A story about Social Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD.


This is a long post, but it is, from my heart, vulnerable and authentic, so it is worth the read. A lot of people find it hard to talk real with other people about struggles in their life, but not me. I have always been an open book and try to be as real with others as I can to help other people, which has been my calling for a very long time. The last five years of my life have been some of the hardest times I have ever gone through. Including our move to Chattanooga where we tried to start our lives all over again, making new friends, finding jobs, finding a new church, trying to leave behind everything that happened here in Birmingham when my husband shot himself in the courthouse in 2012. When this happened, I had so many labels put on me; it tore my life and who I was apart. It wasn’t enough that I had to handle what he had done, and grieve his loss, but to be blamed for him doing it because I was the new wife was more than I could bear. Because of it being such national news, my face and name were everywhere, on every news channel national, and local.
I could not go out anywhere that people would walk up to me and say “ you are that woman whose husband killed himself in the courthouse” and that became my new identity. All the people in the federal courthouse where he worked were calling me a gold digger, the black widow, and saying things I could not even begin to tell you. When Ronnie and I were fixing to get married, he worked at Bruce’s office supply. The federal courthouse was one of his clients, he went there, and they told him they had heard he was marrying me and told him not to do that. “ You don’t know what kind of gold-digger and monster she is, she is known around here as the black widow.” They didn’t even know me, and they had never yet met me, they talked about how many times I had been married before, but the one thing they never knew was my past and why I may have made some horrible decisions in my life. They never knew I was just a woman due to my history looking to be loved. They didn’t know as a child I spent many years in very abusive girls home, locked up for months at a time a dog, naked, and kept in the dark for months at a time. They didn’t know I had been sexually abused as a child time and time again. They didn’t know that I didn’t have a father in my life, then at age 30, he finally became a part of my life after he had been in a motorcycle wreck paralyzed from the neck down needing me to care for him. They didn’t know years later, he was murdered in my home, and I still never heard, I love you from him, I had forever lost my dream of ever being daddy’s little girl. They didn’t know that it caused me so many issues that I left a long marriage of 16 years. They didn’t realize it tore my kids apart when I left my husband and our stable home that on New year’s day in 2005, I was all alone, my kids not speaking to me, and found myself in a fetal position in my bathroom floor contemplating suicide. They didn’t understand after my suicided episode on New Years I finally had a year of extensive counseling and became involved in a program called Celebrate Recovery.
I was saved at Celebrate Recovery and got into leadership there and started a singles ministry called Alabama’s Circle of Friends. David came to my ministry is how we met. I ran this ministry for five years, pouring my soul into singles and setting up activities and events every Saturday night. I was speaking everywhere, and my book came out; Hope Knows Your Name. I was the butterfly that got put in a box by what happened, and when you put a butterfly in a box, it dies, which is precisely what happened to me. I ended up closing the ministry that I had worked so hard for, due to my social anxiety, PTSD, depression, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts. I started an extensive program at UAB due to becoming so withdrawn and depression. I was back to where I was at in 2005 wanting to end my life.
