Each Sunday we select an individual whose willing to share their #SurvivorSunday story with us in hopes to empower lives, and to remind those who’ve struggled that their story matters.
#SurvivorSundays was created to shine a light on the stories of those who’ve decided to help #BREAKTHESTIGMA and speak out about their battle with mental illness.
My name is Jessica Haggy and this is my truth…
Over the course of my lifetime I battled anorexia for multiple years and coiled up within that disorder was high functioning OCD, anxiety & deep depression.
Honestly I was in denial for many years claiming my eating disorder was a ‘ lifestyle choice’ ( which was the answer I gave in later years when someone finally asked a few gently direct questions about my weight/health).
The pivotal moment came for me when I went for a doctors visit for a completely different issue and at the end of the check up the doctor set down her IPad and said ‘ Well that’s handled, now let’s talk about your eating disorder.’ And later in that conversation she said things such as ‘”you will die if you don’t change” and ‘”Who do you love enough to change for because right now that person isn’t you.” It was abrupt, it was aggressive, it was raw and it was just what I needed.
My faith has been paramount and number 1 – apart from God’s grace I would not be alive. The second most important key to my recovery and ultimate healing has been community and accountability – without the support system that rallied around me I would not have survived. I’m thankful everyday for my tribe who held me up and even at times carried me through this journey when I didn’t have my own strength. It takes a village to raise a child but , as it turns out, you still need the village to thrive as an adult.
I believe the stigma is ended by education and speaking up. Shame is in the silence , so the moment we all begin to share our stories and speak our truth the lies & stereotypes begin to break. Suspicions and stigmas are bred in the dark, it’s time to turn on the light.
The advice I would give my younger self or anyone for that matter would be this: Honey hold on, it gets better. Do not give up. This is not the end but instead the beginning of a happily ever after if you will hold on to hope. Also I would implore the one struggling to reach out for help to trusted counselors, spiritual leaders, doctors, parents, friends etc…you weren’t made to do this alone. Step out onto the courage of vulnerability and allow yourself to be seen just as you are in this moment, to be loved in your struggles and to be made whole in the arms of those who are committed to your journey of health and wholeness.
San Jose, California
My name is Rachel Novak and this is my truth…
My entire life, I have struggled with severe anxiety, O.C.D. and panic disorder. Just living my everyday life has become extremely difficult as I would constantly have panic attacks regardless of where I was or what I was doing. These panic attacks and my O.C.D. affected my daily life tremendously. Thankfully, over time I was able to find the help I needed with some amazing doctors from Stanford Health. Aside from medication and boxing, essential oils have also helped me with recovery.
I feel as though there is a major negative stigma centered around medication and therapy and some things it’s a bad thing. Personally, I’m very thankful I finally spoke up to someone about all that I was battling on the inside. Your Mental health is absolutely just as important as your physical health and I think many forget that. From Personal Experience, I feel as though my psychical health has improved as a result of my mental health improving. I’m not as tired, I’m genuinely happier overall and I can enjoy mote things in life than I could before.
I believe one of the major things we can do to end the stigma towards mental illness is getting the word out there. Having more discussions based on the truth of what many of us are battling daily. Share you’re story, let others know who may be struggling that they’re not alone. I recently published a blog on my website regarding mental health awareness and how we can end the stigma together by being there for each other through the process. Share your story, listen to other’s stories, spread kindness and encouragement to those who may be too afraid or ashamed to speak up. If I could go back and give advice to my younger self, I’d tell her to “be proud of who you are.” Whether the battle is with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, P.T.S.D., A.D.H.D, etc. those are simply labels and they do not define who you are as a person. They are simply just pieces of your story.
My Name is Amber Charles and this is my truth…
About a month ago, I checked myself in the psychiatric ward due to depression with suicidal thoughts. I’ve been feeling unwell for some time and thought for my own safety; the psych ward was the best option for me at the time. I’ve been battling with depression for over 12 years and it reached an all-time high. Prior to this I was a youth leader and leader for women’s ministry, both in which I recently stepped down from to heal. Depression has been a monster in my life for so long and it got to a point that I felt worthless and wanted to end it all. I was worrying so much about tomorrow’s problems, finances, and relationships that I became so stressed out and exhausted…like I wanted to end it all. But I felt that God was saying that He wasn’t done with me yet and has plans for me. So, during my stay for a week, I’ve attended all of the group therapy sessions and encountered many hurting individuals and sat and just looked out the window and asking a constant question of “What am I here for? What does God want with me? Why does this hurt so much? Why me?”
As I had my “why me” moments, God really opened my eyes to the hurting individuals around me. Upon my arrival that fateful Wednesday morning, my roommate was on SI Watch (Suicide Watch). I had many expectations that she was going to be a violent person but as I got a chance to know her, she was the most bright and amazing person I’ve come across. Like everyone there, they were coming from a place of hurt and pain and seeking comfort and safety. Who am I to judge? They were like me, human and looking for answers.
As the week went by, I didn’t have my bible or didn’t journal at all. Instead, I just reflected and prayed for my fellow members. I prayed for my roommate who was trying to deal with rough relationships. I was praying for another young lady who was just seeking attention but in the wrong places. I was praying for the gentleman who had lost his fiancé and now resulted in drugs for comfort. I was praying for myself, and the relationships that needed mending and healing from years of hurt. I was praying for peace within all of this pain and hurt.
Upon my release over the weekend, I was able to drive myself home. We just experienced a snow storm and I haven’t been outside for a week, so my car was buried. This didn’t bother me. Nothing bothered me at the moment. Not the medication I was placed on, the fear of what was going to happen next, or what the work week would bring. None of this bothered me. In that moment, I just breathed in fresh air and happily removed the snow from my car. I felt a new sense of hope than ever before. I knew in that moment I would be okay, though many days will be harder than most.
Mental health is something that needs to be talked about because it affects more people than we know. Many people suffer silently as I did and may wear various forms of masks that make it seem like we have it all together, but we don’t. I am so grateful that God saw through me and revealed the things that He knew I needed to take care of now in order to be who He has plans for me to be.
Matthew 6:25,33-34 says: “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I am not 100% better, not even close, but I am recovering and taking it one step at a time with God. So far, He’s done some pretty amazing things and surrounded me with so many members from church and in my family. Life is not perfect, but it’s never meant to walk alone and many people are willing to help.
Currently, I am seeking professional help and counseling from my pastor and mentor. We meet every other week to discuss prevention tips, self-care, my walk in Faith, and just life. I meet with my small group weekly and they have been phenomenal in my healing process. It’s really important to talk about what you are going through together with people you can trust.
For those that are struggling now, I would encourage you to get the help that you need. Don’t worry about what others may think or say, but instead, place your life in God’s hands, get the help you need (professional or spiritually), talk about it, read scripture because it has so much truth, and keep praying and never stop.
My name is Hannah Neese and this is my truth…
In the past few years, I have battled depression and anorexia. I thought I was pursuing a path that was my calling. For years, I believed I was supposed to pursue a specific major for a career I truly thought would be best for me. However, that was not God’s plan, and after years of studies, and filled planners, I found myself out of school, and staring at an empty planner. I didn’t understand why God would allow me to work so hard for something, to take it away. I was angry at Him, because in my mind…He had simply watched as I wasted my money, energy, and time. The feeling of not knowing what to do with your life is incredibly destructive. Although it is so common for people in their 20’s to feel this way, it feels embarrassing and incredibly isolating. I was the same girl. But now my story was different. I didn’t know what to say when people asked how I was doing or what my next step was. I never had a plan B, and I was surrounded by people who seemed to be striving for their plan A…while I was stuck in no plan at all. I had days when I cried alone in my car, only to wipe the tears away, put on a smile, and speak to others about “How to overcome a struggle”. Yet, I was still in the midst of mine. My life felt incredibly out of control, so I clung to whatever I could control- and that was food. In those months, I had gained a few pounds because of stress eating and laying in bed. I lost a lot of my confidence, and thought “being skinny” would give it all back. I tallied every little calorie consumed and burned. I told myself I was being healthy and that this was the first step to the rest of my life falling into place. It only made my battle worse. Now, I didn’t have an answer for where I was going with my life or a path I wanted to pursue, but WAHOO I WAS SKINNY. That’s worth something right? No. I was incredibly broken. I cancelled plans with friends because I didn’t want to eat a meal with unknown calories. I was lonely, so I wanted to be with people. If I knew I was going to a dinner with friends, I would barely eat or I would workout to exhaustion to “enjoy” my time with friends. I was broken, scared, and felt incredibly alone. As someone who only wants to make people feel happy and loved, I never told anyone about how dark my days could really get.
I realized I was struggling with these mental battles, when I noticed that it was all I ever thought about. I couldn’t focus on anything or anyone I loved because my thoughts were consumed with whether or not I was worthy. I couldn’t enjoy a lunch with my boyfriend, best friend, or family, because I could only fully focus on one thing: my inadequacy. I didn’t want to waste my life because I simply wasn’t measuring up to a goal only I (ME, MYSELF!) had set. I didn’t want to reach my 70s and realize I never had memories of ice cream runs with my love, or relaxing days on the beach listening to the miracle of the ocean..because I was worried about the way my stomach looked.
