Imani put down her books and ran from the library. Her study buddy instinctively ran after her in alarm.
“What’s wrong?” her classmate cried.
“I just don’t want to anymore.”
“You don’t want to study anymore?”
“No, I don’t want to live.”
Imani had always done well in school, but she was no on the verge of getting an B. It may seem trivial.
Yet, it was the only thing that Imani had control of in her life and she desperately wanted to hang on to it. Imani was caught between her parents and their marital relationship soured. It seemed that ever romantic relationship ended with Imani feeling compromised and unworthy. Her studies seemed to be the only thing she could master and even that was slipping away from her.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 10-34 years of age. The 10 th leading cause of death for the general population. Often people choose suicide when they don’t see a way out or they don’t see how their life matters. Others are psychotic and hear voices telling them to take their lives.
In the movie Me Before You, suicide was glorified as a personal choice for someone with an illness that he couldn’t cope with. His family and close friends were expected to cope unselfishly with the pain for losing him.
However, the loss of a love one to suicide is undeniably painful. In her article for the Washington Post, “Suicide is desperate. It is hostile. It is tragic. But mostly, it is a bloody mess”, Roxanne Roberts tells the heart-rending story of how her father took his own life as a seeming act of revenge against her family.
Samson committed suicide at the end of his failed mission to save Israel from their oppressors. Judas and Ahithophel took their lives when they realized that their well laid strategies to procure success and even fame went in direct contradiction to God’s plan. It’s a scary thing to fight against God.
Suicide may simply be a personal choice for some; however, as Christians we have better resources to cope as well as bigger picture to consider. God promises us that he will not allow a situation that beyond our power to overcome. We never know how God may need us in the upcoming battle between good and evil. We deprive him of what may be one of his most valuable warriors if we take ourselves out. This is clearly a victory for the Enemy.
Imani got help that time. The next time she attempted suicide. Thankfully, she didn’t succeed. Eventually she got the help she needed. While mental illness is something like the thorn in Paul’s side for her, she is a brave survivor.
My conversation with Imani started with some text on Facebook that I posted to reach out to anyone who had attempted suicide or had a loved one who had. I was overwhelmed with responses. I was able to talk to Imani and others who had come close or had family members who had love ones who had come close to or even taken their lives.
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can
stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-
braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, New Living Translation.
Imani shared that building a support system was one things that of the really help her. She made sure to build a community of people around her that could support her on those dark days. One of those people is her therapist. She is intentional about reaching out to them when she feels like giving up or doing something crazy to cope.
We have become increasing isolated. Community is something that we have to intentionally foster.
She stresses that there should be multiple people in that special circle so one person doesn’t burn out. She has been in the spot where she has felt responsible for “keeping someone alive” and knows how emotionally overwhelming it can be.
She confides that sometimes she does worry that she is “bothering” her friends when she comes to them for emotional support when she feels depressed.
However, she reminded herself that a phone call from a friend asking for help is so much more desired than a phone call about her passing. Essentially, she is giving those around her the opportunity to help instead of leaving them wondering at her funeral.
We have become increasing isolated. Community is something that we have to intentionally foster. Studies have shown that community is phenomenal for helping people cope with not only mental, but even physical illness.
Imani does this by getting involved in church. You can do this too! Join a ministry. Create a ministry. Start or join a small group. Start a mentorship program. Start volunteering at a local soup kitchen.
What’s available in your community? Be intentional about getting involved.
Healing doesn’t stop because you relapse.
Imani Jane Anderson
It is easy to get discouraged when dark thoughts overwhelm and wonder if they are present because you aren’t a good Christian. And you would be right. You aren’t a good enough as a Christian. Thankfully, your ability to be a good Christian isn’t the key point. The key is that Jesus is an amazing Savior.
Ellen G. White reminds us that not only is sanctification is the work of a life time, but also that man turns from God not God from man. Paul reminds us that nothing can ever separate us from the rich, boundless love of God. The process is like a plant growing little by little day by day until it yields it’s perfect juicy fruit. Be patient with yourself.
Even Jesus was depressed and anxious. The more important thing is to fight the good fight and utilize the tools that that God has given you to overcome. If you don’t, then simply ask God to help you get up again.
The goal isn’t to get rid of all your negative thoughts and feelings; that’s
impossible. The goal is to change your response to them.
Marc and Angel Chernoff
Both my sister and Imani told me that they often get so caught up in freaking out about an upcoming situation that practical solutions evade them. Imani needs to physically relax herself before she can face the situation effectively.
For Imani this means little therapy hacks such as her essential oil diffuser or her sparking bubble lamp. She even has a weighted blanket and an acupuncture mat. She may even call a trusted friend to vent and talk about the situation. When she has the opportunity talking a walk in nature or by water is also very effective. For my friend Gracie, it is listening to encouraging music and journaling. Everyone found
sleeping to be a helpful hack.
My trusted hack is Scripture. When I am overwhelmed by a particular situation, I’ll start to sing scripture songs quietly or in my head. This calms me down enough to then confront the situation and find a way out.
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Do not, I entreat of you, sit down in hopeless despair and do nothing.
Do not heed any further the great tempter, that it is no use for you to
try. You could but perish if you came to Jesus just as you are, sinful
and polluted, vile and depraved; but Jesus is amply able to save the
very hardest and the most wicked and defiled sinner.”
E. G. White
Another huge thing that helps Imani battle her mental illness is her relationship with God. How awesome is it that we can have a personal relationship with the God of the universe who has very single resource available at His disposal. Don’t let your doubt and discouragement get in between you and God. Now is the time to cling to Him more than ever. Even if you can’t feel him or see him keep holding on. Fight and wrestle like Jacob until you figure out what works for you and grows your relationship.
Pray. Listen. Journal. Spend time in the Word. Memorize Scripture. Listen to a great sermon. Listen to an audio Bible.
If you are still stuck, check out Justin Khoe awesome videos on how to read the Bible and how to pray to get you started.
Written By: Joneen Wilson