was not to be so.


Once I decided to kill myself and made an attempt, a shift happened in my mind, and I have never seen life the same way again.

I can try to explain this, but really only someone who has made this decision and acted on it can understand.  I am not afraid to die.  I may be afraid of the possible pain in the process, but death and leaving this earth will be a welcome thing for me.   This would not be a thought if I didn’t know that I will be going to be with Jesus when I die.  This world does have beauty from God, but it is also a place full of sin and evil.  For a long time I wanted out.  I brought myself to death, and by his help Jesus brought me back into living.  The literal reason that I am alive is because Jesus is my life.  I am alive so that Jesus will work through me to do as he pleases.  That is what my life is about.  I wait and walk forward to see how Jesus will do this.


The silence about mental health and the stigma against it caused me to be ashamed to talk about my depression and made my depression last a lot longer.

This is why I talk openly about my depression and mental illness today.  I don’t just tell the easy things to hear, but also the painful ugly parts.  Mental illness is real.  Real people deal with it.  We need to be able to talk about it and create understanding around it.  There was help for me in all my pain and confusion.  Medical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual help.  Maybe more people will be able to get help sooner if others know not to be afraid, but to point those people that are struggling to places to get help.  I would have had a lot less fear and shame and maybe even never gotten to the place that I wanted to kill myself if I knew that people understood my pain and tried to help me.  We all need love.  Especially the love from the Lord God.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Depression, Who am I? What's Wrong With Me? It's Not Just a Bad Day.

When you know someone is depressed, you may think, "Hey, just pull yourself out of it.  I've felt sad before, and I made it through."  
But depression is not like that.  If you want to know what it feels like for that person that you know who is depressed, this might give you an idea.  These words are not said lightly.  In fact these are some of the thought that went through my mind for the years of my depression.

Depression
Who am I?  
darkness
the worst
hurt
burning
don't succeed
not awake
crying
in my veins
stuck in reverse
lost
panic
a waste
to the bone
down below
give up
no worth
unfixable
tears stream
replaceable
more than a bad day
lost moments
gray skies
low
fake smile
offline
in pieces
sad
don't know
coming down
wrong
hiding
wasting away
not easy
endless
hard
weak
not holding on
stopped
alone
not ok
conquered
stolen soul
blame
unfair
end
no escape
drooping
night
not enough
empty
aching heart
turn to dust
fade away
break down
gone
lies
alone
silent screaming
shadow
ghost of a person
afraid
the lonely
no escape
shell of who I was
broken pieces
bairly breathing
let me go
rain never ending
cold
falling
sick forever
bleeding
breathing no longer
going under
depths of sorrow
slipping
locked inside
broken
nothing left
What's wrong with me?

There are so many words and statements that could be added to this list.  So you see, a person who is depressed is not just sad or having a bad day.  They are going through one of the deepest things that can grab a person's very soul.   I hope that by realizing the reality of the struggle, we will all show a little more understanding and concern and love.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Change I'd Like to Make in 2017


I love him, but I don't spend much time with him. I forget that he is waiting and longing for me to come spend time with him. I love him, but I don't talk to him much at all. Sometimes days go by before I say anything to him. Sometimes I reminisce of the days when we were close, when we spent time together every day pursuing our shared desires in life.

It was so good, those times.  We would share life.  We would talk.  I would listen as he spoke to me, and he would listen as I spoke to him.  Not only did we speak together, but I loved him so much I would speak to my family and friends about how wonderful he was, and even speak to people that I didn't know about him.  My love for him spilled out and brought me joy!

The thing is, I still love him just as much.  I love him more than anyone or anything.  I would die without him.  So why do I ignore him and forget about him?  I know he loves me and is faithful.  He loves me so much he would die for me.

So, "Why?" you may ask, "do you not communicate?  Why do you not share every moment of your life with him?  Has he gone away?  Is he unreachable?"

"No," I say, "he, the one that I love, he is here."

He is always right beside me ready to listen, ready to speak into my life, ready to share joy, and ready to comfort me when I need it.  He wants to love me and provide for my deepest needs.  He waits for me and calls me to come to him.

So, this year, 2017, I would like to combine my feelings of love with my actions of love.  I want us to spend times talking, listening, and sharing.  I want us to be on the same page when it comes to the desires of our hearts.  I want to spend so much time with him that I begin to take on his wonderful likeness.  I want you to see such love and excitement from me that you ask me, "Who is this amazing one that you love?  How can I know him too?"

I want to love him with my life.

So I say, "Jesus Christ I love you."