Spoken word artist Levi the Poet was on the Bad Christian Podcast this week where he opened up about being a pastor kid and the suicide of his father and how that impacted his life.
Levi shared with the hosts (Joey, Matt, and Toby) about his father's battle with depression and bi-polar disorder. His father was a pastor and a missionary who always struggled psychologically. In 2010 things started to get really bad because his medicine began to fail him.
"I got a phone call from my mom saying I needed to come home because I needed to take the guns out of the house because something that night had snapped in his mind where he was one person the day before and the next day my mom was afraid she was going to find him dead via the guest bedroom in house," he shared.
Levi took the guns away as the family got together for a meeting, and said his father started weeping because "I was taking away his only hope for peace" and also said he was "positive he would be going to hell forever."
The next couple of months were filled with hospitalizations and suicide attempts. His father also began drinking because it "took the shakes away." That was followed by his disappearance in January 2011.
"He [dad] just called her [mom] from this parking lot in Albuquerque. He told her that he loved her and that he loved us, and that he didn't want to die and if there was a God he hoped that God would heal him and if there wasn't, he wasn't willing to die at home with dignity," he explained.
Levi said his father was gone for a few weeks until he received a phone call saying they found his body. After making that phone call to Levi's mom, his father walked across the street and slit his wrists in a hotel bathroom.
"I can't say I had a whole lot of hope," Levi answered when asked what he had thought happened to his father while he was missing. Levi revealed that his father was in utter "torment" and they were torn between God healing him, and if He did not, there had to be a "merciful" option. Toby used the example of "relief" relating it to his grandfather's battle with dementia. Levi agreed with the analogy.
Levi feels his father's suicide was "perceived as an act of love to us." He explained that finances were bad and their lives were being torn apart by his dad's depression. His father thought by killing himself he would help the family, "which was crazy because he thought he was going to go to hell."
The poet said his father's death taught him a lot about his life and allowed him to view faith a bit differently. He also believed his father suffered from demonic attacks, which led to his depression. Levi said missionaries reached out to his family and viewed his suicide as "martyrdom." Their thoughts were that because of all the great work he did overseas and in advancing God's kingdom, it left him open to attack from the Devil. "The Devil hated him."
Levi admitted he is worried for his own mental health, and it was something his parents told him to keep an eye on. He revealed he has been a bit depressed or feeling where "his dad was" but he was able to push through with help from his wife.
The performance artist has used his father's death as fuel for some of his poems and even appeared with his sister on the To Speak of Wolves track "Rearview Memories." The hardcore rock track is extremely powerful and emotional with both the spoken word and the screamed vocals.
Some incredibly deep words from the song:
"Was the Devil in the bathroom with you?
Were his hands on the razor?
Was he drawing on your wrists, was he drawing on your wrists?
Did you see God, Did you see God?
I want to know, I want to know
I want to know where your soul is
What was it like when you took flight?"
Levi has a new album called Correspondence. The album is a fiction that plays through various chapters in a characters life. For more information on Levi and his poetry, click here.
Listen to Bad Christian here.
Levi's story opens up the very real battle that Christians can have with depression. Joey from the podcast also battles depression, and he is a pastor as well. In previous episodes he spoke deeply about it and at times had some scary thoughts. It is also brings fourth the debate and question of what happens to a believer if they commit suicide. Do they go to heaven or do they go to hell as Levi's father believed? This is something to think about and reflect on as Christians begin to take a deeper look at mental illness.