Kathy Ma, 53, is an accounting consultant living in San Francisco. She is a single mother who suffered severely for over a decade from depression and intense suicidal urges. This is the story of how she recovered to live a new and fulfilling life.
‘I thought killing myself was the only option left for me’
It was after my husband left me for another woman that I began to have intense bouts of extreme depression. For no obvious reason, I would suddenly feel an inner turmoil stirring up and then become extremely irritable. I would cry hysterically and have a strong urge to kill myself.
At times like this, my parents would tie me up with a rope to prevent me from grabbing a knife or jumping from the window. In severe situations I would faint, come to, and then faint again.
After each depressive episode I would be calm and normal for a few days, then another one would strike, bringing with it disruption and chaos.
I was five months pregnant when my husband left me. I became a single mother and depended on my parents help take care of my son. I was lonely, ashamed, and chronically depressed. I always felt suicidal and thought killing myself was the only option left for me.
My little boy was affected even when he was in my womb. After birth, he didn’t speak at all. We thought he was mute but the doctors said his vocal cords were all right and he was just late speaking or unwilling to speak. After he started school at 6 years old, he began to talk but very little. He was very depressed as well.
When I would have a bout of depression my parents would try to keep my son in another room, but he could hear me and he was really scared every time. Once, he cried sadly and said, “Mom, don’t leave me behind, take me with you.” In tears, my parents said to me, “You think you are the one who is miserable? Look at your son! He is more pitiful than you. How could you do that to him?”
Upon hearing this, I felt immensely guilty and thought to myself, “Poor boy, simply die with me.”
The bouts of depression happened about once a week for a total of 12 years. It cost us a lot of money seeking a solution from psychologists and other medical professionals, yet nothing seemed to help.
As a Christian, I went to church and joined routine gatherings. Those helped a bit but before long the urge to kill myself always came back. The turmoil that was so upsetting for my family continued.
‘I began to sense hope in my heart’
In 1997, a friend introduced Falun Dafa* to me. Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) is a traditional cultivation practice handed down from ancient China that consists of teachings, meditation, and gentle exercises.
After I watched the series of lecture videos by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of the practice, I noticed the cyst under my right arm that had been there since junior high was gone. That cyst had troubled me all those years and when it was inflamed, my whole arm would be painful and I couldn’t even write.
Despite this pretty miraculous development, I refused to believe in the power of Falun Dafa and considered the disappearance of the cyst a coincidence.
In 1999, my friend invited me to participate in a Falun Dafa study group. When we got there, they were reading the section “Loss and Gain” from from Zhuan Falun, the main teachings of Falun Dafa. After reading that section, I suddenly understood the relationship between gaining and losing. “That is clearly explained,” I said to myself. Back home, I started to read the book by myself and finished it in a few days.
Although I was a Christian, I didn’t understand a lot of things taught in the Bible. For instance, why is man made of clay? When someone is hit in the face, why should he “turn the other cheek”? After reading Zhuan Falun, all my questions were answered. I began to understand a lot of things. I kept reading the book continuously.
It was then that the persecution against Falun Dafa adherents was launched in China by the Chinese Communist Party. Due to our family’s experience in previous persecutory campaigns by the communist regime, my parents were very afraid—even though they now lived in the United States—and thus objected to me practising Falun Dafa. They threatened not to take care of my son anymore if I insisted on continuing with the practice.
I hadn’t learned the exercises by this time, but despite my parents’ objections I didn’t stop reading Zhuan Falun. And I went on the internet and read all the other Falun Gong literature. My mother was surprised to see me reading so much because I had never liked reading when I was young.
By reading the Falun Dafa teachings and striving to live by them, I gradually got better and my depression occurred less frequently. The bouts went from occurring once a week to once a month, and then once every several months. I began to sense hope in my heart.
But that particular suffering wasn’t over quite yet.
I’ll never forget when the last bout of depression assailed me and I was dragged into that painful, irrational hysteria again. My parents didn’t know what to do and suddenly thought of the Falun Dafa lectures I’d been listening to. They started to play the lectures and instantly, I calmed down.
The teachings that suicide constitutes killing and is therefore against the upright Falun Dafa principles came into my mind. I suddenly became very clear-headed and realized that all those suicidal thoughts were not really my thoughts but came from some evil entity outside of me. I knew clearly that I didn’t want those thoughts while at the same time rejecting them and trusting completely in Falun Dafa. Amazingly, with that, I was freed from the suicidal urges and haven’t had them since. Twelve years of agonizing depression had disappeared, never to return.
My son began to learn Falun Dafa with me and also benefited greatly. In May 2006, both of us participated in a parade with the Tianguo Marching Band, which is composed entirely of Falun Dafa practitioners. Later that month, members of the band gathered for a celebration and they noticed the change in my son, “Look at your son, he is smiling,” one of them said. “It used to be that he never smiled.” My son smiled for the first time after so many years.
Seeing the changes in me and my son, my parents started to accept us practicing Falun Dafa. Not only that, they were so amazed at the magical power of the practice that in 2008, they began practicing Falun Dafa themselves.
Our house is full of laughter now.
Falun Dafa is a cultivation practice of mind and body that teaches truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as a way to improve health and moral character and attain spiritual wisdom.
For more information about the practice or to download “Zhuan Falun,” visit: falundafa.org All books, exercise music, resources, and instructions are available completely free of charge.