Tabitha Yates

@theredeemedmama | contributor
Tabitha Yates

Dear Me, I'm Sorry for Not Treating You With Compassion

Dear me, I am sorry I’ve never appreciated you the way you deserved. That will all change today. When I was an infant, you endured endless abuse, yet you didn’t fail me. You took every punch and you kept waking up. You kept fighting through. I’m sorry that happened to you. When I was a child, you supported my growing frame and you always bounced back from any injury, no matter how poorly I took care of you. Thank you for being resilient and helping me grow. When I was a teenager, I hated you. I even tried to kill you. I overdosed. I self-harmed. I fed you poison. I hated my height, my shoe size and my pant size. I detested my hair and eye color. I rejected everything about you and I know that hurt. Thank you for holding on and allowing me to live to meet my kids. In my 20s, you were always hurting and I was always angry you were failing me so young. Now I know you were just trying to recover from injury after injury in the most strenuous environment possible. I’m sorry I didn’t let you rest. We had to work so hard to get pregnant with my first child, but we did it! I am sorry I didn’t appreciate what a miracle that was. You endured three really difficult pregnancies, but you brought me each of my babies safe and sound, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Now, I find myself worn-out, spread thin and tired of going on this way. Something is going to change. Instead of blaming you for not taking care of me correctly, I am going to accept the blame for not giving you what you needed to grow and thrive. From now on, I will listen when you need rest. I will not get upset when you get sick. I will feed you the fuel you need to feel your best. I will honor you as a sanctuary for my soul. I will be thankful for all you have endured and I will love you exactly the way you are.