I knew I needed to change, if I wanted to simply live again. I couldn’t remember what it was like to look forward to events and people without feeling like I need to know what I will say to make it look like I am “normal”. It’s been a long and tough recovery. Honestly, I still have days..even weeks, when I can feel that way again. But, I remind myself where I want to be when I’m in my 70’s and the memories I want to have. Simply not feeling alone helped me the most. I researched similar stories, and how they overcame their battles. I read more books, and listened to podcasts on self-worth and confidence. Honestly, I spent more time filling my brain with things that would benefit my well being, rather than the appearance of my body.
I believe in this world of instant gratification, the best thing to do is take time away from your phone and live in the present. Whether that be alone time, or with others, it is so important to look around and know who you are and all that you have. Knowing yourself is the first step to healing, and if we stay on the internet scrolling through the perfect images of other people’s lives..we will never learn to give ourselves the grace God gives to us.
There truly is a stigma around mental health. Many people think people are lazy, or think “just get up and do it”. I say that, because that is the attitude I had for a long time until it happened to me. I never in my life wanted to feel like I couldn’t do something. But there I was, feeling like there was no way out, and crying alone in my car. Mental illness can happen to anyone. It could be happening to your best friend, or family member right now and you could never know. It doesn’t mean they are crazy. It doesn’t mean they are lazy. It simply means they are in the midst of a little life battle. Give them the grace and love you should also be giving yourself. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a little life battle. It’s okay, and it’s normal.
If I could hold my younger self’s hand and look her in the eye right now, I would tell her one thing: It’s never going to be about how you look. No one cares if you have abs or perfect skin, and if they do…how easy it is to find the people you need to remove from your life. I would tell her that there is never going to be ONE way to live life. There is no perfect timeline, and it’s okay to not have it all figured out. I would want her to know that life is for the living, not the perfect. Simply, live.
New York, New York
My name is Nona Simone and this is my truth…
My name is Erika Hunter and this is my truth…
My name is Erika Hunter and I was born and raised in Inglewood, CA. Usually people are surprised by this as Inglewood has the reputation of being an urban city with limited resources. However, I managed to make the most of my reality. While it wasn’t always easy, it most certainly wasn’t awful either. I have my parents to thank for this. But while they were consumed by surpassing my expectations of them, they failed to meet each other’s. Up until I was 9 years old, my parents appeared to be happily married. Not too long thereafter, they separated and my father moved to Pennsylvania.
Being brought up by a single mother wasn’t half bad. I would have liked for things to look differently in our household, but I don’t recall needing for anything. It wasn’t until I became interested in guys that I began to acknowledge my “daddy issues.” A few years later, I found out that my father had cancer. I was confused by this reality and decided that I’d bargain with God in an attempt to get Him to heal my father.To my surprise, God had another plan and decided to bring my father home in August of 2010. At the tender age of 15, I was angry. I couldn’t make sense of why my father hadn’t been healed from his condition. Though I knew of this God and had heard of his miraculous works before, I turned away from Him. I remained in church though (because underneath my mother’s household, it was a requirement), but I wasn’t nearly as interested in Him as I was before.
I especially distanced myself from God when all of this happened during my visit to Pennsylvania, where he resided at the time. Prior to his death, my mother encouraged me to visit him. I was excited for this as I hadn’t seen him in some years. When I arrived in Pennsylvania, my dad wasn’t the one to meet me at the gate. Instead, it was my cousin. He rushed me to baggage claim and said frantically, “we have to hurry and get to the hospital.” Seeing that I had made a bargain with God a few months ago, I was utterly confused as to why we had to go to the hospital. Who was there? We get to the hospital and my dad is lying in bed. At first glance, I couldn’t recognize him. He looked as if someone had sucked the life out of him and left his remains for us to see. Before I knew it, I lost it. I rushed to the restroom, as I couldn’t stand seeing him this way. As I was in the restroom, I overheard the doctor say to my family, “Baron might live to see another 2 weeks.” As the tears rolled down my face, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
They sent my father home. A few days later, my father called mother to make arrangements to send me home early. He didn’t want me to see him during his last few days. A week after my arrival back in California, I receive a phone call that my father had passed away at the age of 61 from colon cancer. Talk about life shattering. But, it gets worse. The sadness deepens and the wounds only continue to bleed after finding out that my mother had similar conditions. But this time, almost 6 years later, I was completely unaware of my mom’s circumstances. I went in completely blindsided and my life changed in a matter of 13 days.
To my surprise, my mother had had hepatitis C for two years. It wasn’t until she informed me that she wasn’t feeling well one day that I rushed her to the hospital to find this out. After the doctors ran more tests, they came to me again and said that because the hepatitis C had gone untreated for so long, she now had stage 4-breast cancer. In a matter of days, she was gone. She was gone. My father had been gone. And I might as well have been gone too. I was angry. To the point where I didn’t think I’d ever experience happiness again. I was confused. To the point where I wanted to act like the last 6 years of my life hadn’t happened the way it did. I was hurt. To the point of escape. And I wanted out. I didn’t want to continue living without the security of my parents. I didn’t want to continue living without their love, support and wisdom. I didn’t want to continue living.
Time and time again, I contemplated suicide. At most, I drank myself to sleep. I threw things into the wall. I gave my body to men who were undeserving. I did these things to try and suppress the pain that never seemed to have went away. I was severely depressed and didn’t think that it would ever subside. I was almost sure that I would always feel this way.Though my current state of PTSD is still active and current, I am happy to have grown some to use an outlet such as this to share my truth. From the outside, I appear to be fine (and many people don’t ask me how I’m doing because of it). But, in allowing me this platform, I have been asked how I’m doing and I have listeners (or readers) who are interested in knowing. I appreciate being heard. It is because of outlets like these that I am still alive and holding onto the purpose that God still has for me, which is to live and to live on purpose. If you don’t have Jesus, try Him. He doesn’t always do things as we wish, but He always shows up in the midst of our storms. I am only here by His grace that has sustained me
Brooklyn, New York
My name is Ericka Claudio and this is my truth…
For quite some time, I’ve struggled with suicide and depression on and off for the past few years. The consistent hopelessness I felt with no real way to unplug from those toxic emotions was brutal. It would take me days to build myself back up again internally because externally I didn’t have the courage to say, “I don’t think I can handle this. My spirit is shutting down.”
Honestly, Jesus and the many angels he assigned to protect me have been the biggest blessing to me. I’ve survived moments where I’d wake up so drained and somehow I imagined to make it out of the bed and to work. Subconsciously, I think I found strength in knowing my calling is bigger than whatever emotion I was feeling at the time.
Just being transparent, I haven’t sought professional help yet. After searching far and wide for an affordable-sista-soldier-therapist, I think I found a match and I am looking forward to starting therapy later this month. However, I know my healing is rooted in God’s word and his promise to me. It’s always amazing how God would remind in the simple moments that he was with me. No matter how far off I’d stray or how many times I wanted to end it all – his love mirrored my truth every time.
No matter how down life takes you, there is so much healing in gratitude for the simple favor you have to be able breathe in and breathe out. This all hit me one day while watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and Kimmy Schmidt was asked how she survived all those years underground. She responded simply by saying she took it 10 seconds at a time. So I practiced that, meditating 10 seconds at a time – and eventually I could expand my focus from 10 seconds to 10 days to 10 weeks to 10 months. And whenever I get overwhelmed again I’d return back to 10 seconds, and that reminder that I am here – alive in this moment full of life given by God as a gift was enough to get the through. Shout out to Jesus and Tina Fey and Netflix; God is so creative. Your healing is on the other side of your “yes” to Jesus.
My name is Kolby Listenbee and this is my truth…
Through a portion of my college career, I’d say I’ve battled with both depression and mental abuse. The first time was my sophomore year of college when I went from playing football, to not at all. I was trying very hard in school, yet I still wasn’t doing well. On top of my difficulties on the field and in the classroom, my father had a heart attack mid season. My dad is very healthy worked out twice a day but he still wasn’t well. To be honest, that time in my life was the longest semester in my life and I was considering transferring out the next spring.
One night I went to bed one night and I felt like I was in sleep paralysis or something. I dreamed that I could see myself hanging off the side of my bed bleeding out like I stabbed myself and couldn’t scream or yell to get help. All I could see was white roses appearing the whole time telling me to kill myself. All I remember was crying and I ended up getting up and calling a close friend to take care of me.
Another thing that caused me to be greatly depressed was going through a bad breakup that ended with me being stalked a whole year. In that relationship, I experienced a lot of verbal and mental abuse changed me from a caring person to irritable and angry person. On the heels of my breakup, I had a really bad football injury that I was told I was faking. I was told I was going to be blackmailed if I didn’t play so I wouldn’t get drafted and put in the paper that the team was better without me. I ended up slipping from early rounds in the draft to 6th round and was injured for 2 years moved. Shortly after my injury, I moved to a new city (Buffalo) and was all alone. I hated it and became distant to people close to me.
What helped me overcome this difficult time in my life was being around friends and people who were going through the same thing. Also writing a letter to God expressing my feelings and my goals pulled me through. To by younger self, I don’t know what to say other than life might feel that it’s awful at the time but its not worth ending your life. I’ve found that really when you’re at your lowest your breakthrough is coming immediately after so you’ve got to hold on and control what you can and that’s your smile and happiness.
