This is a reposting of a response Larry Taylor wrote to an article on this blog in January of 2009. Allan
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide you can call this number at any time. 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Hotline website is located HERE.
Despair is the worst of all human emotions and states of being. Despair is the absence of hope. It is depression so deep that the depressed person cannot see any way out, any hope of escaping the terrible, oppressive, dark pain that is pressing down on them. It affects everything they do and everyone around them.
I am not writing academically. I have been in the depths of despair. I know what it feels like to have no hope. Depression runs in my family, but when my son died by suicide when he was in high school, something snapped within my soul, and I was plunged into years of depression, panic attacks, and periods of despair.
I battle with it even now as I approach the anniversary of my son’s suicide. He killed himself on my birthday and was buried on Valentine’s Day.
People told me to trust God, but when you are in despair, you cannot trust, you have no coping mechanisms left. You are simply crushed. You can no more help yourself than a man physically crushed under a bolder could help himself.
People told me it would get better. I could not see how that was possible.
People told me to read my Bible. I tried. I could not.
People told me to fill my thoughts with good things. In despair, you know no good things; you know only despair. Your world is without light. It is hopeless.
People told me to exercise. I did not have the energy.
People told me to eat nutritiously. I did not care what I ate or even if I ate.
People said to go see a counselor. I was too ashamed. I thought good Christians didn’t need counselors.
Thoughts of suicide battered my mind like assaulting Huns. I had no ability to stop them. Suicide seemed like the only way to relieve the pain, to escape the darkness.
Then, I remembered my wife and how devastated she would be if I committed suicide.
I remembered my children and how I would be teaching them that suicide is an acceptable way out of problems.
I realized that the pain I felt came as a result of Elliott’s suicide, and I would be inflicting that same kind of pain on my family.
Eventually, I remembered God.
One day when I was standing at my son’s grave weeping, I somehow knew Jesus was there with me, his arm around my shoulder, weeping. I realized that Elliott’s death hurt God as much, no, more, than it hurt me.
I realized that suicide was a permanent and horrible solution to a temporary problem. Permanent because it results in death. Horrible because it hurts those who love us — God, spouses, children, parents, friends …
I saw an ad for an antidepressant, screwed up my courage, swallowed my pride, and made an appointment with a good psychiatrist. He diagnosed me and prescribed medicine that worked wonders in lifting me out of my despair.
I could cope. I could work. I could think. I could engage in therapy with a good counselor. The combination of continued medication and therapy set me on a path to normalcy.
I still struggle with depression occasionally, but never with despair.
I have hope.