Tabitha Yates

What the Church Doesn't Say About Depression and Suicide

Join Christians on The Mighty, a community for those of the Christian faith to share, encourage others, ask questions and receive support. Growing up as a church kid who struggled with severe depression , I was not met with the type of counsel and comfort one might have expected. I was faced with a surprising amount of misunderstanding, terrible advice and total estrangement in some cases. Now that I am older and hopefully a bit wiser for the wear, I see there is a much greater awareness about anxiety and depression in a general collective sense in the world. However, it is still so often spoken about in hushed tones within the church. We need to change that. Tragically, as a Christian community, we keep witnessing the effects of mental illness within our church leadership. Following the suicides of some prominent pastors, I knew I needed to share my experience to let all my fellow warriors know that they are not alone in their struggles or in the church. When you are struggling with chroni c depression or anxiety as a Christian, it seems everyone wants to give you a pep talk, while almost no one wants to climb into the darkness and just sit with you. Everyone offers to pray for you, but few want to walk through the pain that neither you nor they understand. There are many uncomfortable silences, but far worse than the deafening silence are the words that pierce through you like a knife and deepen your pain, which hardly seems imaginable. This leads to feeling even more out of place and misunderstood within the walls of the church. The church I grew up in had two unspoken codes of conduct once you walked through the doors: 1. You put on a happy face. It didn’t matter if your child just died or you were contemplating suicide… you better count it all joy and turn on that smile, sister! 2. If someone asked how you were doing, the appropriate response was, “Fine.” You were always fine. It could clearly be untrue, as you said it with tears in your eyes and a trembling voice, but no one would question beyond this response. Due to the environment I found myself in, I only reached out to selective people about my debilitating depression . I hated the world I lived in. I hated what my life had become and I spent years in such terrifying darkness that I completely believed there would never be an end to it. I was 15 when I first attempted suicide. It was on a Sunday afternoon. I went to the service that day. I sat alone in a row toward the back. I cried for the whole service… the whole service. Out of a church full of people who had known me since I was 7 years old, how many people do you think came up and asked if I was OK? No one… not one person. I left knowing what I was about to do and firmly believing no one would miss me when I was gone. Following my suicide attempt, I woke up from my blackout. That was the real start of my nightmare. I started trying to reach out and get help. I began therapy with a Christian counselor. I was prescribed antidepressants and I started talking to people in my church about it, despite how uncomfortable it made them. I was told by my Pastor that if I attempted suicide, I would go to hell. I was told by my elder that I was beyond reaching, not worth saving and I had fallen too far for God to find me. Trusted friends told me that if I had stronger faith and prayed more, I wouldn’t need antidepressants. I was told my depression was a result of my sin. However, as far as I knew at the time, my only repeated offense was existing. From that point, I embarked on an often-solitary journey to battle my depression and come out on the other side, which took many, many years, though of course it is always an ever-looming possibility of it re-emerging. There are so many things I wish my church leaders and friends would have said and done differently, but they aren’t the people I really want to address. I want to talk to you, my friend who is a depressed Christian. Maybe in so doing, we will reach the ones who don’t understand together. These are the things I hope you really hear today. 1. Your faith is not weak. If anyone has told you this, I apologize on their behalf. You are not lacking faith. In fact, you have some of the strongest faith of all because you keep waiting and hoping for what feels like an impossible miracle to happen in your life, for the clouds to part and the sun to shine again. You may be weary. You surely have wrestled with doubt. You question where God is in the middle of this darkness, but a part of you still believes and that is amazing and inspiring. 2. Depression is not your fault. I hope you hear this and let it sink all the way in. God didn’t give you depression as a punishment for anything you’ve done. You are not a second-class Christian. You are not cursed. You are not possessed. You are struggling with a legitimate illness. 3. You don’t need to hide it. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Some of the strongest, most influential people in the world live with depression . It doesn’t benefit anyone to hide what you’re going through. Reach out. Find a qualified counselor. Take medication if it is prescribed. Go to a support group. Don’t fight alone. 4. You are not a burden. I know you worry about your depression becoming a burden to people. You might not want to tell someone that you’re having another bad day. You fear your loved ones will become sick of your struggles. I was recently struck by the similarities in the last several heartbreaking stories I’ve read of someone’s suicide — it was always late at night and they were always alone. They could have been smiling and laughing hours earlier, but once they were alone with their thoughts, the darkness took over. Please believe me when I tell you I would rather you call me and wake me up a million times over, as opposed to you deciding you didn’t w ant to “bother” anyone one more time, ending your life, and that being the phone call I receive. I am willing to bet your loved ones feel the same way. Don’t stop letting people in. Please don’t give up and think you are doing your family, friends or church a favor. Wake me up every single time. 5. You have a testimony. Growing up in church, you hear these powerful testimonies such as, “God set me free from my addiction and I’ve never turned back.” To someone with chron ic depression , so metimes hearing these types of things is… well, depressing. You feel unqualified to help others when you can’t help yourself. You don’t know how you’re supposed to have a testimony, if you never get through the test part. Listen, friend; you have an amazing story to tell. Every day God brings you through is a triumph. You have so much compassion, love and mercy to offer and the world needs you to share that. The church needs you to be a reflection of God’s heart towards the hurting, the broken and the bruised and you can do that better than anyone else. 6. There is a purpose on Earth for you. I know you’re so worn down and tired of fighting. You’ve lost sight of the point of all of this suffering. You don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel like you’re surrounded by too much darkness to ever be the light. I know it may feel impossible to see the bigger picture right now, but it’s there, in God’s hands. There were years and years I prayed to not wake up every night before I went to bed. I cannot explain to you the redemptive feeling that washed over me, when I walked through another person’s suicidal journey with them. It was the first glimpse I had of how God could take my pain and turn it into something good. There is something good waiting for you on the other end of this. 7. Healing can happen; please hold on. I will be the last person to ever tell you I never get depressed anymore or that it all supernaturally lifted. However, I will tell you that by God’s grace and with intensive counseling, I have walked through more healing than I ever thought I could. I know things may look bad now, impossible to recover from even. I know the season you’re in is so dark and you don’t know how much longer you can fight it. This is just a chapter, friend. Please don’t put a period where there was only meant to be a comma, or a question mark, even. It doesn’t have to all make sense right now. I am begging you to hold on, though. I want you to live to experience walking in healing. I want you to know what it feels like to finally take a deep breath in and it not feel so heavy. I want to see the look on your face, when the sun finally hits it. Life on this Earth will never be perfect, but it gets better. Please stay because I want you to. Hold on because your life has value and purpose. You are loved and you belong.

