Joshua suffered from depression for most of his life—he just never knew what to call it. He recalls being in second grade, lying on his bed, and imagining what it would be like to be dead.
“My parents were alcoholics and divorced when I was one,” recalled Joshua. “There was an ongoing custody battle because my dad didn’t want to pay child support.”
With all the fighting, Joshua preferred to be alone. He was in 5th grade when his stepmom took him to the doctor, who diagnosed him with depression. “He attributed it to my not having more time with my mom. My dad wasn’t letting me see her, but after that, I saw her more often.”
Unfortunately, while with his mom, he was molested by a close family member. Around this same time, Joshua’s dad pawned the guitar he’d given him and had taught him to play to get money for cocaine. Playing the guitar was one thing Joshua loved and was good at. As a kid, the loss was devastating to him.
“When I was older, I got to pick who I wanted to live with—I chose my mom. My dad was angry and told me the church would take my name out of their book. I didn’t know what that meant, but I figured it was bad. I was already blaming God for what had happened to me, so it was one more thing to be angry about.”
After graduating, Joshua enlisted where he had easy access to alcohol and used it to self-medicate. Many times he would wake up and have no idea where he was or how he got there. He was honorably discharged after two years and bounced from job to job. His diagnosis of depression had gone untreated for a long time, and after 30 days in a state hospital, he was prescribed antidepressants, which helped tremendously.
“When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I moved in to take care of her. They gave her six weeks, but that turned into seven months. She was sober, and I enjoyed having good conversations with her. When she died, it was hard. I inherited her house and continued living there. I went back to work. But then had a freak accident where I fractured two vertebrae and broke my tailbone. I couldn’t work and lost my job.”
“I had no one to call”
Joshua started drinking more and more. Eventually, he stopped taking his antidepressants and started smoking marijuana and then on to meth. “It got to the point where I would rather be angry than shed a tear. I ripped pages out of my Bible. I wasn’t living according to God’s word and blamed Him for my life being such a mess. I tried to reconcile with my dad, but after he closed the door in my face, I walked away.”
Things got worse after Joshua opened his home up to a cousin, who, unbeknownst to him, was battling an untreated mental illness. “He wouldn’t leave. He attacked me in my sleep. I called the police, but they said that there was nothing they could do since he’d stayed for more than three days. I couldn’t even have him evicted. I didn’t feel safe in my own home.”
“I could see where my life was going,” shared Joshua. “I had no one to call. Instead, I called an ambulance. I took my wallet, birth certificate, and the urn containing my mom’s ashes. I left knowing I was never going back.”
It was while staying in the mental ward that someone mentioned Nashville Rescue Mission to Joshua. “A woman talked about her nephew who had completed the Mission’s program and turned his life around. It sounded exactly like the life change I needed.”
“My time in the Mission’s program has been a game-changer for me,” shared Joshua. “The best part, reestablishing a relationship with God. I love to read, and at first, I dreaded reading my Bible. Now, I’m reading it a couple of hours each day. I wasn’t right with God when I first got to the Mission. I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do and I have a long way to go, but I feel like things are good between us now.”
“I’m stingy about using words like ‘friend’ and ‘love,’ but I’ve met some men in this program who are truly my friends, and I would do anything for them. I have never experienced community and friendship like this before.”
After graduation, Joshua has plans to get a job and stay in the Mission’s transitional housing. He’s planning to save money, go back to school, and eventually become a private investigator. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m trying not to look too far ahead. I want to take things slow and easy. After so much loss and disappointment in my life, getting excited about something is still a struggle. But I’m looking forward to this new beginning I’ve been given. I can’t wait to see what God does next.”
Because of you and your support, Joshua learned that he’s more than his battle with depression. He is a child of God and worthy of love, support, and a future. Thank you for giving him hope.