The sun glinting off the knives brought me back to my senses. How could I even think of ending my own life? I had everything I ever needed! What more could there be? Why did I feel so worthless?
Aware of the danger of suicidal thoughts, I placed the knives in the drawer and called the clinic. I instructed the children to take care of the dinner that was cooking on the stove. Everything would be OK; I would be back shortly.
I told the doctor about the knives, and much to my surprise, he admitted me to the local mental health unit. I was put into a steel room, one with no furniture or windows, only a mattress on the floor. When I called my husband and told him where I was, he didn't understand. How could this be happening?
I was finally able to live a normal life after my recent surgery. My ill health had become a thing of the past and I was able to do everything I had been putting off. The problem was that I didn't know how to live. Without the boundaries of my illness giving me a system of checks and balances, I had given all that I had and then some. I felt alone, empty and unfulfilled. I cried bitter tears of regret.
My time in the mental health unit taught me that I could not blame anyone else for my unhappiness. I had to discover what was happening inside of me. I found that my feelings of worthlessness came when I fell into certain distorted thinking patterns, overworked myself, and did not attend to my own personal needs.
My husband, Dan, also realized that there were some things he could do to help me.
Say "thank you"
Dan's acknowledgement of my efforts in his behalf, and on behalf of our family, took on new meaning after my mental health crisis. When I did resume my household duties, they were much more appreciated.
It meant a great deal to me when my Dan would lend a helping hand with the cleaning, dishes and household maintenance without being asked to do so. The tasks became a shared burden, and the load was definitely lightened. More importantly, my feelings of worth increased when I felt that he cared for my health and well-being.
Encourage the children to be helpful
In his desire to lift my load, Dan encouraged the children to be more helpful. When they saw him pitch in, they, too, were more willing to help with their household duties. When we worked together as a family, things were done much more quickly.
Dan would walk up behind me while I was cooking or doing dishes and give me a hug. This sharing of affection soothed my troubled spirit and helped me to relax as I was putting forth effort on his and the children's behalf. I felt more loved and appreciated when he exhibited personal attraction to me as his companion.
Assure me of my worth
When I did talk about feeling like I wasn't worth anything, Dan would listen to my feelings, and then assure me that I was worthwhile to him, our family and to the Lord. He helped me to remember that what I was doing as a wife and mother was important, not just now, but eternally.
Allow me to pursue my hobbies and interests
When Dan suggested that I join a club or take some time to do what I wanted to do, I felt a sense of freedom. I was able to enjoy being with friends, and at the same time, develop my talents and abilities without feeling that I had taken something away from the family in the process. Our children could see my happiness increase, and encouraged my involvement as well.
Take time to be together
Dan helped me make arrangements for our children's needs so that he could take me with him on outings. I felt more fulfilled as a spouse, and as a mother of my children, because he took the time to do something with me that we both enjoyed.
The efforts of my husband in my behalf helped to reduce my default thoughts of worthlessness. He never complained when I went to my appointments, because he knew how much I needed the additional support and strength the doctors and counselors provided.
I learned that in relationships, it is important to replace "I" with "We." When my husband and I worked together, both in our household responsibilities and in teaching and caring for our children, we fortified our marriage and strengthened one another.
During this difficult time in our lives, we learned firsthand that both husband and wife are critically important in the family unit — not just in the duties each fulfills, but in the support and strength we give to one another!