Tabitha Yates

Dear Me, I'm Sorry for Not Treating You With Compassion

Dear me, I am sorry I’ve never appreciated you the way you deserved. That will all change today. When I was an infant, you endured endless abuse, yet you didn’t fail me. You took every punch and you kept waking up. You kept fighting through. I’m sorry that happened to you. When I was a child, you supported my growing frame and you always bounced back from any injury, no matter how poorly I took care of you. Thank you for being resilient and helping me grow. When I was a teenager, I hated you. I even tried to kill you. I overdosed. I self-harmed. I fed you poison. I hated my height, my shoe size and my pant size. I detested my hair and eye color. I rejected everything about you and I know that hurt. Thank you for holding on and allowing me to live to meet my kids. In my 20s, you were always hurting and I was always angry you were failing me so young. Now I know you were just trying to recover from injury after injury in the most strenuous environment possible. I’m sorry I didn’t let you rest. We had to work so hard to get pregnant with my first child, but we did it! I am sorry I didn’t appreciate what a miracle that was. You endured three really difficult pregnancies, but you brought me each of my babies safe and sound, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Now, I find myself worn-out, spread thin and tired of going on this way. Something is going to change. Instead of blaming you for not taking care of me correctly, I am going to accept the blame for not giving you what you needed to grow and thrive. From now on, I will listen when you need rest. I will not get upset when you get sick. I will feed you the fuel you need to feel your best. I will honor you as a sanctuary for my soul. I will be thankful for all you have endured and I will love you exactly the way you are.

Tabitha Yates

What to Know If You Have a 'Narcissistic' Parent

Dear adult children of “narcissistic” parents, If you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve been muddling through, trying to figure out how to live and function as an adult without your parent’s voice always in your head, without being fueled by the need to prove them wrong, without losing your entire adulthood in the way you lost your childhood, searching for the approval they don’t know how to give. Maybe you are now a parent and are trying to find the right and healthy balance of raising your own child, when you have no example of someone loving you “the right way” to look to for guidance. All you know is everything to not do as a father or mother and you wish you had someone to call who could lovingly give you advice, in the way parents should. It is a difficult thing to grow up having your thoughts and feelings not count to the person they should matter most to. It is an exercise in frustration, at times, to try to heal from hurts they refuse to acknowledge because they are too busy always trying to “one-up” you and prove their pain is more significant than yours. Perhaps most difficult of all is trying to move on with your life, never receiving an apology or any closure, because they cannot ever be the one who is the guilty party. There are so many hurts that were never acknowledged, apologies never made, wrongs never made right and a childhood shattered. There are so many things I know now or I am currently learning that I wish I could go back and tell my younger self. That poor girl who was always beating herself up and asking, “What is so wrong with me? Why am I the target of all this anger and animosity? What makes me so unlovable?” This is the advice I would give to anyone who is struggling with a narcissistic parent, whether they have long since been removed from your life but are still the recording playing in your head, or if they are still a presence in your life, yet you have to still grieve a loss of the parent you deserve but they cannot be. This is for us. 1. You deserved better. There is absolutely nothing you could have ever done, particularly as a young child, to warrant your parent not loving you. If anyone ever told you that you shouldn’t have been born, weren’t worth the trouble or weren’t worthy of loving, I am sorry. You deserved to be wanted, loved and adored. This feeling of being unwanted can create a foundational self-belief that you do not deserve to be here or you somehow deserve less than other people do in their relationships and can create a pattern of settling for less than you deserve. I am still trying to break this belief in my mid-30s and it feels like a daily battle. 