When Depression and the Spiritual Realm Collide

When Depression and the Spiritual Realm Collide: Emma Mullings’ Story

Annoucer Emma Mullings confronts the issue of depression, and how you can slowly but surely beat the beast.

By Emma MullingsThursday 14 Mar 2013Hope MorningsFaithReading Time: 9 minutes

Emma MullingsBy Emma Mullings
Hope 103.2 presenter

Recently I celebrated my 31st birthday.  It was probably the most subdued, quiet birthday celebration I’d had in the last decade, but I remember walking around the entire day with a sense of inner accomplishment.  

My head was high.  I felt strong like Tomb Raider, clothed in the ‘armour’ of Ephesians in the Bible.  I remember thinking “you lost this battle, devil”, with a smile on my face.

You see the, the preceding year was one I almost didn’t make it through.  Ironically, on the outside it would’ve looked like nothing much was going on, apart from two babies under the age of two, and the usual stresses of managing finances, work, and life with a new family. Looking back on my somewhat colourful background, this year really wasn’t that dramatic compared to the loss, abuse, drug use, relationship breakdown and other things on my ‘been there, done that’ list. No outward signs of a tough year.  I was blessed with two little ones, a great job, and a wonderful husband.

Life was good—apart from the fact that each morning, I greeted death in the face.

My Experience of Depression

Woman outdoors contemplating

What is depression?  Let me tell you: it’s an overwhelming feeling of self-loathing and self-hatred. Of feeling like you are covered in a heavy wet blanket. You don’t want to get out of bed. You don’t want to talk. You don’t want to move.  You just want to die.

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

I didn’t make any threats, I didn’t cry out for attention. But I would silently look up suicides and see how they did it. I would work out how long it would take me to drive to ‘The Gap’ and whether I would definitely die if I jumped, and not end up severely handicapped. Were all our accounts in joint names so my husband could access all our money?

I had even started to draft the list of songs I would like played at my funeral. I made sure I mentioned to my husband I wanted my wedding rings and dress kept for our daughter. “Well, you will still be wearing your rings!” was his confused reply. “And yes, you’ve kept your dress for her, haven’t you? Isn’t it on top of our cupboard?”

This battle was silent. I was mute. Which is generally how depression works; it is a silent killer.

Throw me a Lifeline

Woman looking out window with coffee

I was working a lot at the time; my husband had been made redundant on very short notice and I, having a great relationship with my workplace, was able to pick up hours straight away.  It was well-paid work and for that season it made more sense for me to work and hubby to be daddy day-care. Truth, is God uses any situation, and I’m so glad He does.  Being on an open computer a lot of time, I am sure God launched “Operation Gmail-Chat Lifeline”.

Before my second child was born I had served as the vocal director in my church for five years.  I noticed one of the singers from the team, Tamara, on Gmail chat a lot. I assumed, like me, her computer was just on at work, so I’d say hi every now and then. It was nice to reconnect. Pretty soon, every time I was at work she would pop up with, “How are you today?”.  And as the months went on, my answers became more and more honest. It somehow seemed safer talking to her as a chat icon rather than dealing face to face with a person in the flesh.

Tamara is a bold, fearless and God-fearing woman.  Without realising it, I had been set up with an accountability partner. What started as “I’m good”, eventually became, “I want to die, I just keep thinking how it will affect Hosannah”.

“She would ask, ‘How are you today?’…and as the months went on, my answers became more and more honest.”

Having lost my own mum to cancer when I was young, and the loss having a lasting effect on my life, I was very aware of how this would affect my daughter. In my sick mind at the time (depression is a mental illness), I somehow thought my son would be okay, because he had his Daddy, but I knew what it was like to have that maternal connection between mother and daughter amputated prematurely—and didn’t want my daughter to go through life with the same bleeding wound that I had carried.

The devil is smart. He has been around just as long as we have, has watched our lives, and uses it to his advantage. I remember having a dream and in the dream a dark presence came to me and told me how I could write my children a letter explaining that “Mummy was sick, her mind is sick”. This would supposedly help them understand my suicide, and not take it as a rejection of themselves.

The next morning I was at work and there was Tamara on Gmail chat. Tamara’s response thus far to everything was scripture after scripture. She asked how I was, and I told her about my dream. Again came the scriptures, the stories of King David and his depression, and how he overcame. Tamara would always combat the devil’s lies with the Word of God. She wouldn’t try and reason. She let the Word tell the story.

The Last Fight

Woman driving at night

One night I was driving home from work on a busy highway. Things had been particularly bad. While driving, I often had to fight urges to jerk the steering wheel into the path of a coming truck. It was something I would have to fight most times I drove at night, especially on this small stretch of highway I often drove home on.

