Sharing About Depression
For years, Susan Carol Bailey juggled demanding roles as wife of Tennessee Assemblies of God pastor Terry G. Bailey, mother of two children, and a medical records transcriptionist working from home.
The cares of life had been reaching a tipping for months. At night, the daily stressors kept her worried and sleepless. But the final straw happened when a congregant gave her husband a puppy, not housebroken. Not wanting to offend the giver, Terry brought the dog home. The dog whined day and night, refused training, and repeatedly soiled the floor. It took Susan hours longer a day to finish her job because of dealing with the dog.
“Everybody has pressure in life, small or big,” says Susan, 64, of Pleasant View. “One thing won't likely cause a problem, but combined with all the others can cause a breaking point.”
But by the time the Baileys rehomed the dog, insomnia plagued Susan. Nor could she eat; she dropped to 90 pounds. She found she couldn't read the Word or pray. She had to quit her job.
While a doctor prescribed medicine, “I felt guilty because I didn't think Christians should take anything for sleep,” Bailey says. Every night she agonized over whether to take the prescription because her mother had been addicted. “The enemy was telling me, You're going to be like your mom.”
After Bailey at last checked into a hospital psychiatric ward, her doctor revealed she had undergone an acute major depressive episode. During her 11-day hospital stay, a pastor friend visited her and shared his own story that changed her perspective.
“When he said, I've been where you are, it gave me a glimmer of hope,” Bailey says. “I thought I would never get better.”
She took his advice and chose a Scripture to quote out loud: 2 Timothy 1:7.
“I felt led by the Holy Spirit: Are you willing to be transparent so I can help others?” Bailey says, “We can either hide these things in the closet, or bring it into the open, into the light, so the Lord gets to use it.”
Within two months, she was functional again. Five months later, she went back to work.
Today, 16 years on, she uses her platform as the Tennessee Ministry Network superintendent’s wife, typically speaking one-on-one, but occasionally to hundreds of people about her depression. Christians aren't immune to sickness of the mind, she says.
“God is still there even when we don't feel Him,” Bailey says. “The prayers of others sustained me.”
In the summer of 2017, she shared her story at the Tennessee Ministry Network youth camp. Afterward, the amount of feedback from adolescents struggling with depression stunned her.
Kate Robinson, the daughter of pastors, resonated with Bailey’s message. Robinson, who had until that point hidden her struggle, spoke with Bailey 45 minutes and asked for prayer. Their encounter proved life-changing.
“The Lord gave me a visual sign that everything was going to be all right,” says Robinson, 19.
Bailey's message also impacted Robinson’s peers. Several camp attendees connected via Facebook with Bailey, who responded by accepting their friend requests and sending personal messages to each one who reached out. Bailey encouraged Robinson to seek out resources. Soon after, Robinson sought counseling.
“Susan is probably the greatest blessing, aside from my husband, who has ever walked into my life,” Robinson says. Today she and Joshua are worship leaders who travel throughout the state.
“God won't waste our pain,” Bailey says. “I’m where I am today and who I am today because of that horrible experience. God can redeem our past if we allow Him.”