My name is Aliyah Smith and this is my truth…
When I was seven I remember listening as my mom sobbed in the bathtub. Concerned, I checked in on her asking why she was crying. At the time her answer confused me, but as an adult I now understand all too well why she turned to me in a daze with tears in her eyes and said: “It’s okay baby. Mommy just gets sad sometimes and it make me feel better to cry and get it all out so I can feel happy again.” My mom has manic depression and has now found her perfect balance of medication and faith to handle it in a healthy way, but as a child (the oldest) I perfected an art form of maneuvering around my mom’s emotions not realizing until years later the struggles I had with my own.
I have battled with a cocktail of mental health disorders my entire life that became amplified when I was 10 years old triggered by moving 100 miles away from my hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio to Columbus, Ohio. The move was sudden and due to my dad’s involvement in drug trafficking that led to our home being raided by SWAT before my eyes. Moving to Columbus was a culture shock coming from a small town on the border of Kentucky and I was bullied relentlessly for not acting “black enough” (I’m biracial), being fat (which I was not) and being too smart (not even possible btw). I handled it the best I could and just as I had made a group of friends and began to settle I was overtaken by my mental illnesses after the death of my uncle. My Uncle Josh died of diabetic complications at the age of 26 and he was my best friend.
When my uncle died we had just moved to Reynoldsburg and I missed my first day of school (8th grade) to attend his funeral. For the first two weeks I couldn’t make it past lunch without having a panic attack and calling my mom to pick me up and shortly after I was diagnosed as being prediabetic causing my weight and sugar to fluctuate rapidly. I tried making friends, but it was impossible in my depression and eventually my eating disorder kicked in giving me the sliver of the control I so desperately craved. I spiraled out of control shutting out family and friends and falling into a relationship that would only drag me down further. I stopped praying. I stopped eating. I stopped caring.
High school was a different story. Amidst my mom crushing her leg and losing her job and my dad stealing her pain medicine and returning to a life of crime I met the love of my life. A few days after we met I was telling him about a girl I didn’t like and cursing up a storm and he looked me in my eye and said: “Stop. I don’t like what I’m hearing and this is not what a woman of God sounds like.” At that point he didn’t know me from Adam but he saw that I was anointed and he brought me back to God. That was almost 7 years ago and I am still a member of that same church to this day.
My adult life has been mostly a blur. I have worked 2-3 jobs since I was 15 years old, doing everything I can to keep myself busy instead of facing my truths. In the past two years every perfectly placed charade in my seemingly put together role model worthy life has fallen away. I lost my first apartment, my relationship became toxic and began to drain me of the life it had once saved, and I fell behind in school plagued with overwhelming despair. Finally I gathered the courage to tell my mom I was ready for the help she had offered so many times before and took time away from the relationship I was using a s security blanket. I began taking medication to help manage my anxiety and allow me to sleep. I am taking time off from school to focus on my mental health because I finally see that actually being okay is more important than looking like you are. I was so afraid of disappointing everyone that I lost myself and my purpose so now I am on a journey to find it.
My name is Aliyah Smith and I am battling depression, anxiety, anorexia and seasonal affective disorder but I am not defeated and neither are you. I plan to use my experiences to fuel my fire to begin an organization that provides scholarships and life skill workshops to young women. I want to educate and empower more than just academically in order to give young women the resources they need to succeed in a society that wants us to fail. I am currently writing a book on tips to finding truth in your twenties and I am running a blog where women can submit guest posts on important topics from voices that need to be heard. My mental illness has not made me weak as women in the black community are pushed to believe. The enemy comes to steal and destroy and I am proud to say that when it comes to me, he has not succeeded and I don’t plan to stand by idly as he takes anyone else down. We are strong alone but we are stronger together. With Christ and one another we cannot fail.
My name is Whitney and this is my truth…
Can we take it back about 4-5 years? I can honestly say I was broken to the point of no end. My heart has been damaged, shattered and bruised and the pain was unbearable. By heart breaking .. I mean soul quenching, internally pain that send my life into a downward spiral.
Where did it all start ? I couldn’t tell you the first card that fell causing shambles to begin. All I can remember is for a long time, I never felt like I was “enough.” No, I wasn’t insecure about my appearance nor was I phased by if I had enough curves or the perfect body. Part of me felt beautiful, but only on the outside. Feeling inadequate went hand in hand with feeling lost. I remember not having a distinct dream, vision or even plan for my life.
I wanted to be successful ideally, but how? Having not a clue as to who I was or what i wanted out of life, I felt hopeless. My fear of the future and my worries of what I’d become started overwhelming me. I remember telling myself “you need love, true love to fill that void inside of you.” Listening to that voice, I started looking for love in people, things and experiences that didn’t align with the will of God. I would have good days sometimes, and bad days the next. When things were good, they were great but when they were bad, the bad days would break me. I constantly wanted to feel numb to everything and everyone around me. For a long time, I had been so confused as to why the people I cared for didn’t care for me as much. I thought “how could they have so much criticism and disapproval about my life. Carrying the weight of social media expectations and not living up to the expectations of society caused me to be so depressed. My depression was something I masked for a long time, and a face I wore extremely well. I’d be in a room full of people, yet I’d feel so alone. I depended on my looks to take away from my feelings. I would battle let down after let down and struggle alone. I refused to ask for help knowing I would never truly get the help I need. I went on like this for about a year or so maybe 2 until I got the worst news of my life.
“Whitney…You have Cancer,” The doctor said. “Cancer? I’m only 20 years old,” I thought to myself. With a heart full of wounds, a mental battle of depression and anxiety, and now I have to add Cancer to my list. What a life. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. December 2nd 2014 was the day my life changed forever. Feeling lost and hopeless, I felt numb for days. Two weeks went by and although I was still rather alarmed, I finally built up the courage to share the news with someone. I reached out to someone I was rather close to who response was “why do you have to tell me bad news like this is right now? I’m sorry to hear this but I can’t deal with all this right now.” Feeling alone, upset and hurt I called 2 more people. The 3rd person was the last person I could tolerate and I was literally barely able to speak. As a daddy’s girl (800 miles away from home) I weaped , I cried and prayed on that phone. Heart broken, afraid, alone, insecure and confused, I was on the verge of a psychotic break. Over that extensive phone conversation I don’t know what happened but I began to feel so loved and accepted. After battling rejection and one disappointment after another, I finally felt like I was loved and that I MATTERED.
That day I decided to trust God with my whole life and not look back. I suffered from temporary paralysis, anxiety, depression and low self esteem. However, I refused to care about my external more than my internal and finally learned to love myself . It took me a little over a year to start working again , pay off all my debit , buy my first car and start my own LLC. No longer do I need others to validate me, the bricks that were thrown at me have made me strong. Storms don’t last and I had to learn that God does everything for a reason. He used my toughest battle to change and save my life. I refuse to give up or break myself down, and I’m determined to keep my peace my energy my sanity and my faith . God’s love heals and his power changes things. He changed my life and he healed me from the inside out. As of 2017, I have been CANCER FREE FOR 3 YEARS. Don’t allow your circumstance to dictate how much you trust God. Trust him with everything you have and walk confidently in your healing.
My name is Jasmine and this is my truth…
For me, I realized the side effects of depression early on. As much as I would like to think I am a strong person, I realized after hitting rock bottom in my finances that I am nothing without God. After almost losing everything, barely being able to afford groceries, gas and the basic necessities that I was truly at my lowest. I began to realize that I didn’t want to leave the bed, I thought about what life would be like without me being present and even overeating whenever my anxiety got the best of me. This is when I knew this was something bigger than me.
During my season of depression, what kept me hopeful during that season was Jesus Christ meeting me when I was at my lowest. He lifted my head in the midst of me sinking in despair and brought some amazing people around me. My now church community changed everything for me. It took me opening up to them about where I was to receive the help that I needed. I’m so thankful I took the risk. He led me scriptures and worship songs that gave me an abundance of hope, joy and freedom.
Like I mentioned, the Lord truly led me to scriptures where other believers in the Bible battled depression. The Holy Spirit showed me how David, praised his way OUT of depression and this brought freedom into his life. It took some serious pray time, studying His Word and being around community to overcome this place. I’m a living witness that God can truly lift you out of this place of depression! I’m so grateful for His saving grace and pray others can experience this freedom too!
My name is Cherese Nimmons and this is my truth…
For a long time no one would’ve ever knew the pain I was suffering from. Being sick for three-months straight, failing in my purpose in life and physically not able to accept my looks my self-esteem was low. I was in a major depression smoking, drinking, party every weekend and majority weekdays’, going from heart break to heart break. Due to things I was battling alone, I had began taking anger out on friends and people I loved the most.
After all those many pains and coping mechanisms began to build up and led to my outburst Feb 18th, 2017. On this day I had gotten to my whits end, I was broken and attempted to commit suicide. On that day, I turned my life around to the God Almighty.
Since then I’ve starved, fast, went without money stretched mentally and physically! I’ve been celibate for 7 months, I’ve stopped hard drinking/partying, smoking and have grown closer to God than ever. At this time, I had nothing but faith in God. I had not been working for three months and yet God fed me, clothed me and got me everywhere I needed to be.
In this time, the Lord has let me grow into the virtuous women I’ve dreamed of being since I was a little girl walking in His will and growing in my destiny! I promise, when you’re doing right by him, you learn to not worry or feed into the enemy’s games. We must understand every failure is another stretch for growth and a closer step to his ultimate purpose. I’ve been disappointed more these past 7 months then my whole life. However, I’ve grown to learn that it’s not disappointment it’s a greater destiny for the life God wants me to live and the faith he wants to instill in me.
This ultimately lead me to start my own ministry Spiritual Lovaz. My ministry is for those new, old and trying believers that promotes true spiritual life on Earth as it is in Heaven. He’s allowed my character to show on the inside and now the outside by pushing me into purpose. I love and appreciate Jesus for every up and every down. All thanks to the Man upstairs and stewards that prayed continuously for my salvation in Christ Jesus. I’ve survived some of my toughest battles and I will continue with trust and obedience. Now when faced with experiences, worries, and disappointments, God changes my perspective to and gives me joy even if the roughest of times.
My name is Xiao Mei and this is my truth…
For a long time, I battled depression, cutting and very heavily with suicide. I fought a fight of uncertainty not knowing my true identity. I allowed my lack of self-confidence to give me anxiety during social events when forced to speak to others. I feared becoming vulnerable to others because I had conditioned myself to expect hurt, pain, and to be the victim when meeting others.
In all actuality, a walk in the park with my father as a young girl was the moment I saw light at the end of the tunnel. My father intentionally put me in a place of comfort – it was peaceful, quiet, and I felt safe. He asked, “Why did you cut yourself?” I replied, “Huh? I didn’t.” Forgetting I had short sleeves on, he caught me in a lie, I had no choice but to admit my reasons for hurting myself. The scars were not painful. When I’d cut myself it was simply a feeling of relief and I didn’t feel pain. Realizing it, I knew something in me was not right. It was then that I knew I truly needed to seek help.
I can remember my dark season of battling with my mental illness. I cried numerous nights to God in my closet. Soft cries however, so I wouldn’t awake my family. During my fight I prayed a lot, but also had a great support system. Those closest to me saw I was hurt and in pain, they spoke up, helped me acknowledge my fears, and taught me to face my fears. As humans, we often take the easy road when it comes to our struggles. It’s easy to remain hurt and keep quiet about your struggles. But it takes a strong individual to face the truth and seek help.
One thing that’s helped me with getting through that season of my life was learning to walk alone. My illness arrived because I envied those who were popular, girls who were pretty, and peers to dictate how I felt about myself.” Due to my battle with mental illness, I learned how to become independent and love myself without limits. I sought my own personality, invested in me, and expected nothing from anyone. God was my only friend. Whether people believe in him or not, he is real to me. My experiences with him are something I will never deny. Surprisingly, my isolation brought me closer to him.
If you’re struggling with living with a mental illness, know that there is hope for you and you can recover!
My name is Ashley Dixon and this is my truth…
For me, my battle with mental illness stemmed from not one, but four mental illnesses. Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. When I first realized I had mental illness, I was still a teenager. I used to feel extreme emotions and felt like I didn’t really have much control over them. Feelings of fear, hurt, anger and even inadequacy were all feelings I battled at an early age. I would tell my parents that I thought something was seriously wrong with me, but they would blow it off and charge it to me being spoiled or sensitive.
One night in college, I got extremely drunk and cut large gashes into my arm. I was drowning in my emotions of hurt, doubt, anger and self hatred. To be honest, I didn’t even realize the severity of what I had done until the next day, when I woke up in a pool of blood. That’s the moment I really realized and decided that I needed help. I wasn’t professionally diagnosed until the age of 22, but I made sure not to let it define who I was after I found out. What I had to find out for myself was that even with the challenges of life; God didn’t create us to live depressed lives. Seeking help is not a weakness, it’s actually strength. It takes a strong person to accept that their struggling in an area of their life and seeks that treatment.
As someone who has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, I believe I stay strong by trusting God and realizing that there is no set plan for overcoming mental illness. The best advice I can give to someone else is to give it to God, know that it’s a process- not an overnight fix, and NEVER GIVE UP!!! I cried out to God for weeks, months, years even, but He also needed me to let go of some things as well so He could shift me. Match God in His efforts.
I started by taking medication and seeing a counselor while simultaneously building my spiritual relationship with God. The medication route proved to harm me more than it actually helped, and was only a temporary and dependent fix. So I let go of that and focused solely on my spiritual relationship and seeing my counselor who was truly God-sent! I’ve dealt with a handful of painful relationships, failure in bringing visions and dreams to life, a short-lived alcohol and drug addiction, and so much more. But because of God, I’m still here. I’m still standing. And I can see yet another day to take full advantage of and live purposefully.
New York, New York
My name is Kristin Robinson and this is my truth…
For me, my intense battle with depression occurred during my senior year of college. I suffered from depression and anxiety, which caused me to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger and frustration. I met someone who I thought was the man of my dreams but instead, my dreams were utterly shattered. The relationship became emotionally abusive which prompted me to walk away. The feelings of depression and anxiety affected how I felt, how I thought and how I interacted both emotionally and physically with the outside world. It was very difficult for me to live my everyday life and sometimes I felt life wasn’t worth living. I felt as though I had entered a dark world that I could not escape from. The darkest place I’ve ever seen was inside me. My room became my security blanket and I dreaded walking out my front door and going to class. I isolated myself from my friends and family and began taking my anger out on them. Initially, I was in denial and did not believe that I was battling both depression and anxiety. I lacked the energy and motivation to participate in everyday activities, even getting a good nights rest seemed impossible. I had a lack of interest in food; my mind was in other places. My lost of appetite caused me to lose a lot of weight to a point where everyone seemed to comment on my physical appearance. I only ate so I could make it through the day. I lost a total of 30 lbs. in 4 months. My body began ache and bruise easily, my energy level dramatically dropped, I couldn’t sleep and when I was able to, I would sleep for countless hours.
My friends helped me to realize that I was battling a mental illness. They were all very supportive and sent me inspirational messages every morning. My depression affected my loved ones significantly. They kept reminding me who the true Kristin was and emphasized that this was only a storm passing through and this experience was only making me a stronger woman. Initially, I thought God had forsaken me, but as time went on I realized that without him, I would not be here today. Previous to this mishap, I believed in God but I didn’t realize how much I truly needed him in my life. This period of my life brought me closer to God. I opened my whole heart to God and asked him to help me make the correct decisions and to overcome this demon. I also turned to the bible for guidance and solutions. This whole experience has brought me closer to God and made me realize without faith, living without God, is like not having a life. To those battling depression and anxiety, you are not alone. Talk openly about your feelings, seek help, think positive thoughts, change your routine and pray. It will be okay. This will pass. Storms don’t last forever.
My name is Chrissy Nichole and this is my truth…
I battled severe depression and anxiety for several months, though granted I had functional depression for almost fourteen years, the severe depression almost took me out physically aside from mentally. I had always thought I wasn’t “as bad off” to go seek professional help or even spiritual for that matter. In my head, severe depression didn’t happen to “people like me”, I thought it looked more different and not dressed up with nice clothes and great income. I thought I was ok enough to stay afloat just enough to breath in deep waters. It wasn’t until the biggest blow finally sent me drowning summer 2017 when I no longer had any control, I lost ALL control. I hardly even recognized myself. I did and said things I’d never do. Acted out violently like a crazed animal. It’s almost like I was standing outside of myself watching me self-destruct. It was days that I did not even get out of my bed at all except to use the restroom or to let my dogs out to relieve themselves. I did not eat, I did not wash my face, I did NOTHING but lay in my bed and replay the horrors of my life over and over again in my head. Tears and sleep were my reality. I felt worthless and most of all I felt bad that my child had to feel these things from me. I don’t think people understand how much a mother’s mental health affects a baby in utero, and how that can be damaging to the child from birth and onwards to childhood. I didn’t want to start out motherhood being a bad mom. I was tired of withering away in my bed and losing weight from not eating. If I’m being honest, the only thing that motivated me to LIVE was my innocent baby girl still growing in my tummy. So I decided to get up and crawl to the floor in the middle of my living room and cry out to God. I didn’t want to, because for so long, I shut Him out of my life. I chose a bad lifestyle over Him and was very aware of it. So in my mind, I didn’t think He wanted to hear anything from a horrible sinner like me. BUT LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY GOD. God is MERCIFUL and GRACEFUL beyond our understanding. I cannot even fathom how after how bad I treated Him, that He still decided to save me. But He did.
The next day, I had a push to get out of the bed (something I hadn’t had in a long time), took a shower, and looked at myself in the mirror. I felt a bit of hope and joy that I had not felt in a long time. Then little by little I found myself getting dressed and going out into the world, into sunlight. I then went and sat in a coffee shop looking up counselors, and reached out to a counselor that seemed like it was a match made. During our sessions, she helped me break down years and years of frustration and hurt. Hurt from being sexually abused for so many years, hurt from bad decisions that I made as a young adult, hurt from being abandoned mid way through my pregnancy, and most of all, hurt from breaking God’s heart. She then helped me to asses how valuable I truly am, and that my identity and my identity alone is within Christ Jesus. It softened me tremendously. I then felt a wave of forgiveness. Forgiving all who hurt me and even forgiving myself as I actually contemplated no longer living. Everything changed for me and I’m so grateful to God that He brought that angel into my life to save me and help realize the true jewel that I am in the sight of Him. I LOVED myself again. From then on, I gave my life over completely to God and started living 100% for Him. Whatever didn’t and doesn’t glorify God, I don’t really want to be apart of. He exemplified so much love to bring me peace, happiness, and an uplifting community around me. So I want to live the rest of my days reaching people in any way I can, to seek salvation and a healthy and positive life. I NEVER want any person to feel what I felt or experience what I’ve been through. So if I had to go through what I went through to be an instrument and tool of God to help others, then I’m so grateful to play my part in helping others reach His kingdom. So my advice to you; Seek God FIRST. REACH OUT for help. God created community and it’s there for a reason, so please take advantage. You are someone special no matter what anyone tells you, because your Creator said so. Remember, your scars are what make you beautiful.
My name is Damesha Nealy and this is my truth…
From a young age, I battled heavily with depression. I can remember being in the second grade and noticing things weren’t right. I can still remember I would just go off to corners of a room by myself, and I’d just be sad, and I wouldn’t know why. I remember coming home from high school day after day, just feeling so broken. There was a time I can remember sitting in the corner of my room with a knife in my hand, debating on if I wanted to kill myself. If I went through with it, it wouldn’t matter much, right?
During high school, I had such s strong sense of hate for myself! I didn’t have self love, nor did I care to attain any. I had many friends, did sports such as track, dance and cheering as well. I can see why people would be confused as to why a girl like me, who seemed to “have it all” was depressed. One day I came really close to almost taking my own life, I was tired of pretending to have it all together and hold my head high. I planned how I was going to kill myself by hanging myself in my closet. I was so ready to feel numb to every ounce of pain, trauma and self hatred. The only thing holding me back was that I knew the bar wasn’t long enough for my feet to hang.
For me, I do think my depression and self esteem issues came from the things I experienced during my childhood. In my younger days, I got teased in school because I was skinny, and I didn’t have any large body parts that society says is acceptable. Even when guys would say I was ugly, I would harbor those comments and internalize them. I remember being friends with pretty girls that all the guys wanted, and yet no guys wanted me. I remembered thinking I am not pretty enough, I am not worthy of having a guy like me for me. But I have learned to build myself back up stronger than ever.
I knew my purpose was bigger than me and it always has been. I remember cutting myself for the first time my senior year of high school. It was when things got bad and I hit my first ultimate low. I remember feeling a sense of peace when I made the first cut. At that moment, I did not care about anything but feeling numb and lifeless. One of my biggest mistakes has been suppressing my emotions for so long. When I woke up each day, all I wanted to do was just die. When I got to college I hit another low my sophomore year, and that is when I really had to take a look in the mirror and tell myself “things had to change.” I was lost and hopeless. I was broken, depressed, hurt and angry. After my last break down, I then went on my self-love journey, thanks to An author by the name of ¨Alex Elle¨.
Everyday, I’m overcoming my battle with depression. God helps me a lot along the journey, I couldn’t do it without him. Knowing that I am not alone, even in the moments when I feel like I am is comforting. My mom use to tell me “when God does certain things it is because he is preparing us for something better.” At that time, I honestly thought God was punishing me.
What has kept me sane, is knowing that God has my back no matter what. My family & friends have been my biggest blessings thus far, and God continues to allow me to see how important family and friends really are. Everyone is going through something, weather we know it or not. But it is our job to know the signs and try to help out any way we can. I hope to bring light to depression, and self love with emerging myself into the fashion industry. I think this is something that needs to be talked about more, and not pushed to the back burner. My story isn’t over just yet, though I wanted to end it early, God is not done with me yet! If you struggle with depression, know that you can overcome it! Surround yourself with a community of people who aspire to love on you ans support you no matter what. There is life after mental illness, you can be FREE!
New York, New York
My name is Sahony Ramos and this is my truth…
Over the course of the last several years I have battled heavily with anxiety, and the monster of depression. For me, my depression lasted from 2011 to 2015. During this season, I dealt with trauma in my life that caused me a lot of grief. A cousin whom I was rather close to was murdered in 2011, and I numbed my feelings to avoid the pain.
When my feelings came back in 2015 I didn’t know how to handle them since I hadn’t felt for so long. Due to the pain I had harbored for so long, it was hard for me to love because my heart was broken. What actually led me to the realization that I had that mental illness was a tough relationship I was in. I had a boyfriend at the time who I cared about, but I didn’t know how to express love or receive it. As you an imagine, this caused complications and caused me to examine myself. I remember not feeling the love other people were trying to give to me and becoming frustrated with myself.
For so long, I used to cry at night all because I felt so detached from everything. I felt so isolated from my family, my friends, and community over all. My isolation steamed from not knowing how to properly handle pain and hurt.
To be quite honest, during my season of depression, I tried to remain hopefully by trusting God to revive my life. I remember praying and praying everyday and night, hoping that I would feel again. I just knew that there was an end to the tunnel and that I needed and would get there one day. I just had to have faith, and surround myself mainly with people that cared about me.
Everyday I’m still getting past my mental illness battle with depression, but it’s certainly a process. For about 7 months now, I’ve been seeing a therapist and learning to press into God. I also started meditating for my anxiety and that has helped tremendously!
My name is Brooke Pearson and this is my truth…
I almost asked my friend to take my place and share her testimony instead, which is a mechanism that I use to hide from the vulnerable aspect of sharing. I was raised in a Christian household and knew the power of Jesus for as long as I can remember.
When I think about mental illness, I’m reminded of a very dark period of my life. I found myself in a relationship that was mentally, physically and emotionally abusive. I found the courage from the depths of my soul to walk away — but when I left, I left broken, hurt and afraid of anything that associated with the word love.
In fact, I was so broken that I hid every emotion that I was feeling for almost six months straight. I didn’t want to deal or feel anything. The pain. The hurt. The confusion as to how I ended up alone and lost. I didn’t feel the presence of God and I sunk into a very depressed place. Instead of praying and asking the Lord for understanding, I hid my heart from the world. I would only give you half of me. Half of my story. Half of my heart. My spirit. I wanted to protect the few pieces left that I was able to feel.
I found myself depressed and anxiety filled. I also found myself addicted to pornography and masturbation. Ugh. So hard to type that out. But yeah, I was silently suffering with addiction, a broken heart and idolatry as well. When I was in a relationship, I made it an idle. It became my God. So when I walked away, I was stripped of something that I once worshiped. Imagine not having access to Jesus. That’s how I felt about my ex-boyfriend.
So I’m like wait, who’s ever going to want to marry me? He’s the only person who will love me just as I am, no else will love me the way he did. That’s the best it’ll get. Those are the thoughts that plagued my mind and I believed it. I was praying for a husband before I would even thank God for waking me up. I became fixated on the idea of being married. Wedding rings. Dresses. Wedding venues. You name it.
I felt worthless and broken and I couldn’t open up to people for over a year and a half. Not even myself.
Fast forward, I’m silently suffering with all the things mentioned above as a senior at St. John’s University. All four years I was on track to pursue entertainment, but one of my parents really wanted me to pursue law. I’ve known that I wanted to work in entertainment since I was a child, but somehow I found myself in a LSAT prep course. I totally altered my dreams out of fear of the unknown.
I applied to maybe 10 or 11 law schools and I was denied acceptance into each school. I felt so inadequate in the prep class and overall just felt worthless. Like completely.
Finally, finally I cry out to God. Lord, I need a sign. Help. SOMETHING. I had previously interned in Los Angeles and felt a certain peace there that resonated deep in my spirit.
I moved to LA after college with no job and no idea as to what’s next. I start attending a spiritual home that I found here called One LA. Slowly but surely, God began to restore my peace. My heart. My addiction. All of the broken and vulnerable pieces of me that I hid for years on end are slowly being healed. There are a couple of things that I learned over the past few years that I’d like to share.
First: God is your hiding place. When you find yourself lost and broken, do not seek things of the world to heal. I would often use pornography as a healing mechanism. I am not sure why — it would always make me feel better, but then worse right after. The arm of God is a peace that surpasses all. He loves us deeply. In spite of our mistakes and our afflictions.
Second: Do not seek love and acceptance from man. If you do, you will forever seek and never feel. The only love that can fill you up is the love of Jesus. It’s a love that sweeps in when you’re at your lowest point. The love of God saved my life, my additions and my downfalls.
Third: If you are suffering with addiction, please tell someone. You must have someone in your corner who can pray for you when you’re not strong enough to pray for yourself. I silently suffered for so many years and I can finally say that I am no longer a slave to addiction. God has not called us to be addicted. Addicted to weed. Porn. Sex. People. God can deliver you, I promise.
Last: “There is love after love.” This is my favorite quote of all time. Hurt is one of the worst things we can feel in life. However, in hurt is where we find our strength in God. I once felt useless and unworthy of anything, but now, the peace that I have in God surpasses all.
Ask God to show you the way He views your heart. Pray that when you look yourself in the eye, your reflection mirrors the grace of God. You are so worthy and you always have been. The past is just that – the past. Our future depicts the deep desires within our heart and secret dreams that only God can view.
The enemy tries to whisper things like suicidal thoughts and depression into our ear to cloud our judgment. And in that moment, we must remember that we have access to the most High God — and through His stripes we are forever healed.
I can only pray that this part of my testimony touched you in any kind of way. Fly fearlessly into the man/ woman that God has crafted you all to be.
Thank you for life. For love. For vulnerability. I pray over each person who reads this and anything that their struggling with. I pray that addiction flees off your people in the name of Jesus. I pray that the chains of depression and anxiety break right now. I pray that your love and your peace overwhelm them tonight. I pray that you guide us as vessels of Your Kingdom, Jesus. I pray for God dreams on behalf of Your people. I pray for God faith that helps us understand the accessibility that we have to the impossible. Thank you for Jordyn and this platform. You are the one, true living God and we worship you now and forevermore. In Jesus name, Amen.
With peace and love always,
My name is Regan Smith and this is my truth…
Coming-of-age was a difficult time for me. It birthed me into a foreign field, a swarming darkness. I encountered endless nights of mental battles, that left me battered and bruised. The culprits danced and hid away within my mind, holding the facade of friendship—my eating disorder, depression, drug abuse—waiting to ambush. With battles bled into the daytime hours, I felt as though this non-stop nightmare would arrest my reality for the duration of my life. It held me captive, bashed with bondage.
It unnoticeably camouflaged itself within my too-thin teeth, brittle bones, and underweight body. Thoughts of despair hung dense, acting as a physical weight within my mental state.
I aimed to dilute this discomfort through prescription pills and cocaine lines. These vices have a way of holding you, enticing a moth to flame, with the thought invigorating saliva to pool beneath the tongue. It’s a snare with rigid claws and a steel frame that forever grasps unless released by encountering immense pain and intensive healing.
Feeling consumed, I had unknowingly plunged into this deep, dark pit. I had too many drafts of last letters; it’s ironic that I’m a writer, now.
One evening, beneath the shadow of the night—though the stars shone onto my shoulders—I crumbled. I could feel the rubble of the edge of a cliff beneath my shoes, moon reflecting through the transparent tears on my face. All the hidden demons stormed my mind, overwhelming and without hope. Mentally measuring the height of the hill, I knew that the fall would not parallel my physical body with my absent mind. As I was seeking out greater heights, the grace of God struck me. My car could no longer climb, and I was a failure at being a failure. This was the greatest gift that God could have given me, saving me not only once, but twice.
This is when I became cognizant of the deep darkness that engulfed my surroundings; the deep darkness that I embedded within the fibers of my thinking, the fibers within my mind.
I was compelled to cease the lifestyle that lingered thick and moved across the states to rehab and refresh. He began piecing through me, layer after layer, helping me understand each thought that passed my mind. Darkness departs when light illuminates. The more I sought out the truth, the more the mental illness faded and departed.
I am no longer broken or bound, nor is that within my capacity; I fell madly in love with Jesus, the one who visualized me as he was struck and slain, hanging on that cross.
God created the universe and didn’t cease to create, until I was in mind. Now, whenever adversary inevitably falls, I don’t succumb to the depths. I can rise victorious for the same love and life that rose after three days is alive and active within me. Darkness departs when light illuminates. Be encouraged!
Delray Beach, Flordia
My name is Jovanika Dormil and this is my truth…
I am Jovanika Dormil and I’d like to think of myself as a courageous, ambitious, hopeful, transparent, joyous, and loving 20-year-old young woman. It took a lot to become that girl and it wasn’t easy but by the grace of God, we are still breathing and speaking of His goodness. You’re looking at a girl who struggled with low self-esteem, one who was unaware of self worth, and one who was totally lost for such a long time. I remember being in my senior year of high school at 16 years old, a couple of months after I accepted Christ into my life. I had gotten to a phase of questioning myself, my character, my physical features, my purpose, my worth, and even my existence. For a while, I thought that after I accepted Christ that those thoughts I once had in my head, would then disappear but it seemed like they grew even more.
My older brother, Will, had seen first-hand my struggle with low self-esteem. I would ask him things like how an outfit would look on me because his opinion to me was a summary of others opinions. For so long, the opinions of others dictated my value and my beauty of whether not I should wear an outfit. If my brother were to say “no, don’t wear it.” it would break me into pieces automatically. It got to a point where when others would insult me or say a harsh comment towards me, in my mind that comment/opinion would cause me to dislike myself. I’d then become emotional and get locked into this “emotional chamber” and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
When I was in high school it was even tougher, because at the moment you don’t know who your true friends are or who to confide into. So you try and comfort yourself when things go wrong but realize what can you do, when you’re broken yourself. I remember when things would go wrong in my life, eve at a young age. Almost automatically, suicidal thoughts would begin to arise and I would sit at the edge of my bed questioning God with waterfalls of tears and questions, questions, questions, of why, why, why, why. Thinking to myself “I raised in church why me Lord?”
For months, I would just fall asleep in my own tears at night. The following January of 2014 I had an experience I will never forget. I attended a conference with my father, and the speaker was saying “in whatever situation you’re going through, God will never leave you nor forsake you” and he would just repeat it and repeat it. After he began to say it and say it and say it, something began to resonate with my spirit. It hit me hard, to the point where I ran to the altar with tears flowing down my face. It was as if everything I needed to feel, I felt. I felt the presence of Jesus!
I went home that night and got in my space of alone time. As I began to reflect on that heaviness I felt at the conference, I began to feel him again. This was beyond an emotional moment, but this was the birthing of change. I got on my knees at the edge of my bed, and I declared “Father this low self-esteem, low self-confidence, not knowing my worth that I am struggling with I NEED YOU like never before! HELP ME.” Have you ever needed God so desperately that you can’t hold your emotions and you just let it all out? Have you ever laid down the cares of the opinions of others, who’s watching or who’s around and just focused in on Jesus?
For the first time in my life, that was me that night. I remember I spoke to God in that moment and I told him “I trust you in every way. I am hopeful, and I apply my faith right now in the name of Jesus!” Three months later, I graduated by the grace of God and went to a youth service and the pastor asked the young people if anyone desired to be filled with the Holy Ghost. Something rose up in me and next thing you knew, I was up there with confidence putting everything that I was going through behind me and just focused on God. The pastor said “Believe and apply your faith.” In that very moment, my blood rushed from the top of my head to the soles of my feet it wasn’t chills, it was the Holy Spirit moving through me. I spoke in tongues for the very first time and my desire to serve God emancipated immensely!!!! I began fasting, reading his word, encouraging others etc. It was then I realized I overcame my low self-esteem when I built my foundation with God. Sometimes God will bring you through a mental journey to fix you up spiritually. To the next lady or gentleman struggling with any mental health issue, remain faithful, pray, trust God, and surround yourself with other growing men/women of God. You got too much purpose locked up in you! I pray my truth encouraged you!
My name is Tevin Lucas and this is my truth…
I am Tevin Lucas, the second son of Walt and Kathy Lucas, grew up in the Northwest. I have an older brother, Justin and two younger sisters Rachel and Danielle. My early years were spent in a loving Christian home with a full-time stay at home mom in the small rural town of Puyallup, Washington. My father travelled a lot as a successful audio engineer and life was full of sports and social activities with family and friends. While growing up, my siblings and I were all tremendous athletes, as well as great students!
I’ve been sharing my love for Jesus for most of my life. At a very young age I was very mature, spiritually aware, and had an uncanny understanding and passion for the faith. My first pastor, Chris Hansler, identified my “calling” at the age of ten after I attended a youth camp.
Throughout my life, I’ve been faced with challenges that many younger children do not have to experience. I remember when I was eleven, my father faced a serious health crisis and was near death. My dad, the main provider for my family was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and had to have emergency open heart surgery. The surgery was successful, but the impact on our family emotionally and economically was disastrous! On top of my father’s serious health condition, he also lost his business and his health continued to decline as a severe lung issue was also exacerbated.
While my family was struggling to work through this challenge of my fathers health, my older brother Justin was faced with his own health issues. A successful athlete, he sustained multiple concussions in one year that culminated in severe post-concussion syndrome. With both of my strong male role models struggling so significantly, I quickly became the man of the house and took on a lot of responsibility to help my mom. Justin’s traumatic brain injury affected everyone, but no one was affected more than I was. My brother was and still is one of my biggest role models and seeing both he and my father in these terrible conditions weighed heavy on me.
During my high school career was around the time that much of these events occurred. Growing up in a household where sports meant the world to my family, of course I too experienced my own physical challenges as a result of being an athlete. Over the years my passion for sports really took a toll on my body. A spine injury, as well as an ankle injury often times left me hopeless.
I remember going through recovery for my ankle injury and constantly being worried about my family, as I was away from them. While going through the process, I began working really hard to re-hab from my ankle injury. Trying my best to stay focused on school, all while worrying about my dad and my family was a lot to handle. After concluding my rehab treatments, I was looking forward to heading home for a visit, when life unexpected happened.
While running a route at football practice my first day back, I sustained the worst injury I had ever experienced. I can’t begin to explain my feelings in that moment. I felt the most excruciating pain as my knee was literally torn apart! Not only had I tore my ACL, but also my LCL, meniscus and I suffered crucial nerve damage. The injury I experienced was more devastating than I truly realized. Doctors expressed at the time, It was one of the worst knee injuries seen in College football.
As a young man and extraordinary athlete, I was forced to face the fact that my collegiate career was over. The following weeks revealed many disturbing facts, the main one was that I could have permanent nerve damage in my leg. Letting go of my dream to play college football was very hard. I had always been an athlete first, and had been in sports since the age of two. To think that this would no longer be a part of my life life was a painful revelation. I struggled heavily with my identity and again faced severe depression.
Being who I am, in my usual way, I faced this time of trials with humor. I joked through the tears, as I had an uncanny way of making my mom laugh even during the most difficult circumstances. I was always one who always masked my pain and disappointment with an amazing attitude and faith. I can recall leading my mom in prayer so many times during my hospitalization, because I knew somehow, in the midst of everything, God was fully in control. I never doubted, but could not help wondering where his path was headed.
Thankfully the surgeon was able to save my leg and I’d soon be able to walk again. I still have no feeling or movement in my foot, and I have to wear a prosthetic device to walk. No matter what it looks like, I still continue to hold out hope that the nerve will come back. Sometimes I still miss being an athlete and struggle to walk normally.
The beautiful part of this story is the transformation that I’ve experienced through all of these very difficult challenges. I now know that my identity is in my Savior, Jesus Christ and him alone! I know that living for myself left me empty and depressed. I am on fire to share the love of God across the nations. My destiny is in bringing people to Christ. Nothing brings me Joy like serving God and living daily in His will. I understand that God does give us more than we can handle, because He wants us to turn to Him, to rely on him, and to give Him the glory. Every opportunity I have to talk to students, to mentor them, encourage them and help them on God’s path, I am anxious to pursue. I am a student, a coach for my alma mater, Lakewood High School and now a speaker and Evangelist.
I still remember when I was weighed down by a weight, loneliness, and struggling with thoughts of suicide. During that season, I remained hopeful by having people around me that would lift me up and love on me. I also got plugged in to an amazing church that poured into me and turned my entire life around and helped me get through the season of suicide.
To be honest with you, depression is still something that I have to battle with, but every time I go through a season of depression I make sure I am surrounded by good community. I remind myself that depression is no match for what God can do in and through it, and remind myself that I am not alone and I am not an outcast because of it.
“I believe God is calling him to reach his generation. He has always been such a gift to me and our family I think a true gift to the world. It has been so hard to watch him struggle, but he has been blessed so abundantly and now it is his time to impact and further God’s kingdom. I am thankful every day to God for all that our family has endured because I know that there is so much more in heaven. It is a short time here and I know we all want to see heaven more crowded.” – Kathy Lucas (Mother)
My name is Sopha Rush and this is my truth…
For some reason, this post took me a while to write. I’m not sure what was hindering me from sharing my story. I share a lot about my life, but a piece of my personal testimony has not. So I wanted to open up and be vulnerable and share how I’ve overcame my battle with depression. So many people are battling with depression, yet no one really wants to discuss it because let’s face it, people deem this as being weak or she’s/he’s messed up. No one wants to deal with someone who doesn’t seem to have it all together. Reality check: No one does.
A straight A student, 3 sport athlete, vice president of my senior class, homecoming queen, who would have guessed? That me, yes being all that I was, was battling with depression. I didn’t let anyone know because I wanted to seem like everything was okay and I was this girl that had it all together. It was an inner battle that I struggled with. From the outside looking in, you would have seen this bubbly, outgoing, loving individual who didn’t know a stranger. Although all those things described me, I had made myself believe that I was not worthy to be loved.
If you have ever dealt with depression like I have, you would know what it does to a person. It’s like being scared and tired at the same time because it feels like you’re just existing not really living. Even though I was there physically,–emotionally and mentally, I was checked out. I wanted to tell those closest to me how I was feeling, but fear kept creeping in, crippling me from reaching out. I would just smile and say, yeah I’m fine, knowing I was screaming on the inside.
I remember coming home from school and just go into my room and just cry for hours. My house parents always thought I was trying to seclude myself from the other girls in my home, but this was something much deeper than wanting to be around others. I wanted the pain to go away but didn’t know how, besides contemplating to take my own life.
I would sit in my room and think about different ways I wanted to end my life. I never attempted anything, just tried to plan the best way to go. Something in me though, wouldn’t let me. I would always think of my father. He died when I was just five. I knew that I couldn’t put my family through the pain of losing another. I guess that’s why I wanted to stick around.
People didn’t understand the pain that I felt, nor did I let them close enough to feel it. I had to be strong for my brothers and sisters. I had to let them know that I was going to do everything in my power to make sure they were well taken care of. It was the fight in me that wanted to protect them from knowing the pain that kept me up at night writing in my journal how I didn’t want to be alive. I became numb. I had built up anger towards God and reaching out to him was no longer my go to. I was hurting. It was scary, and lonely being that I felt like it was me against the world.
As I am writing this, tears are running down my face, because God saved me when I wanted to end things. He gave me hope when I was hopeless and at the lowest I’ve ever been in my life. I was in a dark place, but God lead me to a light that made me hold on a little longer when I wanted to give up.
When nights felt like they would never end, he came and comforted me. He gave me the strength to make it one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. Though it was hard at times, he saw fit to walk me through each step of the way, leading me to believe that yes, I too, have purpose. My time here wasn’t yet fulfilled, that I had a destiny to live out.
When I was broken down to the point of no return, I ended up back in the arms of my Father as He held me & reminded me that He would never leave me. The pain that I was feeling didn’t just go away overnight. It was a process that took years. Healing that filled the holes of emptiness, loneliness, pain, sadness. Healing that turned my battle to a victory.
For those who are dealing with depression, here are a few things I learned through my healing process. It’s okay not to be okay. There will be days where you feel sad for no reason. Days where you want to be left alone. Whatever you are feeling, don’t let someone try to make you feel like you aren’t able to have feelings. Never forget how much you matter.
God is your rock and your refuge, when you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel, know that God is with you and won’t ever leave you when everyone else does. You are well loved my dear. Call on God, seek him for strength. You never really know all the battles people are going through so be kind and gentle. Learn to listen rather than lecture. Sometimes an opportunity to have someone to just hear us, brings healing & comfort.
Working through traumatic experiences like I had to, wasn’t easy, but it was freeing. Working through emotions was not easy, but necessary if I wanted to break this bondage of being captive to my own negative thoughts about life & myself. I had to remind myself that the pain though it felt off and on, wouldn’t last forever. I knew in the midst of it all, there was joy that would shine through.
Stay strong. Know that you are more than a conqueror, who allowed God to turn your mountains into hills. And will continue to be right beside you every step of the way as you continue fighting this battle you are facing. Whatever battle that may be. You are not alone. You matter!
My name is Taylor Dunlap and this is my truth…
I am Taylor Dunlap. I am a 25 year old wife and mother that graduated from The Ohio State University on a full ride scholarship. I have done many things in my short time here on earth, but one of my proudest memories is starting a bible study called TBOC on one of the nation’s largest campuses and watching hundreds of young women and men meet the Lord for the first time.
You’re probably reading this and wondering, what in the world does a bible study have to do with iLive right? TBOC, amongst many other things, would not have existed if I followed through with my suicidal attempt when I was 14 years young.
To many people, my past would seem perfect. I come from a middle class, two parent household that gave me the world. I was captain of a cheer team, president of a show choir and president of the junior national honor society. I was a 4.0 student that loved education and had more friends than many. I got along with everyone, and everyone loved me. It may have seemed like I had it all. But that was the view looking from the outside.
During my eighth grade year, three very huge incidents happened in my life. I had a break up with my very first boyfriend, my grandfather’s died and the death of dearly loved choir teacher all happened within weeks of each other. This series of events sent me into a deep bought of depression.
Although my parents were aware of these incidents, they had no idea how severe the break up and deaths had impacted me. I would come home, do my homework and sleep. Wake in the middle of the night and cry for no reason. I would listen to music that made me overly emotional to give excuse for my pain that I was hiding.
One Wednesday after school I contemplated taking a whole bottle of Advil. The plan was to wait until my mom left for bible study and then proceed to sleep and not wake up. But glory be to God that my mother discerned I wasn’t well. She made me go to bible study, and it was there God met me. In a class with my closest friends who thought I had everything together, I broke down.
During the session they asked me “Taylor, what’s your purpose?” And I slammed my head on the table and sobbed. I didn’t know! I felt at that at this time in my life I had no purpose. I was tired of people tying my purpose to perfection and purity. I wanted them to see my hurt. I wanted them to see me.
One of the teen ministers gently embraced me and led me out into the hallway where she prayed a prayer for me that I will never forget. It was within this prayer the Lord spoke to me, reassured me that I have a purpose, and that He is near in a time of grief. I remember my countenance being lifted and my tears transforming from broken angry tears to tears of relief and joy.
That Sunday I gave my life to Christ. That Sunday I was marked for His purpose. Although there were seasons I was compromised and backslidden, the purpose that God had for me has not changed. Here I stand, 11 years later, having impacted many lives to live a full life in Jesus Christ, as well as married to the man of my dreams and having a beautiful daughter named Harmony.
If I could leave any advice to anyone one reading this testimonial, I would say that you are not being overly emotional. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. More importantly than asking for help, know that God cares about your frustrations and about you feeling purposeless. He cares about your grief, dealing with deceased loved ones, and He cares about the bad break up from the long term relationship that you gave your all too. Come near to him.
What better time to get to know Jesus than in a time when everyone else has forgotten about you. There is no better time than this! I am so glad the Lord saw me in my depression and said to me there is so much to live for and I have a purpose for you. I’m glad I listen.. I’m happy I lived to see His truth come to pass.
Perth, West Australia
My name is Lisa GraceLuce and this is my truth…
The main mental health issues I have struggled with are depression and anxiety. What started out as mild depression quickly turned into suicide attempts and a number of hospital admissions. I was stuck in the dark cycle of depression for eighteen months, and invested vast amounts of energy into planning my own death. Although I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder at the time, I also battled body image and self esteem issues. I would go through phases of starving myself and purging, as well as self harming. I desperately wanted to lose weight and look a certain way. My mental illnesses affected every aspect of my life: my sleeping, eating, friendships, sport commitments, goals, schooling and my future.
