This post is a bit different than the usual. This is my testimony of healing. It was hard to type (even harder to submit to DailyPS), but suicide rates have risen 30% this year, so someone else needs to know they are not alone. This is a raw, honest description of how God provides healing, grace and beauty even in the darkest of times.
If you have ever struggled with depression, anxiety or even negative thoughts, I hope you read through to the end. If you have ever loved anyone who has struggled with these issues – I also hope you read through to the end.
This is an open letter to the people in my life who I have neglected and hurt over the last few years. My mood changed, I have been distant, and so unavailable. All this without any explanation to any of you. For that, I am so sorry.
If you’ll give me a moment, here is my story. It is a long story — but it is so important to share right now.
God has healed me from my depression and anxiety – and I won’t be ashamed any longer. This story is for someone else. This testimony is to remind someone that they are not alone. This story is to trigger someone reading this to check in on their friend who has been canceling too much lately.
There could be something wrong.
I heard someone describe depression this way once, depression is not just sadness. It is talking when you don’t feel like talking and smiling when you don’t feel like smiling.
Depression isn’t just sitting in bed thinking about sad things and crying. The overarching feeling, and effect is just unhappiness. Constantly feeling defeated and deflated. Hopeless.
I felt that. For a long time. Day in and day out. EVEN WITH JESUS.
From the outside looking in, I was great. So happy. Thriving. My social media accounts portrayed a happy, 20-something woman with a loving boyfriend and full life. Some of that was true.
Social media can be so deceiving. Yet no one around me looked at the signs. The fact is, I am trained and skilled in how to curate social media posts that portray EXACTLY the message I want to say to my audience. It is my job. It is what I went to school for.
I became my own public relations officer. But it was all a facade. And a very dangerous one.
The majority of my twenties has been challenging. Over the course of 9 years, I have experienced the death of two people who were very close to me. I have watched the health and overall dynamic of my family rapidly decline. Through the course of many extreme trials and foreboding storms, the enemy used my circumstances to build a cloud over my life.
My testimony is full of ups and downs and trials that many people who consider themselves close to me don’t even know about. To scratch the surface of what led me to almost hit rock bottom, here is a brief rundown of some of what God walked me through over the last decade:
- The loss of my close friend and big sister, Nikki
- The loss of my grandfather who helped raise me, my Pop-Pop
- My grandmother’s battle with lung cancer
- My mom’s battle with lung cancer
- My dad’s battle with prostate cancer
- Many identity issues and failed relationships
- My mom’s continuous health issues and monthly ER/ICU visits — including several times on life support
- Experiencing my mom’s three suicide attempts
- The loss of my childhood dog of 14 years
- Career struggles, job losses and deaths of dream
- The breakup and loss of friendships
All of these events came with their own sets of struggles attached to them. New emotions, new complications, new demons. And all of them took place between the ages of 20 -29.
Two years ago, I moved back in with my parents after another unexpected life event. What was meant to be a brief reprieve from the chaos, turned into the season that officially began my struggle with depression.
I found myself not leaving the house. More accurately, not leaving my bed. For days. Actual days. Cups and plates would pile up around me as I basically lived out of that space. (This is hard to even type, but I promised God I’d be vulnerable…so here we go.) My dogs were my saving grace. They would be the only reason I went outside some days. I hid all of this from the people around me! Which is the most incredible part of it all.
This early on, I recognized something was off. But I blamed it on my circumstances. I was so unhappy in my living situation — it was toxic and so detrimental — so I just blamed my behavior fully on that. After about 9 months, I moved into a small condo on my own and thought for sure I would change. I would ‘wake up’.
And I did, to an extent. I was more positive and not living out of my bedroom anymore — I would at least move to the couch. But things weren’t the same. Things were getting worse with my mom’s health and my career felt uncertain. Instead of seeking community, I sought solitude. I receded.
When you feel like everything in your life is burning down around you, it becomes really challenging to interact with other people because the only thing you have to talk about is the fire.
Small talk becomes not only difficult but downright painful. As time went on, I had less and less to talk about or to share that didn’t involve a hospital room or another prayer request.
I was exhausting to myself — and I internalized all of it into thinking that my friends must be tired of me too.
Unfortunately, I fell into the same patterns in my new home. As soon as my boyfriend would leave town for work, I’d let myself fall into this cycle. Just pure sadness and a total disconnect from the world. The best way I know how to explain what I was feeling, is that it felt like a dark cloud over me and my life that I could not escape. So, I caved into it.
