…So, I’m taking a walk in the early morning because it calms me. It provides me with ‘space’ to think with the fringe benefits of unlimited access to fresh air, freedom to move and a front row seat to the sights and sounds of God’s creation, up close and in living color. Suddenly my quiet contemplation is interrupted by, ‘Should you be on suicide watch?’ My immediate reaction was, ‘Who said that?’ and ‘Why?’. I am not trying to kill myself. Can’t you see I’m walking?
Suicide? Strong word. Ugly word? An emphatic, Yes! I had never associated myself with that word because I love life. I would never think of taking my own life and that question does not make any sense, at least not as it relates to me. But was it worth further contemplation and examination? I said, yes. And here we are. What about you? Would you walk with me and let us see where you stand and if we can come to a conclusion that would help us to turn a corner on this?
At the time when I received that alert, I remember spending my waking hours mulling over a situation I found myself in. I had taken a necessary step; made a decision that was inevitable, but how many of you know that whatever decisions you make in life carries with them consequences? As the old adage says, every action creates a reaction. So that was where I found myself and although I was far removed from one set of circumstances, I had now created another set to which solutions needed to be found. And it wasn’t easy – not on my mind, or my body.
By now you are asking, Susan what are you saying? What are you talking about? I’m talking about a condition that we all admit we suffer with at some point in our adult lives. We accept it as being normal, but the effects can be so far-reaching, even unto death, if we don’t take measures to eliminate it. I’m talking about STRESS.
According to a Mayo Clinic article, “Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative situations in your life, such as a new job or the death of a loved one.” And I add, it’s a reaction to anything that forces you out of your comfort zone. Personally, I found that I would get stressed when I felt no longer in control of a situation, or I had a difficult decision to make. I’ve also learned that although stress is normal, prolonged stress is deadly.
I remember right after the twin hurricanes Irma and Maria had devastated many of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, there would be daily reports of otherwise healthy people getting sick or dying. The general response to those reports was, “its stress”. The loss of homes, loved ones and way of life was difficult for some people to mentally navigate. They felt hopeless and the resulting reactions in their bodies caused their hearts to give out.
Yes. Stress kills, and short of getting technical, here is more information from Psychology Today.
“A stressor is anything that disturbs homeostasis. It could be physical, psychological or social. It perturbs the present moment, so it can change direction. There is no doubt that some stress is necessary to compel us to move and perform, it is called “eustress good stress.” But, stress can take a toll on the cardiovascular, immune, memory & reproductive systems and age us faster.”
Carolyn Aldwin, Director of the Center for Healthy Age Research at Oregon State University says that stress elevates your cortisol levels. Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone. Increased and prolonged levels of cortisol interfere with your learning and memory. It generates free radicals that compromises your immune system. It also decreases bone density and increases your blood pressure, all the while making you susceptible to high cholesterol and heart disease. Whoa! Who wants that? I don’t. Do you?
So, we can go on discussing stress and its causes to death, no pun intended, but the fact remains that negative stress, at the least, is unhealthy. Here is a quote from my book, A Helper Suitable.
“As I got on the plane that would take me away from life as I knew it, I was incredibly tense. As I relaxed back into my seat, releasing a sigh of relief that I was finally there, I realized that my shoulders were taut and raised. There was also a pain in the back of my neck and one that ran down the right side of my head.”
Does that sound familiar? What about your catalog of aches and pains? Do you identify with what I was feeling that day as something that you have experienced or are experiencing right now? Why are you feeling that way? What or who are you trying to control that you have no rights trying to control? Is there something in your life that you know you cannot handle yet you grapple with it every day? What about the level of toxicity in your life coming from relationships or environments? Is there a better way to handle things so that the quality of your life improves?
Psssst! Are you still with me? Let’s talk. I want to bring this home to where I live. I have served God all of my life, and just like you I have found myself in stressful situations and my first reaction was to think about them incessantly. Partly because I am a fixer and partly because I am private. I feel that there must be something that I can think of doing that would fix the problem, and I will do so quietly, by myself, sometimes only thinking of God as my last resort.
