We are almost to the end of our “Suffering in Silence” week where we have taken a look into depression. This week Drake Barber and I have provided information on what depression is and some of the causes, we’ve shared the personal experiences of others who have suffered depression, we’ve taken a look into a day in the life of someone who’s experienced depression and we’ve taken a look into depression in our churches. Today we are taking a look into depression and suicide. Many who suffer depression often contemplate suicide and there is a great percentage of those who actually follow through with it. I wanted to share the perspective of someone who’s not only suffered depression but also has experienced suicidal ideation.
Adyre Mason is a fighter. She is living proof that you can overcome your past and win your future. If you have been following this weeks posts then you might have seen the giveaway feature which is a free signed copy of her book Fightisms. I have known Adyre for a little over a year now. I reached out to her around the launch of The Ladies Lounge after following her on social media and reading her blog. What drew me to her is her passion for Christ and living a Christian lifestyle and her determination to walk in her purpose. She truly inspires millennials to live their best life and provided an avenue for that through her Christian blog My Joshua. That has blossomed to a soon-to-launch online Christian magazine called No Compromise which is set to launch August 2016.
Since Adyre agreed to be part of this giveaway and with her own personal experience with depression, I thought it would be fitting to do a short interview with Adyre to share her story during our “Suffering in Silence” week.
Interview with Adyre Mason
Share with us your motivation or inspiration for writing “Fightisms.”
I’ve always enjoyed writing but I didn’t really plan to share my story. I’m a pretty private person and I am very selective about what I share and who I share it with. But as my life developed, which included a lot of mistakes and pain, one of the things that kept me sane was seeking God and finding that what I was going through was not just for me. I tried to start writing in 2011 but I was still too hurt. I remember not even being able to type more than a few pages before I was crying uncontrollably. I have never been able to forget that day because I needed it. It was almost like a little wakeup call that showed me that not only was I not over the things that had happened to me, but that I also needed to grow so that I could answer the call to share my story.
You expressed that you experienced depression which led to thoughts of suicide, tell us a little more about that place you were in and those thoughts you had.
I struggled with this more than once. The first time it actually manifested itself when I was a child, I tried to hurt myself but it didn’t go as planned (thank God!). But I primarily dealt with these feelings after time periods where multiple things were piled on top of each other. It was never as a result of just one thing. Whenever I felt the walls were closing in on me and that everything was going wrong, it made me want a way out. My last bout was in August 2014. It seemed like EVERYTHING was going wrong- I was sick and the doctors couldn’t find out why, financial trouble, betrayal and hurt from people close to me, distress on my job, and the list went on. There seemed to be no one area I could turn to and find solace or anywhere to turn to say “well at least this is going well.” I would cry for no reason and not be able to stop, and I was isolating myself because I didn’t want to be in the company of anyone- I didn’t want them to ask me what was wrong and I didn’t want to hear about how well things were going for them. Yet, I kept up appearances when I had to. I continued to serve at church because I didn’t want anyone judging me, and I continued to do my best on my job although it was hard. I did those things just so my problems would remain hidden. I didn’t want anyone’s help because I felt I was beyond help- even when I was sitting at church I was barely listening to the word because I was tired of hearing and trying but still suffering. Because I had been to the doctors so much and receiving all types of medication, I had a deadly concoction right at my fingertips. I remember sitting on the floor by my bed, with three bottles of pills. My therapist had told me to call him anytime so before I made that decision, I decided I would try one more time to see if maybe he could say something to help me. I called him at about 1AM and he prayed with me and calmed me enough that after getting off of the phone, I cried myself to sleep and didn’t wake until morning.
How did you overcome your struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts?