I had lost everything now, who I was, the social butterfly I was, all of my friends who had disappeared after David’s death. The close friends I did have; I shut down on them, I wanted to be alone; I did not want any friends anymore, I tried to ultimately shut down anything and anyone that had to do with David. Due to my shutting down as I did, I lost some of the best friends I have ever had. They had stuck with me through this whole situation and helped me so much to get through it all, and I just completely shut everyone out of my life and stayed to myself. I had just married Ronnie, and he didn’t know what to do with me. He felt so secluded, and what a way to start a new marriage. He did everything he could to help me and was watching me sit there dying and becoming so secluded from everyone. I could not feel anymore; David’s death had taken so much from me, and so did other people. We decided to move out of Birmingham due to all I had to deal with, I was still getting facebook messages that it was all my fault, and just everywhere we went something would happen, or someone would say something. I felt like the most horrible person in the world; I did not want to become involved with anyone ever again. I did not want any friends, did not want to go to church, never wanted to go anywhere, or do anything which has continued the last five years. We felt a new life in another city would be the answer. But, even moving off to somewhere new, you are still with you. My problems only worsened due to leaving family, losing my ministry, my best friends, wow had my life changed.
In Chattanooga, I did the same thing; I had so much social anxiety that I could not get involved in too much of anything. I started working, and that helped to feel I was doing something again. Then my back issues happened, and I had to have major surgery, due to not being able to go back to work sooner than I did, my boss fired me. Once again, leaving me to feel worthless, and I went back into my shell. Through this whole situation, my husband is the one who has suffered the most. I have not been able to be the wife he has needed me to be. He has been the one to try and pick up the pieces after David’s death. I have even held him at bay, being able to get to close to me. I have shut out and hurt the people I have loved the most. Then, Ronnie ended up taking a job in Texas, so we move 13 hours from home and with me still needing more surgery on my back. I fell in July off of a stool, and I have two tears in both hips, which I am still waiting on surgery.
We had only been in Texas 6 months when the radio station Ronnie went to work for closed down. Now, we were 13 hours away, no family, no friends at all, and what were we going to do? We ended up moving back to Birmingham and lived with my mom for five weeks. We finally got our place two weeks ago, and we are enjoying it. I am back to getting help with my depression, PTSD and social anxiety. I have had a rough time being back due to running into people I may know, or hearing what I heard five years ago. I am still at a place of not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone. I have been trying to go to the store and get things for our apartment. I find myself sitting in the car for 30 to 45 minutes before going in someplace due to this anxiety of running into people. Ronnie really wants to get back in church, and my fear is going and seeing someone I know or someone recognizing me. I am so withdrawn still from everyone; I want prayers for being able to love Ronnie like I need to and not be afraid of letting someone into my heart again, I need prayer for this social anxiety that I still deal with. I need prayer for making friends again and not being so afraid; I need prayer for forgiveness from those friends that I did hurt so bad from withdrawing from the relationship. I need prayer for a renewed mind, a new ministry and for God to be able to use me as a vessel again. I need prayer to let others in my heart again, to know yes I am back as a cacoon, but one day I will blossom back to a butterfly. I need prayer that I can forgive those who have said some of the cruelest things about me that have changed my life forever. What they don’t know is these last five years of my life have been affected by what they did, what people have said, how I was treated through his death. I am glad I got to share where I am at and some very vulnerable moments for me. I want me back; I want my life back. I want to love my husband as he deserves to be loved. I want to forgive others and forgive me. I am currently not able to work due to my health, so please pray that God provides us as we live on one income now. I do believe what Jeremiah 29:11 I know he has plans for me, and I know he has hope for my future! I am so thankful for a husband who has stuck in there with me through some of the hardest years of my life.

