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My Two Years of Winter
Without hope, depressed and desperate, she cried out to God for someone to talk to, and God answered.

When I heard about the recent suicide of a respected Christian acquaintance, I was reminded of my own desire to die a few years ago.

One night, at the height of my anguish, I came close to ending my life.

Waking up every day feeling depressed—not knowing if I would ever feel joy again—was more than I could bear. Many days I just tried to get through the next hour. At the end of the day, sleep brought relief until the next dark morning. I often pleaded with God to let me get hit by a truck or get some terrible illness so that I could be out of my misery, but not by my own hand. I also considered what I now call "social suicide": I was going to leave my family, my friends, my job, and my community and hit the street. I could go from town to town and fade into an anonymous subsistence. Through my work at a drop-in centre, I met many people who did just that. Suddenly their actions made complete sense to me.

One night, at the height of my anguish, I came close to ending my life. My husband was out. I put the baby to bed and then tried to call someone, because I knew how bad things were. I called four people and got three answering machines and a husband. I went to bed early — feeling like that was the only safe place for me. What kept me from taking action was the thought of my young son growing up without a mother, and the nagging doubt that I would not be in heaven if I took my own life. Even in my desperation I still wanted to be with God when all was said and done.

God in his mercy brought me out of my depression, but not overnight. I came to realize that the things that led me into depression did not happen overnight either. I had been neglecting myself for years—giving and giving without making sure my own needs were being met. I was also in a situation where I had to go against my convictions to fit in with a group. I was constantly at war with myself, and began to believe that I was no good. For me, self-condemnation paved the road to depression.

My journey out of the deluge of despair began when I went over to an acquaintance's house to drop something off for her. On the way I complained to God: "All my life I've been a good listener and a friend to so many people. When will it be my turn to be listened to?" The woman invited me in and asked me how I was. But she didn't leave it at that—she asked me leading questions that allowed me to open up, and she actually listened to the answers! It had been so long since I had been truly heard; I felt a glimmer of hope.

This woman offered to meet with me every other week so that I could talk. We met for a about a year. She didn't try to cure me. She did not quote Bible verses at me. She listened, prayed with me and asked really good questions. She was not shaken by the depth of my pain and did not panic when I said I was considering suicide. I needed to get the darkness out of my soul and my friend patiently helped me do that.

God also used other friends to encourage me and to help me rethink things. One friend was awakened in the middle of the night to intercede for my husband and me. She cared enough to ask tough questions and challenged us to reconsider the situation we were in. Other friends affirmed our inner disquiet and told us that God did not intend for us to be so unhappy. I gradually recognized that God was speaking to me and that it was important not to ignore my inner promptings, even if it meant incurring disapproval from others. I needed to be true to God and what he was telling me.

It has been about a year since I have felt continuously depressed. I still have my down days, but they are nothing compared to the two years of winter that I lived through. I have a new compassion for those suffering from depression. God is using my pain for good. I won't go so far as to say that depression was His plan for me; but I am glad He can use negative experiences in a positive way.

"My Two Years of Winter" originally appeared in the March 16th, 2001 issue of the Mennonite Brethren Herald. It was reprinted in Catherine in March 2003. After reading this article an editor at 100 Huntley Street in Toronto recommended me as a guest on the show. I was interviewed by Rhonda Glenn on 100 Huntley Street November 13th, 2003. On the show, I talked about God's presence and activity during a very dark period of my life.

Sandra Reimer is a freelance writer based in Kitchener, ON. Her e-mail address is sreimer@canada.com.

Originally published in the Mennonite Brethren Herald, March 16, 2001. http://www.mbherald.com
Reprinted in The Evangelical Baptist, September/October 2004. http://www.fellowship.ca/eb/default.htm

 

 
 
 
 

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