I suffered from treatment-resistant depression and had followed a strict regimen of psychiatric care and numerous medications for two years. Nothing helped. I decided to commit suicide.
I took a stockpile of pills and alcohol, and called a taxicab to take me to a mountain trailhead. I did not drive my car because I did not want the car to be spotted after dark and cause someone to look for me on the mountain trail. I hiked about two miles up the mountain and left the trail to a spot far from where hikers would be. I began dissolving pills under my tongue while drinking vodka. Simultaneously, I phoned my sister from my cell phone to tell her I was hiking and meeting friends and would see her possibly in the next few days. I wanted to establish contact with her so she would have no reason to call or contact me until long after I was dead. I told no one of my intent to commit suicide.
The next thing I remember is hearing is a loud electronic alarm and a female voice yell, ‘She's crashing again!’ I saw a nurse dressed in blue scrubs and a doctor with green scrubs and a white lab coat standing in front of hospital equipment. They had their backs to me. I knew if I looked down, I would see myself, so I did not look down. I was shocked by the tone of voice the nurse used. She sounded angry and I wanted to leave because she was angry with me.
Next, I was in a strange, unearthly city. There were three young women, about ages nineteen to twenty five, who were very beautiful and glamorous, as I always wished to be. They stayed with me. I did not question their presence, who they were, where they came from, or where I was. We did not speak, although communication was perfectly clear. I was filled with a longing to be beautiful. It was my greatest wish in life because I thought if I were beautiful, I would be loved and wanted. They asked me what I wanted and I told them this. They took me across the city to a white building. We went in, up a long, winding staircase to a large loft full of light. A man came in and waved his hands around me. He made different motions, speaking aloud almost to himself. It was my understanding that he was transforming me into a physically beautiful woman. We left the building and went outside. The light was bright and clear, and there was snow all around, although I was not cold. By this time, I had been with these young women a very long time and done other things I cannot presently remember anymore. I decided I needed to go. I did not know where I was supposed to go to, but I had a very strong feeling I was getting late for something and I had to leave in order to be on time.
The three women accompanied me to the edge of another city. It was very busy and the buildings were very tall and close together. There were many, many people, all traveling together in small groups, and all looking very happy. They could not seem to see me. They were all coming from the same direction and heading in the same direction. Something caught my eye. It was a young man I noticed by one of the buildings. He caught my attention because he was sitting, and alone, and he looked very unhappy. Of everyone I could see, he was the only person exhibiting these characteristics, and was noticeable as a result. I wanted to look at him and go talk to him, but the leader of the three young women told me I should not disturb him. There was a specific reason I was not supposed to disturb him, but I don't remember what it was anymore. I realized he was my stepbrother who had committed suicide a few years prior to my experience.
The young women told me that they could not go beyond that point, in the direction I wanted to go. The direction was the opposite of all the people who were walking towards me. I had to go alone. I felt very compelled to go, although nothing told me I should. I knew fundamentally that it was a choice and there were no influencing agents affecting my choice. It was a very strong desire to go, simply put. I did not know where I was going; just that if I would intentionally go, I would get where I needed to be. I left.
I was in a wooded area and could see an elevated freeway, but there were no cars on it or other people anywhere around. I knew I needed to follow that freeway to get where I was going. I thought I needed a car so I could get up on that freeway and drive. I asked myself how I was going to get a car. At that time, a man appeared. He was dressed in nondescript, grey clothing, and had no distinguishing features or characteristics to cause me to note his appearance. He told me, without speaking, that I did not need a car. I could get where I was going without a car if I just willed myself there. I did not believe him, and I argued with him, telling him I was lost and was not going to leave until he got a car for me. He said okay.
The next thing I knew, I was in a car and driving on this freeway, but the car kept breaking down. I was stalled and alone on this freeway. I got out of the car and wondered how long it would be before someone came along and helped me. At that moment, the man dressed in grey reappeared and told me again that I did not need a car or directions; I needed only my will. Then he left. I had no choice of whether to believe him, so I decided I would use my will. I experienced what felt like a minute or two of flying. The next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital intensive care unit.
