Steve Austin shares his story of recovery from a suicide attempt on the Not Your Mama's Christian Podcast.Read More
“Did you like [13 Reasons Why]?” she asked. “I don’t think this is a show you can like,” I said. “But it’s powerful. Whoa.”
I’m not sure anyone can truly like a series that includes bullying, rape, and suicide. But they can certainly be moved by it. Touched. Impacted. Changed. Awakened.
If the goal of 13 Reasons Why is to start a conversation, they succeeded. There are questions from this series that beg to be asked. Conversations that demand attention. The show pokes holes in the unfortunately common public school administration, shows how harmful an ineffective high school counselor can be, sheds light on the toxicity of the jock environment that thrives in many high schools, and urges parents to not shy away from uncomfortable conversations with their kids.
The Most Important Question
Clay Jensen’s character asked a common question after suicide, “Did I kill Hannah Baker?” We all want to know if we contributed to their pain. Everyone wonders if there’s something they did that contributed to the end of a person’s life, or something they should have done to save it. But I think there’s a question that’s even more important.
The show demands that we, every single one of us, become proactive in asking, “Who am I killing?”
Who am I killing? With my words? With my actions? With my inaction? All of our lives are sermons. We are all preachers. Whether we have a faith or not, we’re all selling something. Even the Bible encourages us to be “living epistles.”
What message are we sending to the world? Is our sermon that physical beauty is the ultimate goal? Are we preaching a message that women only exist to meet the desires of men? Do we shout to the world that athleticism creates heroes and might makes right? What’s our sermon to our neighbors, our children, our students, ourselves?
A Message to Parents
Don’t assume, just because your child (or loved one) seems to have it all together, that they aren’t secretly dying inside. In my own situation, I was faking it. Faking life, faking confidence, faking that everything was okay. No one - not my best friend, not my mother, my pastor, or any of my teachers - knew the depths of my despair.
No one knew when I wrote suicide notes for the first time at the age of 19. I sat on my bed in my parents’ basement and had it all planned out. I would end my life the same way my Aunt did, with a garden hose, hooked to the exhaust. No one suspected the church youth leader and class president longed to die because he was so ashamed of his own childhood sexual abuse. No one felt the dampness of my tear-soaked pillow as I begged God, night after night, to take my pain away.
Final Warning & Challenge
13 Reasons Why is needed. It is a phenomenal opening dialogue to a discussion many are desperate to have. But the show, by itself, could also be incredibly harmful. I would not allow any child to watch this alone. I wouldn’t want any adolescent to view this series without adult supervision. And in fact, I would highly encourage parents to sit and watch this with their children.
But don’t leave it there. Have the conversations. Ask the questions. Sit with the tension. Let the sorrow and anger and turmoil wash over you. Be drawn in by the voices of depression and angst, shame and despair. Let yourself be present with those you care about. And don’t you dare walk away from the experience without asking your loved ones if there is anything they need to talk about.
- Crisis Text Line - If you are immediately concerned about yourself or a friend, reach out for help. TEXT: 741741 http://www.crisistextline.org/
- JED - To learn about emotional health and how to support a friend, visit: https://www.jedfoundation.org/help For more guidance on talking to friends and family about the series click here
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, En Espanol: 1-888-628-9454, Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889 - Suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Episode 006, featuring “Ask the Expert” with Sarah Fader, is all about recovery from a suicide attempt and suicide prevention. This episode is for the person who loves someone who longs to die. This is for the caregiver who feels stuck. Someone you care about is suffering with a mental illness so much that they are either threatening suicide, or you worry they may want to die. This episode is all about the kind souls who want to help, but feel like they’re on the outside, looking in. *Trigger warning: suicide, suicide attempt, suicide prevention, suicidal ideation
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In today’s episode (click here to listen on iTunes), we discuss suicide prevention and so much more:
- How to Subscribe to the Pastor to Psych Ward podcast!
- Question: Why would someone even want to kill themselves?
- Suicide statistics from AFSP.org
- Question: What do you do if someone you love who is suicidal or is in the dregs of depression?
- The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255
- You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
- Question: What do you do when someone you love attempts suicide?
- Question: How do I know if a teenager is really depressed and suicidal or is seeking attention and manipulating others (like her parents) by threatening suicide?
- The importance of caregiver self-care
- Suicide Warning Signs & Risk Factors from AFSP.org
- Question: What do you do when you are so exhausted with someone who continually threatens suicide?
- What not to say to a suicidal person.
- What to do when your child attempts suicide
- Ask the Expert segment with Sarah Fader of Stigma Fighters
- Music this episode is “Not Crazy” by Act of Congress. Visit ActOfCongressMusic.com for scheduling and download their music on iTunes.
I was a pastor when I nearly died by suicide. My story, From Pastor to a Psych Ward, is an Amazon best-selling book, and now you can listen to all 13-episodes of my story as a serial podcast on iTunes.
When I left home that Sunday night, I knew my wife and little boy would never see alive again.
I'm Steve Austin. I survived childhood sexual abuse, but the effects rippled through my life for the next twenty-five years. After nearly ten years as a youth pastor and worship leader, I was convinced that my only "out" was a suicide attempt.
Now that I have started telling my story of how to recover from a suicide attempt, people often ask me things like:
- What's the trick?
- What's the answer?
- What made me want to start living again?
My friend, JJ Landis, says, there is no "magic Jesus pill". And she's right. There's no single step that suddenly makes life better or "normal". I walked through a living hell and now I have a story to tell. Jesus is a major part of it, but there was also strong medication, one heck of a support system, and a lot of hard work. Recovery is a long and difficult process, but I am living proof that it is possible.
