Dealing with Depression
Bipolar and Suicide: A Story of Survival
By Danni Andrew
This was not the first time I had considered suicide. As I look back on the situation which nearly brought about my demise, I am keenly aware it is also the situation which brought permanent, positive changes in my life. God carried me through this time of despair. He taught me to open my eyes and see the situation as one of growth instead of the end.
Slowly I slid to the floor as I watched the policeman buckle my children into the backseat of his police car and drive away. My diagnosis with Bipolar Disorder had answered many questions, but it had not given me the tools I needed to battle my overwhelming depression and fear. Coping with life and the responsibilities of parenthood had taken its toll. My home had become a shambles of unpacked boxes, trash and dirty dishes. Someone had called the authorities and asked them to check on my children.
As I lay sobbing on the floor, amidst the filth of my home, I contemplated my options. In my mind's eye there was only one option. The medication prescribed to slow the onslaught of mania and depression would serve to forever end the misery my life had become. I could no longer face the world around me. Although I did not want to leave my children with the legacy of a mother who could not cope with her problems anymore, I saw no other option but to end my life.
"Dear God help me", escaped from my lips as I opened my swollen eyes and surveyed my home. I had not realized how dirty my house really was and I was ashamed of what I had become. An option other than death began to fuel my troubled mind.
Slowly I got to my feet and began searching for the box of trash bags. Finding them, I sat down in the middle of the living room floor. My attention span frequently kept me from completing any task and I asked God to help me maintain my focus. I pulled three trash bags from the box and began sorting the mess. One bag was for trash, another for things I needed to keep and the third was for those items I would donate to the thrift store. Forcing myself to stay on task became easier as I began to see improvements. I worked all afternoon and evening as determination overtook depression. Finally allowing my tired limbs some respite I climbed into bed, exhausted.
Rays of sunshine brought me out of my tired slumber. Memories of yesterday's events crowded my mind and tears ran down my cheeks. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I threw back the covers to face the day. After a quick shower and breakfast, I returned to the living room. I allowed myself a few moments to survey my small victory and returned to the task of cleaning.
For eight long days each morning began in the same manner. Every day I reminded myself of the progress I had made and forced myself to not become overwhelmed by what still needed to be done. Small visits with my children bolstered my resolve to continue fighting the inner battles which threatened to derail me at every turn.
My hands shook as I dialed the number to Child Protective Services for their inspection of my home. It passed and my children were allowed to return. Although I was excited to have them home, my heart was gripped with fear - I knew I had to keep my home clean and learn more about this illness which threatened to destroy my life and my family.
Lessons I Learned
No one gets up one morning and simply decides to end their life. Desperation and despair had tormented me for a long time before I came face to face with the decision to either end my life or get up and fight. I could see no good coming from my situation and was completely overwhelmed by the illness and my heavy load of responsibilities. I could not see any positive answers until I prayed and God opened my eyes to see another option.
Ninety percent of those who attempt and complete suicide have symptoms of depression. Many of those persons are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Out of every eleven people who attempt suicide, one is successful. More men than women are successful at completing their own suicide, yet more women attempt than men. The top three methods of suicide are guns, poisoning and suffocation. More men use guns and more women use poison, typically by ingesting medication. Children and adolescents frequently use suffocation. Threatening suicide is typically a call for help, not an attempt to get attention. (National Institute for Mental Health Study)
Living with mental illness is one of the top indicators for suicide. My journey included learning to take my medication correctly and counseling. The time I spent with a qualified therapist was valuable; I learned to cope with my illness and see the warning signs before they became desperate actions. I learned about foods which make my illness worse and how getting enough sleep and exercise increases the endorphins in my brain. Most of all, my relationship with God is paramount in my journey to wellness.
A Message from Danni Andrew
If you are considering suicide, there are other options. Pick up the phone, call a friend, a suicide hotline or go to the emergency room. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
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Danni Andrew writes and speaks about living with mental illness from the perspective of a survivor. Her website at www.outofthedarkness.net is a combination of hope and help for those who also suffer from Bipolar Disorder and depression. Danni also works with women who have been, or are currently incarcerated. Danni can be reached at [email protected]
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