Update on 1/19/19: My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories. I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream. My memoir does reflect on my suicide attempt and how the love of the afterlife later showed me how to bring more love and healing into my life. I want to share that healing with others.
A Spiritual Perspective on Depression and Suicidal Idealization
With the holidays coming up soon, I thought it might be important to talk about depression and suicide and offer my perspective. I know that many people who have survived abuse, neglect, or trauma in their families are often ostracized by these family members. Holidays become all the more of a painful reminder of how alone they might feel in the world. Those who are awakening and realizing spiritual truths that may transcend the perspectives of their family members might also feel some disconnection.
Whatever your situation might be during the holidays, I hope that you might treat yourself with great love and compassion during this time of year and through out the rest of the year.
I have a unique perspective on suicide because I viewed my suicide attempt while in the afterlife. At the end of college, I had a profound near-death experience after a car wreck and was clinically dead for over two minutes during emergency spinal surgery.
During my life review, I saw my suicide attempt (which occurred a few months prior to my near-death experience) through the loving gaze of God. God had enormous love and compassion for me during this sad time in my life. I felt completely supported by this loving force of God, and I could hear some of God’s thoughts about that time in my life.
When God viewed my suicide attempt, I felt that God wanted me to love myself more and know that I am deeply loved and supported by the universe, even when it does not seem that way. God wanted me to place a high priority on my health and healing. There were a myriad of choices available to me besides making an attempt on my life. I saw all these choices spin out around me as various light-filled paths. I could have contacted friends, acquaintances, certain family members, called a hotline, looked for free or affordable resources through my university, searched for help at churches, or joined a recovery group. There were many options I had besides the one that I picked in that moment.
At twenty-one, I did not know how to walk through the painful parts of my life, but if I reached out to others, I might have made a choice other than swallowing a ridiculous amount of painkillers and washing these painkillers down with a decanter of whiskey. Amazingly, I woke up 36 hours later and realized that I had vomited, which probably saved my life.
At twenty-one, I didn’t realize that I could’ve tried new things I had never tried before. Help might not have come from the people I wanted it to come from, but help and healing was available to me, and it is available to you too. If you are suffering from a deep depression, keep walking through the pain and know that you are not alone on this journey, no matter how alone you might feel at the moment. Find connection somewhere.
Through my life review, I saw that God also wanted me to be kind to others and ask them more questions about their lives. An obsessive focus on myself led to greater depression and sadness. Getting out of myself and listening to others would have brought more joy to their lives and to mine.
Suicidal plans and thoughts should be taken seriously. If you are very close to taking your life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are not in the U.S., please look up a local or national hotline and talk with someone immediately. Utilize all resources available to you, and reach out to someone you know who is a safe, caring person in your life. If you are not suffering from depression but know someone who is, encourage this person to take healing, self-care, and therapy seriously.
If you suffer from depression but have energy to focus on your health and want to apply the deeply loving force of God to your own situation, I can offer you some ideas. Every journey is an individual one, so please keep searching for what works for you. These are only suggestions.
- Self-Love: Read everything you can get your hands on about self-love. Louise Hay is a great resource with many mantras that might begin to change some of your negative thought patterns. Ingest a daily diet of uplifting material—posts, podcasts, videos, and books. I can personally recommend the book How to Love Yourself (And Sometimes Other People) by Lodro Rinzler and Meggan Watterson, especially if you struggle with romantic relationship difficulties. Here is a blog post I have written about self-love. Self-love is essential and necessary. Too often we are much hard on ourselves when we could offer ourselves great compassion instead.
- Start a Healing Journey: Every healing journey is individual, but consider researching diets and supplements that can help your mood. Reference books like Prescriptions for Natural Healing might be a place to begin. Focus on simple healthy pleasures each day. Exercise and get vitamin D. Try new things. Depending on your financial situation, invest in a therapist and try out various healing modalities. Everything from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) which might help with PTSD to energetic healing modalities might offer you relief. Addressing subconscious blocks through modalities like Psych K can be beneficial. Even if you do not have the funds for some of these modalities, you might be able to trade with certain practitioners if you have skills in a certain area. You can learn specific yoga moves or Tai Chi exercises online that can improve your mood. You might also be able to learn more about healing modalities and practices, and find comfort in the talks and free information from healers. Start with therapy and work outward in the directions that you are led.
- Commit to a Spiritual Practice: Commit to a support group, recovery group, spiritual practice, church, or gathering that makes you feel connected to love. Do not go somewhere or stay somewhere where you feel judged and bogged down by the negativity of others. During my near-death experience, I clearly saw that love is all that matters. Go somewhere where you feel love, optimism, joy, and release from your struggles. I highly recommend a meditation practice, but like a healing journey, a spiritual journey is an individual one. I can only emphasize the importance of commitment and practice. A spiritual practice is beneficial when you commit to it over the long haul and through the many ups and downs of life.
- Volunteer: There is usually someone who is less fortunate than you. Even if you are in a dire position in life, you can volunteer at an organization that already helps you. While volunteering, you might meet others and listen to them with love and with hope. The point of volunteering is to do something to make the lives of others easier or better in some way. As you give what you can give, your troubles lessen and you feel connected to a greater whole. Like exercise or any other activity that we know is good for us but we resist, volunteering can have a profound effect on our consciousness. When we feel useful or helpful, our self-esteem and self-concept changes for the better. Mostly, we simply find joy in being connected to others versus suffering in isolation. We are communal and need one another. Find safe people and form bonds. If you are too anxiety ridden to volunteer somewhere, then find a way to connect with others and do not suffer alone.
- Feel the Love of God: Take time in your day to imagine the force of God that near-death experiencers talk about with longing and love. Try to imagine the most loving force on earth. What would that feel like to you? Write down what you would like God to be like for you and what you would like to feel from God right now. Take those positive feelings and multiply them by 70 million. Believe in this love as a reality and not a concept. Close your eyes and imagine what this love would feel like. Bring this love into every single one of your cells. Fill your body with a glowing light that is the purest form of love imaginable. This is your birthright and your true essence. Know it. Share it. Believe it.
- Gratitude can rewire your brain: Keep a gratitude journey and write down what you are grateful for each day. Watch this Ted Talk and try some of the other suggestions at the end for creating more happiness in your life. Hopefully, this speaker makes you chuckle a bit. Laughter is one of my favorite medicines.