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'Why me?' - how God answered my heart-wrenching plea

'Why me?' - how God answered my heart-wrenching plea

'Why me?' - how God answered my heart-wrenching plea

12 July 2021

Lieutenant Keryn Coombes is the Corps Officer at Colac Salvation Army in Victoria’s south-west. 

By Keryn Coombes

I can’t believe that after almost 20 years, I’m still talking about the moment I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Why can’t I believe it? Because of the one question that bothered me the most amid all the thoughts and emotions that raged through my head during my battle with mental ill-health.

And that question was, “Why me?”

I could never understand why I was going through such a dark journey, battling to face each day and keep my head above water. Really, nothing tragic had happened in my life to reach that point. Here I was, going through a significant mental health battle, with no more than the usual stories of a young woman discovering herself through life’s twists and turns.

I felt so hard done by – not because I wanted something tragic to happen to me, but because there seemed to be no explanation for this monster that was stealing my life away.

The anxiety and depression made me feel even more isolated. You see, the biggest issue with mental health is that it carries this stigma that it’s weird or made up. We expect people to back away slowly, sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.

I have had anxiety and depression since the age of 18. This illness affected my life the most between the ages of 18 and 30. I suffered both mentally and physically, and this awful, terrifying existence ruled my whole life. I refused to take the recommended medication, and I was more terrified of depending on meds than the illness itself. I self-diagnosed every single life-threatening disease that exists, and I had real physical symptoms to match. I gave up doing almost everything I loved in church and social circles because fear was raging, and fear always won.

It’s funny how we decide to turn to God when we are at our absolute lowest of lows. I was never very disciplined in my younger years with prayer. In fact, as a born-and-bred Salvo and a self-professed Christian, I thought I was a pretty good kid. But in all honesty, I very rarely spent time in prayer alone.

Yet in those desperate hours, when I wholeheartedly believed I was on the brink of death, I cried out to God and begged him to heal me. That’s how it started. Every time I had a panic attack, I started to call on God every time my chest tightened, and my head got dizzy. I would pray, asking him to draw me close to him and remove the fear because fear doesn’t exist near God. I became convinced that if I stayed as close to God as possible, fear would eventually flee.

I remember telling myself, “Remember this has happened before, and it passed, thank you, God!” I remember getting angry with God because I was tired of dealing with this darkness. I remember laughing with God when he continued to provide me with opportunities to stretch my confidence. I had begun walking in a constant relationship with him, sensing him working in my life.

“I believe I was healed that night because mental ill-health no longer rules my life.”

I knew that God wanted more of my life in church ministry, but I made many plans to make sure that would never happen. Everything came to the surface as I reluctantly attended a youth camp as a leader, and I was encouraged to offer full surrender in his presence as I sat completely broken and confused about why God had not released me from these agonising chains.

I believe I was healed that night because mental ill-health no longer rules my life. It’s not absent completely – I still have some battles. But I know God, I know myself, and I know my relationship with him is strong.

I entered Training College with my husband very shortly after that time in my life, and I am exactly where I need to be as an officer in The Salvation Army.

I can’t believe that I am still sharing this story after 20 years. But I also know that God has given me a story for a reason. Without my suffering, I wouldn’t know my God or even myself intimately. I wouldn’t understand my purpose. I wouldn’t relate to the suffering in my community, and I wouldn’t have the compassion to walk alongside others.

I no longer ask, “Why me?” Instead, I say, “Use me”, and see what God leads me to next. Even in the dark places, God has been so good to me. Who wouldn’t spend their lives devoted to sharing that story?

LIEUTENANT KERYN COOMBES IS A CORPS OFFICER AT COLAC SALVATION ARMY IN VICTORIA.

 


The Salvation Army offers a range of services for people struggling with mental health issues. These can include caring and nurturing communities, case workers, counsellors and referrals. Contact your local Salvation Army for details.

National crisis contact numbers include:

  • Emergency – 000
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36
  • Lifeline – 131 114
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800

Additional help varies from state to state. Specialised lines are also available for different community groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the LGBTI+ community, non-English speakers, and others. Check online for details.

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