By 1992 I had suffered for several years from clinical depression. After a particularly bad month, I decided that I wanted to die because I couldn't take "it" any more. I remember crying a great deal that night. I knelt down and prayed for the first time in years. I said "God if you don't give me the meaning to life, I'm going to kill myself" or something to that effect. In a journal entry I wrote "If you don't give me a reason to live, I'm going to kill myself."

Regardless, I remember being sincere about my intent. I was perfectly willing and prepared to kill myself. I hadn't told anyone about this at the time because I was afraid they might stop me. I can't even come close to describing the sense of despair and hopelessness I felt. I believe the only thing that led me to even pray was a spark of hope that maybe God could help me, even though I really didn't believe he would.

I tried to go to sleep right away but at that time I had suffered from insomnia for several months and it took me well over an hour to finally go to sleep.

Once I fell asleep I started to dream and to say it was a dream might be an understatement. Everything was very vivid, the nearest thing to it is an experience I had wearing a nicotine patch a couple of years back. It seemed completely real.

I remember there was a man in this dream that I didn't know that walked toward me with a knife. I tried to get away but he ended up stabbing me in the side. I remember feeling the knife go in and that it was very painful. For a moment I felt flushed then I collapsed on the ground. Almost immediately afterward I looked down and saw that I was staring at my body which was sort of curled up on the ground. A pool of blood was forming around my stomach.

As I stared at my body I felt a compulsion to move up, so I did.  As I journeyed further from my body the world seemed to melt away, and after a time, I found myself someplace else; it was a vast expansive empty space. Up, down, left, and right seemed to stretch for as far as I could see and it all seemed to be empty but it wasn't dark. Amid this space there were balls of light all around me, more than I could count. 

I could feel myself moving forward, not really controlling the direction I moved, until I was suddenly in the presence of a being that was bathed in light that seemed to emanate peace and love. I remember I felt fearful when I first left my body, wondering what was happening,but in the presence of this being, peace and serenity washed over me and I felt a sincere sense of calm and patience.

The entity spoke and said, "When you die, you come to this place. The longer you stay in this place, the more you forget about your previous life. Once you have forgotten about your life you are sent back to the world to be born again. You can be born at any point and place in time, the past and the future. When you die you return here until you learn a lesson. Once you have learned that lesson you pass on to another place." 

I must inform you that I can't say with 100% certainty that this was the exact wording, because  I don't have a perfect recollection of the exact words the entity used, but what I mentioned above is pretty much the same thing I've been telling people for the last few years and is more of a complete explanation of what he said than a gist.

After the Entity spoke to me I felt a rush go through my body as if all the sensation that had left was coming back and I woke up. It was morning and although it seemed like this experience only took about 10 minutes, seven or eight hours had passed.

I felt one hundred percent better. My depression had lifted and I felt invigorated. I can't explain the sense of purpose I had. I no longer feared death nor did I have any sense of doom in my life.

I studied various religions in the hope of finding one that might explain my experience. I gave up on Christianity at that time. I realized after my experience that the being that spoke to me was not Christ or the God of my childhood. The religions and philosophies that I felt most comfortable with were Taoism and Buddhism. In the end I became a practicing Taoist for several years.

I also developed some weird abilities, some that I no longer have and others that I don't want to have. The first one, that has faded over time is that after this happened I could see a faint outline of light around people, the light was different colors.

The second ability is that if I concentrated I could "read" people, there feelings and intentions. I could also sense things about them. I was highly accurate, to the point that it would visibly upset people. I stopped practicing this ability after a few years and don't actively try to anymore.

The third and the most disturbing to me, at least it eventually became disturbing, was that if I meditated (something I took up after becoming a Taoist) and reached a certain state of emptiness, I would eventually find myself having an out-of-body experience. When I had one of these experiences, I could only see what was going on. I couldn't smell, hear, or feel anything that was happening around me.

The most prominent of these experiences was one where I suddenly found myself standing inside a window in a mall. I could see a father and mother standing behind their son. They were talking and the boy was pointing at something behind me. The father was saying something, shook his head no, and grabbed the boy by the arm and walked off, pulling the boy along with him. I watched them walk off then came back to my body.
Several other instances like this happened, and although none were particularly disturbing, for some reason it made me feel uncomfortable. I stopped meditating for almost 10 years because of this. (I started again a year or two back for a few days and it happened again and I stopped meditating because it still makes me feel uncomfortable.)

I continued to practice Taoism but ended up suffering from depression a few years later. During my depression I thought a great deal about death but never actually thought about suicide. I was just very comfortable with death. A psychiatrist diagnosed me with suicidal ideation,but I'm not sure he actually understood what was going on. During this depression, I started to drink heavily and ended up becoming an active alcoholic and drank for several years before I finally entered a program of recovery. It was only after I started into recovery and had to come up with a concept of a higher power that I began to look back at that incident I hadn't mentioned for many years.

The problem with my experience was that because I hadn't died, many people explained it away as a dream, but I can tell you, it wasn't like any dream I've ever had in my life. What I experienced that night was so powerful that even today when I think about it, I get tingly sensations all up and down my body. I've only experienced the sense of peace I felt in the presence of that entity on two other occasions, which happened again while I was meditating. I refer to them as white light experiences because the word seemed to fade away and was replaced by a bright light.

Today I have used the experience of my dream death or near death, to redefine my concept of not only a higher power but also my beliefs in morality and spirituality. I have no fear of death today, although I'm not particularly rushing to die. I truly believe there is a lesson for me to learn and I devote most of my spare time to writing about spirituality and purpose.

I am no longer ashamed of my experience, something  I experienced for many years, mostly due to people stating I was visited by the Devil or that I'm delusional and had a psychotic experience. I know that I don't have to tell everyone about my experience and tend to share it only with those people I think won't judge me because of it.