2. You are worth fighting for. Narcissists will throw you away like yesterday’s trash as soon as you threaten their version of reality. Their life has to revolve around their version of the story. Telling the actual truth disrupts their carefully constructed alternate reality too much for their comfort. It can be one of the most damaging things to recover from — when one of the people who helped bring you into this world cares so little about you that they don’t want to work things out, and your relationship with them isn’t worth fighting for. This usually results in an adolescent or adult with very low self-esteem because they walk around carrying this burden that they aren’t worth love and the effort of working through conflicts, and it’s simply not true. 3. You are not the person they are at war with. Narcissists frequently resort to deflection. They shift all the blame to you or others, anything to avoid taking any personal responsibility. They will run through a list of your flaws, except they aren’t traits you possess but rather are the exact characteristics they themselves are guilty of. They will tell you everything is your fault and how you have hurt them. I’ll never forget my Dad telling me he doesn’t know if I could ever make up for all the damage I had caused in his life. I knew in that moment that he would never see past the delusions he created for himself — of this world where he hadn’t done anything to damage me as a child. If they tell you that you’re a liar, that you’re cruel, that you’re disrespectful, that you’re “crazy,” you can just presume they are telling you what they don’t have the strength to say to the mirror. 4. There is only room for one victim. Not always, but I have found a narcissist is sometimes a product of a broken childhood themselves. They have built up a narrative about how much they have overcome and what a success story they are, given the difficulties they have conquered to get to where they are in life today. They will reject any scenario you confront them with that requires them to acknowledge their shortcomings in any way, shape or form. They will reject all of your pain because it puts them in a position to have to admit they caused it. They cannot be both the hero and the villain in the re-enactment of their life’s story, so they become the villain in yours to retain their starring role. They are the ultimate victim and the only hero in their plotline. They will never allow you to be the victim. That does not take away from what you went through and does not change the truth. You were there. You know what happened. You suffer the aftermath of their poor choices. Don’t let anything they tell you or others invalidate your experiences. You must treat them as valid, to work through them and heal. 5. They will paint a terrible picture of you to save face. They will pick out little pieces of the story, to present you as “crazy” and them as the calm, rational one. They will conveniently leave out every harmful thing they did or abusive act on their behalf, so all people see is your reaction and never the reason behind it. They will threaten, harass and try to intimidate you into silence by continually belittling your side of the story, painting you as “mentally unstable.” If I hadn’t watched my own father do this my whole life, I wouldn’t have believed parent was capable of tossing their child under the bus in this way, just to keep up appearances. Don’t let the words in. Don’t let the stories phase you. Don’t waste time trying to prove them wrong. The people who believe their side will likely never believe the truth. Stay grounded in reality and surround yourself with healthy, balanced people who validate your truth. 6. You should be proud of yourself. It hurts to not have a “normal” parent who can applaud your successes, compliment your choices and brag about how well you’re raising your kids or doing in your career. Even if not having them in your life as they are isn’t a loss, not having a supportive parent period certainly is a loss felt throughout life’s highs and lows. I wish I could go back and tell myself every day of my childhood how proud I deserved to be for who I was and what I survived. I couldn’t find a way to be proud because I could only see myself through my parent’s eyes and I was never enough. I want to tell you what I am going to tell my kids for their whole lives — I am proud of you. You made it. You rose above your environment and you are an amazing person. You matter in this life and you mean so much more than you know and believe. If you plan on having or already have kids, they are going to be so lucky because you’re going to break the cycle. For them, you’re going to be everything you needed when you were younger. They won’t grow up broken. Your strength is in your story. Your power comes from moving on and thriving, not to spite the people who hurt you but because you deserve happiness and goodness in your life.

