Depression in Parenting an Autistic Child

By Rhonda Leverett:

In my depression in parenting an autistic child, I began thinking about suicide.

 

Then I found hope.

 

Stock photo by David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stock photo by David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In 1988, my youngest child, Caleb, was diagnosed with autism. I had no idea what autism was, but it looked like this: blank stares; fear of unfamiliar people and surroundings; books, crayons, shoes, and other items stacked in odd-shaped mountains from corner to corner of our house. It sounded like high-pitched squeals, crying, or silence.

I was exhausted, and consumed by fear of the unknown.

My marriage soon soured as well. Too overwhelmed to engage, I could think of nothing so extraneous as my adult relationship. This was survival mode, dysfunction at its finest.

Still, I prayed. The weakest prayers known to womankind maybe, but I knew God loved us, and I prayed.

Fast forward seven years, no marriage counseling, and many autism therapies later—Caleb was not better, but dramatically worse. Everything was worse.

My daughter and her stepfather fought constantly. She, fourteen, and my oldest son, Cliff, eleven, had become my assistants in curtailing Caleb’s now dangerous behaviors—and in cleaning up messes like broken eggs, broken glass, and smashed food. The understanding that they had not experienced childhood themselves bore heavy on me day and night, but I had no alternative to offer.

My daughter announced she intended to live with my parents, and ran away to prove it. Her grandparents supported her desire, due to my unwillingness to leave my husband. There had been separations, but I always came home because it seemed impossible to find anyone willing to take us in due to the challenges of autism.

Determined to escape what had become an intolerable situation, I called a shelter for help. Although hauntingly destructive, emotional trauma was not shelter criteria.

I moved into my daughter’s room and shut out the world, even my boys. I watched the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” every night, all night, for three weeks, and slept during daylight hours.

Thinking About Suicide

I had drawn the conclusion that life was not worth living.

One bleak afternoon, I sunk down on the bathroom floor and contemplated taking my life, even considering a suicide plan.

I heard Caleb then…but in reality, the house was silent. My husband had taken the boys somewhere. Nevertheless, I heard my son in my heart. He cooed as when he was a baby. I saw him reaching for me. My suffocated mind received the oxygen needed to remember this Truth—my life had purpose.

My children needed me. I remembered this just in time.

I stood up, put everything away, and washed my face.

I would live, because I am a mother—and because I am a daughter, God’s own daughter. I live because I was rescued by Jesus Christ long ago, on a cross.

He died to save you, too. If you cry out to Him, He will meet you wherever you are.

He will remind you of your purpose, and that you are loved.

If you turn to Him, He will save your life.

Read an update by Rhonda Leverett about her son (now-grown) and her own joyful life at rhondaleverett.com. 

One Christian resource for parents of autistic children is Autism’s Hidden Blessings, by Kelly Langston. You can read an excerpt at kellylangston.com.

Moms of special needs children may be encouraged by this video from Kelly Langston:

Refocus Thoughts When Thinking About Suicide

By PeggySue Wells:

When unhealthy thoughts persist, including thinking about suicide, refocusing can help.

 

U.S. Navy Seawolf Submarine, Thinking About Suicide

When a friend’s thoughts dive deep into wrong places,  including thinking about suicide, can you help them periscope up and refocus? Wisdom from the Bible helps.

 

Mary’s husband was the captain of a nuclear submarine. Deployed, the sub would be under the water for six months at a stretch. Their only communication was an occasional message he could receive via transmission when the ship surfaced.

Much like current Twitter counts, the captain’s wife was allowed a limited number of characters for the brief one-way communication she could send.

While Mary carefully considered how to spend each character, this particular opportunity weighed heavy on her heart. During her morning quiet time, she prayed that God would guide as she constructed her communication. Then she wrote:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7a KJV).

Months later the ship docked and the couple were reunited. Adding her husband’s clothes to the laundry, she discovered a worn and tired slip of paper in a pocket. It was the verse she had wired those months ago.

“I kept it with me for a long time,” he explained. “I had made a decision I was not feeling good about. The more I thought on it, and mentally beat myself up, the more depressed I got. Daily, those words reminded me to choose different thought patterns.”

Do you have someone in your life that seems to focus conversation toward the negative? Is the trail leading them to thinking about suicide? Here are some tips:

1)   De-escalate. Move the conversation to be more about something they want to work on, or improve. Help them find and list the positives in their life.

2)    Give tangible suggestions and encourage your friend to try them. For example, how about journaling, writing out scripture, and volunteering in the community.