Ronnie and Christie Bruce

Contact Christie to speak at your next event

hopeknowsyourname.com

hopeknowsyourname@gmail.com

205-960-4245

 

Life – Changes in an instant, how do you cope with it?


Wow, so much has happened in our lives these last six months. We were living in Chattanooga, TN where we both had great jobs. I was fired from my job while I was out for my back surgery and in rehab. Then, my husband took a job offer, in Texas which he thought would be better for our family in the long run. Trust me; I went kicking and screaming the whole way. After my back surgery and neck surgery, in Chattanooga, the surgery with my back did not go as well as planned. I was out of work from the time we moved to Texas until now. We had only been in Texas for six months when my husband’s boss announced to him that they were closing down the radio station on Friday, and he was told this on a Tuesday, leaving him with no time (3 days) to find a job. Now, we’re stuck out there alone and with no family or friends. That moment when Ronnie told me what had happened I was so angry, and I had just a panic of fear. Security has always been the one thing I need since my childhood. Now, that was gone, who was I going to trust, who would pay our bills, how would we get groceries? All these fears consumed me for months; we have both felt hopeless. I kept thinking, how could someone wreck someone’s life that bad? How could someone move us 12 hours from home knowing their business was on the verge of closing down? Ok, where are you, God? For the first time in our lives we seriously did not know what we were going to do. Long story short, we ended up moving back to Birmingham, AL and moved in with my mother, which has had to be our lowest point ever. I have sat and watched my husband feel less and less of a man because he has had so much trouble finding a job. I have watched him crying just out of sheer despair. I have watched him first-hand being torn down, and kicked in the mouth by other people, even by our family. All the while continuing to trust God, knowing He will provide, and knowing God has just the right job and people that he will cross paths with all in God’s timing. We are now going on four months that he has been without a job; it has been grueling. To have a stack of bills you cannot pay, you don’t have your own place to live anymore; you can’t go out and do the things you once could do. You know who you thought you were the closest to, acting like they never knew you when we needed a place to live. Being in the place where we are right now has made us cling only to God and not other people. We are trusting Him to get us out of our situation. Now, we are hanging on to the promises in His word, that is all we have. We have learned not to take anything for granted anymore, such as having a home, a kitchen to cook in, a bed to sleep in, your own bathroom, and just the comfort of knowing you are in your own home. I will always appreciate having an apartment or a home now. When we can get a place of our own, I will thank God every day for the blessing of having a roof over our heads we call our own. We are letting go of all of those people who let us down in one of the hardest times of our life, and trusting God to bring us new friends, those who stick closer than a brother. I am just so proud to see how my husband has witnessed to me through this time in staying so faithful, never losing hope, and his true dignity and respect he has shown to those who have just beat him down. He still showed them Jesus. I have to say my best friend since childhood has been here for both of us. Her belief in us and her encouragement is just amazing. I realize it is better to have one true friend like her than 20 who turn you away when you’re in trouble. She has always been a light to me in some very dark places I have been. Even though some of our fights throughout our lives, I always knew if I needed her she was there. What a comforting feeling, a true friend who is as genuine as nothing I have ever seen in my life. Her name is Jenny, so please pray for her and her family, thank God for putting her in my life, thank Him for giving me the comfort of knowing and seeing what a true friend should look like, ask Him to bless her beyond measure. I know pretty soon Ronnie will get a job offer, I know we will once again live out on our own. I know God is going to bless him abundantly just due to watching how He has just clung to the Lord through all this. Please continue to pray God will direct him to the job He wants him to have, where he can minister to others who are going through life and have so many issues just as we have had. We have a precious friend in ministry, and his logo is “God Did It” and that is one thing we are going to say on the other side of this trial, GOD DID IT! If you too are going through something in your life that is way beyond your control and you to don’t see a ray of hope, hang in there. Just ask God what it is He wants you to learn as you’re walking through your trial. Hang on to the fact, things cannot get any worse, so they have to get better. You’re not stuck. God has the answers He is just wanting us to be still and know He is God in these moments. Thank you all for continuing to pray for Ronnie and me, and we would love to hear from you how we can pray for you. We want to do this thing called life with you and continue doing life together.

Ronnie and Christie Bruce

hopeknowsyourname@gmail.com

To book Christie for your next event, please go to hopeknowsyourname.com and you will find a part of my story and how to contact us.

We cannot cover depression with a bandage or pretend like there are not tangible physical reasons for it. But, what we can do is use the resources we have wisely and share the hope we find in scripture.


Depression is not something that magically disappears when you slap a band-aid on it. Sometimes the last thing you want to hear is another Bible verse or an encouraging word from someone who has not walked in your shoes. We all have moments when we need someone to grab our hand and help pull us up out of the depths of despair. It’s the moments when we cannot even reach back for the extended hand that is hardest to get through. No matter what you are facing today or tomorrow, or what you went through yesterday, there is hope for you. Psalms put words to the hardest seasons of life when it’s hard to find words to pray.

I’ve been there in the dark season of depression. I know what it’s like to wonder if this thick cloud that seems to surround me will ever lift. I’ve sat in the waiting rooms, read the articles, and attempted to talk about the moments that made me question if I was ever going to be ok again.

There are a few Psalms that helped me through some of the darkest moments, and I want to share them with you. The Psalmist conveys my feelings in ways I could never verbalize on my own. I have prayed these Psalms many times while asking God to deliver me from the struggle at hand. Every time I read them, I am reminded again of how amazing and alive God’s Word is. While I love the entire chapter of each of these Psalms, I included the highlights that speak directly to my heart. For more in-depth study, read the whole chapter.