Tabitha Yates

What to Know If You Have a 'Narcissistic' Parent

Dear adult children of “narcissistic” parents, If you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve been muddling through, trying to figure out how to live and function as an adult without your parent’s voice always in your head, without being fueled by the need to prove them wrong, without losing your entire adulthood in the way you lost your childhood, searching for the approval they don’t know how to give. Maybe you are now a parent and are trying to find the right and healthy balance of raising your own child, when you have no example of someone loving you “the right way” to look to for guidance. All you know is everything to not do as a father or mother and you wish you had someone to call who could lovingly give you advice, in the way parents should. It is a difficult thing to grow up having your thoughts and feelings not count to the person they should matter most to. It is an exercise in frustration, at times, to try to heal from hurts they refuse to acknowledge because they are too busy always trying to “one-up” you and prove their pain is more significant than yours. Perhaps most difficult of all is trying to move on with your life, never receiving an apology or any closure, because they cannot ever be the one who is the guilty party. There are so many hurts that were never acknowledged, apologies never made, wrongs never made right and a childhood shattered. There are so many things I know now or I am currently learning that I wish I could go back and tell my younger self. That poor girl who was always beating herself up and asking, “What is so wrong with me? Why am I the target of all this anger and animosity? What makes me so unlovable?” This is the advice I would give to anyone who is struggling with a narcissistic parent, whether they have long since been removed from your life but are still the recording playing in your head, or if they are still a presence in your life, yet you have to still grieve a loss of the parent you deserve but they cannot be. This is for us. 1. You deserved better. There is absolutely nothing you could have ever done, particularly as a young child, to warrant your parent not loving you. If anyone ever told you that you shouldn’t have been born, weren’t worth the trouble or weren’t worthy of loving, I am sorry. You deserved to be wanted, loved and adored. This feeling of being unwanted can create a foundational self-belief that you do not deserve to be here or you somehow deserve less than other people do in their relationships and can create a pattern of settling for less than you deserve. I am still trying to break this belief in my mid-30s and it feels like a daily battle. 2. You are worth fighting for. Narcissists will throw you away like yesterday’s trash as soon as you threaten their version of reality. Their life has to revolve around their version of the story. Telling the actual truth disrupts their carefully constructed alternate reality too much for their comfort. It can be one of the most damaging things to recover from — when one of the people who helped bring you into this world cares so little about you that they don’t want to work things out, and your relationship with them isn’t worth fighting for. This usually results in an adolescent or adult with very low self-esteem because they walk around carrying this burden that they aren’t worth love and the effort of working through conflicts, and it’s simply not true. 3. You are not the person they are at war with. Narcissists frequently resort to deflection. They shift all the blame to you or others, anything to avoid taking any personal responsibility. They will run through a list of your flaws, except they aren’t traits you possess but rather are the exact characteristics they themselves are guilty of. They will tell you everything is your fault and how you have hurt them. I’ll never forget my Dad telling me he doesn’t know if I could ever make up for all the damage I had caused in his life. I knew in that moment that he would never see past the delusions he created for himself — of this world where he hadn’t done anything to damage me as a child. If they tell you that you’re a liar, that you’re cruel, that you’re disrespectful, that you’re “crazy,” you can just presume they are telling you what they don’t have the strength to say to the mirror. 4. There is only room for one victim. Not always, but I have found a narcissist is sometimes a product of a broken childhood themselves. They have built up a narrative about how much they have overcome and what a success story they are, given the difficulties they have conquered to get to where they are in life today. They will reject any scenario you confront them with that requires them to acknowledge their shortcomings in any way, shape or form. They will reject all of your pain because it puts them in a position to have to admit they caused it. They cannot be both the hero and the villain in the re-enactment of their life’s story, so they become the villain in yours to retain their starring role. They are the ultimate victim and the only hero in their plotline. They will never allow you to be the victim. That does not take away from what you went through and does not change the truth. You were there. You know what happened. You suffer the aftermath of their poor choices. Don’t let anything they tell you or others invalidate your experiences. You must treat them as valid, to work through them and heal. 5. They will paint a terrible picture of you to save face. They will pick out little pieces of the story, to present you as “crazy” and them as the calm, rational one. They will conveniently leave out every harmful thing they did or abusive act on their behalf, so all people see is your reaction and never the reason behind it. They will threaten, harass and try to intimidate you into silence by continually belittling your side of the story, painting you as “mentally unstable.” If I hadn’t watched my own father do this my whole life, I wouldn’t have believed parent was capable of tossing their child under the bus in this way, just to keep up appearances. Don’t let the words in. Don’t let the stories phase you. Don’t waste time trying to prove them wrong. The people who believe their side will likely never believe the truth. Stay grounded in reality and surround yourself with healthy, balanced people who validate your truth. 6. You should be proud of yourself. It hurts to not have a “normal” parent who can applaud your successes, compliment your choices and brag about how well you’re raising your kids or doing in your career. Even if not having them in your life as they are isn’t a loss, not having a supportive parent period certainly is a loss felt throughout life’s highs and lows. I wish I could go back and tell myself every day of my childhood how proud I deserved to be for who I was and what I survived. I couldn’t find a way to be proud because I could only see myself through my parent’s eyes and I was never enough. I want to tell you what I am going to tell my kids for their whole lives — I am proud of you. You made it. You rose above your environment and you are an amazing person. You matter in this life and you mean so much more than you know and believe. If you plan on having or already have kids, they are going to be so lucky because you’re going to break the cycle. For them, you’re going to be everything you needed when you were younger. They won’t grow up broken. Your strength is in your story. Your power comes from moving on and thriving, not to spite the people who hurt you but because you deserve happiness and goodness in your life.

