What is it like to be suicidally depressed? What is the pain like? Why is the pain so bad that people kill themselves to get out of it?
I experienced severe depression for about 27 years that I was miraculously healed of by Jesus in 2006 ( https://graceinsightandart.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/my-divine-healing/), after crying out to Jesus for healing in a moment of extreme pain.
I also knew that I had to forgive, because depression is very often a result of unforgiveness.
Even after Jesus delivered me instantaneously, permanently, and miraculously from excruciating depression, it returned like a terrifying black cloud about 400 times (Yes, I counted. Counting these things helps make them more real because they are, “all in your mind.”)
While the pain is not able to be described in a way that gives a feeling of the experience, I’ll try to somehow approximate it.
I know that if I remembered and felt the pain of depression (that is bad enough that a person wants to commit suicide) I would be in the experience of it again, and you cannot remember it without experiencing it, because it is a brain/mind/emotional event.
***One of the unbelievably great gifts that God gave to me: even though I suffered this horrific indescribable pain for 27 years, I’m able to look back at my life without the memory of the depression!***
I can even remember being in a psych hospital without feeling that pain. I needed to go to the hospital about 20 years ago, in order to get lithium which I was not able to get unless I made a hospital stay there, even though I didn’t feel I needed it.
Yes, I have been in a psych hospital as a patient, and yes, it is exactly as you would imagine and have seen in movies. I was voluntarily locked in with people who thought they were Napoleon Bonaparte and were completely and utterly crazy. (As much pain as I was in, I was thinking, man, this is quite an experience and what a story I will have to tell!)
I have been on most of the medications for depression: Lithium, Prozac, Depakote (Seroquel was absolute hell). (I realized this while I was watching the movie SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and the two main characters are listing the medications they have been on.)
My mother did call me when I was in there (Cedar Springs).
I remember the despair and fear and loneliness of looking at the prison bars in the twilight of my room before I went to bed.
I remember the idiot white coat doctor who told me there was no hope for me, my condition, or my life.
Maybe he was trying to cheer me up.
I sat in a circle with these people talking about their experiences. I also sat next to a young man who was in the army and had severe posttraumatic stress disorder. He was shaking constantly, and spoke with a jitter, seemingly reliving horrific indescribable moments of pain and bloody horror and war. (Not everyone in the military has the same experiences, nor are they the same person having that experience.)
Anyway, in the 27 years that I experienced severe depression, it was not always at an eight or nine level of pain out of 10.
Sometimes it was at maybe a three or four, and music could distract me (God bless the music of YES and Jon Anderson!)
The pain would come every few hours, every other day, every morning, every night.
But very often it would completely ruin experiences. You’d be at a movie and it would be like worrying about not having enough money to pay bills, or that your house was on fire, or that your car was being stolen, or some other worry that prevented you from enjoying the film.
Day and night it was always there, lurking in the shadows, low or high intensity.
Anxiety is a very piercing experience. Depression for me mostly was not piercing (except in the final experience), but a dull crushing extremely painful and terrifying darkness.
The pain of depression, if I were to attempt to approximate the feeling, which is definitely impossible:
I was experiencing it, yet my conscious thinking mind was trying to explain this to myself: how could I be feeling this much pain? How is this much pain even possible? I certainly did not believe this much pain was even possible much less that I was experiencing it.
Imagine that you’re watching it a movie. Someone holding a match flame under their fingertip: it doesn’t hurt you at all.
Now, actually go get a match and hold the burning flame under your finger. Notice how completely different imagining it or even seeing it is to actually experiencing it.
So the description of it that I give here is kind of like that— unless you have experienced something analogous you may not even get 1/10th of it.
Imagine that you have the ~emotion~ that you have from being burned plus being in a very confined claustrophobic space like an elevator that’s getting smaller, plus the elevator is falling, plus it feels like you’ve been in that elevator forever, plus imagine that you will be in that elevator forever, plus, you are being crushed to death without dying, plus imagine that you have been given a lifetime prison sentence in that confined suffocating space and at the end of it you will receive the death penalty.
In addition, you have the fear of this pain. You have worry about this pain, and you have depression. Imagine the normal depression people have experienced and they were crying. This is not an experience of crying. (I have had both normal depression and severe suicidal depression so I definitely know the difference.)
Imagine the worst emotional feeling you’ve ever had (unless you’ve had severe suicidal depression). (It is by far the worst experience of pain of any kind I have ever had.) (Absolutely nothing compares.)
Imagine whatever pain that might be, but imagine that it’s not anxiety, which is fear, which is one of the other worst feelings you can have.
Imagine the worst emotional feeling you’ve ever had and then take that times three all the way up to eight or nine, literally eight or nine times as bad. I don’t want to say 100 times as bad, although at times the pain was so bad you couldn’t even put a number on it.
People often wonder why people commit suicide.
They do it because the pain is so bad.
Another misery that is associated with the pain of depression is that it is completely invisible.
It’s not as if you have been burned and are in a burn ward and you are receiving love and sympathy and understanding from other people.
Also, you have people telling you “it’s not that bad,” or to “just snap out of it,” or, “you don’t have any reason to feel bad,” or some other statement that is infuriating.
Depression is a private hell from which you think there is no escape.
There are things that will help a little bit with it, and then of course if you get healed and you were able to persistently forgive with God’s help, and you have that kind of depression, you will be delivered from it .
The mind is its own place, and the suffering that you experience, the intensity and duration of it, is not something that can be seen or understood by other people.
I remember feeling incredible amount of pain and then realizing that there might not be any limit to how bad this could get. I visualized looking down into an abyss.
People have no idea of the amount of endurance and heroism that some other people have in working a job while being in extreme mental and emotional pain.
There is no applause, and no award, and no cash payment, and no recognition for enduring this hell on earth.
Many people, myself included, would fake their emotions out of survival. They would act normal even while they were experiencing this horrific pain.
Once, in deep pain, I was very close to cutting my left pinky off at the first knuckle and showing it to my mother to try to convey that I was in so much pain that in comparison to how much pain I was in, the mere physical pain of cutting my finger off was nothing.
Thank God that reason prevailed and I never did any self harm like this, although I do totally understand people who do it, and also people who kill themselves.
It’s not out of some “insanity.”
It has to do with wanting to get out of pain.
The great writer David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide maybe 12 or 13 years ago, said something very similar to what I’m saying here. He said that suicidal depression is like people in the Twin Towers who jumped after the airplanes hit the towers.
There were painful and terrifying and massive flames coming toward them.
Outside the window there was pleasant air.
They were so terrified of the pain from the flame and the searing heat that was approaching them that they jumped out of the window, not even caring that jumping out of that window to get rid away from the flame would also result in falling and being crushed to death on the pavement below.
It is a miracle of Jesus that I did not commit suicide with the amount of pain that I was in.
I guess I felt the need to write this now because it’s been months and for the most part, years, since I’ve felt even a twinge for one second of the pain or felt the memories of the pain of depression when coming out of a dream in the morning.
To remember or feel the pain of severe depression literally for even one second could demoralize me for up for four or five hours, or maybe the whole day.
As I said above, to remember it fully would be to re-experience it fully, so for my own survival, I’m sure my brain knows that is necessary that I forget it completely in terms of remembering how it felt.
But since the experience of depression destroyed the greater part of three decades of my life, destroyed prime years of my life, and things I could have done, I felt it was important to memorialize it in words as articulately as I possibly could, as I gratefully leave even the memories or twinges of it behind.
There is an extreme heavenly comfort in just realizing that I am no longer in that pain to any degree, and that it will not come back.
Thanks for reading.