I was looking forward to retirement, traveling the world, playing with my grandchildren and spending time with my husband… but instead of moving into the best season of our lives together, tragedy struck.
The day after we retired I got a phone call letting me know that my Mom had fallen down a huge flight of stairs. Five days later she was with Jesus.
About 6 months later my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in just a few short months she too was gone.
I thought that was more than enough tragedy but what happened next was worse. My husband, my best friend, my provider, my ‘take-care-of-his-family’ sort of man, fell victim to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and almost committed suicide.
He had witnessed too many traumatic events in his 35-year career as a police officer. Events that had been buried deep down in his soul for far too long. His mind took a downward spiral when he retired. He became despondent and severely depressed and could not see a way out.
How could a strong law enforcement officer go from managing a large unit to being totally dysfunctional? He wasn’t even able to carry out basic activities of daily living.
In the depths of his despair I became his caregiver rather than his wife. Our home was not a happy one for many months. My husband couldn’t get out of bed. He couldn’t make any decisions for himself. He was so anxious about everything that he was ready to take his own life. He just couldn’t cope.
All we could do is pray. I say ‘all’ but I mean that this was our best line of defence. God heard our prayers. We prayed and trusted that God would bring us through, and praise God – He did!
It was a devastating journey, but, by God’s grace, my husband slowly climbed back up to living a happy, healthy life.
As I look back on this time, I am reminded that God has a plan for our lives, not to harm us but to give us hope and a future.
For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
God gave me hope in a very bleak time when I didn’t know what the future would hold.
I’m thankful that God helped me realize that my husband needed psychological help before it was too late. Through God’s guidance, and the help of his psychologist, he slowly regained his strength and mind and he is doing well again.
It didn’t always feel like it at the time, but we knew that God was allowing this for a reason. We drew closer to God. His Word became our source of comfort, especially the Psalms.
He restores my soul. He Leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… – Psalm 23:3-4
Be still and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. – Psalm 121:1-3
I felt the calling of God that I would be reaching out to help others who were also struggling with mental illness, and that together we would help break the stigma that still surrounds this devastating disorder. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and courage. If you’re suffering from an invisible injury, please know that you are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help.
When the mind is sick, we are not healthy. Yet we know that God can heal the broken hearted and bring peace to a troubled mind. I believe True Wellness is when we are whole, when our mind, body and soul are all healthy, working together, intertwined the way God intended for them to be.