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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is important to many. Our Faith column is a place to discuss how faith (of any kind) positively affects mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
If you have ever watched shows like Forensic Files or Dateline, you know there is always that moment in the story where the mother/father being interviewed says, “When they didn’t answer their phone or return my text, I knew something was wrong.” This statement is usually followed by, “It just wasn’t like her.”
I never thought that moment could happen to me. But it did.
For me, it happened on Saturday evening April 4th, 2015 at 6:30 pm. The texts I sent to Storm, our 24-year-old daughter, were left unanswered. I even remember saying out loud, “It’s just not like her.”
After I spoke that out, my heart suddenly dropped into the pit of my stomach…and then dropped again to the floor. It felt like an elevator that was dropping too fast and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
I went to the couch and sat down. Our dog jumped up and started bouncing her face against mine, something she had never done. Something was wrong.
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Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-29. (src)
Ninety percent of those that die by suicide, suffer from a mental illness. Major depression and bipolar are the greatest risk factors (src). The World Health Organization estimates that 800,000 people die from suicide each year. (src)
Our daughter Storm was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her late teens.
She suffered from high anxiety probably for the most part of her life. Storm managed to graduate with honours and attend university for a year and a half; she wanted to be a journalist.
Eventually, Storm got a job she loved and had her own apartment. But despite all her “normal” accomplishments, her torment grew.
She was the most courageous person I had ever known. To live with a brain that was broken every day, day in, day out as she did was the bravest thing I have ever witnessed.
Yet even with her illness, she was able to be a friend, encourager, and comforter to everyone around her.
We saw many specialists. Many prayers were prayed for those close to us that knew the extent of Storm’s illness. But as Christians, my husband and I know that despite the most powerful faith-filled prayers that we bravely declare before God, He does not always heal everyone or answer our prayers in the way that we ask.
As a mother, losing a child to suicide is beyond any pain I thought I could ever endure.
I could never have imagined the dark depth of despair and heartache that Storm’s death would take me to. But in the pain, and in the midst of suffering, I have to say by His grace, I have come to know God now more intimately than I ever thought was humanly possible.
Remember that God is with you and He will be your strength. This is true of every illness and pain; He won’t abandon us when we cry out to Him.
While it is so important to pour out our hearts to God, don’t hesitate to talk to someone.
We went to a counsellor almost immediately, and it really was beneficial.
Our church family surrounded us with love, support, and meals. God often works through our family and friends to help us heal.
As you heal, hold tight onto God and to each other (your spouse, close friends, family). Join a support group. When you are ready, help others that are going through the same experience.
It is a journey, and my hope is that my story will help you along with yours.
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