I was fifteen when I first suspected that I was battling with depression. I found myself crying a lot, isolating myself from my friends and family, and overall feeling really down. I really struggled to get out of bed and I no longer enjoyed doing things that used to excite me. Social situations would really scare me, as would thinking about my future. I wasn’t sure if these feelings were just the way I was made, or if they were part of my personality. I didn’t know who to talk to or what to do, so I started researching depression on the internet. I soon discovered that all of my “symptoms” corresponded with those of depression. I didn’t want anyone to find out about my suspected depression, so I suppressed my negative feelings. I eventually opened up to a trusted older friend and she later told my parents. From there, I went to the doctor and was officially diagnosed with depression. A few months later I was diagnosed with anxiety, and a few months after that, I began to develop unhealthy eating habits.
To be completely honest, I really struggled to remain hopeful, and at some points, I didn’t have any hope at all. I couldn’t see the point of life and doubted the importance of my existence. It was in these moments that I became strongly suicidal. Some factors that did give me hope were my friends and my love for dancing. However, nothing except the love of Jesus gave me enough hope to want to stay alive. Once I became a Christian, I discovered a hope like no other. A hope that was real and gave me a sense of purpose. I learned that Jesus is the ultimate answer and is the real reason that any of us are alive in the first place!
I overcame my battle with mental illness through Jesus. At the age of sixteen, I gave my live to Christ and realized that there is a God who loves me just the way I am, and has a plan and purpose for my life! AMAZING! Becoming a Christian radically transformed my life, and my health. My depression and anxiety were replaced with joy and peace and I found hope in the Good News of Jesus. I realized that there was a void in my heart that only Jesus could fill. Jesus gives life and can restore broken hearts. Now in saying that, my recovery journey wasn’t always a smooth road. I had bad days and relapsed a number of times. However, having a relationship with God made those bad days bearable. God has comforted, loved and healed me and continues to do so every single day. My story isn’t over yet, however if there is one thing that I can teach you, it is this: Mental illnesses are serious and can be life destroying. However, there is a God who loves you and who thinks the absolute world of you. He wants a relationship with you and can help you overcome your illnesses.
Growing up I was a seemingly happy child, I had the world but there was so much that I longed for internally that I never addressed until years later. During my sophomore year in high school I met a boy and fell in love. Little did I know, that what appeared to be a “forever love” would be the beginning of years of pain and abuse. I suffered from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-hate. It wasn’t until my Sophomore year in college when I found myself running out of my dorm because I feared for my life. The moment I realized that I could literally die in this “love” that I so desired, was the moment I decided I no longer wanted to be in that place. Even after realizing what my life had become, my childhood desires prevented me from leaving. I longed to be loved and have that fairytale relationship by any means. For a long time, I stayed and continued doing the same things I knew would kill me. It wasn’t until a family member pulled me aside, and told me that I could either stay and fight in a relationship that could one day kill me, or I could walk away and live. God sent someone to save me, and to let me know it was okay for me to leave, and that the life that had become normal wasn’t even close to what he planned for me. To this day I struggle to place my illness in the past, but I serve a God who promised me that no weapon formed against me will prosper, and I cling to that. Even on the toughest days I look at my life, and thank God for allowing me to hit the bottom, because I’ve experienced first-hand how God will reach down and lift us up no matter how far we stray.
My name is Padishia Smith and this is my truth…
For many years, I battled with severe depression. After being completely robbed of my happiness and the wholesome little girl that I was, I started to battle with depression and self inflicted harm. I remember crying myself to sleep at night, screaming, but nothing would help me with the pain. Other than disconnecting completely, I didn’t know how else to cope with everything I was holding in.
Feeling rejected from my parents, worthless from my molestation at such a young age, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know who I was in Christ either.
I started cutting myself in High School to deal with the pain, because at the time, I didn’t know that there was a God out there that cared enough about me to rescue and heal me. Cutting became all I knew, until one day a concerned friend saw my arms and told my guidance counselor. I remember getting a note that told me to come to the office. I walked into the office with my guidance counselor and police offer sitting there. They told me to lift up my sleeves because they were concerned.
I began to WEEP. FINALLY, someone cared enough about me to ask how I was doing. After my session with them, I had to be admitted to the psych ward for 5 days, which made it seem like I wasn’t as crazy as I thought. Mental illness is REAL, and I saw a different side of it throughout that week. They set me up to see a counselor for about a year. Honestly, it felt good to be able to talk to someone about what was going on and how I was feeling. I talked until I couldn’t talk anymore. Finally, I thought I was well enough to finish counselling, so I did.
Life went on as usual, until about 4 months later I noticed my depression coming back, but this time much worse. I just couldn’t shake this feeling of abandonment. I remember I started cheering in 6th grade. I cheered up until my senior year of High School. My parents came to ONE game. ONE out of seven years of cheering and it was something I was so excited about.
It was family night at school and I remember everyone’s parents being there except for mine. This night took a turn for the worse. I was SO upset and I just couldn’t fathom why my parents didn’t love me the way that they should. That night, I was done. I didn’t want to live anymore and I was just ready to leave this earth, and I tried it…
I remember a bottle of sleeping pills sitting on my night stand. I dumped them all out to figure out how many I was going to take, and how many would end the process sooner. I took six of them and I sat there waiting and pleading with the lord for him to allow this to be a quick work.
15 minutes went by, nothing. 20 minutes went by, nothing. 30 minutes came, and at this point I was frustrated. Suddenly I just remember throwing up NON-STOP! I mean sick to my stomach, pale and all.
I wouldn’t wish that kind of stomach pain on ANYONE! I felt like I was literally going to throw up my entire intestines.
At this point, I’m leaning over the toilet and I spoke to God for the first time in my life. I said “God, why didn’t you just take me? You know these feelings that I’m feeling are TOO much for me!” and he responded “I have a purpose for you. Stop trying to take the easy way out!”
If I could speak to my younger self, I’d tell her “YOU ARE WORTH IT!God is with you. He wants to rescue you. He wants to restore you. He wants to heal you.”
The process of healing has not been easy. In face, it has been a long one and honestly still days that I face depression. If that’s you today and you’re facing the same battles, talk to someone. Please don’t underestimate the power of help. I wish I would’ve reached out to someone I loved and told them what I was dealing with. Don’t let society fool you into thinking that you have to be strong all of the time, because you don’t. Gods strength is made PERFECT in your weakness.
My mental illness affected those around me, because I was always sad. I never wanted to go out and do anything. If I did, my mood was always back and forth so it caused others around me to not fully enjoy their time with me. I pushed everyone away.
THIS tragedy- the abandonment, rejection, molestation, suicide attempt, self harm, these very things BIRTHED my destiny – my blog. It gave me the push I needed to be bold and share my story. I’m unashamed. I’m victorious. I’m more than more than a conqueror, because God says that I am and YOU ARE TOO! Whoever you are, I’m praying that God will touch the wombs of yours that seem like they won’t heal and that you’re free and healed from your battle of depression.
My name is Tanee’ Smith and this is my truth…
For a while I had been preparing to move to Atlanta in order to have better opportunities as well as finish art school. Before the actual move, I had walked away from a very toxic relationship. Although I wasn’t physically abused, I was mentally, emotionally and verbally abused for a very long time by someone who claimed to love me.
I became so bitter towards so many women because of this mans disloyalty to me . This specific guy was one I had been trying to remove myself from for years but I was just so blinded by love that I couldn’t get out of it. My mental state had gotten so bad that I honestly believed if I moved away, my problems would disappear. When I arrived at my new residence, I was at the lowest point in life. Here I was in a brand new city, I had a roof over my head, was a full time student at the school I loved so much but I still wasn’t happy. My joy had been lost for so long, I no longer know what happiness felt like.
I found myself so depressed, for months I would just wake up and go to class, come home and just sleep my days away. I would go places and be there psychically but mentally, I’d be somewhere else. I somehow thought that if I slept it would make the pain go away. I began to smoke & drink heavy to numb the pain but those things kept me stagnant. I cried daily about a man who never really loved me in the first place. I felt victimized and felt sorry for myself.
After about a month of being in Atlanta, I began dating a new man who for the first time in my life showed me how a woman is supposed to be treated. I didn’t know him all that well, but I just figured he was my answer from God to save me from my madness. We dated a little over a year but I ended it because I knew that I wasn’t ready to receive what he had to offer & that in order for me to move on I have to actually deal with the problems at hand first or the hurt will only get deeper in deeper.
That relationship taught me so much about myself , love , and most importantly what it’s supposed to feel like when you have someone who genuinely loves you for you. It also gave me the courage to love again and the reassurance that I am enough! I began realizing that if I didn’t love myself first then I can’t expect anyone else to love me. I didn’t look at him as a rebound, but more of an angel sent from God to teach me a great lesson. I learned to never allow anyone to affect my joy and that happiness starts comes from within.
Since then I have continued this journey of self love and have built a brand that is based on empowering , motivating , & uplifting young women. I want them to know that they are more than good enough! I want them to have the courage to love themselves for who they are and not who society wants them to be. My mission is to share my testimony in hopes to change the lives of many others.
I live for girls realizing their worth and value! To every young woman who feels like she isn’t enough, Never settle for less than you deserve no matter what anyone says. The person who is really for you won’t take you out of your character or make you feel like you have to chase them or do things you wouldn’t normally do to keep them.