This was it. I was ready.  “Ok, let’s do this,” I thought. “Just do it. It’s like skydiving. You just have to jump”.

I had thoughts of when I did skydive, and when I’d jumped off high rock ledges whilst swimming as a kid. I felt the fear, then that feeling of pushing through the fear and just doing it. I remember counting down, getting ready to jerk my car over to the oncoming traffic. We were all traveling around 100km.  “Ok Emma just do it”, I was saying to myself, “Here goes…3, 2, 1,”—and then it happened.

“It was like my spirit over took my body and was crying out with one last fight to save me.”

An involuntary shout rose up in me. An overwhelming shout from the pit of my stomach.

It was like my spirit over took my body and was crying out with one last fight to save me. I had no control.  I was yelling at the top of my lungs, “I will not die, devil, I will live! I am a child of God! No weapon formed against me shall prosper, I will NOT die, I will live, I will live, I will LIVE!” I then started to sing worship – at the top of my lungs!  I could hear darkness growling at me then slowly fade away, as I continued to sing at the top of my lungs. I have no idea how I arrived home, but I remember walking in to my husband and just crying and crying.

Something changed that night.  No, I didn’t wake up miraculously the next morning healed and whole, but I guess it was like on WWF wresting, when you think the wrestler has passed out and the referee starts to count to three. Just before three, the wrestler often puts up his hand, shaking and sweaty, to show he still has some fight left. I wasn’t out yet either! My body and my mind had called it a day, but my spirit still had a little fight left.

Finding New Strength

Woman looking out window

Things slowly started to get better with a combination of exercise, medication, natural remedies, daily scriptures from the Bible—and my wonderful “Gmail chat friend”. Some scriptures were particularly helpful, like 2 Corinthians 10:5 – “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

Through constant prayer, God showed me my practical triggers, and what had triggered that particular episode of depression. He showed me how to put boundaries in my world. He showed me what real freedom is. Freedom from man, and the weight of life. Healthy Freedom. I still need to consciously guard my mind and fill myself with the Word of God.  This is my daily medicine.

“I still need to guard my mind and fill myself with the Word of God.  This is my daily medicine.”

That Gmail chat friend, Tamara, has become a great friend. I would describe her as an undercover missile, full of the Word, full of His Spirit, yet often underestimated. I can’t wait to see where God takes her and I feel spoilt that He let her loose on me first. She will change women’s lives.

I know that “what walks in the parent, often runs in the child”, and that the fights we don’t win, our children will have to fight. I’d heard that my mother had to fight depression and I truly know how she felt. I can now confidently say, this battle ends with me. You lose, Devil. God always wins in the end.

The Power of the Word

Woman with Bible

I’ll leave you with a collection of my daily declarations from God’s word, as well as an amazing Bible excerpt from The Message Version: Psalm 119, written by David. He was feeling suicidal, and his cry is that God would keep him alive. it is profound, honest and victorious.

Psalm 119:25-32 (The Message)

“I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? (I love that prayer… “you promised, remember”! ~ Em )
When I told my story, you responded;
train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.

My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.

I choose the true road to Somewhere,
I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me
if you’ll just show me how.

God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.

I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
your testing has taught me what’s true and right.
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to.”

My Daily Declarations from God’s Word

  • “He is the author and perfector of my faith.” Hebrews 12:2
  • “He will make everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
  • “I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Isaiah 54:17
  • “I have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16
  • “I am a forgiven woman.” 1 John 2:12 
  • “I am flawless in His sight, without blemish or stain.” Ephesians 5:27
  • “Be still my soul, wait patiently upon the Lord.” Psalm 37:7
  • “Jesus came to give me life and life more abundantly.” John 10:10
  • “I have everything I need to live the life God has called me to.” Hebrews 13:20-21
  • “I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.” Ephesians 1:3
  • “God is not a man that He can change his His mind.” Numbers 23:19
  • “The promises God has spoken over me can not be reversed.” Romans 11:29
  • “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord all our days.” Joshua 24:15
  • “My children will stand and call me blessed.” Proverbs 31:28
  • “I am a child of God.” 1 John 5:1
  • “Jesus Christ advocates on my behalf.” 1 John 2:1
  • “I have been given authority over all the enemy’s powers.” Luke 10:19
  • “I have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
  • “His help has made me great.” Psalm 18:35

Need Support?

If you’re struggling or need someone to talk to, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

This article was first published in Enhance Magazine, 2013