Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019Nancy Virden
Staring out over the Colorado River from a height of 955 feet, the waterway looked like a creek. At the time, the Royal Gorge Bridge was the highest in the world. At 13, I was grateful for the fence preventing my fall to certain death.
Why did I care? Why do any of us? What is the motivation for driving defensively, installing security alarms, entering recovery, or going to the doctor?
Our natural instinct for survival is powerful. People accomplish amazing acts fighting for their lives. Even in a suicidal mindset, this urge to continue breathing is strong.
It is why most people who contemplate suicide go through a “should I or shouldn’t I” period. It causes some persons in the act of a suicide attempt to call for help. It brings people in grave emotional pain to therapists’ offices.
For those who did finally silence their survivor’s instinct, and lived through a suicide attempt, there may remain a big question. What is to stop me if depression and suicidal thinking come around again?
For a few years, while relearning how to live and enjoy life, this worry crossed my mind. I feared a recurring tide of major depression beyond my ability to stop it.
One day, I finally confessed this deep sense of helplessness to a therapist. “My instinct for survival is gone,” I said. “There is no protective fence between me and suicide anymore.”
Speaking beyond platitudes, he said, “Christ is the fence.”
Clearly, this counselor and I share faith in the power of Jesus. That unexpected answer forced me to think just how Jesus could be that fence. At first, I pictured him sending angels to physically prevent the act. Since then I have learned a deeper and richer sense of what it means.
Jesus himself stands as an invested partner between me and darkness of any kind. His Word (the Bible) and conversation (prayer) display his interest and care in every mental health issue, detail, challenge, and temptation in my life.
The sense of purpose he gives each day is grounded in knowledge and fulfillment of his calling for me. It does not matter what other people think anymore. It is okay to try and try again.
Deeper still, is the peace of mind that comes from relying only on God’s unending and never-failing love in Christ Jesus the Lord. I can overcome fear by trusting his goodness. For me to rest in that is a huge, gargantuan deal!
Depressive feelings come and go. Moods never stay the same, and riding it out gets easier with time. Strategies to interrupt the downward spiral prevent sinking into a severe episode. I can now say with great confidence that I will never die by suicide. Joy and a sharply renewed survival instinct are precious gifts from Christ Jesus, my fence.
Today’s Helpful Word
Psalm 59:16 (Prayer by King David)
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!