There’s this moment where you feel as if you’re the only one that has ever gone through this. And that moment lasts for days, weeks, maybe months. No one ever talks about it. Maybe because you feel it’s not your story to tell. Maybe because you feel embarrassed. Maybe because you’re afraid you’ll be judged. But those thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. So here I am, ready to break this stigma wide open, because it needs to be done. Particularly in the Christian community. And I share it with the full support of Peyton.
On March 6th of this year, my sweet Peyton tried to kill herself. Even writing it now makes me cry. I never thought I’d be the parent who wrote those words. But my daughter was so overwhelmed that she felt like the best option was to go to sleep and never wake up. So she filled her small hand with pills, downed them with a glass of water and laid down.
She has absolutely zero recollection of waking up about an hour later. She has no memory of trying to go to the bathroom and talking to us…or attempting to. She doesn’t recall the next hour of her dad and I trying to talk to her, putting her in the shower to see if she would be coherent, and us searching her room for the alcohol or drugs we were sure we would find.
We thought she was drunk or high. She’d sleep it off. While I was going through her phone to see how she’d gotten the stuff, I made the single biggest mistake I think I’ll ever make in my life. I opened her phone’s internet browser and I saw her search history, “How much amitriptyline do I take to overdose.” And I thought, “WHAT A RANDOM THING TO LOOK UP. NOT MY KID.” If it had been a neon sign, it would’ve blinded me and I still don’t think I would’ve acknowledged it. Instead, I just kept looking for where she got the alcohol or drugs.
She laid in the living room on the couch asleep while I laid down on the love seat beside her, checking her throughout the night.
When she woke up the next morning, she was completely disoriented and didn’t understand why she was in the living room. I looked at her and asked if she felt ok. She said yes and just sat there for a moment before she looked up at me with tears in her eyes.
“Can I tell you something without you getting mad?”
I said, “Tell me.”
“I tried to kill myself last night.” And she started to cry.
What we had witnessed was my daughter’s body reacting to an overdose. Miraculously, despite my willful ignorance to her Google search, she survived.
When you’re going through a tremendously painful time like an attempted suicide, you’re not really sure who to call or talk to. Which one of your friends will understand? Who is going to judge you or your kid? Who’s going to pray, and not just pray in passing but pray the host of heaven down on your child to heal her physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? Who’s going to treat your child differently? Who’s going to treat YOU differently?
There’s such a stigma attached to mental health and it can feel embarrassing. But as Chris and I walked through the next 6 days of a trip to the ER followed by some inpatient time for Peyton on an adolescent psychiatric unit, we found out we weren’t the only ones. We knew a surprising number of people who did or were going through the exact thing we were.
It’s been two months since her attempt, and it’s been a process to work through healing for her as well as for us. We find that the more candid we are with Peyton about what happened and what her feelings are currently, the more she feels ok to open up when she struggles. We can’t put her in a protective bubble (which, believe me, I’d love to do) but we can ensure that we’re walking WITH her during this. She now knows that she’s not alone in this fight because her entire family is here to fight with her. In turn, this has allowed her to be very open about her mental health and attempted suicide with others. She wants to know that her miraculous gift of failure in that attempt will help someone reach out before their attempt is a permanent consequence.
My walk with God is even more important than just walking with Peyton. As a Christian mother, I know that God is bigger than trauma, than hurts, than depression. He is bigger than the lies the devil tells her.
These two verses are ones that I’ve held strong to since March.
“When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.” –Isaiah 43:2
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33
I know that God is with us. He sees her and He loves her. And though there is a fight going on in her head and in her heart, He has not left her to fight this alone. In fact, He wishes to fight on her behalf. He wants to fight on my behalf. I praise God that even though the world is often too invested in ‘self,’ He is invested in US.
If you are struggling with this in your home, please, I beg you, know that you are not alone. Not only do you have a Heavenly Father who is 100% for you, you have friends here at the Iron Porch who understand and have walked in this valley, as well. There is no judgment here. There is no stigma here. There is the love of a Savior and friends who stand with you.
**If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.**