But how many of you know that He, God, is bigger than us, more powerful and more knowledgeable and has the answers to any and every question that we may have? Do you know Him, or do you just act like you know Him? Usually children who know the ability of their father, especially if he is one of means, don’t go about their day contemplating life. They live life. They make decisions and expect their daddy to back them. And when they have a problem that seems a little difficult, the first person they think of running to is their ever powerful, all knowing, well-able Daddy. Hmmm.
There are a couple of references from the Bible that helps me to keep focused as my mind tends to stray to what is my natural reaction to life’s issues. They cause me to remember who I am and who I belong to. Although this particular verse was referring to us not doing with our bodies as we like because we are the temple of the Holy Ghost, I love the last clause of verse 19 and the first clause of verse 20 that says, “…and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20KJV).
The other references are Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want”; Isaiah 54:5, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called”; and Psalm 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”
What I am trying to say with all of this is that you got someone who owns you. He is not like a lot of fathers today who do not want to support their children or worst-case scenario, completely disowns them. He ‘owns’ you. He cares for you and most importantly he takes full responsible for your well-being, whatever the relationship-type or means that you are lacking. So, tell me again, why do you care so much? He did tell you to cast all of them on Him. Furthermore, He drew this picture for you to give you a better perspective of His utmost care for you.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30)
Sometimes we become so perturbed with the life that we are trying to live that we run the risk of taking or forfeiting that same life. Well today I present you with an alternative. This is how I handle myself now-a-days*. You have a choice as you always do. It is up to you whether you want to live abundantly or be a dead man walking. This is my Modus Operandi for dealing with the issues I face daily.
- Examine the problem to see whether you can solve it or not
- If it’s possible for you to do so, then go about the business of solving it, seeking God’s wisdom about the best solution
- If it’s not possible for you to solve it, take it before God in prayer and leave it in His hands
- Ask Him and search the scriptures for references that relate to your need
- Personalize and write them on paper and post where visible in your house or wherever you will see them often
- Whenever you get discouraged, go to those scriptures and speaking out loud, remind God and yourself that you don’t have the wherewithal to solve the problem and that you need His help
- Daily “Circle” them in prayer as often as possible, giving thanks to God for a resolution
- Listen to what God is saying and act accordingly (a conversation goes both ways)
- Wait! Give thanks. Live. Repeat.
In the natural here are some things you can do to alleviate or manage the effects of stress.
- Exercise regularly or do something physical for a minimum of 10 mins at a time, daily
- Learn to relax. Intentionally take deep breaths (a really good place to do that is in nature, on a beach or a trail – either sitting or slowly walking)
- Laugh (when I was at my lowest, unbeknownst to her, a sister-friend started sending me Minion quotes – laughing pulled me right out of that sad place I was in (thanks Lindy)- “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” Proverbs 17:22KJV)
- Socialize with people who get you, love you and would allow you to be you. People who encourage and spport you but who will also tell you the truth in love.
- Engage in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, like reading, sewing, watching Hallmark movies, doing craft or even helping others.
On the real, most of the times when a person commits suicide, it’s because they have lost hope in life that things would change for the better. In this case I am pointing to your body involuntarily giving out under the stress and strain of your inability to help yourself. Today this is what I am telling you because it has worked and is working for me. “…hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42:11 KJV)
So, to answer the question, “Should you be on suicide watch?”. Only you can answer that, but I decree and declare to you today that you shall not die but live to declare the works of the Lord. Break the silence of worry and being overly concerned about what you can’t fix. Be proactive. Speak Life and Live!!!
*Colloquial words or terms
 Hall-Flavin, Daniel K, M.D. “Healthy Lifestyle – Stress Management”. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress/faq-20058233 . November 29, 2017
 Azab, Marwa, PhD. “Can Stress Kill You? What Doesn’t Kill You, Kills You Slowly”. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201901/can-stress-kill-you-what-doesnt-kill-you-kills-you-slowly. January 26, 2019