For so long, I kept my struggle silent.
I am a pastor’s wife. Stay at home mom of two kiddos. A southern girl who loves her some Jesus! . And yes, I struggled with SUICIDE AND MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
I have stood in my shower, with burning hot water pouring over my face, trying to figure out how long it would take for the water to fill my lungs.
Standing at my kitchen sink, gripping a knife in my hand so hard that my knuckles turned white, because I was trying to decide if I wanted to slit my throat or my wrists.
In my head silently screaming, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE! LORD, PLEASE TAKE THIS FROM ME!”
(And yes, before you ask, I reached out.)
There were some people in my life that felt I shouldn’t have these issues.
Depression, anxiety, hopelessness, mood swings, uncontrolled crying, insomnia, fear, and a battle in my mind that JUST WOULD NOT GO AWAY.
In fact, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing a few days before I ended up in a specialty hospital as a result of an acute stress reaction. All the signs of me going into a deep dark depression were there.
I simply refused to pay attention.
It resulted in the next five years of my life basically feeling like a run away roller coaster.
A pit that just kept getting deeper and deeper, one that I couldn’t get out of on my own, and thoughts that I simply could not seem to escape from.
Sadly, church also began to go downhill for us.
Soon, parts of the congregation and leadership wanted no part of me and my struggles there anymore. That was made very clear. Eventually we started to realize that they didn’t want to deal with or be associated with anyone that had “mental health issues.”
My husband and I were told not to tell anyone what was going on because no one needed to know that I had actually been in the behavioral health hospital instead of the “normal” one.
Slowly the leadership began telling my husband that I need to sit down and be quiet, that I wasn’t allowed to pray for anyone anymore, and proceeded to tell my husband to get me off of those “devil medications”.
There was one particular night I will NEVER forget.
I was kneeling at the altar, praying and crying out to God. I was asking Him why did this have to happen to me? Why was He not taking away my pain and healing me?
Then an elder in the church decided they would come over and pray with me as well, only THEY prayed, “Devil come out of her!”
Let me just say right here, those words shook me up even MORE.
Here I was, already battling anxiety and depression and wondering what was wrong with me, and someone comes along and says THAT?!
Daily I was pouring myself out to God, reading His word, praying and seeking healing. Begging. Fasting. Asking. Nothing happened. AND NOTHING CHANGED.
Eventually, My little pink Bible became more and more marked up, tattered, and worn from all of the reading and searching I was doing.
Nevertheless, the hurt just WOULD NOT GO AWAY.
The pain WOULD NOT STOP.
The thoughts WOULD NOT BE QUIET.
The one place I should have felt safe and accepted at instead turned me away. The place I had been told that hurting people can run to, instead shut me out and was causing even more pain.
More importantly,though, I did not take my own life.
I came out of that pit stronger and more aware of what depression and anxiety can do to a person.
I have certainly learned a lot about mental health and all that goes along with it.
However, I am by no means an expert on the subject, merely an expert on what I LIVED. My personal journey with it spanned over five years.
As the church and ambassadors for Christ, we simply cannot ignore mental health any longer.
There are those that come through our doors longing to be healed, loved and heard, just like I was.
Know that being a Christian doesn’t mean you are exempt from depression and anxiety.
I learned that God’s Word is alive and living and active!
It does not return void!
So, when I came across 2 Corinthians 10:5 that says, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into the captivity to the obedience of Christ”, I spoke it OUT LOUD!
(I will say that my heart has finally been healed 100% of this hurt. In fact, a few weeks ago, I returned to this church for the first time in over 8 years. I was overwhelmed with the memories that came flooding back! Memories of lives touched, ministry done, meals shared, celebrations galore, and hearts healed…especially mine.)
Thankfully, I am still continuing to learn that the joy of the LORD is my strength, His peace is what guards my heart AND my mind, and like, Joseph, there is a purpose for the pit.