This post is a part of “my story” which begins with “Finding Purpose”
When I say that I was frozen with fear in that small graveyard (full story in “A Light in Darkness”), it’s not inaccurate, but it’s not a full description either. It was fear, but not of anything physical. It was shock, but not from seeing blood. It was the fear of picturing myself in his position. It was the shock of a formerly depressed and suicidal person seeing an actual suicide.
I was not detailed in my suicidal fantasies when I was a teenager. I remember feeling completely powerless. Frustrated that no one would listen to me, I wanted a powerful display that they couldn’t ignore anymore. But, I also realized that if people thought everything was my fault in life, they would do the same in death. I wanted to make people listen. I wanted to be understood so that I could understand.
I can now definitively say that suicide is not an eloquent expression of feelings. It’s messy, stinky, and awful. Death doesn’t enhance your voice, it silences it.
When I was depressed, I lived and breathed because of Alma the Younger. He was my favorite prophet because he knew what darkness was. Although Alma the Younger was raised by a righteous and powerful prophet, Alma the Elder, he pulled people away from the church. An angel appeared to him and Alma fell into a coma-like state for a few days. In chapter 36 of his book in the Book of Mormon, Alma tells his son that he “was racked…with the pains of a damned soul” until he remembered his father preaching of Christ. When he remembered this, he cried to Christ for mercy and was filled with joy. He says:
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
I knew that this was my promise. One day, I would receive light as intense as was my darkness.
Alma went on to have more joy through his missionary work. I also discovered my full light and an immeasurable joy in being a missionary, lifting and serving others. I found my voice in helping other people through the darkness. God kept his promise.
Words cannot express how I have wished that we could have found that man earlier. He fought with intense darkness but, in the end, was not claimed by it. I find hope in this—there truly is no darkness so thick that Christ cannot banish it with light. But, I also feel deep sorrow. I can only conclude that his darkness was such that he isolated himself from those that would help him until God sent two sister missionaries that could connect with him while he was too weak to push them away.
There are still too many that die alone. Too many that believe the lies of depression that they have no power, no one will listen, no one cares. The truth is that you have incredible power. The truth is that you are the only one who can tell your story, and there are people waiting to hear you.
We all pass through sorrow in our own way. We all discover our light. I think those of us that have survived darkness, perhaps especially suicidal thoughts and depression, have a duty to say there is light and joy. The night does end. The light is equal to your darkness. So, if you’re feeling especially dark, your light will be that much more amazing. Just hold on.