Blog by Gaye Techanchuk and Sandy Hopkins
At the age of 13 my life drastically changed. I transferred schools and it’s very obvious to me now that I didn’t cope well with that change – or with any changes that occurred in my life for that matter. A few months after the change in school I was hospitalized and my Dr wasn’t sure when I would be able to leave – if at all.
Then when I was 19 my father died suddenly from a heart attack and life once again changed drastically. I was an only child and in college at the time and I did the only thing I knew to cope with his death – I suppressed my feelings and carried on as normal. Normal is such a relative word, because each year on the anniversary of his death I behaved anything but normal. I dreaded the anniversary of his passing and each year my grieving increased instead of decreasing. I had never dealt with the pain or grief of his sudden death and I began paying for that more and more each year with my health – body, soul and spirit.
I met the man of my dreams and was married at 20 and had a miracle child (my only son) at the age of 24. I had been told for many years that I would not be able to have children, so I felt very blessed by his arrival, but I was an anxious mom due to continuing health issues.
I had a number of serious health issues, but by far the greatest of these issues was Ulcerative Colitis. I was my Dr’s youngest patient with this condition and he was at his wits end trying to figure out what to do with me. From the age of 13 to 26 I was hospitalized many times, and at the age of 26 I had my longest episode yet of illness – it lasted 2 years. At one stage I was so sick I was hospitalized for 2 weeks and was incapable of doing anything to help my husband or son during this hospital stay.
My Dr is an amazing man and went well beyond his duty of care to help me. He decided he wanted to approach treating my illness from a different angle this time because nothing was helping me. One day he sat on my hospital bed next to me and said “Gaye, will you trust me? I want you to see a psychologist. I want to start treating your mental health issues and see if that improves your physical health instead of the other way around”. And he wouldn’t take no for an answer – I often thank God for that Dr because this was my turning point.
I agreed to see the psychologist. Agreeing to do something and doing it earnestly are two very different things. Back in 1977 there was a stigma attached to seeing a psychologist, and as a church going, Jesus loving Christian, I believed deep down that I didn’t need to get counselling. Needless to say it took me a little while to “open up” to this psychologist, and I put him and his theories and methods through some rigorous testing! He could see things about me that I never saw about myself. I feel this helped me with the rest of my life. I still have to make decisions to see things—not from a victim mentality, but from a Biblical perspective. Sometimes we just need a little help!! There’s no shame in needing help – but sometimes not seeking help is hurtful to ourselves and others. The Word of God became one of my best friends and still helps me deal with thoughts that are not God’s thoughts.
Here are some scriptures that have become a lifeline for me:
II Tim. 1:7—God has not given me a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and a sound mind.
2Cor. 10:5—Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Ephesians 5:19—Speaking to yourself in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Phillipians 4:7—And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:8 – I think on these things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. If there be any virtue or praise think on these things
Phillipians 4:8. 2 Cor. 5:7 I live and walk by faith and not by sight or feelings.
I saw this psychologist twice a week for 6 months and wanted to throw my shoes at him many times. Nowadays, I’d like to hug him and thank him profusely for walking me through the most difficult and painful 6 months of my life. That 6 months of investment has been reaping a harvest in my life ever since. I have seen my physical and mental health problems really fade away, but I can never let go of God’s Word, worshipping in His house and keeping my mind renewed.
I had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety from the age of 13 until the age of 26. I didn’t understand that the way my thoughts and imaginations ran wild were not healthy for me. The psychologist helped me to manage my thoughts and take control of my emotions when they were getting out of control. And we also talked through the deep hurts and turning points in my life – discovering the patterns of belief I had formed (some OK, some very twisted and wrong) during those difficult times in my life.
Many years ago I would have considered myself to be the person least likely to do what I do today. God is faithful and truly does guide your path if you surrender to
Psalms 119:105 TPT
“Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of your word makes my pathway clear.”
* Gaye Techanchuk is a much loved pastor at Wave Church. She spends much of her time helping couples through marriage difficulties, visiting and praying for the sick and being many of our team’s “go to” person for wisdom and advice.