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When an Employer Asked Me to 'Speed Up My Healing' From Depression

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I used to work for a large church. You know, the really cool one. It was attractive in every way. It had the answers you were looking for. It told you that if you believe “A,” then “B” would happen. It gave people hope. It promised that bad things won’t happen as long as you’re a good believer.

I must have believed wrong, then. I had been struggling with my mental health and depression for years, especially when I was in ministry. I asked about how others who faced similar circumstances got through it.

“Prayer was really it,” a pastor responded. “Therapy was just cheesy and didn’t help.”

I felt like a fool because I prayed and I had others pray for me… but I was still depressed. You see, I had lost several people in my life to suicide. It changed me and I couldn’t be the same again. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I couldn’t shake the sadness and depression. I couldn’t shake the awful feelings.

During the time I worked at this hip church, I was called into the office of an executive staff member. This person asked me point-blank, “Can you speed up your healing process?”

I stared back. I didn’t even know how to begin answering that question.

The staff member continued, “We have some big changes coming up and we really need all hands on deck. I feel like we’ve been pretty understanding of your needs and hope to see a change soon.”

I stared into their face again, not knowing what to do or how to respond. I began to feel sick. I knew I was unsafe. I knew I had to begin making some major life decisions in the near future.

“Well,” I responded, “I am doing my best to work through my situation in a healthy way. I am not on medication anymore, so that’s an improvement I’m celebrating. I am taking it one step at a time and I’m moving in the right direction.”

That day, I knew something was horribly wrong with the system I was a part of. I knew I couldn’t last in it. I knew it was time to say goodbye, but I was scared.

The fact that I even had to have this conversation was disgusting to me. I was being asked to make better appearances for the sake of this organization when I was being quite honest about my mental health and what I could and could not bare. I felt like I no longer mattered to them because I couldn’t just get over my problems and be OK.

I left this job. I have no idea what to do with my life right now because I feel like I don’t matter all that much. I still want to believe in a good and loving God but this organizational bullshit has ruined some of that relationship for me. I just wish people could let me grieve and be there for me instead of passively telling me I needed to get better quicker.

I haven’t given up on my faith. I’ve tried though. I tried to walk away. I really wanted to. But recently, I found a smaller group of people (yes, a church) who accept me just as I am. These people have walked though some hell just as I have and they know that it’s totally OK for me to not be OK. Maybe this will be a safe place for me to stay for a while so my wounds can heal. I just won’t place a time limit on it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic

Originally published: March 14, 2017
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