I’ve settled into who everyone sees now – 33-year-old Jasmine: A wife, mom, servant of God, and active in my community as author, entrepreneur, and health care administrator. But this has not always been my full truth. There was an identity that I carried, and more importantly I allowed it to define my reality for far too long – depression. Though God’s hand has been graciously on my life, the choice to walk in His truth about me has been a process.
My depressive symptoms first emerged when I became pregnant at the age of 19. After moving into my new apartment, I found out I was pregnant and then was fired from my job, all in the same month. In college and on the verge of becoming a first-generation graduate, an unplanned pregnancy threatened to end that dream. Being a mom, not finishing school, being broke, and being on welfare, were not part of my plan. I feared this pregnancy and the eventual act of giving birth.
Feeling like a failure, I had no true understanding of what to do or where to go. In my mind, this opportunity I was given to obtain my degree and change my course in life was being ripped away, and I was now powerless to stop it. On top of that, I felt like I failed everyone – I wasn’t being a good example to my younger sister and cousins and struggled to accept my reality. The thought of not completing my degree, going to law school, and immersing myself in my career was unfathomable. In response to the pain, I isolated myself. Some members of my family expressed disappointment, so I distanced myself from them. I was even told that all my plans were ruined and that I would not graduate from college.
I also had to protect my heart from my son’s father, who denied my child right up until I gave birth. The relationship was bad and became chaotic as we approached my son’s delivery. I remember sitting in my apartment, staring at the wall, and just crying every day after class. Watching my belly grow, I realized I was at a crossroads. Do I get an abortion? Do I give my child up for adoption? Do I believe God can make this work out for me, becoming a mom – while still in college? Consumed with the probable heartache of the former options, I chose the latter and delivered my son in July 2009, which allowed me to finish that Spring semester, and successfully return to school in the fall.
I felt an immediate descent into postpartum depression. I would cry while he was crying. Motherhood was not a happy time for me, and I can’t remember much of my son’s early years. My days consisted of working, going to school, and taking care of my baby. I attempted suicide multiple times during this dark period, but God was right there protecting me each time. That made me realize later He had a purpose for my life.
The loneliness consumed me. I had so many different feelings – sadness, frustration, brokenheartedness, and feelings of failure. Panic attacks ensued as I was living in darkness. I wore a badge of disappointment for so long, going through the motions of caring for my baby, all the while feeling detached and void of every healthy emotion. I would feed, bathe, and put my son to bed, and then cry out to God. I didn’t have much support because I didn’t let anyone know what was going on. I didn’t pray for help or what I needed, I just questioned why He would allow this to happen to me. Why wasn’t my plan worth fulfilling? Why did He allow my hope to be shattered in this way?
I ended up in a psychiatric ward after my final suicide attempt. Feeling stripped of everything mentally, physically, and spiritually, I remember staring at that white wall in a room that felt really dark. I had no contact with the outside world and felt like I was alone and underwater. I was mad at God, feeling like I deserved a better hand in this game of life. It was there that I met God, and He began to transform the darkness into light, assuring me that I wasn’t alone. He reassured me that I was a good mother, and if I gave it to Him, He would handle everything I was going through. As He spoke to my heart, I learned I was marked by Him for greatness and my test would soon become my testimony.
I knew I had to change, this couldn’t be the end of the hopes and dreams I had. It started with changing my thinking, and my conversations with God, which led to changed prayers, and starting to thank Him for bringing me through everything I was experiencing. I refused to remain stuck and hopeless any longer. When I had my moments, He came and consoled me, sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with me, and surrounded me with people I could trust to walk in faith with me.
I remained in school, and though each day was a struggle, I obtained my degree in 2011. There were days when I had to rob Peter to pay Paul, choosing sometimes between paying daycare and paying rent. But in all my efforts, God truly smiled upon me. There were days when I thought my hardest times would never end, but God had a plan all along. He gave me favor with the daycare director and so many of our needs were met, even though I couldn’t meet them on my own. In those moments, though I still battled with my thoughts and feelings about my situation, I still had hope because God was making a way out of no way.
Marrying my husband in 2016, and establishing our family was a huge turning point in my life and spiritual walk, but it was not until I became pregnant with my second son, that I started to see an internal change. After his birth later that year, I began to feel relief from my depressive symptoms, and believed I was finally starting to recover from the postpartum depression I had endured those past 7 years. The support from my husband and the new knowledge I had while pregnant provided me with a very different experience. Depression and anxiety were still present, but the experience was much better that time around.
