Heidy Louisa’s Story: From Suicidal Desperation to Deeper Intimacy with God
Many people who feel like their lives are meaningless suffer from depression. Myriad factors may play a role in depression, including genetics; brain biology and chemistry; and life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, an early childhood experience, or any stressful situation.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, which is part of the federal National Institutes of Health, depression can happen at any age but often begins in the teens or early twenties or thirties. Most chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children. In fact, high levels of anxiety as a child could mean a higher risk of depression as an adult.
Unfortunately, between 1999 and 2014, the incidence of suicide increased by 24 percent, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population in the United States. This increase followed a nearly consistent decline in suicide rates in this country from 1986 through 1999. Suicide is one of the ten leading causes of death overall and for Americans from age ten to age sixty-four.
More than 42,000 Americans took their own lives in 2014, and almost half a million Americans received medical care for self-inflicted injuries. People rarely communicate openly about suicide, which hinders effective prevention. This is partly because too often, victims are blamed, and their families and friends are left stigmatized.
Heidy Louisa Reichard, who was born with spina bifida, found the struggles associated with daily life too much to bear. In 2014, at age twenty-four, she decided to end her own life. God intervened, and she is now ministering to others who feel the unbearable anguish she felt—she shares her knowledge of God’s grace with them.
Here is her story.
I never imagined my life could get to such a low point. I thought by age twenty-four I was supposed to have everything together. Instead, it seemed the older I got, the more I lost control, and everything started falling apart. I was nearing the end of my rope, desperate for a way out of this nightmare. Then one night, trapped in my own head, my breaking point finally came.
I was born in December 1989 with spina bifida, a birth defect that left me unable to walk, among other things. I had to have surgery about once every year until I was fifteen years old. When I was in the sixth grade, I started experiencing incontinence—losing control of my bladder—and this condition worsened as I grew into adulthood. I learned different ways to cope with it, until my early twenties.
Somewhere along the line, I also developed anxiety and depression. In all honesty, they have been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. I have tried many different medications to treat them, but instead of helping, they only made things worse for me. Anxiety, depression, and incontinence proved to be a dangerous combination.
God Intervened in My Suicide Plan
My breaking point came on March 16, 2014. I anxiously got out of my parents’ car after my sister’s birthday party. And then I saw it…a wet spot where I had been sitting. I had leaked—again. I had long lost count of how many times this had happened to me, and I had begun to feel like I was nothing but a mess and a failure. I felt like everyone I loved would be better off without me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t plan on taking it anymore.
I quickly entered the house, rolling my wheelchair past my father and into my bedroom. I was done. This was it. I was going to finally end my miserable life. My thoughts went from despair to determination. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my very best friend. I knew he and others would try to talk me out of it, but that wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I looked around my bedroom for something that would do the trick. Next thing I knew, a very distinct voice came into my head. I heard the voice say, “Go to bed—now!” It was only 6:00 p.m., but I had already had more than enough of that day, so I obeyed.
The next morning, I awoke at 6:00 a.m. to the sound of my alarm and the shock of what I had almost done the night before. I shuddered to think that I was capable of even trying to take my own life. Terror struck, and I knew I had to tell someone. My best friend picked me up that evening, and I told him everything that had happened. I then started telling more and more people in my daily life. Eventually I told my family. The support I received was startling. If I had just reached out sooner, I might never have experienced the trauma of almost committing suicide. I realized I was loved, not only by God, but by the people He has placed into my life. I was loved in ways I never knew until I almost gave up on my own life and future. What was most startling, though, was the voice that had commanded me so clearly on that fateful night. As I recalled my experience, I knew beyond any doubt that the voice I had heard belonged to the love of my life, Jesus Christ.
In the months and years to come, I began to discover the reason why the Lord allowed me to hit rock bottom. Through my trials, I have come to discover that He is real, and He is good, and He is enough. He was the only One who knew what I was up to that night in my room, and He cared enough to come to my rescue. God has brought me into deeper intimacy with Him through every trial that has come since that night. I am not the person I used to be. I am stronger in my faith than ever before.
I came to know Jesus in 2006, at the age of sixteen, when one day in study hall, a lifelong friend shared the Gospel with me and told me that Jesus died for my sins. Don’t think I’m crazy, but after I received Him, I started hearing Jesus in my head. Many times when I was in my apartment, I would go outside for a while. My head would be swimming with questions, and I would hear Him answer. I know I heard that same voice on the night I was going to end my life.
Reaching Out to Others
The Lord has called me to minister to others facing the same darkness. I am called to show Christ’s love and compassion to those who feel that they have no purpose in this world, and I couldn’t be more excited about that calling.
My Struggle Is Not Finished
I still struggle with suicidal thoughts. It’s a nagging thought in the back of my head. There are times when I cross the street in my wheelchair and almost get hit by a car and don’t even care. If something happens to me, I know where I’m going. But then I think, “If I end my life now, I won’t get to see God’s marvelous plan for myself and for the ones I love.” I’m stronger for still having the depression because I have to say to God continuously, “God, I’m not OK right now.” And He reminds me of the truth. I am not fully OK right now, but I know I will be OK someday. I deal with physical, financial, and other issues in my life as a result of my struggle with depression. If it weren’t for God, I know I’d be dead several times over by now.
So just because I am now a child of God does not mean my struggle is over; it just means I turn to Him for strength and comfort. Christian music always makes me feel better, too.
I tell this story because I want anyone who is considering suicide to know that they are not alone. I want to help them to reach out, because if they don’t, they may never realize how loved they are and how much this world needs them. I want them to know that God is real. He loves us all, and He shed His own blood for us. He gave His life so that we could live. Since March 16th, 2014, He has saved my life more times than I could possibly count. He is my reason for living every single day. That is why I share Him with a dying world.
The following are Bible verses that have sustained Heidy Louisa during her darkest hours:
Fred’s Take on Heidy Louisa’s Story
Heidy Louisa makes an important point in her story: just because we are Christians does not mean all our problems will disappear forever. Her story demonstrates that we must continuously call on Him for guidance, strength, and comfort. Whether we struggle with addiction, abuse, pain, unforgiveness, or other issues, the recovery is seldom linear, and recovery can take years, decades, or even a lifetime. God is there with us during those struggles.
She reminds us how important it is to recognize the importance of reaching out for help when suicidal thoughts begin to creep in. As Christians, we need to support one another. Heidy Louisa demonstrates great bravery in talking about her suicidal thoughts. Many people are uneasy about reaching out when they have such thoughts. This reminds us that we all need to be ready to lend support to anyone in our midst who shows signs of depression. We should never assume that they will “shake it off” or “deal with it in time.” If we do, we may miss a life-saving opportunity.
Time for Personal Reflection
1. Have you ever suffered from depression? If so, did you reach out to a doctor, counselor, pastor, or trusted friend to seek help? Did you ask God for help? If not, what kept you silent? Was it shame, fear, or some other emotion? God wants us to seek His help during those times of utter distress when we need His strength and loving embrace.
2. Do you know anyone who has attempted suicide or thought about doing so? Have you? If you or anyone you know ever has suicidal thoughts, please contact an organization that is dedicated to helping people with such thoughts; here are three:
- Suicide Prevention Services of America, 800-273-8255
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- Crisis Text Line—text the word “CONNECT” to 741741 to receive free, 24/7 confidential, nationwide support on your phone.