There are details of certain things in my life I wish to be truly careful in sharing from this platform. I was not going to share what I have written about this one, because there are a lot of details in my life I wish to leave with Jesus. However, something was pressing me toward this for a while and I have been sitting on this and praying about it. I have had tears on my cheeks just typing this out. A couple of times, I had to stop and ask my husband to pray for me in order to keep writing.
In late 2001, while experiencing a deep depression in which my mind was being bombarded with haunting memories of the past and the crushing pain of infertility, I sought out a doctor to get help. After a visit or two, I was started on medication. That medication led to another medication, then another medication, and then another medication. Before I had a clue what was going on, I found myself overly medicated on about eight different prescriptions. I became a zombie; I shuffled when I walked, I could barely sign my own name, I slurred when I spoke, and I was completely and totally out of my mind. At the time, I had no concept of side effects and the impact of being prescribed such a dangerous combination of pills. I was diagnosed yet again with post-traumatic stress, but I was also given some other labels that did not belong to me at all. The prescriptions then became a chaotic bingo game of pill combinations and the results of that were devastating.
I was supplied with months worth of nine to ten different prescription combinations. I am talking heavy anti-psychotic meds combined with several anti-anxiety meds further combined with several different antidepressants. I saw myself in the mirror one day and had absolutely no recognition of the dead girl staring back at me. My eyes were dark and void of life, my mouth was stuck in a painful looking grimace, and my body was bloated as a result of the damage happening to my liver and kidneys. I felt like the walking dead and I was isolated from any kind of healthy support system. The last thing I remember is weeping while I asked God to forgive me for what I was doing and I watched from a distance as handfuls of pills were coming toward my mouth.
I still keep those prescription receipts and the ambulance details from the results of that in a manila envelope quite loudly labeled “Do Not Throw Away”. I think I needed to keep those papers in order to prove to myself that something, somewhere went wrong and I was most likely caught in the trap of someone’s medical practice on a level I still do not understand. There were two police officers who were monumental in saving my life that night so long ago. Those two wonderful men in blue sat at the hospital, waiting for word on whether or not I would survive. For hours, there was the very real fear and expectation that I was going to pass away. So, those two men took off their badges to wait.
There really is no explanation as to how I could have survived such a deadly act. When I was shown the empty contents of pill bottles, pill boxes, and pill wrappers I was completely numb to it. If you know anything at all about anti-psychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications…well, you already know how deadly one bottle can be. I had gone so far above and beyond what needed to be done and it is truly of miraculous proportions that I am sitting in front of my computer typing any of this out.
I had visions somewhere in the darkness, in the midst of it, of hovering over myself in that hospital room and seeing a man weeping as he watched over my bed. That vision has haunted me for years and it haunts me today. I do not know how to explain seeing myself hooked up to tubes, looking down at the bloated body that was supposed to be mine, and watching some unknown man sobbing over me. It was as if I were stuck with Velcro to the ceiling and seeing the comings and goings of nurses and doctors for a brief period of time before falling into a place that was pitch black and silent.
My recovery after that was a battle in ways that I cannot now articulate. I can attest to how little compassion medical professionals demonstrate toward the “likes of someone like me”. I was once the patient and then I became the professional, watching at the end of the hospital bed.
People are cold and full of scorn toward those who suffer so deeply on the inside. I was rejected by people I cared about. I was rejected by mental health professionals. I was even rejected by a group at a church when I tried to reach out for help. I believe this goes completely against the compassion our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated during His ministry and on the cross when He became our ransom.
That kind of judgment and contempt contributed to my mindset when I nearly and successfully made the decision to try to ‘finish the job’ on a couple of other devastating occasions. This is not a statement of blame by any means. It is just the reality of what those who suffer in this way actually carry around with them.
About ten years ago, I wrote a poem about my experience with the particular physician responsible for prescribing those pills all those years ago; Outlined in Blue Lights:
Towering building, outlined in blue lights,
Like a tomb, a resting place for the girl she used to be.
She took one step inside,
And it took everything that was left of her.
The healer brought her to the edge and propelled her over,
He left her dangling there and walked away, never looking back.
The towering building, outlined in blue lights,
A constant reminder of a life that was nearly destroyed;
Resuscitation, life support, a hollow mind,
A broken body, a weakened soul…
The wrong doses, the wrong combination, the wrong method…
Everything went wrong.
‘I want to help you,’ he said,
But he wrote a prescription for disaster instead,
As if he knew all along.
The towering building, outlined in blue lights,
I remember who she was just before she stepped inside.
She didn’t come out the same, if she made it out at all.
Her blood, sweat, and tears remain as stains
Forever imprinted on his hands.
For a few years after that ordeal I was stuck seeing that building, where the doctor used to have his office, every time I drove along the highway. It was a bank building in the Valley and it was lit up in an outline of blue lights. Just the sight of it would send me into sobs and I would break and cry and plead with God.
One evening, while driving home after caring for a hospice patient, I noticed the skyline had gone dark. The blue lights were not there! I heard a praise song come on the radio completely by chance, because I had been listening to an album that suddenly quit playing. The song was “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. Whew, did I have quite a break down in the car that night! I almost couldn’t stand the crushing weight of it all. I believed that God could never and would never forgive me. I even shouted out, “Can You ever forgive me, God? Have I done the unforgivable act? Have I turned Your Spirit against me?”
All of a sudden, something along the periphery of the highway caught my eyes. It was a large cross lit up in white lights. It had not been there before! Where the horizon used to haunt me and taunt me with blue lights, I was presented the gift of seeing this huge cross, lit up and radiant in the night sky. I had to pull my vehicle over to the side of the road in order to weep and pray and weep some more as I stared up at that big, white cross. The church who had constructed that cross will never, ever know what a huge blessing it was to me that night.
It truly felt as if the Jesus Himself were letting me know, “I Am here! I Am here!”
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
**If you are feeling suicidal, there is help: SUICIDE.ORG has resources.
This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays