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Self Esteem

I Wanted to Die

I tried to commit suicide seven times.
That's what depression—at its deepest and darkest—can do to you.

by Mandy Bennett* as told to Mark Moring

The alarm clock jolted me awake at 5 o'clock, way earlier than usual. Normally, I might've groaned, shut it off, and gone back to sleep. But not this time. I bounced right out of bed, dressed quickly and went downstairs.

I was going to kill myself.

I went to the bathroom medicine cabinet and grabbed every pill I could find.

I was ready to check out of this lousy world. But my parents heard me rummaging around, and they came downstairs and busted me big time. I guess I'd have to try again some other day. And I did. Again and again and again. I tried to commit suicide seven times between the ages of 13 and 17.

That's what depression—at its deepest and darkest—can do to you. "I was so numb" I figured I had no reason to live. Nobody cared about me. My dad had been abusing me—verbally, physically and sexually—since I was in preschool. The police had been to our house a few times, and they even arrested Dad once, but he never really got in big trouble. The local child protection agency wasn't much help either. And Mom wouldn't get me the help I needed, because she wouldn't admit there was a problem. She just put up this front like everything was OK.

But everything wasn't OK. My life was hell, and I didn't want to live it anymore. I had become so numb, I just didn't care about anything. I couldn't feel anything. I was just so done.

So I kept trying to kill myself. Usually, nobody—not even my parents—knew about my attempts. But even when my parents found out, they wouldn't get me the help I needed, because they wouldn't admit anything was wrong. Things were most definitely dysfunctional at home.

But after my seventh attempt, I finally realized it wasn't working. That's when God told me—not audibly, but just through a gut feeling—"Mandy, you can keep trying to kill yourself, but I am not going to let you go. I have other plans for you."

God steps in

It's not like God came out of nowhere. I had started attending the youth group at a local church, and I had joined a Bible study group with some girls who were serious about growing in their faith.

I kept hearing how much God loved me, but it was hard to believe. If God really loved me, how could he allow all this horrible stuff to happen—especially at home? Isn't home supposed to be a safe place where you feel loved?

Still, I pressed on, trying to learn more about God and his love and how I fit into the picture. And I met a few people who helped me find that fit—people who saved my life, actually.

First, there was my counselor, a wonderful woman I met with for over a year. Her best advice: "We've got to get you moving from surviving to thriving. Right now, you're just surviving day to day." And that was so true.

Then there was Lynn, one of my youth group leaders. She earned my trust and was a great listener. She encouraged me to be real and honest with her, and that helped a lot.

Then there were my youth pastor and his wife. They helped me realize that even though I didn't choose all the bad things that happened to me, I was still making some bad choices. I chose to skip school every other day. I chose to get high all the time. But they said, "You can succeed despite what's going on at home. You can make better choices."

I realized I didn't have to be angry all the time, and I didn't have to be a slave to all the stuff I was doing. I also began to realize that I needed Jesus, so I became a Christian. I can't point to a particular day when I made that decision; it was more of a gradual thing. But as I came to understand who I was in Christ, I began to lean on God and his promises of hope.

And then there was Emily, a girl in my youth group. She knew I was from the "bad crowd" and that I just needed a friend who would listen. Emily was that friend—and still is.

Those people, combined with God's love and lots of prayer, came together and helped pull me out of my depression. I never took medication, though I know that's part of the healing process for many people. I just didn't need it.

Life is good

When I graduated from high school, I was well on my way to complete healing, but I wanted to get as far away from my suburban Chicago home as I could. So I moved to Los Angeles, and just planned to get a job and start a new life. But God had other plans, and, through the encouragement of some friends, I applied to Biola University, a Christian school near L.A. I was accepted at Biola, and now I'm a junior, majoring in psychology.

Things are going very well now. Sure, I still carry the scars—emotional and physical—from my home life. And my relationship with my parents isn't so great. But in general, life is good.

When my alarm goes off these days, I can't wait to get out of bed. But nowadays, it's because of my love for life, not a death wish.

After college, I want to be a counselor. I want to reach out to hurting people who need love and care.
And I'd like to be a foster parent someday, to take kids out of situations similar to mine, and just be there for them.

I don't know where I'd be today if people hadn't reached out to me with God's love. Now I want to do the same for someone else.


Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today International/Campus Life magazine.

Taken from www.christianitytoday.com
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