Note from Live Again founder: This post is a personal story and does not necessarily reflect the views of Live Again or all the communities it serves. However, we believe giving people an opportunity to openly share personal stories surrounding the issues of suicide is important and can lead to healthy open communication for others. So we are proud to present this personal story. For more info or to share your story e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Need help now? Click here.
Raw Emotions On Suicide by Renee Bergmen
(Renee is a mother of two and has a passion for helping families walk through the adoption process. Renee and her husband, C.J., are church planters in San Francisco.)
Suicide….It seems like that is all that fills our Facebook feeds right now in the wake of such a legend such as Robin Williams taking his own life. I have read a lot of blogs of people speaking out, which made me think this post wasn’t necessary. And then I realized, this isn’t for the masses. This is for the people I know. The people and sphere of influence I have. Because the truth is that is who is important when it comes to suicide. You don’t call the random person you saw write a post on FB when the darkness that comes with suicide hits. You call the person you know, and you trust would help and understand. So that is why I write my own story.
I wanted to commit suicide. I was an adult, with a great support system, a wonderful husband, fantastic friends, a church family…and I had to make the call for help because I was in darkness and wanted to harm myself. It was 2008 and the piles of difficult circumstances had begun to topple me over. I had just experienced my third miscarriage in my second trimester. I was nannying for a fantastic family at the time and one of their children was only 6 months old. This was a really tough trigger in the midst of so many losses. I had just had a d&c because my body was not recognizing the baby was gone. I was so overwhelmed with sadness. I also had family of orgin stuff brewing under the surface. I had recently come to grips with sexual abuse I experienced as a kid, which I had never processed. My soul was so filled with darkness. It was a normal day and I remember sitting on the couch with such darkness that no matter what I said or told myself in truth of life being worth it, I couldn’t believe it. I felt helpless and clouded and out of control. All I could think was, it may just be worth it for this all to be over. I wanted to stop hurting so deeply. I knew truth. I believed Jesus had died for all of the pain and sin of this world and I had an intimate relationship with Him. I knew truth. I knew that I was created in His image and that all life was worth living, and yet, in those dark moments I could not believe it. The feeling is not one I wish on anyone. It is not something in your control. My mind was like a fog of thoughts bouncing around like a rubber ball in a cement room. It just wouldn’t stop no matter what I did. The ball kept getting faster and faster and the thoughts more and more out of control. The good news is I did one thing right in this moment. I called my husband (C.J.). I called and said I need help now. He was working at a church with a great counselor who we had already been seeing me to work through all of my sexual abuse stuff. He went to his office and said I need you to come with me now. And that is what I needed. I needed someone to be in front of me. In front of me helping the ball slow and not keep getting faster to a point of no return in my mind. I don’t remember anything that was said, and I don’t remember how we ended our conversation but I just know having someone there is what broke the cycle right then and there.
I started regular counseling sessions and began working through some of that darkness. It was not a fun process but really made such a huge difference to process the pain and darkness I was experiencing from life circumstances. I have since been diagnosed with recurrent depressive disorder and take medication on a daily basis to keep me balanced. The medication is not the only answer. I have done hard work with counselors to deal with what has come my way over my 33 years. So I want to share because I want people I know, to know that I KNOW. I KNOW what darkness can feel like and thoughts that are not what you truly want but think are the only way out. I want people to hear that it’s not only the lonely, isolated people with no hope that suffer from suicidal thoughts. It’s people just like me who had a lot in life to live for. I lived around the corner from my best friend and saw her on a regular basis. I had a loving, committed, engaged, wonderful husband. I had a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus and knew the truths of His scriptures. I also had experienced a lot of pain and suffering in life. My family history played into this as well. My family has all struggled with mental illness and I was not free from that gene.
Mental illness does not discriminate. It does not care what or who you are, or who is in your life. When it takes over, there are things physically you cannot control. If you struggle with depression or any other mental illness do not be afraid to get help. Get help in multiple ways. Consider seeing a psychiatrist, and a counselor. A psychiatrist can help get correct medication for your specific depression. Medication can get such a bad wrap in the church. I think as Christians we are afraid that taking medicine means we are not trusting God. I truly believe God created men with minds that are complex and amazing at creating, including creating medicine that saves. It saves lives by balancing hormones and body chemistry to be able to think more clearly. I by no means think medication is always the answer or the only answer. Good healthy counseling is so necessary if you are struggling with mental illness. I have seen a counselor off and on for at least 15 years!!! Most importantly, if you are at a place of darkness where you want it to end…call someone. Call anyone who you can get on the phone. I guarantee people in your life will respond. And if you happen to be that person that gets called. GO, RUN, as fast as you can to be in front of that person to speak truth that their life is worth it. Let them see a face that will walk forward with them in the pain they are experiencing.
Suicide and mental illness are not fun to talk about. But if you don’t know people close to you that have struggled, sometimes it seems you are the only weirdo and no one would understand. This is a raw and difficult thing for me to share, however, I know if one person reads and relates to my life and thinks maybe I can get out of this pit of darkness, then the fear of sharing is worth it.
I think the community care approach of Live Again, is so important. Without key community members supporting you and rallying for you in life in general how could you go to them in trial. It is so important to find community that will walk through all of life's journey. Not just the happy, fun times, but the really difficult times. People who will allow you to be in the pit for a long time and still love you and check on you and help you climb out of it through their love and support. I would say my husband has been my first and most significant community. Then my circle of close friends, who follow Jesus and are committed to our friendship through thick or thin. I allow them to hold me accountable and try to be incredibly vulnerable with them.
Don’t struggle alone. I have seen multiple people talk about being willing to walk the tough road of mental illness with their friends…trust someone to walk that road with you. Don’t hide and think because you have a lot you don’t deserve to struggle with darkness. You are not alone and you do not have to keep silent!!! No matter what your circumstances are and what your life looks like, it is never worth ending.