Tabitha Yates

What the Church Doesn't Say About Depression and Suicide

Join Christians on The Mighty, a community for those of the Christian faith to share, encourage others, ask questions and receive support. Growing up as a church kid who struggled with severe depression , I was not met with the type of counsel and comfort one might have expected. I was faced with a surprising amount of misunderstanding, terrible advice and total estrangement in some cases. Now that I am older and hopefully a bit wiser for the wear, I see there is a much greater awareness about anxiety and depression in a general collective sense in the world. However, it is still so often spoken about in hushed tones within the church. We need to change that. Tragically, as a Christian community, we keep witnessing the effects of mental illness within our church leadership. Following the suicides of some prominent pastors, I knew I needed to share my experience to let all my fellow warriors know that they are not alone in their struggles or in the church. When you are struggling with chroni c depression or anxiety as a Christian, it seems everyone wants to give you a pep talk, while almost no one wants to climb into the darkness and just sit with you. Everyone offers to pray for you, but few want to walk through the pain that neither you nor they understand. There are many uncomfortable silences, but far worse than the deafening silence are the words that pierce through you like a knife and deepen your pain, which hardly seems imaginable. This leads to feeling even more out of place and misunderstood within the walls of the church. The church I grew up in had two unspoken codes of conduct once you walked through the doors: 1. You put on a happy face. It didn’t matter if your child just died or you were contemplating suicide… you better count it all joy and turn on that smile, sister! 2. If someone asked how you were doing, the appropriate response was, “Fine.” You were always fine. It could clearly be untrue, as you said it with tears in your eyes and a trembling voice, but no one would question beyond this response. Due to the environment I found myself in, I only reached out to selective people about my debilitating depression . I hated the world I lived in. I hated what my life had become and I spent years in such terrifying darkness that I completely believed there would never be an end to it. I was 15 when I first attempted suicide. It was on a Sunday afternoon. I went to the service that day. I sat alone in a row toward the back. I cried for the whole service… the whole service. Out of a church full of people who had known me since I was 7 years old, how many people do you think came up and asked if I was OK? No one… not one person. I left knowing what I was about to do and firmly believing no one would miss me when I was gone. Following my suicide attempt, I woke up from my blackout. That was the real start of my nightmare. I started trying to reach out and get help. I began therapy with a Christian counselor. I was prescribed antidepressants and I started talking to people in my church about it, despite how uncomfortable it made them. I was told by my Pastor that if I attempted suicide, I would go to hell. I was told by my elder that I was beyond reaching, not worth saving and I had fallen too far for God to find me. Trusted friends told me that if I had stronger faith and prayed more, I wouldn’t need antidepressants. I was told my depression was a result of my sin. However, as far as I knew at the time, my only repeated offense was existing. From that point, I embarked on an often-solitary journey to battle my depression and come out on the other side, which took many, many years, though of course it is always an ever-looming possibility of it re-emerging. There are so many things I wish my church leaders and friends would have said and done differently, but they aren’t the people I really want to address. I want to talk to you, my friend who is a depressed Christian. Maybe in so doing, we will reach the ones who don’t understand together. These are the things I hope you really hear today. 1. Your faith is not weak. If anyone has told you this, I apologize on their behalf. You are not lacking faith. In fact, you have some of the strongest faith of all because you keep waiting and hoping for what feels like an impossible miracle to happen in your life, for the clouds to part and the sun to shine again. You may be weary. You surely have wrestled with doubt. You question where God is in the middle of this darkness, but a part of you still believes and that is amazing and inspiring. 2. Depression is not your fault. I hope you hear this and let it sink all the way in. God didn’t give you depression as a punishment for anything you’ve done. You are not a second-class Christian. You are not cursed. You are not possessed. You are struggling with a legitimate illness. 3. You don’t need to hide it. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Some of the strongest, most influential people in the world live with depression . It doesn’t benefit anyone to hide what you’re going through. Reach out. Find a qualified counselor. Take medication if it is prescribed. Go to a support group. Don’t fight alone. 4. You are not a burden. I know you worry about your depression becoming a burden to people. You might not want to tell someone that you’re having another bad day. You fear your loved ones will become sick of your struggles. I was recently struck by the similarities in the last several heartbreaking stories I’ve read of someone’s suicide — it was always late at night and they were always alone. They could have been smiling and laughing hours earlier, but once they were alone with their thoughts, the darkness took over. Please believe me when I tell you I would rather you call me and wake me up a million times over, as opposed to you deciding you didn’t w ant to “bother” anyone one more time, ending your life, and that being the phone call I receive. I am willing to bet your loved ones feel the same way. Don’t stop letting people in. Please don’t give up and think you are doing your family, friends or church a favor. Wake me up every single time. 5. You have a testimony. Growing up in church, you hear these powerful testimonies such as, “God set me free from my addiction and I’ve never turned back.” To someone with chron ic depression , so metimes hearing these types of things is… well, depressing. You feel unqualified to help others when you can’t help yourself. You don’t know how you’re supposed to have a testimony, if you never get through the test part. Listen, friend; you have an amazing story to tell. Every day God brings you through is a triumph. You have so much compassion, love and mercy to offer and the world needs you to share that. The church needs you to be a reflection of God’s heart towards the hurting, the broken and the bruised and you can do that better than anyone else. 6. There is a purpose on Earth for you. I know you’re so worn down and tired of fighting. You’ve lost sight of the point of all of this suffering. You don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel like you’re surrounded by too much darkness to ever be the light. I know it may feel impossible to see the bigger picture right now, but it’s there, in God’s hands. There were years and years I prayed to not wake up every night before I went to bed. I cannot explain to you the redemptive feeling that washed over me, when I walked through another person’s suicidal journey with them. It was the first glimpse I had of how God could take my pain and turn it into something good. There is something good waiting for you on the other end of this. 7. Healing can happen; please hold on. I will be the last person to ever tell you I never get depressed anymore or that it all supernaturally lifted. However, I will tell you that by God’s grace and with intensive counseling, I have walked through more healing than I ever thought I could. I know things may look bad now, impossible to recover from even. I know the season you’re in is so dark and you don’t know how much longer you can fight it. This is just a chapter, friend. Please don’t put a period where there was only meant to be a comma, or a question mark, even. It doesn’t have to all make sense right now. I am begging you to hold on, though. I want you to live to experience walking in healing. I want you to know what it feels like to finally take a deep breath in and it not feel so heavy. I want to see the look on your face, when the sun finally hits it. Life on this Earth will never be perfect, but it gets better. Please stay because I want you to. Hold on because your life has value and purpose. You are loved and you belong.