I felt that I had nothing to offer the people around me. It was hard to join in celebrations with friends or even to go to dinner and ‘catch up’. My truth at the time? “I hadn’t left my house in 3 days prior to meeting you for dinner and when I get home I won’t leave again for 3 more days. My mom is back in the ER, I’m in a dead-end job and some days I’m just so sad I only get up for my dogs.”
But you never heard that. Instead you heard, ‘things are great. I’m just so busy.‘
After a year of this on and off pattern and of me becoming increasingly more disconnected, God began answering prayers. I got a new job, new apartment, things were going great in my relationship — and I could start to see the light. But it still wasn’t quite right. I could still feel a layer or two of this depression cloud — I just didn’t know what it was or how to define it. I honestly thought that this was just my life. That yes, the Bible promises joy and abundance, but that must be for other people. Or maybe this is just my version of joy and abundance? Some things in my life are great…right? So, this is my lot.
When I thought He couldn’t get any sweeter — He gave me ANOTHER job opportunity. Only this time on staff at Celebration Church — a true dream come true. This shift set in motion what would become a six-month healing process. I had no idea what was coming.
Pastor Stovall Weems, senior pastor of Celebration Church, received a prophetic word in January of 2018 over our church that the Lord was going to restore in THREE MONTHS everything that the enemy had stolen over the last THREE YEARS. When I heard this, I was so hopeful. But also, so skeptical. How could God possibly restore everything that had been stolen from me? And my struggle has been much longer than 3 years — we’re talking a decade. So…how is that possible? But I believed He would do something.
And He did.
Through a lot of prayer and reflection, God began to reveal things to me in my quiet time during our 21-Day Awakening Fast. I would meditate on a scripture or thought, and suddenly He would bring to my mind a circumstance that occurred during what I now refer to as my ‘dark years’. He would then show it to me in a new light — and through this slow, gentle process I began to see things more clearly. He would do this anywhere – in a meeting, the line at the grocery store, worship.
It was as if He was continually renewing my mind back to how He designed it to see the world. Through the lens of love and redemption.
This process happened for weeks — with no clear answer or major breakthrough. Just a lot of quiet revelations with the Lord over what seemed like very small things in my past. But still, it continued, and I welcomed the fresh outlook and opportunity to forgive people and myself.
Then, one night during a Wednesday Night Revival Service, Pastor Kerri Weems, co-senior pastor of Celebration, got up and prayed over the congregation. She shared her testimony of struggling with anxiety and depression and how God healed her. I stood behind the curtain on the stage that night and wept. It was as if as soon as she said the words, “depression and anxiety”, I knew what had been afflicting me. MY PAIN FINALLY HAD A NAME.
Once something has a name, you can deal with it. You can fight back against it.
I quietly asked God if this was my testimony too, and He responded with a peaceful and soothing, YES. My heart could feel the smile in His eyes as I finally recognized the work He had been doing in me all year.
It was in that moment, that night, that my journey of healing really made sense to me. I began to see what God had been showing me all along. I went back and read my prayer notes and it all made sense. This was my testimony and it was time to find the miracle buried within it.
A few weeks went by and I kept working with the Lord on my healing process. But the enemy was at work too. For three solid weeks, I couldn’t sleep due to severe anxiety. I was tossing and turning — having night sweats — terrible nightmares — anything you could think of to keep me from sleeping and dreaming. God has always spoken to me in dreams and I knew this was an attack.
So again, during a Wednesday Night Revival Service, Pastor Kerri Weems prayed what was on her heart. And this time it was a word for those of us who had been attacked in our sleep. She prayed for armies of angels to surround our homes and our bedrooms — to fight off the demons and keep us in restful sleep.
That night I slept 9.5 hours — THROUGH THE NIGHT — for the first time in almost a month. And the best part? I woke up and knew that I had been healed.
The date? March 21st, 2018 — 3 months after Awakening Revival.
All of this to say to the people in my life: that I am SO sorry. I love you. I have missed you. If you have been in my life over the course of the last decade and we’ve grown distant, I would love to ask for your forgiveness. I’d also love to ask for the opportunity to get to know you again.
You mean a lot to me. I value you and your presence in my life. So much of why I grew distant was out of the fear that my life was a burden to you — and through that I burdened you even more.
I truly ask for your forgiveness. I love you and I always pray for you. And if you ever want to ask me questions about this journey or what happened — my door is open.
“God met me more than halfway, He freed me from my anxious fears.” – Psalm 34:4 MSG
And to those of you that don’t know me personally – thank you for taking the time to read how God has blessed me and healed me. I pray that this testimony resonates with you. We don’t go through trials and struggles for no reason – we walk through the fire so that we can learn how to tell the people walking through it behind us how not to get burned.