If you are encouraged by one of these, it’s your turn to hold out your hand to a friend and pull her up. Be an encourager and pass this on!

A Psalm for the fearful heart

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall, I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:1,14

Fear is gripping. It’s the feeling that starts small but grows and seems to take us down faster than we want to go. But God gives us big truths to cling to from this psalm. He is our light! He is our strength! When fear grips us, we know where to go to find light in the dark and strength when we feel depleted. It’s not that we immediately jump for joy and have miraculous physical power, but remember where the light comes from, helps lead us in the right direction when we are in the depths of the dark.

A Psalm for the waiting heart

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3

Seasons of depression go by slower than other seasons of life. The days linger and the nights seem never to end. But the psalmist here reminds us that God pulls us up out of that terrible place and gives us steady ground to stand on. When we feel like the night will never end, this gives us fresh hope to rise with a new song for a new day.

A Psalm for the discouraged heart

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

The question why is one that is hard to answer in seasons of depression. Sometimes there is no right answer. But we can always find a solution for where to find hope. This psalm spells it out for us and walks us toward God with praise and thanks for salvation.

A Psalm for the grieving heart

“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:6-9

Grief changes us. It forces us to stop and acknowledge the pain of the world around us. Loss ushers us into an emotional cycle that we can try to ignore only to be hit harder when the next wave of grief overcomes us. Tears are not a sign of weakness, and they prove a person is letting him or herself come face to face with something difficult. The hope we hold is that God hears the cries of His children and He gives us words to help express the deep ache of a heart in grief.

A Psalm for the overwhelmed heart

“God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains are moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:1-3,10

Life is paralyzing when struggles surround us. There is no shame in being still, and this psalm gives us the very tangible value to slowing down the soul and letting the season of struggle be a gift rather than a curse. Being still and allowing God into the depths of the overwhelm is perhaps a key to finding the help we need to make it through another day.

A Psalm for the terrified heart

“Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:1-4

Life is complicated when people let us down or hurt us on purpose. But there is one person who is always steady, faithful, and true. If you are worried about what might happen next or afraid of what people will do or say, know that God is gracious, merciful, loving, and kind. He wants to hear you pray the words of the psalms.

A Psalm for the desperate heart

“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth, I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:1-2

Walking through depression isn’t something I want to do, but I am thankful for the season when my heart is faint because I experience God’s presence like never before. These Psalms give me prayers to pray when I have no words. Wounds of life run deep, and sometimes, my mind is filled with fear and despair.

No matter what you are going through or how hard life may be, speak these simple psalms to the Lord today and let Him meet you right where you are. May God bless you and begin to give you a glimpse of hope.

M.M

Email us questions you may have, subjects you would like us to talk about, or, what it is you are struggling with. We want to hear from you!

Love, Ronnie and Christie Bruce

He has never failed you yet, waiting on changes to come. Your battle will be won, His promise still stands. Deuteronomy 31:8


Do It Again is a song of hope breaking through into the hopeless; of joy breaking through into disappointment. How does this anthemic worship song suggest that we break out of the depths of despair? By remembering what God has done before:

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

We have all faced mountains and overcome. Deuteronomy 31:8 declares that God ‘will not leave you nor forsake you’. By remembering what we have overcome with Jesus on our side our faith is stirred & our courage is strengthened as we face the challenges ahead.

‘God has delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us again’ (2 Corinthians 1:10).

In this Scripture Paul is sending the same message as this song, that is:

If He has done it once, He can do it again
With this declaration ringing in our ears we can boldly make the declaration at the end of the song:

You never failed me yet
I never will forget
You never failed me yet
And I never will forget

When we see the glory of God break through into the darkest parts of our lives, we cannot let ourselves forget about it. When Jesus answers our prayers, when He reaches out His hand to pull us to safety, we must remember what He has done.

Be sure to check out the song below. Spend some time reflecting on the lyrics and remember that if God has done it once, He can do it again.