Community Voices

There Once Was a Child

There once was a child, who needed to belong to somebody. That somebody didn’t want the burden of her care.

There once was a child, who was desperate to be wholly loved. Her request was denied because she couldn’t always behave right.

There once was a child, who was looking for a guiding hand. That hand was outstretched to her, but not with kind intention.

There once was a child, who needed a role model to look up to. Indeed, she always looked up to see him looking down upon her.

There once was a child, who wished she could run into safety’s arms. If only she could run away at all.

There once was a child, who grew up to be the girl who never needed anyone, because no one was ever there.

The girl found the key to belonging and she went and unlocked the child from the need to belong with anyone but herself.

The girl learned to love herself though her mistakes were many and she taught the child the meaning of acceptance and grace.

The girl became strong and rather than looking for a hand to pull her up, she became the hand reaching out to the children just like her.

The girl stood up and faced her father, having never came eye to eye with him out of fear of inadequacy. Much to her surprise, she had to look down to find him asshe saw the true measure of the man before her, once and for all. He had only appeared to be a giant to her child self, but now he had been cut down to size.

The girl built a life that she never needed to run away from and became a safe haven for the restless and the wandering souls, for she had been one too.

The child was finally home where she belonged, where she was loved, where she was free. Her home is within me.

mental health

Community Voices

Sometimes Healing Feels Like Breaking at First

Sometimes healing feels like hiding from your past, as you can’t bear to face the trauma and the pain that’s just beneath the surface.

Sometimes healing feels like strolling into hell itself to face the demons that are always one step behind you, as you try to move ahead.

Sometimes healing feels like crumbling in a pile, your body shaken with sobs of panic and exhaustion from fighting so hard.

Sometimes healing feels like running away, because it’s easier to leave it buried and let the poison slowly spread, rather than face the gaping wound of digging it up.

Sometimes healing feels like free falling. The only foundation you’ve ever known has cracked beneath the weight of truth and you are crashing down, unsure where or if you’ll land.

Sometimes healing feels like your heart beating out of your chest and being unable to catch your breath.

Sometimes healing feels like you have to unlearn everything you ever thought you knew.

Sometimes healing feels like starting over with all the things you wish you understood then.

And sometimes…healing feels like breaking at first. For it’s only then that you can become the painstakingly beautiful mosaic of all your once broken parts.

