Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. But as most families gather around the table to count the year’s blessings, there are those, even some within these same families, for whom this holiday marks the beginning of an extremely difficult time of year.
The following story is a true account written by one of my readers. She struggled with severe depression as a teenager and shares how being believed and loved during one of the darkest times in her life helped her see that her life was worth living.
The dirt road wound back and forth, the mountain rising to my left, the river to my right. That could have been a decent option and no one would have asked any questions. It wasn’t like anyone cared, so why did the thought even make me hesitate? If I drove off into the river, the 20 foot drop into water would surely do the trick.
The tears running down my face blurred everything as I charged the family mini-van around the next bend. Drowning was a notoriously painful way to go though, and the drop wouldn’t be sufficient to end me. I had seen enough people, over the years, miss a turn and go off the road to know that drop wouldn’t be fatal.
I was 15 and I wanted to die.
While I smiled at church and smiled at my parents, and smiled at my newly adopted siblings and while the pain inside was eating me alive, I wanted to die. No one cared about me, the real me. My parents expected me to be a certain kind of person and I had never fit that mold. I tried, I really did, and it wasn’t good enough. I was too loud, too opinionated, and now I was too fat. I had tried to lose weight. I had been running three miles almost every day and playing basketball, trying to be the jock my dad seemed to want. I was practicing my heart out but as a 100% natural born klutz I would never be as good as the other girls, or as good as my father expected me to be and I had finally quit the team.
Rounding a corner, the river fell away as the little creek that fed into it and a more wooded area took its place. Was I really that unlovable? Would the 15 extra pounds really make that much of a difference? Who was I kidding, of course they wouldn’t! I would never be thin enough or mild enough or happy enough! I would never make my parents truly proud because I would never be THAT daughter! Pulling over, I let the tears wash over me. I would never be what they wanted. I would never stop annoying everyone around me. I would never truly be loved for who I was. If my family couldn’t even accept me, who else possibly could? The only person who had ever accepted me just the way I was had passed away and I hadn’t even been able to attend his funeral. I missed the grandfatherly smile he’d always give me when I used to visit him. He always have me the best encouragement and advice . I missed him so much. I pulled the van to the side of the gravel road as a new torrent of tears broke loose.
Wiping the tears off of my face, I looked around the van and spotted my salvation. There was a mason jar lying on the baseboards of the passenger side. I leaned over and grabbed it. Slipping out of the van, I gripped the cold jar in my hand. My heart skipped a beat as the glass shattered against the rock. Most of the shards vanished into the tall grass except what was left of the neck that I was still holding. I realized that initially this would be painful, but no more painful than living had become. And soon I would drift off into a blood loss kind of sleep. It seemed like a decent way to escape.
I took a deep breath and rolled up my sleeve, exposing my left wrist. Pressing the sharpest point of the thick glass against the bluest line under my skin, I paused for just a moment…before dragging the glass towards my elbow. It hurt, more than I thought it would. Pulling the glass away I expected to see red liquid begin to bubble up and out from my veins but nothing more than a pathetic, pink pucker appeared on my arm. Furious that the glass hadn’t been sharp enough, I pressed it against my skin and sliced again. More redness and a few tiny pinpricks of blood rose to the surface but nothing substantial. Jabbing at my arm and raking the glass across it in every direction I felt a scream rise to the surface and escape, quietly at first, but it grew with the pain in my arm and the ache in my heart as I realized this wasn’t going to work.
I was counting on it working! Grabbing the glass with my left hand, I ignored the throbbing in my forearms and dug the glass deep against my right wrist. This time I cried out against the pain the thick glass inflicted as I pulled it halfway down my arm. An angry, puckered scratch was the only result I managed. Tears sprang back into my eyes. My attempt to make my life, and the lives of everyone around me easier, had failed. I was such a failure as a human being that I couldn’t even take my own life. Now the glass in my hand and the pain in my arms mocked me, more voices telling me how worthless I was.
I couldn’t go home. I would have to explain this to my parents. Or worse, they wouldn’t even notice. Why should they? I was their great disappointment and they had their replacement children, so why would they pay me any mind?
Slumping into the driver seat, I pulled back onto the small dirt road, tears revisiting my cheeks again. I felt half blind, but the turns and curves of this road were so familiar, I could probably have driven it in my sleep. After pulling the van into the driveway, I set it into park and wiped my tired eyes. Had I meant to drive here or had something else been guiding me? The little house where my big sister and her family lived, beckoned to me. My parent’s place was only two blocks away. So why had I come here? As if in a dream, I made my way up the three, short steps that led to the front door. Lifting my hand to knock, I felt the pain of the deep scratches becoming more vocal through the fog in my brain. Knock-knock. There was a place in my gut that hoped no one would answer. I didn’t wait long. Maybe I shouldn’t have come. Just as I was stepping away from the door, it swung open.
My sister’s expression faded very quickly from a welcoming smile to something a bit more perplexed. Another batch of tears marched their way down my face as I thrust out my hands, forearms facing up. I stared at them. Why was I showing her my failure? Wouldn’t she just tell me to stop being a drama queen, to knock it off? I had been told to suck it up so many times, I figured I was in for another lecture on how my life wasn’t really all that bad and to give my drama a rest.
Hesitantly I glanced up at her and there was no trace of any of these things. Her eyes looked back at me with such love and concern, it felt like my heart was going to explode. Taking my hand, she pulled me inside. The second the door closed, her arms wrapped around me. She said nothing but the pounding in my chest finally flowed out in sobs against her shoulder. I could hardly feel the pain in my arms as I clutched them around her, trying to hold myself up. This was an outcome I hadn’t foreseen. She just let me cry until I couldn’t any more. She waited for me to pull away before she let go of me. She cared.
Wiping the tears off of my face, I noticed she had tears in her eyes too. Why was she crying? Would my death have upset her that much? Wasn’t I a failure and a drain on everyone around me? For the first time in a long time, looking into her eyes, that didn’t feel like the truth. If I had succeeded in killing myself she would have been hurt as a result. There was suddenly a patch of blue sky peaking through the fog.
Little did I know right then that my sister saved my life. If my death would cause someone else pain, I knew I couldn’t go through with it. If I had gone home that day and gone straight to my bedroom, avoiding my parents, I believe with all my heart I would have tried again, and this time with a more trusty tool than a thick glass jar. As it was, God led me to my sister’s house. Her love was the thing that gave me courage to make my way out of the dark.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, no matter how hopeless or silly it may feel or sound to you, please reach out for help.
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Please take the time to look at those around you, to offer a smile, a hug, a kind word. Let them know how thankful you are that they are alive.