The Trauma Survivor’s Guide to Suicidal Thoughts: How Mental Health Issues Can’t Just Be “Prayed Away”

Taking the time to survey myself through soul searching and healing exposed many things to me. One of the blatant, yet ignored, areas I came to a major revelation about was my mental health. It was in desperate need of caring for and nurturing, and it was time sensitive.

I’m very fortunate that my suicidal thoughts never progressed into an attempt to take my life, or even worse, a success. I remember my first real suicidal thoughts at fourteen years old. It’s when my depression charged off like a freight train. I would go in my room and cry for no reason every day around the same time. I would listen to music in hopes of helping my broken heart. At this time, my parents had moved us around a lot, and my grandmother was unable to pick me up for church because of that. I felt unstable and alone. I was missing so much school that my parents pulled me out for the remainder of the school year and called it “homeschooling,” although I was taught nothing.

I remember envisioning what would happen if I went into my parents’ room, took one of their bottles of pills, and swallowed them all. It’s funny how Satan operates and wanted me to go out by the very thing that would eventually take my parents’ and brother’s lives, but every time I started to seriously consider it, the fear of not knowing if I would go to hell for killing myself would flood in as I was raised during the “hell, fire, and brimstone” movement as a child in church. I can now say I believe there is grace with God with those circumstances with severe mental health issues, every situation is different regarding that topic, and I suppose it was a good thing that it stopped me in going through with suicide, but I wish then I would have gotten the proper help I needed instead of just being led by fear. When my thoughts finally came out during a doctor’s visit with my mom, they just wrote me a prescription for an anti-depressant and never went any further with therapy or counseling. Mental health issues were all around me, yet they were never fully discussed or processed.

Mental health issues were all around me, yet they were never fully discussed or processed.

Suicidal thoughts would plague me off and on for the years to come. They would go away for a little while, but they would return during moments that triggered feelings of being trapped in whatever I was enduring. I couldn’t see back then what my triggers were because I didn’t even understand what a trigger was. I could have saved myself years of anguish had I just gotten the help I needed and deserved, but I always triaged other people’s issues before my own. I acted as their savior when there’s only one true savior, and I was not it.

The most intense suicidal thoughts came oddly when I started to deal with my issues after my divorce. I believe exposing very dark places brought that ugliness to the light. That is why it’s imperative to talk to your therapist, family, and friends about your feelings even in the midst of getting help because opening up deep wounds can cause your mind and emotions to go wild. It’s completely necessary for complete healing and cleaning out the junk, but it can be intense in the moment. It boiled down to my mind being tempted to believe that death would be a release from all these years of pain. I struggled with the thought that ending my life would be an escape from the entrapment of my mind and circumstances over the years because I felt that I was stuck in it. It was a tormenting spirit, and it took a lot of prayer to see that Satan was behind it. He did not want to see me get freedom, and he was throwing a temper tantrum.

That is why it’s imperative to talk to your therapist, family, and friends about your feelings even in the midst of getting help because opening up deep wounds can cause your mind and emotions to go wild.

The devil knows when we are at our most vulnerable, and he tries to come in and tempt us. He did the same thing to Jesus in the wilderness (John 4:1-11). He waited forty days into Jesus’ fasting so that he was at a weak moment of extreme hunger and tempted him with not only food, but power and identity. Jesus battled him with scripture and reminded him that he was a liar, and we must do the same. If Satan had the nerve to mess with Jesus, he will most definitely try to knock us off our game. It’s not a matter of if but when. The good news is that he is already defeated, we have all authority over him through the holy spirit, and he must flee at the name of Jesus, Ultimately, the only power Satan has in your life is what you allow him.

Now, with that being said, not all mental conditions can just be “prayed out” of us. God has the power to heal all disease and sickness, and that includes mental illnesses; however, it doesn’t always happen that way just like physical ailments. We see many spirit-filled people pass away from conditions such as cancer and heart disease. It’s not because of a lack of faith or prayer. Sometimes, there are things on earth we won’t ever fully understand such as why some people are healed, and others aren’t.

The same can be said about mental health. For whatever reason, people believe with illnesses and conditions of the mind that we should just go to the altar, “pray it out,” and when we struggle with these conditions, we need to have more faith and pray harder. If you had a gaping, bleeding wound on your arm, you wouldn’t just pray about it, and every time it caused you pain, tell yourself you aren’t being godly enough. No! You would go get it checked out before infection or worse set in! Why is our mental health any different, especially in the church?

If you had a gaping, bleeding wound on your arm, you wouldn’t just pray about it, and every time it caused you pain, tell yourself you aren’t being godly enough.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t pray out evil spirits and against Satan’s lies. As I said before, he came in when I was extremely vulnerable with a tormenting spirit, but I didn’t neglect the conditions mentally that I was dealing with in the process. I actively sought help from a licensed counselor while engaging in spiritual warfare. Again, we must handle our mental health in the same way as we would our physical, engaging in preventative care as well as maintenance. We have well-visits and physicals for our bodies, and we must check-up on our minds regularly as well.

Surrender your minds to Jesus. Seek him and let him show you those areas that need a little more attention. Talk to someone who can lead you correctly with clinical and godly counsel especially if you are dealing with suicidal thoughts. Identify those things that may disturb your peace, and learn how to process or eliminate them. Pray against any tormenting spirits or deceptions from Satan and know your authority against him. Nurture and maintain an atmosphere conducive to mental health. Don’t speak negatively about yourself or your mental state. Know that you are among many who are walking the same path, and it’s beneficial to join groups or circles of those very people who can empathize and understand what you are going through because they are as well. These are just some of the many ways you can gravitate towards a better overall mental health and healing from trauma that brings rest to the mind.

You deserve peace and rest. You are worth living the abundant life Jesus died for you to have. You are stronger than you think.

*If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.*

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