Will I ever teach again? When will I find the joy I once had to instruct my students? Will mental illness be my lifelong curse?
I had climbed the success ladder as a teacher and delighted in the opportunities offered me by the Board of Education.
I was not expecting it, the disappointment of the first, ‘not so stellar’ report for the long hours I spent at my school. Never before had I—or anyone else—questioned my ability to teach or to pursue my future goals. Until the report.
I kept my sense of failure tucked neatly inside at first, but a battle for my mind ensued. Continual doubts surfaced early in the morning as I prepared for class and continued their intrusion well into the nights. Nausea and headaches started and ended each day.
A spiral downward until I could no longer stop the slippery slide. Depression. Fear. Despair.
After months of trying to cope, my doctor wrote on my leave of absence request, “poor mental health”.
I remember the day I could take it no longer. I did not want to live like this. In my angst, I fell to the floor and cried, “Lord, if You’ll just get me out of this depression, I’ll do anything You want me to do.”
I had watched my parents as they taught God’s Word and lived by the ancient text. As a minister, my dad had lots of opportunity to comfort others with words from Scripture.
Would God’s Word make any difference to the stress I faced? Would it sustain me as it had my parents through the loss of their only son and my dad’s early retirement due to his mental illness? Now it was my turn to check out whether there was truth and meaning in the spoken Word.
Little by little, I chose each day to believe in God and my faith started sprouting.
From Psalm 139, I discovered that He knows me and loves me; He is with me; He created me and He defends me. What incredible wisdom and comfort for my weary soul!
In Unborn Untold: True Stores of Abortion and God’s Healing Grace, a book on which I was privileged to collaborate, each contributor describes the power of God’s Word in dealing with the trauma they experienced.
Jennifer bravely tells of her brutal rape and subsequent surgeries, seizures, and suffering. She found solace in Psalm 146, which reads: “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Although her path has been rough and long, Jennifer is discovering the power of believing in God and His love for her.
Another chapter in Unborn reveals a grandma’s heart, how she cried for days when she found out about her daughter’s abortion. Inconsolable grief encompassed her, causing her to long for death so that she could see her granddaughter.
She writes: “I long to hold my grandchild, to snuggle her, to tell her that Grandma loves her. One day I will. For now I rest in the knowledge that she is greatly loved by a God who is infinite love and who will redeem all things.” Following this, our grieving Grandma writes the Word that spoke to her from Psalm 42:
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.
Our world is filled with uncertainties. Only One knows the future—our Creator who holds everything in the palm of His hand.
Anxiety, fear and stress are debilitating, making the choice to enjoy life almost impossible. But it is my choice today to turn off the TV, the news, and social media and turn my eyes to the One who knows me, is with me, created me and protects me.