She lay on the ledge of a balcony, telling God, “I have failed. Just take me.” And He did, but not as she expected

TRIGGER WARNING: This story mentions self harm and suicide ideation. Reader discretion is advised.

by Christine Leow // March 6, 2024, 7:50 pm


Angel Lin suffered from depression for a good part of her life. Alcohol could not numb her pain and medication could not alleviate it. Crying out to God was her last recourse. All photos courtesy of Angel Lin.

At the lowest point in her life, Angel Lin lay on the narrow ledge of a condominium balcony several storeys up and challenged God.

“I cannot do this already. If You want to save me, show me that I am fated to continue living. But if I’m fated to die, then so be it,” Angel told God.

“I felt I couldn’t tolerate myself anymore. That was when I suddenly thought of God.” 

“I felt it was so painful to be alive,” Angel, now 42, told Salt&Light.

She had been suffering from depression since her teens. But in the years preceding the meltdown, her mental health further deteriorated.

As a mother of a young daughter at the time, she was overwhelmed by the pressures of motherhood and an increasingly demanding job. She also felt unsupported in her marriage and alone in the world.

“I wanted to go to my parents and tell them that I cannot do it anymore, help me. But since I was young, I never had this avenue.

“I always had to be the best. Even when I was failing in life, I couldn’t tell them, ‘Your daughter didn’t make it in life. Just help me.’”

Motherhood was difficult for Angel who felt she needed more help with her young daughter. She suspects she may have had postnatal depression as well which compounded matters.

As she struggled, the depression of her younger days returned worse than before, leaving her weeping for no reason and alternating between angry outbursts and shutting down. To numb her pain, Angel resorted to drinking and downing pain relief pills. Nothing worked.

The night that she tried to end her life, “everything went haywire”. An impenetrable cloud of darkness descended upon her soul and she felt she had to escape it all. She left her home and went to a friend’s empty apartment to “drink all kinds of rubbish” and pop pain killers.

“I couldn’t stand to be with anyone anymore. I felt I couldn’t tolerate myself anymore either. I couldn’t rely on anything.

“That was when I suddenly thought of God. I told Him, ‘Please take me.’”

Breaking point  

The eldest of three children, Angel comes from a large extended family with several younger cousins. Comparisons were inevitable and her parents pushed her hard.

Angel (standing, left) was an outstanding student who nevertheless felt she was never good enough.

In the early years of Primary School, that was not a problem because she was regularly among the top three in her class. But when she got to Upper Primary, her grades began to slide.

“I already couldn’t find love at home. Now I couldn’t find trust.”

“My father got stricter with me and I was caned regularly. I couldn’t understand why. So even when I scored 80 plus, I would be crying in the bus on the way home.

“The pressure as I was growing up was so great.”

Things came to a head when Angel was about 15. She fell at home while carrying some dishes and cut herself on the shattered pieces of crockery. Instead of concern, her mother gave her a scolding instead.

“I took a piece of glass from the pieces, went to my room and started slashing myself.”

When her mother found out about it, she scolded and caned Angel.

That was the start of Angel’s self-harm.

In her teens, self-harm became her way of managing stress and negative emotions.

“When I felt sad, stressed or overwhelmed, or when I had relationship issues, I would cut myself.

“When my father disciplined me, I didn’t cry or run away. I would just stand there and let him beat me.”

“I changed my emotional pain into physical pain. Instead of feeling the pain inside of me which I couldn’t control, I turned it into physical pain that I could control. The deeper the hurts, the deeper the slashes.”

When she was in junior college, her parents’ marriage hit a crisis.

Angel, already broken within, fell apart. She quit school.

“I already couldn’t find love at home. Now I couldn’t find trust. I stopped caring about everything.

“When my father disciplined me, I didn’t cry or run away. I would just stand there and let him beat me.”

“Save me”  

Angel became so disillusioned with life, she dropped out of school to get a job.

Her foray into the working world did not last long.

Her colleague was pursuing a Law diploma at a polytechnic. When he shared about what he was studying, it made Angel realise that she was interested in Law. She decided to do a polytechnic course in Law as well. After graduation, she became a paralegal.

She reconnected with an old Primary School friend and got married to him. Then they welcomed a daughter into their lives.

But beneath the veneer of domestic bliss, resentment was building up.

Even as a young married couple, Angel’s work and her husband’s kept them on different schedules. When the baby came along, their already separate lives diverged further.

“I was alone taking care of our daughter. He never showered her, fed her or changed a single diaper. When she had colic and cried every night, he would sleep in the corner.”

“I woke up with the sun on my face. I was still on the ledge.”

By the time her daughter was two, Angel’s depression had deepened, compounded by the stress of her mounting workload as a senior paralegal.

“I snapped. I started to feel that life was meaningless and I withdrew.”

She took to drinking and taking pain killers. There were more and more reasons to be absent from work. Her marriage broke down, and she and her husband began sleeping in separate rooms.

At one point, she was so miserable, she sought help at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). But the anti-depressants only made her feel worse.

“I would cry for no reason. Then I would blur out and have delusions. It was awful. By then, even though I was with my daughter, I couldn’t love her like a normal mum could. I couldn’t do the daily stuff with her, or play with her.

“Now when I think of those years, I have unforgiveness towards myself. I had shortchanged my girl of her beautiful childhood.”

Angel and her daughter, now 15, attend church together and have a stable and close relationship.

Then came the night when she lay on the balcony ledge. After she challenged God, she lost consciousness.