3)    Help them focus on one thing, rather than grouping all the problems into an overwhelming tsunami. What is the one aspect that is the most concerning?

4)    How can your friend help others in a similar situation?

The truth is that life looks plenty dark under the shadow of regret, sorrow, grief, and an overpowering number of problems. It is also true that God is greater than our griefs and cares.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Like Mary did for her husband, we can help those who are struggling to channel their thoughts in a healthy direction.

PeggySue Wells is an author books helpful to those who are struggling, including What To Do When You Don’t Want to Go to Church, What to Do When You’re Scared to Death, and Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After.

Feel Suicidal? Truth in 25 Words

By PeggySue Wells:

Despondent? Feel suicidal?

Typically this grows from a deep sense of not being loved.

John 316

I have felt like that at times.

Why go on, I reason, if no one cares? This is not the truth but it certainly feels that way.

So what is the truth?

The most quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16, declares that God loves you and me. That he loved us before we even knew him. Before you and I were born. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16 NIV). So much promise and assurance is packed into those 25 words. No wonder it is often the first Bible verse put to memory.

In his book, The Joshua Code, O.S. Hawkins shared this:

An unknown, yet wise old sage once explained John 3:16 like this:

For God . . . the greatest Lover
so loved . . . the greatest degree
the world . . . the greatest company that
He gave . . . the greatest act
His only begotten Son . . . the greatest gift
that whoever . . . the greatest opportunity
believes . . . the greatest simplicity
in Him . . . the greatest attraction
should not perish . . . the greatest promise
but . . . the greatest difference
have . . . the greatest certainty
everlasting life . . . the greatest possession

Despite how abandoned I feel, this simple verse gives hope. Not hope in the ‘maybe it will or maybe it won’t’ sense. This hope is the confidence that what God said in John 3:16 is reality for you and me.

This little video should make you smile: John 3:16

PeggySue Wells www.peggysuewells.com is the author of What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Say To Your Own Family, and What To Do When You Don’t Want To Go To Church, among other books. 

Don’t Do It! Save Your Family Heartache from Suicide

Father image by BlueKDesign

Father image by BlueKDesign

Guest Post by Pastor J.K.:

Family heartache from suicide of a loved one can go on for many years. Would you put your own children or siblings through such terrible grief?

The familiar voice of my administrative assistant greeted me on the phone. “Gary is here asking for you.” Her voice then became very soft. “He seems pretty shook-up.”

“Send him in,” I said. I got up and greeted him at my office door.

Gary cut straight to the reason for his visit.

“Preacher, you have 60-seconds to convince me not to blow my brains out.” He pulled a Saturday night special from his jacket pocket, pulled back the hammer and he placed the gun-barrel in his mouth.

I remember immediately praying and claiming James 1:5 (King James Version), “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

I needed God’s help and a miracle. I needed it now.

The words that flowed from my mouth surprised me. I said, “Gary, don’t do it. Why would you want to do this to your momma, grandma, and kids? You know how this town talks. Sure they’ll miss you, but they will be answering questions the rest of their days.”

He took the pistol out his mouth. He said, “I don’t care what people say.”

I replied, “But you love your family. Think about what your girls will be facing.”

“My girls,” he said as he again removed the pistol from his mouth. This time he slowly released the hammer and placed the weapon back in his coat pocket. He sat down in a chair at the table in my office.

“Gary, let me share with you something I’ve never told anyone in this church,” I said.

He looked up at me. The expression was both sadness and curiosity. He nodded giving me permission to continue.

“My wife’s brother killed himself while I was in seminary.”

“How?”

“He used a pistol. It was a single shot through his heart.”

“Oh,” he said. He placed his left hand over his heart.”

“My wife started crying the second she received the news. She cried for hours. She still cries for him from time to time.”

“But you were in seminary years ago …”

“It doesn’t matter. She still grieves. She has two sisters, one older and one younger. They still feel sad as well.”

“What about his parents?” Gary asked.

“Heartbroken. The real tragedy was for his children. His youngest doesn’t remember him. His oldest asks why, researches the police and autopsy records for information, and every birthday, holiday, and special occasion feels cheated by not having her daddy. Plus, he never got to see his grandchildren.”

“Grandchildren?”

“He wasn’t there for graduation or her wedding. I officiated the wedding and know how much she wished he was there.”

Gary handed me his pistol. Later that day he was admitted in a residential treatment program.

After his release he told me thank you. He never thought of the impact it would have on his current and future family including his yet to be born grandchildren.

