I started to get depressed when I was nine years old. I remember crying, screaming, and telling my mom that I wanted to kill myself. Although I wasn’t serious about doing it at that age, I was serious about wanting to. I started thinking about how I might manage it, but I wasn’t ready to attempt it then.
As I got older, I became more depressed, angry and isolated—and I began to feel even more hopeless. I started self-harming in many ways, many times a day. I ended up very physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually sick. I did eventually attempt suicide. I spent my twelfth and thirteenth birthdays in psychiatric hospitals.
At the time when I was feeling even lower than I’d ever felt, one of my best friends successfully killed herself. It was life-shattering for me. I experienced intense guilt, anguish, grief, rage, terror, panic attacks and hallucinations at an intensity I’d never felt before. I dropped out of school and almost killed myself. People around me didn’t believe that I was going to make it or that I could ever recover. I was encouraged to go to a treatment center, to be hospitalized, to go to therapy, to take medication . . . I even had crisis counselors called on me. All the therapy, hospitalizations and medications that I tried over the period of six years didn’t work for me. In fact, they seemed to make things even worse.
When I felt like I was at the end of my rope, that I had hit rock bottom and continued falling, I began to pray. I didn’t believe in God for a long time. And there was a time when I did come to believe, and was very angry, because I didn’t understand why these things had happened in my life. Very, very slowly God began to give me strength. I was so lost and confused, and I felt completely dead and broken on the inside. When I had no strength left to live, I would pray. When I was on the brink of killing myself, I prayed. And God gave me just the tiniest sliver of hope and strength that I needed to get through those moments. I wasn’t instantly healed. But I survived them.
As the months passed, I was brought to places and people to experience God’s full love and forgiveness for me for the very first time. I spent hours crying my heart out. I lived for a long time believing that my friend’s death was my fault because I didn’t manage to stop her from killing herself. I was dealing with the burdens of living in a family that had a lot of problems, of years of hurting myself daily, of traumatic memories and guilt and terror that almost took my life. The realization that all I had to do was ask for forgiveness and it would be given to me freely and fully, that God loved me so much more deeply than I’ll ever begin to understand, that He was actually willing to die for me so I could be adopted into His family and healed—it turned my life around. Not overnight. But I felt love and forgiveness for the first time. I was given strength. I was given hope. And slowly, with many mistakes and many tears, He healed me. Truly healed me.
I overcame an eating disorder. I stopped cutting myself. I stopped hallucinating and having panic attacks. I turned away from unhealthy relationships and gained trust again in broken ones. I got back in school. I made new friends. I opened my heart up to Jesus. Things are not perfect and I’m far from perfect. But I don’t live with the same depression, guilt and hopelessness that I once did. I understand that I’m not worthless; I’m loved so much that the creator of the entire universe would willingly die for me. And so is every other person in the world. God is love, and He does exist, and He does heal and make lives new again. Jesus does things that no therapist or medication could ever do. He transforms lives and works miracles. I wouldn’t be typing this if I believed it was a waste of time, if I didn’t know deeply that it’s true.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you’re hurting deeply . . . if you’ve been making mistakes . . . if you’ve hurt yourself, or thought of hurting yourself . . .if you’ve attempted suicide, or want to . . . if you’ve been abused, felt worthless, alone, or unloved . . . I want you to know that tonight I’m praying for you. I’m praying that anyone who reads this and is hurting will have the strength to put down that blade or bottle of pills. That they will make it through the night. That they will find peace and hope. I am praying for you, that you will come to understand just how loved you really are. There is healing and there is hope. I’m telling you the truth. The part of you that believes there is no hope, and the people around you who tell you that, they’re lying. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel intense hurt. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and want to die. And I know what it’s like to be forgiven.
I don’t know who you are. But God does. He knows everything about you. And He wants to heal your life. He loves you more than you could imagine. If you let Him, He WILL give you the strength to do what you know in your heart is right. Never give up. This pain will end, and when it does you will see that there was a purpose to it, as awful as it is.
I pray that you will have strength and peace. I pray you will come to a safe place. I pray that you will experience love and forgiveness, and be healed. In Jesus’ name, amen.