by Sep 13, 2018

It’s R U OKAY day today. A National day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that every day is the day to ask “Are you Okay?” and to support those struggling in life.

I was reluctant to write this but here I am, being vulnerable, in the hope it can encourage one person.

I recently saw on social media the suicide of a church pastor in America. His name is Andrew Stoecklein. He led a successful church, had a beautiful family, he was deeply loved by many and from the outside, looked like he had it all together. The tributes I have read online break my heart.

My husband is a pastor and for a moment I put myself in the shoes of Andrew Stoecklein’s wife. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the pain she is suffering.

His wife shared this at his funeral;

“If there is one encouragement I can leave you with today it’s don’t give up. If you are struggling, tell someone, tell them everything, don’t worry about them judging you for it. The enemy wants you to feel isolated, the enemy wants you to feel unloved and worthless. I am here to tell you that you are loved and valued more than you could ever imagine and God has a great plan for your life no matter who you are, no matter your past, God’s got you, God’s got this, and God can do impossible things,”
– Kayla Stoecklein, 29,

I hate the stigma around depression. I feel like sometimes if you are famous or have a certain job title, like working in church or ministry, that you must be exempt from having depression but we forget that we are all human. Sometimes we put people on such a high pedestal that they’re never allowed to make mistakes or fall off. That is so unrealistic because no one is perfect.

What I am about to say, I say in short, because it would be too long to write.

I’ve had my own battle with depression. Two weeks before my twelfth birthday, we packed up and moved the other side of the world, to Australia, to start a new life. We left all of our family and friends behind us and I had to start all over again, as an almost teenager. It was a long, hard, road.

I found myself at 13 attempting to overdose with pills to end the pain and suffering. It seemed like the only option.

It was a tough gig, going through puberty and being thrust into an isolating world. I was very lonely. Sometimes, we don’t think it’s ever going to stop, especially when we are young, but it will.

I somehow managed to gather an ounce of courage and I spoke to my teacher and I received much needed help. My friends and my family supported me.

I didn’t know God; I just knew a world of pain and loneliness even though I was surrounded by loving parents and friends. It’s like you’re in the deep end and you can’t swim to the top to take a breath and you just keep sinking. You don’t love yourself and you feel like no one cares.

With the right support, I was able to work through it.

When I started working after I graduated school, anxiety found me. It crippled me to the point of vomiting. I didn’t know what it was, until my Doctor diagnosed it. I couldn’t go out to the shops. I couldn’t drink any caffeine. I couldn’t go in any situation without knowing how it was going to play out, I needed to control everything.

I was eventually medicated and it helped get my symptoms under control. Reluctantly, I was on the medication for over two years. It’s like as soon as you mention you are on medication for anxiety, you are instantly labelled.

When we wanted to try and have a baby I weaned myself off the medication slowly, before we started trying. This was in 2013.

I haven’t had a crippling anxiety attack since then. (Thank you Jesus) I definitely still have moments when I feel anxious. I don’t think it ever fully goes away but I am very self-aware now. I know how to calm myself down, I know how to remove myself from situations that could trigger an attack. I seek counselling often and I when I need a break, I ask.

When we had Piper, I almost felt like everyone assumed I would become depressed. That I would default to this person I once was. That I wouldn’t be able to handle what was thrown at me, however, I was determined to never be a victim to it and I haven’t.

Sure, I have difficult days, when the pain I feel for Piper and this motherhood journey I didn’t plan for is overwhelming, and I cry. But I know I can sit with my pain. Pain is ok. This isn’t depression, it’s just my circumstances and my journey is one of choosing JOY over hurt.

There are so many people dealing with this demon that traps our minds. Suicide is real. No one is exempt from it, whoever they are and whatever they do. You never know who is suffering in silence unless you ask.

Reach out to someone today and ask them if they are okay. If you are going through something yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Find that ounce of courage and go and speak to someone.

Sometimes, people lose themselves, lose their voice when they are depressed. Be that voice for someone else today.

Mental health issues are real. Start the conversation today. Every life is precious. You are so loved and I care about you!

Are you Okay?

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
– Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)