In the worlds’ eyes, I had everything: an enviable lifestyle and a loving, successful family. How could I get so anxious and depressed? How dare someone so blessed want to end her life? I was reminded that there were people less fortunate than me - which just made me feel even guiltier. A new business, hormonal changes and a week of sleepless nights had triggered effectively a “nervous breakdown”. I went from being a strong confident GP who was able to host 80 ladies for our church Christmas party to – in just a few weeks - being unable to make simple decisions, prepare meals or drive. I had totally lost control! This made me wholly dependent on my family. Instead of being the “superwoman” they knew me as, I felt useless and a burden.
I talked to God a lot but still got depressed about my situation. It was so hard to tell others. I realised that there was such a stigma associated with mental illness. It was easier to share if you had a physical problem like a bad back, diabetes or even cancer. Despite medical help, I endured four weeks of what seemed like hell. It got so desperately bad that twice I planned to take my life but each time I was thwarted by God-sent angels in the form of my husband and daughter.
The turning point was when Swee Lip and I took communion with dear friends who could truly empathise with our situation. I realised I had to surrender everything I had to God. As I did so, a miracle happened. I was able to wean off the potent and addictive sedatives I had been taking at night. I started to drive again - and within a week I was completely better!
8 things to bear in mind (and act on):
Sleep deprivation can severely (even fatally) affect your ability to function and think straight. It is vital to seek medical help as soon as possible.
1. Remove access to drugs and weapons if suicide is a possibility – e.g. if you are visiting someone who has just had a loved one die from terminal cancer, there may be potent drugs in the house which could be taken by a grieving relative in the heat of the moment. In the US the rate is so much higher due to the easy access to guns which are used in 50% of suicides.
2. Be aware that men over 40 years of age are at higher risk - 75% of suicides in the UK are in men.
3. Doctors get ill too and Christians get mental illness - We need to try and erase the stigma of mental illness by being more open about it. I have been amazed by people who, since I spoke out, have shared their own issues. Like me, many of them are not people others would suspect of being unhappy, much less depressed. Seemingly bubbly, happy people can sometimes be the most depressed of individuals. By encouraging and engaging in openness and sharing, we will tear down destructive facades, build life-saving rapport and strengthen community. Isn’t that what this country so badly needs?
4. Get professional medical help - prayer is important - but remember that God works through doctors and therapists. Listen and do as advised by such professionals. As advised by my doctor, I will continue to take my antidepressants for 6 further months before reducing the dose.
5. Vigilance - We need to be more aware of who is NOT around. Some of them may be in ‘hibernation mode’, like I was . A strong support network like a Connect Group or Prayer group can be so important. We all need to play our part - not just group leaders. We are all called to be our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers.
6. Carers needs support too - but are often overlooked. Burdens are lightened when shared. We need to actively plan and implement solutions to more effectively help one another.
7. Do NOT assume that just because someone is materially well-off that they are happy. Mental illness knows no boundaries and respects no one. All ages, races, religions and social classes are affected.
It was a privilege to share my story of God’s healing power in church last week. My prayer is that, when you listen, you will be blessed and use this to reach others. This is just the start. Let us together continue to work to erase any shame associated with mental illness. Healing and deliverance are surely what God wants for us.
To hear Fui Mee's full testimony click on link https://bit.ly/2ERhbMQ
(it is stored using Dropbox but you do not need to sign up to listen. You can click 'No, thanks. Continue to view.')