Until more recently, I was somewhat skeptical that I'd had an NDE from trying to commit suicide in 1972. The NDE didn't last very long at the time it happened, so I wasn't exactly sure it was an NDE. I've gotten much more confirmation recently that it was actually an NDE, because more and more 'negative NDE' stories have come out in recent years. Thus, I have finally acknowledged it was probably a real experience based on other negative NDEs that I've read and that have similarities to what I experienced. Thus, I no longer tell people about the typical explanations: 1) that maybe my brain was 'misfiring' while I was dying; or 2) I was having a hallucination due to the quaaludes.
I had started using quaaludes in the late 1972 and early in 1973, while I was trying to wean myself off opioids.
I remember that this suicide attempt was after my life-saving surgery. In 1970, I had an operation in an attempt to save what remained of my right and left kidneys. It was also after I had returned to college in summer of 1971. I had gotten hooked on opioids from an attempt to salvage my bladder. My doctor put me on drugs to enable me to wake up every hour or every other hour during the night to urinate to exercise the involuntary muscles in my bladder. Without the opioids, I was unable to get enough sleep at night so that I would have enough energy to go to classes and to work the next day. Early in 1972, the doctor cut me off from the drugs 'cold-turkey'. In the 1950s-1970s, I don't think most doctors understood that it was so easy to become addicted to barbiturates, and no one 'tapered off' their patients in those days. While my doctor didn't mean to, he left me battling a severe opioid addiction at the age of 22.
Later that year, I had become so depressed from difficult post-surgical recovery, an unhappy marriage, and etc. I didn't see any way to crawl back 'out of the pit' to become normal again. I decided to I leave this world from a drug overdose. My first sensation was that I began to feel very sleepy and my body was going slowly numb.
Next, I felt as if I was in a dark, black void of nothingness;seeing and hearing nothing, feeling nothing, and sensing nothing. It occurred to me that I must be dead. As a child I had asked my fatherwhat I should expect when I die. Since my dad leaned toward atheism, he would always say 'Nothing, just blackness. You won't feel anything.'
I immediately acknowledged to myself that this is what I was expecting to get upon death. It was a black nothingness and I didn't feel a thing. So, it seemed as if my dad was right about that. Yet if that was so, why was I able to acknowledge or perceive 'the nothingness' if I was truly dead? At this stage I could not tell if I was up or down. I was just nothing inside a void of nothingness. As soon as I realized that perhaps I was experiencing events suggested by my dad when I was a youngster, I began hearing voices that got louder and louder and louder.
Eventually, it was a loud ruckus all around me, but coming from below where I had been lying on a bed. I was still inside of a pitch-black void, but now I began to feel my r limbs. I was being grabbied by my legs, calves, and ankles, as Beings were trying to pull me downwards. Although I had been lying down on a bed before, it now felt as if I were upright and floating in space. I was not standing on anything. It seemed to me that the Beings below me were trying to pull me downwards to where they were because they were angry and tortured souls who wanted me to feel just as badly as they did.
I remember feeling terrified. It was so dark and I could not see anything below me, so it was hard to figure out what was going on. As they pulled me downwards toward them, I began to feel progressively colder. As the Beings pulled me into their midst, it seemed squishy and wet, as well as dark and cold. Meanwhile, the Beings all around me were ripping and tearing at me. I was thinking that I didn't like this at all and wanted to go back. Just as I was beginning to sense the hopelessness and helplessness that the Beings felt in this horrible place, I was all of a sudden getting shaken and woke up.
All sensations of darkness, cold, and squishiness left. All feelings of being ravaged by angry, agonized and tortured souls started to immediately fade away from my immediate experience.
I was married to my first husband in 1972. I think I was passed out before 2:30-3 PM, My plan was to be dead before my ex-husband arrived home after 5:30 PM. For some reason, he came home really early that day and found me passed out in our king-size bed. He told me he had to shake me really hard for a long time to get me to wake up. He was really scared that I was dead. I admitted to him that I had taken all the pills. At the time, it seemed like such a brief experience that initially I discounted it had really happened. I do remember thanking my ex-husband for waking me up and getting me out of that terrible place.
Date NDE Occurred: 1972
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? No. Illness Suicide attempt. Drug or medication overdose. Life threatening event, but not clinical death
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? No.
