stories from the past: faith, mental health, hope and being alive | #BellLetsTalk

when i said good morning, i was lying
i was truly thinking of how i might quit waking up
He pointed out how selfish it would be to kill myself
so i keep waking up.

[…] You grip my wrists,
i let go. 

—much like falling, flyleaf 

This past week, a few things have happened. 

1) Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day  to bring stories of mental health to the forefront and decrease stigma around mental health issues until we end them. This post is being triggered by #BellLetsTalk, but it’s a story I would have told this week anyways.
2) I hung out with Richard, a conversation which brought forth a lot of reflections on my own faith story.
3) I read The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living by Lacey Sturm. It made me think, a lot, and reflect on a lot of my own testimony and beliefs.
4) The previous two points, and other conversations throughout the week, prompted me to start taking a look at the Bible again—something I have not done in over a year.

What do these things have in common? Everything.

The summer of ’05 was probably the worst time of my life. For a host of reasons, I was constantly in a state of emotional shakiness—and then, depression and numbness. I was fourteen. I spent a week at a Bible camp after declaring myself an atheist a few months earlier. I resented slowing down each day during cabin time/bible exploration. I sang during worship each night—sometimes—but mostly just enjoyed the music while blocking the words out. I didn’t need God, because God did not exist to me. I struggled the rest of the summer—I contemplated ending my life, but I wasn’t yet at the dangerous step of contemplating how.

A month later, I couldn’t run anymore. I still didn’t even really believe in God, yet I threw myself at Him saying “If You’re real, please show me what to do.”

Around 10:30 PM on September 7th, 2005, I changed. I changed in the fact that I no longer wanted to stop being here.

seven years.

Still doubting—He made me believe.

Yet He loves me despite it all.  He loves me enough that He opened my heart that September day in 2005 by telling me that I didn’t have to end my story then and there.  That He alone could get me through everything I was facing–lighten my darkness, take the depression, and heal my grandma of the cancer that invaded her for a few more years.

I’m living a life that six years ago I’d have never dreamed.  I’ve had amazing ups, and I’ve had huge downs.  I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve danced, I’ve cried.  I’ve reached my arms to the sky in worship and fallen to my knees in desperation.

I’ve created new chapters of the same story that God is writing.

I am ALIVE.

six years.

Did I have clinical depression? At that point, I don’t think so.

Would I have gotten to that point? I don’t doubt it.

Mental health issues need to be treated in partnership with someone who is adequately trained to address them. Medication is not the only solution: but not talking about what you are facing is never a solution. I dodged a bullet: just because I began to believe Jesus, believe in His healing, though, does not at all mean that I should have continued without a support system around me.

Even though I didn’t know it then, I have ADHD: 20 to 30% of people with ADHD will experience depression or anxiety alongside their attention problems. After starting ADHD medication, my psychiatrist noted that I seemed to be less anxious—I didn’t think I was anxious (I’ve experienced that alongside a very mild case of disordered eating when I was sixteen, and this was not at all like that), but she continued on to note that it was likely the ADHD symptoms creating the now less-present anxiety. I do not at all doubt, or disagree with, this.

For me, these things all go hand in hand. My life, my faith, my mental health—my story. The person I am today is different because of all of the above—yet, I would not want to be the person who I’d be without facing my past.

 

Rock version or acoustic, the words in the two versions of Red Sam below are pretty much the same—the message definitely is. My story is a lot like Lacey Sturm’s. I have a post coming up on worship (soon!) and these both exemplify so, so strongly the way I respond during worship

I’m still alive. The world needs YOU to continue your story, too.

Stay. Be here. There is HOPE in finding help. (usa)

here i stand
empty hands
wishing my wrists were bleeding
to stop the pain from the beatings
there You stood holding me
waiting for me to notice You

but who are You?

You are the Truth
outscreaming these lies.
You are the Truth
saving my life.

the warmth of Your embrace
warms my frostbitten spirit
You speak the Truth and i hear it
the words are
“i love You,
and i have to believe in You.”

my hands are open, 
and You are filling them
hands in the air
in the air, in the air, in the air.
and i worship
and i worship
and i worship
(Jesus)

red sam, flyleaf.

6 thoughts on “stories from the past: faith, mental health, hope and being alive | #BellLetsTalk

  1. Thanks for sharing this story Kerri! Amazing how faith, stories and our mental health are so intimately bound with out spirit and body! I have walked with many people who have extended trust through journeys of exile, wandering and awakening. It is always humbling how when we find the people with whom we might trust actually listening, we discover mutuality and relational care. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for reading, Richard! I also find it interesting where and how we FIND the people those that we need to find at the right place in the journey… It’s why I don’t believe in coincidence ;).

      “you cannot fully live without knowing what you’re here for right now // you’re not here by accident, and life, it lives.” –life, flyleaf
      “this isn’t coincidence, there’s no such thing.” –smile lines, incubus.

      Also enjoy that we never truly stop wandering… just sometimes we have more known direction than others. :]

        1. i like words. I always forget about serendipity, except for me it seems like it has too happy of a vibe ;). I don’t know why this is. Synchronicity doesn’t seem to work quite right either… Though it does make me think of The Police :]. Will have to explore this further though… interesting :].

  2. I’ve also been doing some Bible reading lately. There’s a new social project in Israel where people read one chapter of Bible (okay, just the First Testament – and in the original Hebrew) each weekday. It started this past Chanukah and is supposed to end on Israel’s 70th Independence Day (in 3 and a bit years). It’s supposed to get us back in touch with our roots and get people to talk to each other about the Torah. We started a bible discussion group in my office during lunch on Thursdays to discuss the five chapters of that week. It’s the first time in my life that I am studying and discussing the Bible openly with people who are not Orthodox Jews (okay, the other people in the group are secular Jews – still Jewish but different background and lifestyle). It’s fascinating!

    Curious – why did you go to Bible camp after proclaiming yourself an athiest?

    Yes, support systems are crucial, and it’s sad that many people don’t realize that mental health is just as important as physical health. And yes, that it’s not “only depression”. Depression can kill. This year I lost someone who I’ve known essentially since he was born to depression. Scary stuff.

    1. That’s so cool about your discussion group–awesome! Interestingly enough, the guy I was having the conversations with earlier in the week about the Bible, is (to my knowledge) undecided, or at least flexible, in his belief in God/the Bible. [These are the people I actually enjoy discussing the bible the MOST with, since I am still very much figuring out what my own views on the bible actually are!]. I’m not very well versed in the Old Testament, but, I bet if I dug more into it, you and I could have some very interesting conversations too.

      The reason I went to a Bible camp, was that–simply put–there are very few other camp options in Manitoba that AREN’T bible camps! I can think of exactly one off hand, and the other is in Northwestern Ontario [but full of ‘Toba kids].

      On your last point, it’s sad and scary to hear that. Yesterday, before realizing that it was #BellLetsTalk day, I was thinking about this girl who I never met but was a grade ahead of me in elementary school–she was nine when she committed suicide. And, many adults with depression may have experienced it as kids and just weren’t identified or adequately treated–very scary. The point you made about mental health being as important as physical health came about a few times that I saw on the #BellLetsTalk stream yesterday. I really, really hope that people [and health/social services systems] are beginning to take this to heart… and into action.

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