This changed experience came from other occurrences in my life as well. An abortion on Valentine’s Day in 2014 continues to bring pain. Each year I grieve my choice, yet I can rejoice knowing God has graced me and didn’t allow me to lose my mind. He blessed me with another healthy child and for that I am eternally grateful.
I still suffer from depression, but I have confidence in the person I am continuously becoming and the path I am on. I have experienced trying times, but God has been faithful to help me overcome them. To keep my sanity, I literally schedule everything in my life. I’ve come to understand that my depression and anxiety are rooted in my nature to control the situations in my life. Losing or feeling as though I have lost that control is paralyzing for me, but now I realize God is trying to get my attention.
I make plans A, B, and C. God, however, has a huge sense of humor and throws monkey wrenches in my plans often. But these wrenches have kept me grounded in Him and constantly seeking Him to keep my family and my marriage. He keeps reminding me of who’s really in charge.
It was important for me to learn how to give myself grace. I realized that our bodies are full of chemical and electrical energy, combined with the many thoughts and emotions we experience daily, while trying to get through this world the best way we can. I had to learn how to manage my thoughts – meaning, I had to become aware of my triggers, so I could create a plan for addressing them. This did not happen overnight, but time and experiences have matured me, and I’ve seen myself grow spiritually as well.
God has shown me that He truly is my friend, and I can trust Him. He has also shown me that I can trust the medical professionals He has placed in my life as well. I am confident in the treatment plan from my doctors and the medicine they have suggested to help me balance internally. God showed me how to overcome the right way – seeking Him and seeking help.
My husband studied me and was able to see when I needed more intervention in my mental wellness journey. Whether that looked like giving me a break, keeping our home peaceful, or supporting me when it was time to increase my medication and therapy. I am grateful for the increase of support in my journey through my husband.
There are times in our lives when our trauma reemerges, and God shows us that we have either been healed, or if we are still a work in progress in that area. My mind still easily regresses back when triggered. For me, this is especially evident when God challenges me to express His love through my actions, usually with someone who has hurt me – either asking me to pray for them or help them, when nothing inside of me wanted to do either of those things. But I still strive to be obedient to God.
Even in places where I had to relive the trauma of my past domestic abuses, God called me to show His grace. In situations where I once stood humiliated, God now called me to walk through those same halls with the confidence of his hand on my life. Memories that should bring shame, God dresses in love. I’ve realized that Psalms 2:3 applies to my life, as my chains have been broken.
My record is clear, God forgave me, and I have no reason to be ashamed. God is more real and more powerful than any trauma I have faced. Confronting my past hurts, even something as gut-wrenching as walking through the halls of the police station where I was once fingerprinted during a domestic dispute, has helped in my healing process. Only God could give me the strength to give the same officers that handcuffed me, offerings of kindness and thank them for their service.
Life is different now – I had to go through depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, insecurity, jail, abuse, and pain just to be able to minister to the women God has placed in front of me. How could I relate unless I had experiences that I could draw from? How could I truly help anyone believe they can overcome if I did not have my own journey of overcoming?
In that psychiatric room, I was stripped of everything, but marked by God. It’s funny how once we recognize the unique plan God has for our life, we desire to skip the process and embrace the finished product of His declaration over us. What God wants to do in and through your life is something that cannot be on display until it is fully developed in Him. In that room, I was being developed and God let me know that He had a plan. He wanted to approve of me in private. He had to quiet all the noise around me and meet me in a place where there were no distractions, and I’m so glad He did.
Throughout everything I’ve been through, God has been with me every step of the way. There is no way I would be where I am right now if it wasn’t for the Lord on my side. And no matter what I face in the future, I know He will make a way for me. And so, I continue my journey of surrender to God.
Encouragement for Moms:
We have to take the stigma off mental health. When people say they are hurting, just as if they had a physical injury or accident, we have to stop, listen, and assist as best we know how. If you feel something say something to someone you trust. If you know someone is struggling, be the person they can trust and if you don’t know how to help them, dedicate yourself to assisting them in finding resources. Journal your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, so you know when something changes and can identify your triggers. You can’t avoid everything but it’s also good to have a safety plan in place if you are triggered or start to go on a downward spiral with your mental health. For women of color, an excellent resource is https://therapyforblackgirls.com/
Prayer for Moms:
God, I thank you for keeping me. Thank you for keeping my mind, my soul, and my heart connected and focused on you. Thank you for allowing me to love the life you gave me, my family, and the journey you have me on. Keep me, give me grace, and the space to overcome any mental obstacle I face.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Want to hear more of Jasmine’s story? Watch our Moms Night In Conversation on YouTube here:
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