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? Normal consciousness and alertness. I really cannot say that my level of consciousness shifted that much during this short experience. I do not think I had 'crossed over to the other side' for very long, but I am unsure how long it was. I had no sense of time, but I do know that I passed out after 2:15 PM or so and that I was revived before 2:45-ish.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When the agonized and tortured Beings were grabbing at me and ripping me apart and when I felt the cold, squishy-blackness all around me, I have never forgotten that feeling of being tortured and ripped apart by Beings I could feel and hear but not see. I still somehow knew they were angry and tortured souls though. To this day, I can still feel the pain and terror they were trying to inflict upon me when I want to conjure it up and think about it, which is not often.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning.
The Void seemed to last a long, long time; but once I was pulled down into the underworld or wherever I ended up, everything seemed to be happening all at once. Also, I had no sense of time and time seemed to have no meaning. Right before I left that place, I had the realization that it could be a forever hell-like existence. That realization has scared me to this day.
Were your senses More vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. There were no 'vision elements' to my negative NDE experience. I never 'saw' anything during the experience.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I would say that the level of noisiness and the 'emotional noisiness' of the experience was much greater than the intensity of noises that I normally experience on earth.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere, as if by ESP? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an Unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place. Due to the circumstances I ended up in, it was definitely a hell-like experience, although there was no fire and brimstone and I did not proceed to a more hell-like visionary experience after the initial 'pulldown' into the underworld area.
The experience included: Hellish imagery
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Fear, terror, agonized tormented feelings, disgust (at the creatures and their behavior), but also concern for the beings' welfare. I was confused because I could not figure out the source(s) of their torments and, initially, why they seemed to want to torment me.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? No
Did you have a feeling of joy? No
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No
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? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Agnostic I grew up, and was married (1969), in a Methodist church but had fallen away from following my Christian roots by the time I got kidney disease (ca 1969-70) and almost died from that. I was recovering from two surgeries and battling an opioid addiction (caused by my kidney doctor) when I attempted suicide in 1972.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes See prior explanation as to when I first read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament. I have tried reading more of the Bible since then, without much success. I keep trying, but not getting much further past those sections of the New Testament.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Moderately important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Protestant. I have always felt closer to God in nature and have never really liked attending organized churches. After the NDE, I have leaned more in that direction. I am currently seeking a 'more inclusive faith' to be involved with in contrast to the Methodist church here that I occasionally attend.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience. It was consistent with Methodist teachings about hell vs. heaven. Until that time I was inclined to believe there was a heaven but no hell. It was also consistent with my dad's atheistic belief that I would feel 'nothing' after death. It was inconsistent in that those two belief systems gave me contradictory expectations, and yet I experienced aspects from both belief systems.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes By the end of 1973, I had read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament (at the suggestion of my 1st boss). Although I had grown up hearing about Jesus Christ in Sunday school and at church, his teachings really didn't sink in to me until 1973-74 when I first read parts of the New Testament as an adult. I was more intensely aware than ever of the hypocrisy of many Christians I saw all around me - both inside and outside of church settings. Instead of that understanding causing me to 'turn away' from Christianity as I had done in my teen years (especially after I had been sexually abused at age 10-11 by one of my father's employees), I realized for the first time that just because so many Christians and religious leaders are child molesters or hypocrites who do not truly believe in God and Jesus, that does not mean that I should 'throw out the baby with the bathwater' and expel Jesus from my life. Within 1-2 semesters of reading the New Testament, I decided I had to change my current career path to do something to help the planet and future generations of humans on earth. I changed my college major from accounting/business to social psychology and biology. Next, I prepared myself to attend graduate school to pursue a career in wildlife conservation. By the early 1980s, I had become known as one of the 1st conservation biologists in the USA, while I was working on my doctorate in biology at the Univ. of Texas. If not for the negative NDE which eventually led to my reading of the New Testament, I would not have had the will and strength to go out on my own and leave my multi-millionaire ex-husband in 1974 in order to pursue a career in science (something most women did not do in Texas in 1974) and live in a state of extreme poverty from 1973-1989. I had to have something to inspire me during all those tough years of struggle and poverty.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I heard a voice I could not identify I heard many voices, but I could not discern a voice of anyone I knew or any one Being per se.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
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? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
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 possibly 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? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists No
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives Are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly 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? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life. Before the suicide attempt and negative NDE, my doctor told me I was one of the few patients he was glad he had saved. My response was that I didn't know if I was worth saving. He said he thought I would do important things. That made me start wondering if I was saved for a reason and if so, what was the reason? The negative NDE made me think about it even more. Why did I have that transcendental experience and what did it mean? Had I actually died and experience a death experience? If I did, what did that mean?
