“Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult] times, and I also know how to enjoy abundance and I’ve in prosperity. in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or gong hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.”
Philippians 4:11-12 (AMP)
This Scripture pretty much sums up my birthday testimony.
My 21st birthday was a bitter sweet experience. I was struggling with depression during that period. A part of me wanted to celebrate but a greater part of me wanted to be low key because I felt there was nothing worth celebrating in my life.
Being in a depressed state as I was, I wasn’t exactly happy to be seeing a new year like most people do on their birthdays.
However I still celebrated my birthday with my family and a few friends. The party was a success basically because of the efforts of my sisters and friends.
Normally, I like to celebrate my birthday either with a small feast with my family only or in a larger way with few close friends.
So when my birthday was approaching, a part of me began making plans which I shared with my sisters and friends. I didn’t really know how I wanted to celebrate it that year so I asked my sisters and friends who drew up a plan. They didn’t just draw up a plan but all contributed towards making it a success.
I decided to do a photo shoot and a little party a day before my birthday particularly because my birthday was on a Monday which wasn’t convenient for most of my friends. So we decided to do it a day before which was a Sunday because it was more convenient for us.
For that day, my fashion designer friend, Yome Jimmy went with me to the market to buy a fabric which she used to sew a wonderful gown for me. She did it within a very limited time. Let me be more specific, we purchased the fabric exactly 8 days to the photo shoot and by the morning of the event, my cloth was perfectly ready. And amazingly, she gifted it to me as my birthday gift.
My elder sister bought pizza and my younger sister paid for the drinks.
My mum paid for the shoot and I baked the cake and paid for the venue.
So that was it!
Most times when I felt like calling off the party, I would remember how much effort, time and money they all invested for me.
The day for the celebration arrived and I was actually very happy. I think it was because of my sisters and friends whose presence made me to forget about my troubles. I really had fun.
But when it was all over and my real birthday came (remember the party was a day before my birthday), I was back in my shell. Of course, my family members, relatives and friends spiced up my day with calls, text messages and online posts and messages. But despite all these, there was still an emptiness within me.
I spent part of that day in Church, pouring out my heart to God about my circumstances. To me, that was the best way to spend my depressing birthday.
I was now a year older, a depressed Uduak.
I fell into deep depression. I began to have suicidal thoughts. Yes! I wanted to die. I felt it was better to die than bear such pain. I knew I couldn’t take my life, I didn’t have such courage but I seriously wished God will just take my life. I even prayed for it.
I lost my appetite, had lots of sleepless nights filled with tear filled pillows. It began to show on my physical body as I lost weight and my health declined daily. I began to lose concentration and made a lot of mistakes in my daily activities.
As months passed by, I still struggled with depression. All I wanted was to shut out the whole world and be in my own little shell.
But my mum wouldn’t let me be as she tried every possible way to bring me out of my shell. Out of frustration one day, she shared her struggle with my pastor and his wife who began helping me too.
After spending time with them, I began to embrace life once again. I began to desire to live again and not just that but to live happily.
Initially, I was like “Why are these people disturbing me? Why won’t they let me be? I’ve nothing to live for anymore”. I was angry with my mum for involving a third party in my personal life and struggles without consulting me first.
But they kept on pushing me, checking up on me and holding me accountable in my struggle.
I remember my pastor’s wife was bereaved that period and I was supposed to be the one comforting her. But I never even sent her a text or called her, after all what did I even know about comfort then?
But in the midst of her pain, she reached out to me. She once invited me over to her house to spend a few days but I couldn’t. However I still paid her a visit which was a major turning point for me.
It was on April 3rd that I paid her a visit. We talked, she prayed for me and gave me some books to read.
Prior to that time, I didn’t enjoy reading Christian literature. But when I went home, I was inspired to start reading the books she gave me.
I made up my mind to read, even if it’s one page a day. And so between 3rd and 4th April, 2016 I started the journey. And I began with Forgetting the Past by Bob Gass.
And I’m happy that as at today, I still enjoy reading Christian literature although I’m still very inconsistent and slow.
It took a while but gradually, I began to overcome depression. For the first time in my life I knew and experienced what it was to be truly happy – happy without any particular reason.
I still had bad days (and still have) but I was moving forward (and still moving forward).
In July that year, my pastor encouraged me to write a book. I started writing without much zeal, and as a matter of duty and obligation to him.
But within few weeks, there was a miracle. What was it?
My writing passion was reignited. I’m using the word reignited because I once had the passion to write but it faded.
I started writing when I was about 9 years old (although it was more of creative writing) but after some years I lost the zeal and passion.
But when I started writing my first book, that passion was reborn.
I started writing Christian and inspirational articles and began to have a desire to write more books. I also had a passion to create a blog to share my articles which by God’s grace has been launched today.
That’s how I started writing again, with so much zeal and joy. When I first started writing when I was about 9 years old, it was more of creative writing. But when my writing passion was reignited about 12 years later, I started writing Christian and inspirational articles and books as well.
So from my pain, and my depression, my writing ministry / career was reborn.
Before my 22nd birthday, I have written more than two dozen of articles and started writing a couple of books although none has been published yet.
Before my 22nd birthday, I overcame depression and learnt how to live in contentment. I learnt how to get along and live happily in all situations. (I haven’t learnt it perfectly but I’m way ahead of last year).
I also began to come out of my shell although at a very slow pace.
Depression is real and it’s deadly. It kills. I don’t know what you’re going through, I don’t know what depressing state you’re in. But I know how it feels and I know that depression can be overcome. I know you can get through this. I’ve had to go through it in an extreme form and I overcame it. You too can overcome it too.
Be encouraged. It may take a while, but you’ll get through it.
Always remember that no matter what you’re going through, God cares about you with deepest affection and watches over you carefully. Don’t be discouraged, don’t give up, don’t be depressed, rather, cast all your worries and anxieties on Him.
Back to my story, it’s my birthday again. Another year has gone by and a lot has happened in this last one year. I’ve lost and I’ve gained. But what I’ve gained is much more than what I’ve lost.
It’s my birthday and I’m in a strange land, far away from my family and friends. I’m still trying to adjust and settle down here, still struggling to get my health back in order and I don’t have all that I desired to have at this age or be all that I desired to be at this age but yet I refuse to be depressed.
Instead, I’m very happy and I’ve a lot to be grateful for. Even when I was unfaithful, God remained faithful to me. He has blessed me with more than I deserve. He has healed me of my pain, delivered me and given me complete victory through Christ. He has strengthened and empowered me in my writing ministry/career, to do that which He has called me to do and to fulfill His purpose. None of these is because of my good works, strength or power but by God’s grace. His grace found me in suicidal depression and brought me out to a better life.
And so, I’m celebrating my birthday in my own little way with so much joy and gratitude to God.
Hurray! It’s my 22nd birthday.
Happy birthday to me!