I learned the details of my physical condition from my sister after I was released from intensive care. When I was found by my sister (details of how I was discovered will follow later) I was completely unconscious. She found me eighteen hours after I ingested the drugs. I was barely breathing and she could only detect a faint, touchy pulse. (She was a police officer and trained in CPR and first aid.) I stopped breathing multiple times and she administered rescue breathing. I was missing clothing and she suspected I had been attacked and raped because my shirt was on backwards and there was vomit all over the back of my shirt, in my hair, but none on the front. My arms were covered in bruises, scratches and burns, indicating defensive wounds.
Paramedics recorded a very low blood pressure. My pulse was very fast, and arrhythmic. I did not breathe without the bag over my face. In the hospital, I kept ‘crashing’ every time they attempted to wake me up. I had a dislocated hip. I had aspirational pneumonia in both lungs. I also had pleural effusions in both lungs, which required surgery, as I was breathing on only twenty percent of one lung. The pneumonia turned bacterial. I got a fever that could not be reduced, so they put me in an ice bath several times. My kidneys ceased functioning entirely because of something to do with my muscles, lack of oxygen, and an inability of my kidneys to filter all the resulting contaminants in my blood. I was unresponsive to anything and comatose, as it has been described to me. My sister, who was there the entire time, says she was told by the medical team that it was unlikely I would wake up, and if I did, I would most likely be a ‘vegetable’ because of oxygen deprivation. She was advised not to continue life-saving efforts. She refused the advice and demanded that all measures be taken to save my life.
The events below are as described to me by my sister, about three weeks after my suicide attempt.
Two men were hiking the day I attempted suicide. They took a dog. Their dog got loose and found me hidden far away from the trail. They robbed me (I had my purse with cash from my last withdrawal). They were going to leave me for dead because they had stolen from me and both were convicted felons. One of them had outstanding warrants for drug charges in several states. The other man recognized me before he left. I used to work a second job as a bartender, and sometime in the previous year, I had served these two men. He decided not to leave me until he called. Not wanting attention from the police, he called the last number dialed on my phone, which was my sister. He told her he found me on the trail and I was unconscious. She asked for a location, which he could not pinpoint precisely. She begged him to stay with me until she could get up there. He agreed and stayed with her, giving her directions as she climbed the trail. He left immediately when she found me. At the scene, my sister says she immediately suspected I had been raped. She said it looked ‘staged’ and that I had obviously been moved, as well as positioned to look a certain way. Her police experience and training caused her to treat the scene as a crime scene at first. She and her husband called 911. During my hospitalization, the man who called her called the intensive care unit several times to ask for my sister and inquire to whether I died. She said he wanted to know because they had assaulted me, and it could affect what crimes they could be charged with. The police assigned a detective to my case and the first man fled town. I decided not press charges against the second man, as I remember absolutely nothing whatsoever from the moment I spoke with my sister until the time I awoke in the hospital.
The paramedics could not get up the trail with a stretcher to where I was at, so my sister and her husband carried me down to a point where help was waiting for them. During that time, she had to stop repeatedly and administer rescue breathing.
Date NDE Occurred: 06/20/2010
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Suicide attempt. Criminal attack. Drug or medication overdose. CPR given. Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I heard the alarm on the vital signs monitor go off, indicating my vital signs had dropped. Then I heard the nurse yell ‘She's crashing again!’ in an angry voice. I was standing beside/outside of my body, watching the nurse and doctor fiddle with the machines, then I was in another place entirely and forgot all about the fact that I was in the hospital.
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal I knew things by intuition and acquired knowledge just from the need to know it. Answers came and wishes were granted to me simply by my desire to have them.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? During my near death experience, when I was standing in the bright sunlight after I had been transformed by the man in the tall building. I was comatose for three days before I woke up, so I cannot possibly know the time.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
The things I experienced and did would have taken months, but I was only in a coma for three days.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could see light in a better quality and everything was so much more clear and distinct than ever.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. No change, other than the fact that as I was waking up, I could hear my sisters and the nurses voices speaking to me so clearly and perfectly, like loud and undistorted, without being loud. It was the most wonderful sound I ever knew.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes I saw my step brother. He committed suicide by hanging himself about four years prior to my experience. I described where and how I saw him in the overall description of my experience toward the beginning of this questionnaire.
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes There was no beacon-like light, but the light in certain places was more clear and pure than anything I have experienced.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I already explained this in the overall description of my experience at the beginning.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? For the first time I can remember since early childhood, I felt an absence of overwhelming emotions until I reached the border. No emotion just thought without value judgments. There just was no emotion and that is true peace.
