art by: Jerome Lawrence shadow voices: finding hope in mental illness
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Kari Broadway

Kari Broadway
Kari Broadway

I had seen all these movies you know when people with mental illness, they were the people punching their hands through windows and jumping out of buildings and so zoned out by medication that they couldn’t function. I was scared that that’s what people were gonna make me do, that they were gonna take away the life that I knew, take away the friends that I knew, and just put me away somewhere. I was scared that my family would think I didn’t fit into their way of life anymore. I always tell people they can’t understand what it’s like to have a mental illness unless you’ve been through it. I love it how people sometimes say, oh I experienced depression for two weeks, but it’s not the same as when you experience it all the time. I have better days and I have worse days, but it’s always there. And if I don’t take my meds, you know, it’s back.

When I’m terribly depressed, I don’t function. I don’t get out of bed, my mind races with thoughts of death, that it would be better if I was dead, that no one would have to worry about me, that no one would have to mess with me anymore. My apartment goes to shambles. I just don’t care. I leave dishes lay, I leave clothes lay. With my mental illness I just I don’t care. All that comforts me is sleep, and even then sometimes I have dreams, I struggle with wanting to get all the food out, I think you know you’re too fat, you’re too big, no one’s ever gonna want to marry you. Another one is, you could just end it. I have images in my head you know of taking a gun and just putting it to my temple and being done with it. And that’s where I get really scared because I think sometimes what if I actually would follow through on one of those things? And that’s when I have to reach out for support.

In the beginning, I felt that God was abandoning me. I felt he had left totally, you know, why was he allowing all this bad stuff to happen to me? What did I have to do I guess the thought was what did I have to do to get back on his good side? And that’s kind of how the church portrayed it to me as well. Kari, if you just pray more, if you would commit your life to Christ, read this book and you’ll be closer to Christ, and then you won’t have these problems. And I had to come to a realization that God had allowed this to happen in my life. He wouldn’t give it to me if I couldn’t handle it. And I had to move forward.

God can use us in other people’s lives. And that’s why I guess I agreed to talk about my mental illness. I have an article coming out in the Church Herald in May that talks about my journey and talks about what happened in my life, because I want people to know that it’s not the end of the road. It may be a curve in the road and it may be lots of curves in the road throughout your life, but it’s not the end.