The God Light
September 12, 2021
The night of June 15, 2021, I went to the ER with suicidal ideation. There was a lot that led up to that moment. I’ll have to layout the whole story another time. There were many triggers, I just finally went over. I got scared. So I got help.
I arrived at the ER drunk. I asked later, and they said my blood alcohol was .14. I don’t remember everything that happened, but I remember more than I would normally having had that much to drink. I was running on high adrenaline, because I wanted to kill myself and I had a plan, but I didn’t want to die.
At the ER entrance, they ran me through the COVID check. I don’t recall walking up to the front desk, I believe they took me immediately into triage.
“What are you here for today,” the nurse asked.
“I want to kill myself,” I whispered.
“What’s going on that makes you feel this way?” she asked.
I just stared at her, unable to talk, shaking my head from side to side slowly, crying the tears with no sound. She continued to ask me questions I was unable to answer.
When it was clear they were going to admit me, I began pleading with her not to make me wear paper clothes. I told her last time I was there they had made me wear paper clothes. They were much too small, and it was humiliating. I told her I had considered driving to the hospital in Olympia to make sure I wouldn’t have to wear paper clothes. I grabbed her arm and pleaded with her not to make me wear paper clothes. She pulled her arm back.
“Please don’t grab me. That makes me very uncomfortable,” she said.
I began to apologize profusely while I continued begging her not to make me wear paper clothes. I told her I would leave if they made me wear paper clothes. I don’t know it if was that nurse, or if another nurse came into triage, but she told me I wouldn’t have to wear paper clothes. I made her promise, several times.
“And you don’t have to put me in the psych room,” I said. “I’m here. I got scared, and now I’m here, and you don’t have to worry I’m going to try to kill myself. I’m here. I came here to get help. I’m not going to kill myself,” I said.
“We won’t put you in that room,” the nurse assured me. “We’ll put you in a regular room. We believe you. You came for help, and we believe you don’t want to harm yourself.”
They took me to a room and had me change into a gown. They gave me two gowns, one open in the back and one over the top, open in the front. I thanked them over and over for letting me wear a regular gown.
I was sitting on the side of the bed, and there were at least two nurses there. A short time later, the doctor came in and dropped down so her eyes were level with mine.
“What can I do? What can I do to make you feel better?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel better. I’ve tried everything. I’ve done TMS twice. I’ve been on every drug there is. I’m in therapy. I see a psychiatrist. I don’t want to do ECT. I get help when I want to kill myself. I do all the right things. I don’t know how to fix this. I have no idea what to do next. No idea. I want to try Ketamine, but I can’t afford it,” I said, consumed with desperation.
“You want Ketamine? I’ll give you Ketamine,” she said.
“Really? You’re kidding. You’ll give me Ketamine? Can you do that? You’ll give me Ketamine?”
“Yes,” she said. “I can do that. I’ll give you Ketamine.”
She stepped out into the hall and asked the nurse to get the pharmacist. I heard them discuss the protocol - they had to weigh me to get the dosage right, and the infusion would last about 40 minutes. They weighed me. They drew blood. Then they inserted the cannula into the back of my hand for the IV infusion.
The pharmacist came back and started the infusion. The nurse asked if I wanted the lights off, and I said no. I sleep with the lights on. I don’t like the dark. I wanted to see the light and experience and remember everything I could.
Soon, the light in the ceiling became very very bright. It was God. He was absolutely there with me, telling me without words he loved me. The love I felt was bigger and stronger and brighter than anything I had ever experienced.
I talked to him. I realized I was talking to him out loud at normal volume, and I realized the nurses outside could hear everything I said. They might think I was in distress, or they might think I was crazy.
“I don’t care. This is my experience. This is my God. I’m going to talk to him exactly how I want,” I thought. And so, I talked to God and said all the things I exactly wanted to say.
I asked him to forgive me for all the times I had not trusted him, for all the times I had not trusted the truth of him that I knew to my core. I asked him to make me over into the woman he intended me to be, to continue to plant truth inside of me, and to continue to help me stay on path towards my destiny. I thanked him over and over and I told him over and over that I loved him.
Then I started singing the chorus from the hymn from that time as a young teen when my parent’s found religion and took us to the Baptist church where the lies I’d been told my whole life became cemented firmly in my self-image. I was nothing, bad, full of original sin, hopeless, and unworthy of salvation. I remember that evil Baptist preacher saying our good works were as “filthy menstrual rags” in the eyes of God. That memory burned in me.
And yet, out of that ugly horrible time, where I was pumped full of vile information that laid the groundwork for my intense self-hate, out of that horrible black time in my young life, came the chorus from this hymn. I sang it over and over, tears running down my cheeks, while I looked at the God Light.
I surrender all I surrender all All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all I surrender all I surrender all All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all All to Thee my blessed Savior I surrender all
Way too soon, the brightness began to recede, and I cried out, “No! No! No! Don’t make me go away from you.” And I sobbed. The pain of separating from God was unbearable.
Then the doctor was next to my bed. “What are you crying out for? The nurses said you were yelling.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I didn’t know I was crying out. Can I talk to the chaplain? I need to talk to the chaplain. I need to talk to the chaplain!”
“We’ll page him to come talk to you.” That calmed me. I laid quietly and continued to talk to God while I waited.
After some time, the chaplain came. He apologized and explained there was some confusion about who was on call. Apparently, I had waited a long time. I didn’t understand his concern. I was fine. I had been talking to God. I was fine.
We talked for over two hours. I told him all about my mother, my brother, and all the people throughout my life that judged me and condemned me. I told him I knew God did not condemn me, that he saw me as perfect. Blameless. That my sin was cast as far as the East is from the West. But I explained although I knew that I was desperate to really know it as pure truth. I hadn’t been able to own it. I continued to be plagued with self-doubt and self-hate.
I was worried he was a traditional Christian, the Baptist kind of Christian, and that my liberal beliefs might repel him and cause him to judge me. That didn’t happen. I felt total acceptance and validation. Towards the end of our conversation, it was clear we were in alignment on many levels.
He offered to pray for me and asked me what I’d like him to pray. “Pray that God will help me pull my head out of my ass,” I said, smiling, but very serious.
“OK,” he said, and began to pray for me. He asked God to show me the truth of his unconditional love. “And Lord, please help Coco pull her head out of her ass.” I smiled, but I did not laugh. I was serious, he was serious. These truths are serious truths I need to know and own to get me to a place of peace of mind and heart.
After he left, the nurse casually called from the hall, “Coco, do you still want us to get you a psych bed?”
“No. I’m OK. I’m fine now,” I replied.
“OK, we’ll get going on your discharge.”
At 4:30 am, I called the local taxi, who pulled up just a few minutes later. I can’t remember what I said to him, but he knows me now. Not from just the hospital, but from when I drink too much and I have him drive me back to mom’s. Then in the morning, before my mother wakes, he picks me up and takes me back to get my car. I don’t always do the right thing when I drink. But I do often. In truth, I do the right thing about most things more often. More often now than I used to. I like that about me.
When I got to the house, I went into my mother’s room and touched her foot to let her know I was back.
“Oh good, you’re home,” she said without much concern. It’s odd my family is conditioned to expect this from me. I’ve been to the ER many times. Many times. I smiled. I realize that my family knows I struggle, but they also know I get help and come back to continue my fight. That’s something.
I Persevere. And life goes on.