So, I don’t run Pinky Promise alone. I have a “Dream Team” of about 15 women that help me and it was on my heart to ask a few of them to share their testimonies of an area where they overcame. My sweet sister in Christ, Wynter Dean is sharing her story on Overcoming mental health – Depression. I truly believe that this is a silent area that people deal with so I am excited that Wynter is sharing her story. I pray that it ministers to you.
“Toughen up!” “You just aren’t praying hard enough!” “Black girls don’t get depressed (anxiety), you come from a strong family!” “Girl, you just too sensitive!” These were just a few statements I got from some well-meaning people in my life when I tried to discuss my mental health concerns.
Long before I was formally diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and Dysthymia (mild/chronic depression) I knew something wasn’t right. I knew that my moods were greater than “worrying” or “stressing”. I knew that shutting myself off from friends and family wasn’t healthy. I knew that trying to operate on less than 12 hours of sleep a week wasn’t making me the most productive or pleasant person and I knew that not leaving the bed for days was not necessarily the best thing to do. There were many days when I literally could not move. I had zero motivation to do anything but sit up, let my dogs out and habitually go over scenarios that either never happened or were totally out of my control.
I knew that I needed to talk to someone….but that meant I wasn’t trusting God…right?! I mean 1 Peter 5:7 clearly says that we are to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Going to a doctor isn’t the “Him” this scripture is referring to so clearly going to a psychiatrist or therapist was bad right?! I was so confused and had fully isolated myself from everyone that cared about me. I had a mind full of very scary thoughts and started quickly spiraling out of control. I thought about how many pills I needed to take to sleep because I was so exhausted, 10? 15? Anything to help me sleep and quiet my mind down. It was then that the same God I was so worried that I was not trusting or that I was disappointing nudged me to seek help.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
1. Seeking help doesn’t mean you don’t trust God: “
The first thing you have to do is realize you have an issue, while also remembering that God placed doctors, therapists, social workers etc. in those positions to help. Find a therapist you like and trust. You’re going to be real transparent during your sessions, so be sure you feel safe with the person you select. There are tons of services that help you narrow down someone, take your time. Your mental health is really important so you want someone that will hold you accountable and really listen to you. I knew my psychiatrist was the right person for me as soon as I met her. When she talked, I was at peace and I felt that God gave her the desire to serve people that were hurting. I know that God was in control and ultimately gives her the tools to say exactly what I needed to hear. Lastly, remember that going to a therapist or psychiatrist is a partnership. They will give you advice and possibly prescriptions that you are expected to take. Be honest with your therapist, if the prescriptions make you feel groggy: Tell them. If you are having new struggles: Tell them. Honesty and transparency goes a long way in this process. How can you expect them to get to core issues if you don’t discuss them? So I encourage you, as you build this relationship to be as honest as you can about how you feel. You play a huge role in your mental health, seeking help is the first step, doing what your clinician suggests and keeping them abreast of what is going on in your life is another huge move towards healing.
2. Align yourself with strong friends. “Iron sharpens iron, such as a friend sharpens a friend” Proverbs 27:17 NLT
I have been blessed to be loved by strong family and friends. I recognized that God was beginning a pruning process very early on, however, pruning and isolation are completely different things. When God prunes you, he removes things/people that are unlike him, people that stunt your growth and the purpose that he has for you. Though pruning was never an easy process, I knew God was using it to make me better. However, when I isolated myself from my support group, it essentially made me weaker. Gone were the people that held me accountable, gone were the people that made sure I got my tail off the couch, the check-in calls were unanswered and the random texts weren’t responded to. It was a really lonely time and being/feeling alone can be really dangerous. It was during this time that I thought about how the world might look without me. I obsessed about EVERY bad decision I made in my life and how those decisions made me a failure in God’s eyes. This was a dark place, a scary place, this was a place the enemy loved seeing me in because not only did I push my loved ones away, but I also pushed God away. One night after staying up almost 24 hours, I looked at my phone, ignored the missed calls and instead looked at a message from my GroupMe. I saw a message from one of my Pinky Promise Dream Team sisters. Though short and sweet, it snapped me out of the haze I was in and I made a conscious decision to GET UP. The message said “Wynter, you were on my heart. God wanted me to encourage you to put up some scriptures and whenever you have a thought that doesn’t line up with the Word pull one of those scriptures out”. Belonging to such a wonderful group of women has literally been a Godsend. We laugh together, pray together, hold one another accountable, and most of all we LOVE each other. Outside of my Dream Team family I have a network of friends, family, and an amazing boyfriend that lovingly makes sure I never stay in a funk for too long. I also have to make sure that I do my part. My loved ones encourage me, but I have to make the conscious decision every day to make sure I don’t let my depression or anxiety take me over. I get out and walk, take pictures, write calligraphy, write things I am thankful for, or visit family; anything to make sure I get out of my funk. For me my depression and anxiety intensifies when I am idle, so I try not to sit around too much and try to get out of the house even when my brain tells me not to.
According to a 2014 report by the American Association of Suicidology, African- Americans accounted for 5.46 per 100,000 suicides in the United States with African American men accounting for 80.30% of the population. When I read this, the numbers were jarring and I saw how my situation could have went another way. If God hadn’t stepped in when he did, if my loved ones wouldn’t have been so persistent, I could have been a statistic. A young woman that people thought had it all together. They would probably say “well she was so happy on social media” not knowing that behind that smile was a lot of hurt, pain and silent suffering. I think that the most dangerous part of this disorder is that it gives you the perception that you are alone. It exacerbates little setbacks and makes you feel hopeless. When you a feel alone, the enemy can do a number on your mind, but God reminds us that we a NEVER alone. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Isaiah 41:10 states “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand”. One of my personal favorite verses that I continually run to when I am in a depressive or anxious state is Psalms 34:17-18 “The lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed”.
These are just a few reminders out of several in the Bible that God never leaves us, He will never forsake us, and He is always present. If you know me personally then you know that I am a person that really can’t stand clichés. But one statement that I always remember is “if you feel far away from God, it’s you that moved”. For me this statement is cliché but very true. During my intense depressive and anxious state, God was there, I didn’t feel him because I didn’t want to. I was resting in my misery and I blocked him out. Even though I was blaming him for everything I thought was wrong during this time, even though I was being extremely ungrateful for everything he has done for me, He still saved me. God stopped me from taking the pills I counted out and He is still constantly reminding me how much I mean to him and how I have a purpose. There is something that I need to do or someone that I need to help and without God stepping in when he did, I would not be here to live the life He has for me.
I may always struggle with depression and anxiety, but I will never be in that place I was in before I got help. I still see my psychiatrist twice a month for check-in appointments and medication management. My loved ones make sure that I never go missing for long. If I don’t answer my phone or respond to texts after a couple of tries, I can count on someone being on my front porch. As I stated before, I make the decision everyday not to sit in the house seeping in my emotions. When I am feeling like laying on the sofa or not to get out of the bed I push myself to get outside, even if it is to walk the dogs or sit in my backyard. Lastly, I thank God every day for never leaving me and for loving me in spite of myself. So if you are struggling with issues regarding your mental health here are a few resources and reminders that helped me.
You….yes YOU…. have a purpose, SO get out and meet folks that love Jesus, join a Pinky Promise group in your area and align yourself with women that are on fire for God and His purpose! Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 that “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”. Keep your circle strong and all of your relationships intentional. Know that you are NEVER alone (despite what the enemy tries to make you believe) and most importantly know in your heart that the same God that created the heavens and the earth LOVES you like crazy!!
· Mental Health Referral Line: SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727)
· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255)
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Thank you Wynter for sharing your story!
Love you dearly!