Trigger Warning – this post discusses the events of the night I hanged myself. Please do not read it if this is a trigger.
Our guest blogger, Chelise and I, at her birthday party, two months after I attempted to take my life.
Several weeks ago I started asking fellow bloggers if they’d guest post for me and it’s been nothing but an enjoyable experience for all of us. If you missed the first two posts in this new series please read Who is Sassafrass the Feisty? and Who is Morgueticiaatoms?
Today I’d like to introduce the angel who saved my life last September when she took me out of the belt I was hanging from for 45 minutes. You can read the long version or the shorter version of that night when I decided to take my life.
Her name is Chelise (pronounced shuh-lease) and I’ve mentioned her before in my posts. She is a kind and selfless person, deeply devoted to the Lord, and does anything to help those in need. While I was in the hospital, she even paid my water bill so it wouldn’t get shut off. We go to church together and we play Rock Band together, along with my girlfriend who was also there that night.
Though she is not a blogger (yet…) she has a style of writing that I just couldn’t keep to myself. So without further hesitation, here is what Chelise had to say.
UPDATE: Since Chelise submitted this post to me, she has started blogging as of last night! Please visit her site and welcome her at https://caterpillarandthebutterfly.wordpress.com/ She will be blogging about boundaries, codependence, and relationships, and her Faith.
1. How long have you been blogging?
I don’t have a link to a personal blog but as far as how to find me….probably at the nearest Sushi joint! Haha
2. Where do you get the inspiration/ideas for your blog posts?
I don’t blog, but if I did it would probably be from my past experiences and my growth through hard times.
3. What mental conditions (“illnesses”) do you survive with? E.g., depression? PTSD? anxiety? self-harm?
I can’t say that I suffer from genetic mental illness but like most of us, I haven’t had the easiest life…I’ve just learned to cope and grow from it. That being said, I’ve experienced serious situational depression from childhood trauma, which has long since turned into estrangement from my mother and most recently a divorce after being married for 15 years.
4. For each condition, what is at least one coping mechanism you have found to be successful?
There is only one for me…God. If it were not for me turning to God and refueling my faith I don’t know where I’d be. After my husband left me, then shortly being involved with a sociopathic rebound boyfriend, the silence from my mother and the downward spiral of my job because of the previous three issues just mentioned…I felt I had nothing….until I realized I had everything and that was my Creator. I turned to Him for comfort, healing and peace and ultimately He has given that to me plus so much more. If I’m allowed to name a close second, it would be my friends who have essentially become my family. They refuse to let me fall and I know within each and every one of them resides a value and strength that I hold dear to my recovery every single day. That again, ties back to God. He allowed each of them to cross my path during healing process and for that I’m grateful.
5. Do you have a personal story you would like to tell? One of success? One of growth? A story that tells about your rough stuff?
The catalyst of the “rough stuff” in my life centers around my mother, unfortunately. I’m not lucky enough to have a healthy mother/daughter relationship. I recall much of my growing up a painful experience because I had to learn to survive at the hands of what was supposed to be my protector, but essentially was an abuser. I have enough compassion today to realize that “hurting people, hurt people” so it was more about her than me. To this day, although a recovering alcoholic, my mother and I have a very toxic relationship so I choose to love her from a distance. I have forgiven my mother and learn to accept the love from those who have come into my life as “adopted mothers” and who have graciously accepted me into their family. One whom I am most grateful for, Chris’s mother….my NorMa…stands for Northern Mama, haha. God puts those in our life that we truly need in order to heal and grow from past hurts. God has picked roses from his garden to give to me to help me on my journey. I feel that I have survived a lot in my 40 years….a rough childhood (which I’m finding is common more and more these days), a divorce as well as loss of friends and family. That is life and it happens but you either see the lightning in the storm and become afraid or you let the lightning illuminate your path to move forward. It’s all about perspective.
6. From your experience, what three pieces of insight/wisdom can you give to others surviving with mental illness?
♦ As mentioned above, I believe strongly in having a relationship with God to get you through the day to day “stuff”.
♦ I sought counseling just to be able to talk things out and allow a professional help me sort out my feelings and all that I had been through.
♦ Friends – this is the staple during those inner battles we all face. To have at least three close friends you know you can call on is pivotal. Do I know that I can call on at least three people that are closest to me and they will be there anytime of the day or night? Yes and I am blessed. Even if you have just that one friend that stands out above the rest….it’s important to have someone. Don’t get locked inside your head. Reach out. Talk. Ask for help. Chances are….those friends are eager and willing to get you out of a dark place and not think twice.
7. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m sure many of you have read Chris’s account of his suicide attempt on September 14th. I’d like to share with you my account….as I was one of his friends that received his text that night and found myself removing the belt from his neck.
That Sunday was an “off” day for me as I recall. Just a low point for whatever reason…most likely memories from my failed marriage….or a fight with my mother…it seems so insignificant now. I withdrew and shut my phone off after I’d gotten home from church. I had it off all day. I recall spending time reading The Word and praying for God to show me significance in my life. I was struggling that day and I know my quiet time with God helped but I was still questioning what my purpose was in life. Work comes early for me so I remember heading to bed around 10pm. Before I fell asleep I decided I really needed to turn my phone back on.
10:12pm…”Do you have sleeping pills? I want to die tonight” was the text that came in from Chris. My immediate reaction was not to text back but to call him at that moment. As the phone rang with no answer I jumped out of bed and got dressed. Left a message and called again. I don’t remember how many times I tried to get him to answer but with each unanswered call I knew in the pit of my stomach that this was not good. The friend that was always there for everyone else was needing help that night. What would normally take me 45 min to get to his house took me 20. I never quit calling hoping he’d get sick of the ringing and just answer. Didn’t happen. I arrived to a locked door and very loud music blasting through an open window. Shades were drawn and it was dark. As dark as the lyrics to the song that played in a loop over and over. An upstairs neighbor had a key to his apt and she let us both in. As his neighbor called 911 I walked toward my friend to do my best to rescue him from the mode he chose to ultimately leave this world. My hands shook so bad as I grappled to get the belt loose from his neck. I acted out of the strength and lack of fear that God had given me at that moment. Nothing else mattered….Chris may not have known anyone was there to save him but we were not going to let him die.
The coming days were roller coasters of emotions for all involved. I remember the next day staying home from work and camping up at the hospital where he was taken. I was in some state of shock but functioning nonetheless. He was restrained for his own safety and completely out of it for days. One day at a time he slowly came around and I was one of many visitors that came to support him. He was loved and I think to this day he’s fully aware of that.
Even though rough patches still come from time to time he knows he can count on several friends for help in a crisis.
Depression is serious. It takes over and will completely consume you. My feeling is this….never take for granted those people that are important. There may not be a tomorrow. Never EVER assume someone is just “crying for help” and not serious….you could be that one person that allows tomorrow to come and be given a second chance.
And finally…never assume God doesn’t have a purpose for you in life….I asked to be shown what it was for me and that night my purpose was to be a lifeline and the best friend I could be and for that I’m truly grateful I could be His soldier to fight on the front lines for one that was wounded.
Again, thank you Chelise for being a guest blogger and taking your time to write this wonderful post!
Readers, do you have a comment you’d like to add? Or a question for Chelise? Please post them in the Comments section below. I know she’d love to hear from you.