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Absolutely, I began to question how solid my relationship with my husband was, especially after my surgery, because I found out that he was more concerned if we could 'maintain a normal sex life' if I ended up with a urine bag on the outside of my body. He was concerned about the possibility that I might lose my bladder and end up living an impaired life for the remainder of my existence. My suicide attempt was partially in response to these discussion I had with my husband, both prior to and after my surgeries in 1970-71. After the negative NDE, I decided to stop being the doormat in our relationship and to strike out to find my own career path - not one dictated by my husband, mother-in-law, or my parents. Unfortunately, the new career path, i.e., new life path, eventually led to an extramarital affair, but that relationship made me realize many things, including what it was like to be loved unconditionally. After that, I knew I had to end my loveless marriage and move on with my life, which I did right after I moved away to attend my 1st graduate school in 1974.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I had very little clarity at the time as to exactly what I had experienced.
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I do not know how my remembrance of the experience compares to my remembrance of other life events. I think I remember it more accurately than real life events at that time, but I'm being honest to say that I'm unsure. That's partly because I tried to actively suppress this experience and eliminate it from my life's experience for about 30 years. That was partly because of how people whom I told about it between 1972-1985 reacted so strangely about it and partly because I didn't want to remember most of the experience. Despite that, this experience has continued to influence my 'career path' and my 'life path' ever since it happened in 1972.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain. I think that both my mother and I have/had some psychic abilities. Mostly, we both had dreams that we have told each other about, and afterwards the dreams usually (not always) came true. So over time, we both came to understand and appreciate that we each had this 'dream-forecasting' capability. After my negative NDE, I do not feel that I got any better or worse at this. For the past 15-20 years, I have had a severe sleep disorder to where I do not drop into REM sleep anymore. I've had sleep issues my entire life, but I no longer experience REM-dreams anymore, so I do not have those 'dream-forecasts' anymore!
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? My mother was one of the only people whom I told about my negative NDE, especially the part where I was dragged downwards and tortured in the mushy, squishy, dark cold underworld. I wanted to know if she thought I was going to hell because I had tried to kill myself. She answered that she didn't know, but it made sense because she believed God and Jesus don't want us to kill ourselves. It was that discussion with me in 1982 that led my mother to confide in me that she had experienced a postive NDE a few hours before she passed away around 2 AM on 10-3-98. Both she and her cardiologist (in the hospital where the ambulance had taken her) confirmed to me (via phone from NY to TX) that my mom had been found 'flatlined' on the floor of her Houston home late on the afternoon of 10-2-1998 when they finally got inside front door and resuscitated her. She told me for the first time in her life she was no longer afraid of dying and she had communicated with Jesus and knew she would see him again when she finally passed on (only a few hours later). I remember asking her if Jesus or anyone else told her she had to go back, and she said no. From my studies of NDEs, this worried me, since most people are informed they are coming back to this plane of existence before they leave the afterlife. I immediately called my youngest brother after I hung up the phone from talking with my mother about this, and told him I was pretty sure that Mom was going to die later that night. She died about 4 hours later.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I tried to share it with my ex-husband right after he shook me and woke me up out of the NDE. However, I was mumbling a lot and sort of out of it, so I'm sure he just 'blew me off' because I had overdosed. I didn't try to talk to him about it again because he was so unreceptive. I believe my mother in 1982 was the first person I really spoke to about it in any detail. Much later, I began meeting other people who had NDEs, and eventually spoke to some of them about the negative NDE.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was probably real. I always believed the experience was definitely or probably real; however, I tried 'like hell' to convince myself it was not real. I did not want it to have been a real experience, and the usual response one would get by admitting to others that I had felt I went to hell or a hell-like environment was never that accepting. I tried to deny that it had happened for about 30 years, despite telling my ex-husband and mother that it had happened to me. When I told them, I always couched it in terms of 'this may have been a hallucination or my imagination - not necessarily real.'
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably real. Internally, i.e., inside my gut, I have always felt the experience was real, I just didn't know what to make of it. I still don't know what to make if it.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Initially, I looked upon the negative NDE as a totally negative experience. I didn't initially see it as being related to the major life changes that took place pretty much immediately after I had the negative NDE. It probably wasn't until after 10-15 years or more before I began to relate the experience to my having the strength and will to change my career path in life, and to realize that I probably would have stayed married to a multi-millionaire who did not really love me. Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I have always discounted my experience because it was so short and incomplete that I was never really sure what to make of it. I am hoping that by reading the negative NDE stories of others and joining groups like NDERF that I will gain a better understanding and context for my own negative NDE. I think you may need to eventually construct a series of questions more related to negative NDEs.
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