Former Miss USA jumps to her death from a New York City Skyscraper. That’s the devastating headline that hit the media this morning.
Whether or not you personally knew of Chelsie Kryst, the 30 year old young woman, and whether or not you’ve ever heard her name, there’s something about suicide that causes a universal grief inside of our hearts. It’s tragic. IT’S HEARTBREAKING! It’s devastating.
The tragedy of suicide, depression, anxiety is finally becoming more and more apparent to the public eye. And until recently, it’s something our culture has been largely silent about. But death by suicide in both Hollywood as well as within the Church are a sobering reminder that this is an ongoing battle, and one we need to fight together.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.
Suicide rates are the HIGHEST among adults ages 45-64.
44,000 Americans die of suicide each and every year.
It’s the second leading cause of death in college-aged students.
For every death resulting in suicide are 25 attempts that didn’t succeed.
Friends, I want to remind those of us who are struggling, or have ever struggled, or know someone who has struggled of a few really important things:
1. Your struggle is not a reflection of your strength.
Your struggle does not indicate a weakness….in fact, those who struggle with the battle against depression and anxiety are usually the strongest. Because on this journey of life — we’re the ones living life with an extra 50 pounds of burden on our shoulders, yet still taking the same steps as the person next door. So it’s not whether or not you struggle that sets you apart, it’s how you choose to handle the struggle.
Strength means getting through each day, even if that means getting dressed is all you do. Strength means asking for help. Strength means understanding your limitations and resetting your expectations during times of struggle. Strength means hearing the voices, yet choosing not to believe them. Strength means clinging to the truth. Strength means believing there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even when you can’t see it.
2. Your struggle is not a reflection of your faith.
That I even have to affirm this breaks my heart, because it means so many of us in the Church at large believe the lie that struggle and faith are mutually exclusive. That is a lie from the pit of hell! Jesus himself when through darkness and despair, and cried out to God for help…cried out for God to take this away.
Dear one, your struggle is not a reflection of your lack of faith – your struggle is the catalyst to your faith. Those who struggle deeply, feel the deepest emptiness, will eventually be filled to that same measure.
When I was in the pit of depression myself, God gave me a picture. He showed me a picture of deep holes in a desert….the holes represented my suffering. Each hole seemed wider and deeper than I could handle. But then He reminded me that the deeper the hole, the more His Living Water could fill me up. The more I suffered, the more I needed, the more room He had to fill me. And fill me He has. I’m believing the same for you, my friend.
3. Counseling and medication are just as important as prayer.
Through my journey of depression – I’ve learned that faith and action go hand-in-hand. One fuels the other. When we have faith, we move. When Jesus healed the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, he told him to “get up and walk”. Walking while paralyzed doesn’t seem possible, just as impossible as it seems to “live” while depressed. But Jesus reaches out His hand and tells us to GET UP AND WALK. Take the next step. Move the part of your body that you believe to be dead and dying. Take action. And trust God to give you the strength you need to take that next step.
That next step might be reaching out to someone to let them know you’re suffering.
It might mean walking into an emergency room and letting them know you don’t think you’re safe to be alone.
It might be setting up an appointment with your medical doctor.
It might be seeing a psychiatrist.
It might mean enrolling in professional counseling.
It might mean filling that prescription of antidepressants you’ve been debating whether or not you should start taking.
It might mean asking for help while you focus on rest and recovery.
It might mean calling a suicide hotline. Do you need help? The contact number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
It might mean all of the above.
Whatever it is, take the next step, because there is absolutely no shame in seeking help and moving toward healing from depression. In fact, it’s a NECESSARY PART OF HEALING. We would never shame a diabetic for seeing an endocrinologist, or a cancer patient for seeing an oncologist….neither is there any shame in getting counseling and seeking medical help.
Let me remind you that faith and action go hand-in-hand. When we begin to move, God begins to heal and when God begins to heal, we begin to move. The key of how to deal with depression is to simply do the next thing. THAT, my friends, is what faith is all about.
God is with you on the mountaintop, and He’s with you in the valley.
Your one and only job right now is to do the next thing…to take care of yourself and no one else…and step by step, get yourself to a better place. One step at a time, you will get there. Hold on. No matter what. Because this wave of depression and anxiety will pass. And we need you on the other side.
I wrote, Are You Really OK? Getting real about who you are, how you’re doing, and why it matters as a raw look into my own battle with depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. Because none of us are immune. I hope it will be a resource of encouragement and perspective for you or a loved one. We’re in this together. Let’s never leave each other alone.
Are You Really OK?
DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Choosing Marriage and True Love Dates, and Love In Every Season, and Are You Really OK? and Married Sex. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twi