There are two things in particular I can pinpoint. One, it was trying one more time. It’s sort of like when you’re working out and you feel you can’t do another rep, that’s when the trainer says “do one more!” Often we find that we are able to push out one more rep, even when we felt we didn’t have any strength left. It was the same way with my battle with suicide. That night I had everything at my disposal to end my life but I decided to give God one more chance before I took matters into my own hands. It was that last push where God allowed someone to be able to speak to a place in me that said “I’ll try again.” Many times when we say we have prayed or we have tried God, I don’t think we really have to the depth that we can. If I had sought God with the same intensity that I did in that potentially fatal moment, I may not have even gotten to that place. I think it’s important to shift from calling on God intensely when we’re in trouble; we have to do it when we see we’re still on the path to trouble. The second thing was being vocal about my struggle. That Sunday at church I decided to tell the congregation that I had been struggling with depression and suicide but that song that we sang “late in the midnight hour,” God had actually done that for me just days prior. When I shared my story the congregation erupted in worship and prayer, it was beautiful. Others came to me and said that God had told them to call me or talk to me but that they were too busy. My testimony helped them to see that when they heard God’s voice from now on that they needed to respond because a life might be on the line. I was blessed to know that my issue, the thing that I thought was all mine, was pushing people in a way I hadn’t expected. That was my first time admitting that I had been struggling in these areas but I REALLY wanted it to be the LAST time. So about a month later I held a suicide awareness event called “I Will Live,” which I plan to do again. Over 200 people attended and even more people watched via live stream from states around the country and even a young lady from Kuwait. We had such a range of people from those who were coming to intercede on behalf of their family to people who had actually made suicide attempts that same week. By getting it out in the open that yes I have dealt with this, yes I understand how you feel, and let’s heal together, it sealed my deliverance.
What helps keep you motivated today and out of that dark place? What have been your outlets?
I love the line from the movie Creed when the trainer tells Creed “one step at a time, one punch at a time.” That mindset is the primary thing that has helped me. Even when problems try to pile up, I remember to take one step at a time and knock one thing out at a time. Everything isn’t urgent and everything doesn’t have to be done right at the moment that it pops up. As I take my time to handle things- which also includes seeking God in prayer- I find that my perspective changes and I can come up with better methods to handle something. When I do this, it allows me to look realistically at my situation and instead of declaring that EVERYTHING is bad, I can clearly see that’s not true and that there may be a few difficulties to handle but it doesn’t mean I can’t still find joy in other areas. Many times we have a great day except for one thing and we will declare our whole day bad. I have learned that I do myself a disservice to negate all of the good because of a couple of bad things.
What advice would you give to someone who is currently struggling with depression? What sources of treatment, whether mental, emotional, spiritual, would you recommend?
I have a therapist and he’s also Christian so my therapy not only deals with me on an emotional or mental level but also he speaks my language spiritually. Although therapy is something that people look down on, I have learned that there’s nothing wrong with having a sound person to talk to. The thing that is great about my therapist is that after he addresses me mentally and emotionally, he also reminds me about my purpose and that because I represent God, some options are off limits to me. This has helped a lot to keep things in perspective. When we are depressed we tend to act and think outside of the spiritual realm; we are so concerned about us and what has happened to us that we forget the bigger picture. I encourage therapy but more importantly, find a professional who will also give you advice in the context of your beliefs. It will help not to separate your emotions and thoughts from God but to include Him in them. Another thing that has helped tremendously is being more intentional about what I allow my ears to hear and my eyes to see. I don’t watch certain shows anymore because whether we realize it or not, those things can increase our anxiety level or distort our perspective about how someone might respond to or treat us. I had to step away from reality TV and shows that talked about traumatic things. I also stopped just blindly listening to music. I love music and always will, but music can carry your mind and then your emotions to a place that you don’t need to go. I don’t just let songs play anymore and I don’t add to my distress by playing sad songs when I’m sad. I try to heighten my feelings instead of succumbing to them. Overall, I think you have to be intentional about doing what makes you feel better and what puts you in the best mental state. It may be overboard for somebody else, like with music, but it may be something you need to do. Don’t feel embarrassed about the things you have to do for you; you aren’t obligated to share it with anyone but God and He will help you make even the smallest changes in your life.
Thank you so much Adyre for being so transparent and sharing your personal journey with others!
Congrats to our giveaway winner:
A special thank you to those who participated in our giveaway! Don’t forget to drop by drakejbarber.com to see what’s going on over there.
Until next time…