At the border, I felt afraid of the unhappy young man, who was my stepbrother. I also felt afraid I would not be able to find my way.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt no longer in conflict with nature
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from my personal future While I was being physically ‘transformed’, my breasts were given special attention. (Go ahead and laugh, I would too, but seriously.) Anyway, they were healed and everything was set back the way it was supposed to be. I was told not to worry and everything was fine with them now. Shortly after my experience, I was told by my regular doctor to see a specialist about a condition in my left breast that had been bothering me for a very long time. The specialist said I had Paget's Disease of the breast, which is a form of breast cancer. She wrote it on a prescription and told me to research it while I waited for test results. I had every symptom of Paget's Disease. Tests came back and it turned out I was just fine and I do not have cancer at all.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes I reached a part of a city where my three companions could not come with me if I went any further. They had to stay there. I was the only person going towards the boundary, not coming away from the boundary.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will I did not know I was returning to life, as I felt perfectly alive. I was acutely aware of an irresistible compulsion to ‘go’. I had to go somewhere. I did not know where I was going or know the way to get there, but I knew I wanted to leave. Other than the compulsion, there was nothing and no one who influenced my decisions or choices in any way.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Greatly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated I did not believe that consciousness survives physical death at the time of my experience.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I'm more willing to consider the possibility of life after death.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Slightly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Agnostic I believe there may be reason to believe consciousness survives physical death.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I did not believe that consciousness survives physical death. I attempted suicide believing I was initiating the complete annhilation of myself. I did not expect to visit another unearthly place with unearthly spirit people, for lack of a better word.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes This Christian god I hear so much about is non-existent or not present on ‘the other side’.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin In my detailed description at the beginning of this questionnaire, I described the three young women who never left my presence until I reached the border and left them. Then, I described the man in gray who showed up twice when I needed help getting to where I wanted to go.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God does not exist
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes There was no judgment. The Abrahamic god of Judaism/Christianity/Islam was not there waiting to judge me. I am not a Christian or Muslim, and I did not go to Hell. I was accompanied by guides the entire time, until I left and they could no longer follow me. I had complete and total freedom to do anything I wanted. No one told me what to do or where to go. Before I had my experience, I could not possibly have understood what freedom to choose truly feels like. I felt free in a way I never could comprehend before. Any choice or decision I made would have been honored to the fullest while I was in that other place.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God probably does not exist
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife does not exist
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife probably exists Yes I saw my dead step brother. I saw a lot of people, but specifically I saw my dead step brother.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I did not fear death
Do you fear death after your experience? I moderately fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Greatly fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Unknown I realized that what I did in this life did not affect anything in the next life, if indeed the next life actually exists and I did not simply dream it up. Before, I was an atheist, after having been raised Mormon. I studied religions extensively for eleven years before my experience. I studied the Abrahamic faiths, as well as tribal and indigenous practices, customs, and rituals. I studied Eastern beliefs, including certain Hindu faiths and philosophies. I slowly, over time, became an atheist.
Now I wonder if there is the possibility that what I experienced really did happen, and was not the result of neurobiological functions, or something else. I am going to research near death experiences and see if there is compelling evidence in either direction for the belief that consciousness survives physical death.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience as accurately as other life events that occurred around the time of the experience
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes My intuition about people’s character is more acute and focused.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? When I needed help to get back, someone materialized instantly.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared it within a few weeks. Two people thought it was exceptionally profound. One person did not offer an opinion either way, but simply listened.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I read Betty Eadie, and a few articles here and there on near death experiences. I studied occult practices and New Age beliefs. Most of them I disregarded or found interesting at best. I do not now and did not at the time of my experience, believe in a Christian god or creator deity.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was probably not real I believed that what I experienced was a dream or the result of biochemical occurrences in my brain resulting from oxygen deprivation, vital signs dropping several times, and existing in a comatose state. I thought maybe it was real, but likely, there is more evidence supporting the theory that near death experiences are physically explained by science and medicine. Recently I have read more about near death experiences and I realized those explanations are not proven, and I need to learn more before I dismiss the experience as a dream.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably not real Recently I have read more about near death experiences and I realized neurological explanations for near death experiences are not proven, and I need to learn more before I dismiss the experience as a dream.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No