Shantelle's Story: Mental Illness & Suicide
Written/Contributed by: Shantelle Avery
It makes me sick to my stomach sharing this, so I ask you to please be kind, gentle, compassionate, and understanding as you read it. I'm only sharing, because I know the message is beyond important, and I hope it can reach someone who needs it.
April 27, 2019 was the scariest day of my life. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first or last time something like this happened, but it was probably the worst. My husband, Kyle, was on a campout with the boys in our church, and I was all alone with my kids. This shouldn't have been a big deal, except that I was in the darkest depths of depression imaginable for weeks before that, so taking care of the basic responsibilities by myself for a whole extra day was so overwhelming. Our bishop [religious leader] asked me if I would be okay before inviting my husband to go along. I wanted to give Kyle this opportunity and I wanted to believe that I could be okay, so I told the bishop it was fine.
I only got a couple of hours of broken sleep the night Kyle was gone between my lonely, scared, overwhelmed sobs. The next morning, I thought he would be home around noon, so I turned on show after show for my kids, trying to survive until he would get back. Noon came and went. My house was a disaster, but I couldn't clean it. I couldn't do anything. I was so overwhelmed and overcome with depression.
And then something happened. Something in my brain snapped, and I thought of a very specific plan of how to die. It seemed perfect. I knew it would work, and then I would be free from this unbearable weight that I was currently carrying on my own. I was not capable of remembering in that moment how devastated my husband and kids would be without me or the possibility of feeling better someday, so I moved forward.
I knew my kids needed to be taken care of, so I thought of someone I could leave them with. I started getting them ready to drop off at this person's house when the thought came into my mind, "Give someone a chance to save you."
...the thought came into my mind, "Give someone a chance to save you."
I stopped getting my kids ready to leave, went to my room, and laid in my bed for the next hour trying to formulate the words to tell someone how much I was struggling. My whole body was shaking, and I was so scared to tell anyone what was happening inside my mind. I didn't want to tell my husband, because I desperately wanted him to still be able to enjoy doing something I knew he loved without worrying about me. So I finally worked up the courage to send a group text to three trusted friends and then curled up in a tight ball, sobbing in such bitter pain. Almost immediately, one of these friends called me and said she was on her way to pick up me and my kids and would be there soon. I knelt down and asked God to give me just enough strength to survive until I wasn't alone anymore. The tears flowed, and I couldn't imagine enduring even one more moment. Pretty soon, my friend arrived and wrapped my shaking body and broken heart in love. I stayed with her for some time before returning home to my husband.
The weeks following this dark day were so hard. I felt broken, like my heart could never heal, and I would never be the same again. I felt like a hollow shell of who I once was, like I was going through the motions of life with no purpose or feeling anymore. This feeling lingered for a long time, and sometimes I wondered if my light had gone out forever.
Fast forward one year to today. Looking back on this day still brings tears to my eyes and pain to my heart, but I don't feel broken anymore. I'm not magically healed or completely fixed, but I'm not in that dark place fighting for life every single day. If I could have known one year ago how good life would be today, I would have been amazed and full of hope, trusting in better days to come. But I couldn't see that one year ago, and in the instability of my mind at that time, I almost acted on an indescribable pain with a permanent solution. I never would have made it to this wonderful time in my life when I feel happiness, how much my family loves and needs me, and the desire to live again.
If you are in the place I was in one year ago, please hold on. Please. There really are better days ahead. I couldn't feel that for myself for several years. I relied completely on other people repeating that truth to me. But now I can feel it again for myself, and I want to share it with anyone who needs it. Choose to stay. Choose to reach out to someone for help. You are loved and worth saving. You'll never know how good life can be a year from today unless you stay to find out. It's worth it. I promise.