“The next thing I knew, I woke up with the sun on my face. I was still on the ledge. I thought: How come no one saw me, no one called the police? Why didn’t I fall?

“I had no hangover. I felt so fresh. Many things in my past I cannot remember clearly but this incident has been so clear to me because it was so significant.

“Before I lost consciousness, the last person I talked to was God. I had told Him, ‘If You want, then save me.’ I believe His answer was to save me because I didn’t die.”

Anchored by the church

Not long after that, Angel followed her younger sister to church.

When their family moved some 20 years before, her sister had started attending a church near their home – Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church (BBTC).

Angel would visit on occasion. But the visit after her conversation with God was different.

Angel with (left to right) her sister, her mother and her daughter. Her sister had prayed for her for years, often inviting her to BBTC for worship services and special occasions.

“It was Good Friday. I felt very touched by something in the sermon. So I went up during the altar call and said the Sinner’s Prayer. After the prayer, I cried a lot.”  

“After the prayer, I cried a lot.”  

Angel enrolled in the inner healing course, Restoring the Foundations (RTF), at BBTC as well as an Alpha course run by the church. In God, she found comfort from the wounds from her childhood trauma and the hurts from her failing marriage.

Her spirit came alive and her soul was restored. But she still needed time for her lifestyle to be transformed.

“There were times when I slipped or things didn’t look better, and I would ask myself, ‘Should I go back to church?’

“Then my sister would call and I would go. But if my sister wasn’t with me, I would stray away.”

Then inexplicably one day, the urge to drink and down pain killers simply disappeared.  

“My sister had been trying to help me. She would pray for me but I didn’t want to face reality.

“Then suddenly, I just stopped.”

A new hunger for God

More change was to come. Two years ago, after a nearly eight-year up-and-down journey, Angel “suddenly had a hunger for God”.

“The minute you decide, God will swee swee (nicely) make your schedule fall into place.”

“I was at this one church service that talked about those who did not come to church; you have to come to church. That got me thinking.

“I thought about it for a few days.

“Then one day, I woke up and I just had this urge for God and I told myself, ‘I want to do something.’”

The first change in her lifestyle was to cut down on work.

Angel was running her own online business and was very busy doing three livestreams a week which occupied her whole week. She decided to reduce the livestream to just one a week so that she could have time for church activities and volunteer work.

She found a cell group and started going for worship services without her sister. 

She got herself onto BBTC’s new discipleship track that ended with her baptism last year.

“Jesus, can You hear me? Take this dark thought away from me.”

She even signed up for The Significant Woman course that helps women look at life from a biblical perspective.

At first she was tentative about cutting down the number of her livestreams, but God proved to a Provider. Even with one livestream, Angel would garner enough sales to match that generated by her previous three livestreams. More than that, her livestreams used to take three hours. Now within two hours, she is able to get the sales that she needs.

“I tell my friends, ‘Don’t tell me you have no time for God. The minute you decide, God will swee swee (nicely) make your schedule fall into place.”

The depression that has hung over her almost all her life has dissipated.

“These three years, no more. I do have times when dark thoughts come suddenly. I just play a worship song or say, ‘Jesus, can You hear me? Take this dark thought away from me.’”

Rebuilding lost ties

As God healed Angel, He also healed the fractured relationships in her life.  

“I forgave my father. I found that I could sit and drink coffee with him, and talk about stuff. For years I could not do that.

“He became interested in my online business. I felt he accepted me.”

Her father would pass away from a stroke about a year after their reconciliation.

Angel, with her extended family, enjoying a Chinese New Year meal. Her daughter and mother are seated.

“I did tell my sister, ‘My regret is that when I can finally talk to people without shutting myself out, or hiding, it didn’t last long.

“I forgave my father. I could sit and drink coffee with him and talk. For years I could not do that.”

“In the past, I would be very suspicious of people. I could never be normal around people. I was always afraid they would find out things about me.

“But my sister told me, ‘Daddy knows your xingyi (heart).’”

Angel’s relationship with her mother has been restored as well.

“Last time, we cannot hold a conversation without quarrelling. Now I can’t remember the last fight we’ve had.”

Initially not approving of church, her mother is now attending The Significant Woman course with Angel and would sometimes pray for Angel’s daughter.

Squabbles with her sister have ceased, too.

Angel and her younger sister are closer now than ever before.

But the most amazing healing of all has been in her relationship with her ex-husband. They divorced just before Angel became a Christian.

Angel took the initiative to “patch things up with him”. When her former father-in-law became ill, she went to visit him despite the fact that the family had not thought well of her for years.

“A lot of things have changed inside me. I no longer see darkness.”

“I prayed before I went. The whole visit went smoothly.”

This Chinese New Year, she visited them again and her daughter, who is now 15, had the opportunity to sit with both parents on the same sofa and chat.

“I wanted to give her moments like these where she can still experience a complete family with her father and mother who love her as parents, and she can still come to us.”

All this because she has finally found in God the father-daughter relationship for which she had hungered. 

“I feel very loved by God. I can just imagine a father figure who listens, maybe sometimes frowns at the things I say, but who isn’t judgemental.

“A lot of things have changed inside me. I no longer see darkness. A lot of things I can see the bright side.

“It’s so wonderful to have the assurance that, even after this life, I will have peace and merriment with my mother, sister and daughter and it is going to be forever.”


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“I just wanted it all to end”: One man’s search for God in the dark

About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.