I sat on my bed, dully staring at the prescription bottle of pills in my hand. "You're depressed, Heather." I recalled the doctor telling me "The therapy isn't helping as much as we'd hoped, so we're going to try some anti-depressants. We'll give them about six weeks and take it from there, OK?" I'd just nodded and dutifully gone to the pharmacy with my parents.
We'd recently moved to California from Virginia, and I'd left all of my friends and most of my family behind. My mother, who'd been left behind in Virginia, was an alcoholic. My stepmother and her kids verbally and physically abused me, and my Dad worked 60-hour weeks. I began to wonder anyone cared. Wasn't I better off dead? At least the pain would stop. And where was God, anyway? I'd gotten saved at the age of 8 and spent hours reading my Bible. I even carried around index cards with Bible verses on them for memorization. Wasn't he supposed to take care of me? Maybe God didn't care, either.
I turned the bottle in my hand. It had been 7 weeks since I'd started the antidepressant, and the doctor had decided to increase my dosage. I stopped eating. What was the point? I wasn't hungry anyway. I wrote poetry so depressing that a friend said it "made his stomach hurt". I passed my days in a dull haze of pain and anger. Where was God? He was supposed to protect me! My family was still abusing me, and they claimed to be "Good" Christians. Why didn't he stop them?
I sat down and meticulously planned my suicide. The next day, I would take the whole bottle of anti-depressants and....wait a minute. I decided to pray. "God. This is your last chance. I don't really want to die, I just want to stop this pain! Don't you care? If you do care, if you love me, then show me somehow. Otherwise I'm going to do it tomorrow morning. I'm tired of living this way!" I began sobbing and curled up under my blankets. . As I snuffled into a bath towel (my stepmother had recently punished me for using up all the toilet paper when I cried) I wondered what would happen. Finally, I fell asleep.
I'll never know precisely what happened next, but I'll never forget it. I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night, my heart pounding. I sat up and fumbled for my glasses, panting. I could feel God there in the room, surrounding me with love. He didn't speak, but I could feel his words in my heart. "Heather. I love you. You're my precious child, and I want to protect you. You're trying to carry a load that's too heavy for you. You need help." I got a sudden image of our school guidance counselor, an affable, middle-aged guy with thinning hair. "Talk to Mr. C. Tell him what you had planned for today. He'll help you." I nodded, tears welling in my eyes.
He did love me! I'll never forget the infinite love I felt in that room, as if he saw all my flaws and loved me in spite of them. How he saw the potential in me, and wanted so desperately to ease my aching heart.
The next day, I walked into the guidance counselor's office and tossed him the bottle of pills. "I was going to take them this morning. If that didn't work I was going to use this." I handed him a paring knife I'd stolen from the kitchen. His eyes widened, and he called my therapist. I was hospitalized that day.
Looking back, I can say the hospital was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'd been abused, yes, but the other kids had had terrible things happen to them I'd never dreamed of. They let me cry all I wanted instead of laughing at me, listened as I haltingly told my story, and cheered me on when I quakily stood up to a dictatorial doctor who'd unfairly punished another patient.
By the time my insurance ran out, I'd learned enough to keep me hanging on through the next few difficult years. I'd like to be able to say that my family went into counseling and the abuse stopped but it didn't.
My family abused me until the day I moved out, my Dad disowned me when I confronted him about the abuse, and it took me years to understand God's purpose. God has to allow people to make their own choices, and they chose to abuse me. That was their choice. They could say they were Christians, but the truth was in their actions. It wasn't God's fault that they'd chosen to be evil. It was their choice to make. I've forgiven them.
My Dad had been told by a therapist that I'd never be able to live on my own, and that I'd probably never get a job. I always laugh when I remember that, as I'm helping my wonderful husband run a thriving business, plan to start my own business next year, attend college part-time, and wrote a book, "Discoveries: A Poetic Autobiography".
God saved me.
Feel free to email me if you would like to chat.