(Names have been changed for privacy.)

For Those with Suicidal Thoughts

By Susan Osborn:

Feeling overwhelmed by problems in life? Having suicidal thoughts? You are not alone. Many have shared those same feelings, but there is hope.

Excerpt from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors; used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

sunlight breaking through clouds by ozden

Following is a poem written by a young woman we will call CAN, who went through a very dark time in her life. However, by accepting Jesus as her Savior and leaning on Him, she was able to overcome the suicidal thoughts. She penned the following poem:

Joy in Life

I’m finding joy in life again

Taking it day-by-day,

Doing things I like to do,

And spending quality time with me.

 

I was lost for many months,

Forgetting who I was.

Life was empty and meaningless,

I wanted to end it all.

 

Deeper and deeper I fell

Into a big dark hole,

Unable to get out on my own.

Could anyone hear me yell?

 

I cried out to You for help;

I couldn’t do it on my own.

The hole began to close in on me.

I had all but drowned.

 

You threw me a rope,

Hoping to save my life,

But I kept falling deeper,

Thinking nothing could ever be right.

 

One day I finally caught

The rope You had thrown in.

The rope was Jesus Christ.

I then knew I could win.

 

I can rejoice in life again,

Happy to be alive,

Thankful to my friends and God,

That I did not die.

 

So I’ve been making it a point

To cherish me, myself, and I,

And treat myself as valuable—

Choosing to live, not die.

sunshine

My prayer is that if you are struggling with issues and have suicidal thoughts that you will find someone to talk to, perhaps a family member, a friend, a teacher, or a pastor. Or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

You can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433)

1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish)

Are You Suicidal or Exhausted?

By Linda Evans Shepherd:

Does fatigue and dealing with difficult people make your depression worse? Are you suicidal or exhausted?

 

tired

Recently I got an email from a friend who felt too tired to go on living. In fact, she said, “Everything is such a struggle I don’t think I can take it anymore.  My best solution, I’ve decided, is to kill myself, especially as I can no longer handle the difficult people in my life.”

I suggested that difficult people are hard to deal with, especially when we are worn out or worn down with fatigue. I explained that her best solution was not death, but rest.

If you too are feeling too tired to go on, here are a few things to consider.

Difficult people, struggles, financial woes, marriage difficulties and the like always seem worse when you are tired. So your best solution to recover and not feel overwhelmed by your struggles may actually be to try some of the following ideas that will help you find rest, peace, joy, and activate the things that make you feel happy.

In other words, we at Thinking About Suicide are extending you permission to be kind to yourself so you can start to feel better.

Here are a few ideas to rejuvenate you:

Get More Rest

*  Try going to bed earlier: a half-hour to a whole hour earlier – even if you can’t sleep why not relax, pray, read your Bible or talk to God.

*  Sleep in.

Take a Break

*  Take a break from difficult people – if all else fails, turn off the phone or leave the room or make an excuse to run an errand.

*  Answer difficult emails only once a day or even once a week.

Exercise

*  Go for a jog – exercise can help improve mood!

*  Take a walk.

*  Jump on a mini tramp ten – twenty minutes a day to music that makes you happy.

Listen to Inspiring Music

* Music is a great idea!  Listen to music that makes you happy.

*Play your favorite praise music.

Try Something New

*  Go away for the weekend.

*  Watch a sunset.

*  Talk to someone who makes you feel happy.

*  Go to church.

*  Make a list of new goals and dreams that you would like to accomplish.

Read

* Read the Bible

* Read a good book.  May I suggest Jesus Calling, or my latest book which is a GREAT feel-good book, Experiencing God’s Presence, Learning to Listen While You Pray.

*  Read the book Adrenal Fatique by James L Wilson and follow the doc’s advice.

Create

*  Do something creative – paint, knit, cook or write a poem.

 Get Good Nutrition

*  Avoid sugar.

*  Add vitamin b, c, e and magnesium to your diet.

*  Eat something healthy like a green salad with protein.

*  Drink a nice, big glass of water.

Imagine God wrapping you in his arms and telling you that He loves you.

Most of all: Please do not harm yourself.  When you start to feel better, you may be surprised that your problems don’t seem as painful and that you have more energy to cope with your stress.  As for my friend, I’m happy to say she took my advice and is feeling much better.

This video will help you understand what adrenal fatigue is and how it may be affecting you:

Connecting Suicide Prevention Day with 9-11

By LWS:

Yesterday was Suicide Prevention Day. Today we remember 9-11.  How are they connected?

 

Image by smarnad / FreeDigitalphotos.net

God loves people of all cultures and races and hates to see broken hearts as a result of suicide. [Image: smarnad / FreeDigitalphotos.net]

Here at our site Thinking About Suicide, we have many stories from people who have survived and thrived after initially considering suicide. We focus on how a life given over to Jesus Christ can turn in a whole new direction to find hope where hope was previously lacking.

We also have had articles focusing on various causes of suicide: chronic depression, mental illness, and physical, chemical and nutritional imbalances. (See our Categories.) In those articles, we often try to direct people to medical help as well as faith for suicide prevention. We hope many who struggle were able to see our articles on Suicide Prevention Day.

However, one cause of suicide we’ve never discussed is suicide with the goal of taking one’s life in addition to taking the lives of others. Suicide-murder has been known to happen in domestic violence cases. However, 9-11 is a good example of that kind of tragedy on a much larger scale.

In domestic violence, murder-suicide is a mistaken solution often used to regain a sense of control–especially if the partner has attempted to leave. Tragically, this solution often prevents the present and eternal hope that could have been found through Christ.  Such a tragedy will leave brokenhearted family members behind, as well as eliminate any chance for the abuser or the victim to have the opportunity to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ in order to find a fresh start or a new life.

Terrorism is also related to control and punishment, but those who commit suicide with these ideas in mind often have a misguided belief that such actions please God. But the God of Abraham is one of love, one of forgiveness. Acts of terrorism also leave brokenhearted family members behind on both sides — all people who God loves and hurts for.

To help bridge the gap between God and man, God sent a Savior—His own son.  In order to discover how to live in God’s love, visit GodTest.com.

In honor of Suicide Prevention Day, please pause and pray for all family members who have lost someone from the tragedy of suicide. We also urge you to explore our articles under Suicide Prevention.

Frozen Feelings: Denial in Grief

Susan Titus Osborn:

For some who have lost a child to suicide, denial in grief occurs.

It can be a struggle to cope initially with the reality of such a tragic death.

 

 why-live-if-everyone-is-out-to-give-me

 

Excerpt taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

 

“Sarah committed suicide. We are having the funeral service at a church near your house. I hope you can come.”

The voice on the answering machine sounded mechanical, void of feeling. My heart went out to my friend, Ann. I could not even imagine what she was going through.

Although Ann’s daughter, Sarah, lived half an hour from our home, we hadn’t seen her since our wedding nine years before. She was pregnant at the time, and I suddenly realized she was leaving a nine-year-old daughter behind. We had tried to get together with her and her husband, Hiro, but they never seemed available.

When I asked Ann how her daughter had died, she replied, “I don’t know. I don’t want to know!” Ann’s family were committed Christians, but their adopted daughter, Sarah, who was Korean, had adamantly stated, “I have no use for the white man’s God.”

I thought of her words as I stood over the open casket, staring at the body of the 30-year-old woman who had committed suicide. She looked so young. I saw cuts on the edges of her wrists; her hands were folded in front of her. I drew the conclusion that she must have slit her wrists on that fateful Saturday night, but none of us will ever know for sure….

After the funeral, Ann said, “We are leaving tomorrow for Hawaii.” I stared at her in disbelief. She continued, “We already had plans to go there, and I don’t see any reason to change them.”

I continued to stand there speechless, but my mind screamed, Don’t you want to know how your daughter died? What if her husband played a part in it? Don’t you want to greet his parents when they arrive tomorrow from Japan? How can you just pick up and go on with your life as if nothing has happened? All these thoughts swirled in my head, but I said nothing.

I wondered how Ann would ever gain closure, and what would happen to that precious nine-year-old, who seemed to have been swept away in the current of the storm? How would she be able to deal with her mother committing suicide? Who would be there to help her?

After the loss of a loved one, it is not uncommon for a survivor to bottle up feelings and simply try to carry on, but those feelings must be dealt with eventually. It is our prayer for people like Ann, who love the one they lost, that Christ will help them deal with their grief, not by hoping it will go away, but by His walking through it with them.  But we also understand that for some, dealing with the reality of the loss of a child is so terribly painful that some need to process that on their own timetable. If you know someone who has had a suicide loss and is not dealing with it, let them know there is help available to walk them through that pain when they are ready.

Suicide as an Option is Never Good

By Karen Kosman:

Suicide as an option for ending pain and depression is never good.

There are always alternatives that can open the door to change and hope.