Tabitha Yates

Childhood Abuse: Letting Go of Wanting To Protect My Child Self

On one particular Tuesday evening, I sat on my therapist’s couch and she asked me if I had a very clear picture in my head of a moment in my childhood that I could bring to recent memory. This is always the way the hardest sessions go because sometimes you have to go back before you can move forward. I brought to mind a photo of when I was 1 year old, that I had saved in a pile of childhood mementos. My counselor asked me if I would be willing to “step inside” the photo as the adult I am today and talk to the “me” of my childhood. With all the courage I could muster, I visualized stepping into that picture, that moment, that fractured memory. “Now, pick her up and talk to her, as you would speak to one of your children.” I heard my counselor say. To my surprise, as clear as if it was happening, I walked over and pickup up baby-me. I smiled at her big brown eyes and blonde shaggy hair. I bounced her on my hip, as I did with my own children. I got lost in the moment, until a voice snapped me back to reality: “What would you say to her?” Suddenly, tears started to form in my eyes, as I said, “I would tell her that it will all be OK one day.” After a few more minutes in this exercise, my therapist asked me to “come back” to the present and hand that little toe-headed baby girl back to the adult in the photograph. She asked me to let go of the protective grip I had on my younger self. Unexplainably, I started to shake and sob uncontrollably and kept saying, “I can’t give her back. I have to save her. I can’t let her go, knowing everything that is going to happen to her.” “You cannot change what happened, Tabitha,” my counselor gently reminded me. “You cannot save her from what happened then, but you can let her know that one day, she’ll have you. The you that you are now — the fiercely protective, unconditionally loving, sacrificial mother that you have become.” So, heartbroken at being unable to save myself from all the heartache, pain and abuse I knew I would endure, I vowed to my younger self that, one day, she would be safe and loved and taken care of like she deserved to be. I told her all the things I needed to hear then: One day, you’ll be able to make your own choices about who feels safe and no one will be able to force you to violate those choices. One day, it won’t always be your fault and you’ll get to realize what a good girl you are. One day, love won’t always hurt and relationships won’t always be so confusing. One day, you’ll know that you deserved the world and not the hell you had to live in. One day, you will be able to say no and people will respect your boundaries. One day, you can tell the truth about what happened and people will believe you. One day, you’ll see how amazing you were to break the cycle. One day, your words will matter and no one will ever be able to silence you again. One day, you’ll be whole again because you never stopped chasing after healing. One day, you’ll find peace and you’ll be wise enough to protect that peace from anyone who threatens what you worked so hard for. One day, I’ll save you.

Tabitha Yates

There Is Hope After Surviving a Suicide Attempt

I was 15 years old when I first attempted suicide. I sat in the dark with a handful of medication and downed one after the other. Abuse, rejection, depression and anxiety, all contributed and culminated in me deciding, after years of struggling, that it simply wasn’t worth it anymore. It wasn’t worth it to wake up, only to wish all day that I wasn’t there. It wasn’t worth it to keep fighting to feel OK, when nothing around me was. It wasn’t worth it to explain my pain to people who were committed to misunderstanding me. The black hole I was in felt like an eternal sentence to the pits of hell and I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. There was no reassurance that life would get better. There was no belief that there was another side, that I’d ever get there or there was anything on the other end of this pain that could possibly make enduring it be worth it. I woke up the next morning and felt nothing but crushing disappointment the moment my eyes opened and I realized I survived and was still living in the exact same darkness I was trying so hard to escape from. It wasn’t the last time I would try to leave this world, but oh how thankful I am that my life was spared. Here’s the thing friend… I know the pain you’re feeling. I know you’re sitting in the dark, and a voice keeps whispering that you’ll never see the light of day again. I know you’ve fought harder than anyone could possibly know to feel better and it’s been so long that you are thoroughly convinced life will feel this bad forever. I know the healing almost hurts worse than the wound does and it seems so much easier to just give up. I know every day you wake up to a battlefield in your mind and you’re tired of fighting. But as much as I know how bad life can hurt, I know how beautiful it can be when you heal. These are the things I only know because I held on through the countless years of hell. I know one day you’ll find the peace you’ve fought so hard for. I know one day you’ll allow yourself to hope for something good. I know one day your purpose will be revealed through your pain. I know one day you’ll tell your story and it will move mountains. I know one day you’ll be put back together and all the broken pieces will be a beautiful testament to your survival. I know one day you’ll thrive, instead of just getting by. I know one day, you’ll find something that gives you joy. I know one day you’ll wake up and you won’t be disappointed… you’ll smile. I know that living may seem too hard right now, but I promise you no storm lasts forever. I also know that you won’t believe me right now, so I’m going to believe for you that life gets better. I’m going to keep advocating for your life and begging you to stay, because one day it will be worth it. This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, but it remains my daily goal to convince others to keep holding on. If someone you know is contemplating suicide, please share this message with them. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please know this world needs you and call #1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I know it hurts, but healing is on the other side.