This story is for anyone who lived through a suicide attempt and is left wondering "what's next". It's also for anyone suffering from anxiety or depression, bipolar, OCD, PPD, or PTSD.
If you've ever secretly longed to die, this book is for you. I'm not a doctor or a counselor. I'm just a real guy with a powerful story to tell. I'd be honored to share my experience with you.
Here's what Amazon readers have said about From Pastor to a Psych Ward:
- Through practical application and intentional steps toward recovery, this book packs a punch. And it's not just for someone who has failed a suicide attempt: it's perfect for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, too. Don't miss this book!
- This book gave voice to the things in my head. This book was exactly what I needed to hear. I cannot recommend this book enough. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression in the church, reading these words was like a breath of fresh air.
- Steve is such a talented writer with a true gift of being able to tell about horrific life experiences with truth, dignity, and just the right sprinkling of humor to touch the hearts and souls of the readers.
- The book goes beyond the trauma story to deal with personal faith in an unexpected way. Not preachy. Very accessible to readers of any--or no--faith. Steve overcomes oppressive and shameful aspects of his religion, and manages to find a faith that incorporates recovery and authenticity.
- Austin is brutally honest about what it's like to be suicidal. This book is a must-read for anyone who has been suicidal or depressed. It's a great read for family members who are trying to support a loved one with mental illness.
As my gift to you for Mental Health Awareness Month, you can now listen to all 13-episodes of From Pastor to a Psych Ward on iTunes today! Just click here.
The struggle with anyone who chooses a more public life is that the fishbowl concept consistently comes into play. People stand around to watch you swim. The thing is, most folks don’t know enough about fish to know if they are swimming or drowning until the fish is floating at the top of the bowl. Yet the fishbowl struggle is often a blessing.Read More
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The other day at work, I couldn’t take any more. I grabbed my water bottle and keys and followed the road near my office complex until it led me to the highway. For 45 minutes, I drove. Where I went didn’t matter. The trees blurred past my car windows just like the thoughts clouding my mind. At this speed, it was impossible to see any one tree or thought, but I could feel them, taunting me as I raced by. I was starving but I drove past one restaurant after another. Nothing sounded good, anyway.
Have you ever had a “crazy day”? One of those days where a thousand tiny things compound and before you know it, you need either a stiff drink or a straight jacket? I think we’ve all been there. Hard days aren’t anything new to me.
At the next intersection, I was hurting so bad. I stopped at the red light and leaned my head against the steering wheel, just for a moment. I wanted to cry. To shout a giant “fuck you” to everyone on the highway at that moment. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. The fast paced, hard to focus, overwhelming, racing and negative thoughts were clouding my mind and smothering me inside my car. I couldn’t catch my breath. The horn of the F-150 in my rearview mirror finally got my attention and I drove North, anxious, stressed, and angry. I had been just barely holding it together for two days.
Coming off one SSRI and starting another one sucks, and that’s what I’m doing now. Both medications are in the same “family”, according to the doctor, but it doesn’t matter. One SSRI may act one way and have a particular side effect, while another med in the same family may do something completely different to the same person. Even the exact same drug can be different in two different people. I hate feeling dependent, but I know that without them, my behavior might not be so even-keel.
There are days I feel like a science experiment, trying each med my doctor prescribes, hoping one of them will make life normal again. Sometimes the med works for a while and stops. Most recently this medication destroyed my libido. At thirty-four, no longer being able to connect with my wife sexually, adds mountains of shame on top of an already steaming pile of guilt. So I travel back to the doctor’s office for another humiliating visit and tell her just exactly what my side effects are.
[clickToTweet tweet="#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike a powerful new confession by @iamsteveaustin" quote="#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike a powerful new confession by @iamsteveaustin" theme="style3"]
So we’re trying a new med. And we hope for different results. Hope: that’s a funny word. The Bible calls it the anchor of our souls, but all an anchor does it keep you from drowning. It does nothing to prevent the wind and waves from ripping your sails and smacking you around.
I tossed and turned all night, checking the clock at 11:40, 12:12, and every half-hour that followed. To add insult to injury, after drinking coffee for fifteen years, the doctor said it was making my anxiety worse. At my last visit, my blood pressure was higher than it’s ever been in my life. I’ve not had any coffee in a month. Today, in particular, I resent it.
The frustration and uncertainty piled up and came toppling down mid-morning...
Read the rest of this story today at Stigma Fighters. Just click here.
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The world is full of people who feel hopeless. While the holidays may be a favorite time of year for many people, for others, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day only compounds the pain. For many people, the cold and cloudy days of winter triggers seasonal depression. For other folks, the thought of gathering with family and friends spikes anxiety, anger, and sadness.Read More
Peace is an assurance that in the midst of hell breaking loose: shootings, wars, riots, and acts of terrorism each time we turn on the television, God remains. God is not being terrorized. Heartbroken? I think so. But not uncertain or afraid. I think Heaven weeps, but God knows the beginning from the end. Peace says that things will get better one day. Our waiting will be worth it.Read More
It seems that sucky days are a universal experience. We can’t survive on an island. Isolation is miserable, especially for someone who struggles with depression or anxiety or self-esteem issues. Finding the guts to say, “Today sucks. Can we talk?” sometimes changes everything.
I hate when I feel this way. I hate the semi-permanent knot in the back of my throat, the avoiding eye contact with co-workers and the constant urge to go home. But the feelings persist. I hate the shame that comes along with it, whispering, “What a loser. Get your shit together. What’s wrong with you?” I hate the shame that comes from years of being raised as a religious kid, the lies that tell me I’m not a real Christian or I wouldn’t have these struggles.
But then I remember the words our pastor spoke Sunday...Read More