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Why are there so many suicides and people cutting themselves?

For those who have never felt this kind of excruciating emotional pain that is far deeper and more painful than anything physical, you have nothing to say and please refrain from trying to rescue those who are struggling like this. There is no room for judgement or belittling those of us who have experienced this.

Please do not misunderstand me. I did not tell you to stop loving or caring about your loved ones who are struggling like this, I said to refrain from trying to rescue them. When you haven't walked this road you have no point of reference on how to help because you do not understand.

For those of you who have been here or who are still in the grips of this kind of pain, I have good news. You are not alone and you are not crazy. In fact, just like a broken bone, you can heal but it takes "shining a bright light" on your real emotional pain and finding the source. It may surprise you.

Let me tell you a story. It is a very personal story and one that I have just recently found the strength to be vulnerable enough to share.

Many years ago I witnessed this and did not handle myself well, little did I know that I would find myself in a similar circumstance.

I was out to lunch with a friend. She was well put together and someone i highly respected. It was a very warm day on the central coast of California and she was wearing a dark long sleeved sweater. I became very worried for her and wondered why she was dressed in such a way. I thought for a minute that she was hiding bruises and it concerned me greatly because her husband was a very dear friend and I couldn't fathom the thought that she was being abused by him. My own mother had experienced this kind of treatment and I was very sensitive to it.

I gently reached over and pushed her sleeve up and found something very different than I expected.

She had scars and fresh cut marks up and down her inner arm. I was honestly taken back and had no idea how to handle this discovery.

What was she doing? How could this beautiful, talented and very affluent woman do this to herself? I left that lunch feeling very confused and sad for her having no idea how to help and how to feel.

Many years later, after my 6 year old little boy passed away I found myself in a very low and weak mental state.

My husband had taken me out of town to a resort to get away from all of the sadness. One night I woke up with the deepest sense of grief. It was debilitating to say the least. All I wanted to do was go outside and scream until all of my breath and all of the pain was gone. I knew that if I did that I would wake the other guests and so I went into the bathroom and filled up the large bathtub with only hot water.

As I submerged my body into that scalding hot water, I felt the most amazing sense of RELIEF. The pain of my physical body literally gave me the relief I needed from the pain of my broken heart and my broken spirit. I sat there and cried and at that moment I had memories rush through my mind. My friend all those years ago, the scars and the scabs from cutting herself came back into my mind and I knew at that very moment why.

I cried for her and for myself. I then recalled friends who had expressed to me the thoughts they were having of taking their own lives and I finally understood to a certain degree what was happening inside of them to make them come to that point in their lives.

I felt sadness for myself, that I had not even had the ability to understand their pain. And now that I did, I was sickened because the depth of my understanding opened my eyes to the judgement that others suffer through.

I stepped out of the bath and emptied the water and filled it back up again so that I could experience that relief again and again. I needed it. The clarity it gave me was breathtaking.

As I sat in that body of water, I began to see things more clearly. I realized that I would not find the answers to my grief anywhere else but with God and deep within myself. I knew that somehow this terrible experience could be a miracle for others if I could find the path and the courage to reach out and teach others how to find the strength within themselves.

This was REAL. In fact it felt like the most real thing that had happened in my life. It was not dramatic or a way to get attention. It was a very real eye opening life changing moment. I wanted to help myself but what I found to give me relief, almost as significantly as the hot water, was the ardent desire to help others find the answers as I had at that moment.

I had been told by many wise people in my life that helping others would in turn build me and give me the strength to face my own weakness. For the first time I understood more profoundly the need to help all of those in the human family.

The way to do that is to open my eyes to my own suffering and realize others felt that same.

Nelson Mandella said in one of his speeches that by letting our own light shine we give others permission to do the same. It made sense to me that letting our light shine didn't mean that the light is always a bed of roses. In fact, it usually means that our light is the brightest coming out of a dark place.

It takes courage to admit these things because in our world of seeking and demanding perfection and beauty and wealth...we pretend that all of the ugly is non existent. But I can say with absolute knowledge that JOY and LOVE and BELONGING come from the weakness and the grief and ugly experiences in our lives. The struggles in our lives is what brings about the beauty. But we must face it, embrace it, learn from it and move forward with hope and forgiveness.

My life as I knew it changed. My focus is different. I no longer look to others to accept me. I look at my own soul and to God as my source of joy and strength. The

confidence and balance that I have achieved is worth all of the struggles.

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