 

Life preserver image by cbenjasuwan FDP net

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

At the age of 13, Louise fell out of her dad’s boat. She knew how to swim, but the icy cold water took her breath away, and the thick reeds, growing up from the bottom of the lake, wrapped around her legs. She panicked as she gasped for air and gulped water. Hopelessness and doubt kept her focused on fear, and she could not free herself. She fought to stay above water. Silently she prayed, God help me!

Suddenly she felt someone beside her—a man pulling the reeds away from her. He said, “Louise, you are safe now.” He gave her a shove toward shore.

To her surprise, just a short distance away from where she had struggled, her feet touched the ground. There she found loving, compassionate people ready to help her.

Louise thought, What would have happened if I hadn’t cried out for help? What would have happened if a stranger hadn’t cared enough to swim out to help me? In the murky water I couldn’t see the bottom of the lake. Safety had been only a few feet away.

So it is with the throes of depression. The suicidal person can’t see through the murkiness of her or his pain to know that safety lies only a short distance away.

Suicide is never a good option. It does not solve anything. It brings an abrupt end to the resources that could have brought relief, completion of fulfilled dreams, and the return of happiness.

There are a number of mental disorders that cause chemical imbalance in the brain and may contribute to suicidal behavior. However, they can often be controlled with medication when prescribed and overseen by a psychiatrist. Although these illnesses are often treatable, some emotionally desperate patients will choose not to live.

Often external circumstances such as job loss, financial disaster, loss of a child, failure in school, or marital problems are blamed for suicide. However, these events may act only as triggers.

For many the turnaround came when they called out in distress, “God help me.” These words are often the beginning of a path to recovery for those contemplating suicide. God becomes to them a safe harbor. In seeking  help from professionals (support groups, pastors, family physicians, and Christian therapists), they explore the reasons behind their pain. With the love and mercy of a sovereign God, they grab hold of a life preserver—the choice to live.

Lord, my God walk with me on this journey. Help me to set a goal for my future. Teach me to believe that I still have a purpose in life.

This story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

Long-term Thoughts of Suicide

By PeggySue Wells

 

Have you struggled with long-term thoughts of suicide?

Have you struggled with long-term thoughts of suicide?

Having thoughts of suicide can be a temporary condition triggered by crisis in our lives. But for others, this dark night of the soul is a continuous condition, year after year.

Here is how one person described what it’s like to have long-term thoughts of suicide and depression:

Many more people are silently suffering and depressed than ever before. We hear stories about great things coming around for everyone else but nothing is happening for us. We hear about weddings and new arrivals and again nothing for us.

What happens when our anxiety and depression is recognized and being treated but the medications and therapy is no longer working? Or is at a plateau? For our doctors, friends, and family it’s hard to talk about because they don’t know what to do about it either. It’s a scary place to be because there are some things in life that feel completely unfixable and when you’ve spent ten to fifteen years talking it out or taking anti-depressants or doing group therapy sessions – what now?

As a generation of people who were diagnosed with depression and anxiety through suicidal thoughts, we have to start talking about how we are going to go through life once the meds stop working and the talk therapy is no longer helping. And of course, how we will pay for this is a whole other issue.

I know the pain of being consumed with thoughts of suicide in the middle of the night.

Are you having long-term thoughts of suicide? Have you experienced such a dark time and come through to brighter days?

Despite the struggle and the pain, you matter. You are important. Significant.

When thoughts of despair plague, remember that the Lord is with you even in this.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there (Psalm 7-8).

When you are in the depths of depression, the last thing you feel like doing is connecting. But I encourage you to attend a Bible-believing church. Just as you are. Even on your dark days. You don’t have to have your life together before you can come. When my friend Barbara lost her two teenagers in a car wreck, she plunged into deep and extended depression.

“How did you survive that?” I asked.

“I kept going to church,” she said. “No matter what, go to church.”

Why? Because the music and sermons remind you that Jesus Christ knows how you feel. In the Bible are stories of others who knew depression including Jonah, Job, Paul and Barnabas knew depression. People in the church have experienced dark nights of the soul.

While there may not be a quick solution for you, church is where you receive prayer, and connect and belong. And it is where you are needed. God comforts us so we can comfort others. There will be a time when you can be the person who says to another, “I understand how you feel.”

Click here to see a letter from someone who understands your despair: Dear Friend, at GodTest.com, and learn about (or be reminded of) how to find a relationship with Jesus Christ to comfort you in your trials.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:1-18 (NIV Bible, from BibleGateway.com)

 Enjoy this beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace: