What happens when those we expect to always be there for us are also at the end of their line? Suppose those who often encourage us, also need a encouragement? Even the strongest amongst us fall.

Pastor Keith has always been known for his lively and inspiring sermons. His flock enjoy his sense of humour while feeding them. He has received praise from both men and women alike, “Pastor Keith, that word was lit. We should have a series”, they would tell him. What his flock don’t know is that behind the jovial man on the pulpit is a caged man. Caged by his past. Caged by issues he hasn’t let go of. He knows he needs to come out of this cave before he gets consumed.

Every evening he goes home, he feels empty deep within him. He knows all he has been doing is put up a show and hide behind a smiley mask. His wife Teresa has severally asked him to see a counsellor but Keith is too weak to admit that a man of cloth needs any help. He thinks he can powerthrough anything.

“Come on Teresa, what do you want people to think of me? That a pastor is broken? No. I will be fine I just need a minute to think through”, he would tell her. But when he says he needs a minute to think, what he’s actually saying is that he wants to be left alone.

Keith’s reality while growing up was having an absent father. His father was present yet absent. His father was only there to be seen and never to be heard. Keith loathed his father for mistreating them especially his mother. On his father’s death bed, Keith had refused to make peace with his old man despite his mother’s plea. He has since been carrying the hurt five years after his death.

Last year, before Keith’s mother died while at the hospital, she told Keith that her only wish was that he would make peace with himself and forgive his long-gone father. “I don’t know how you can stand and share God’s forgiveness if you have never forgiven your old man. His mistakes were not yours to carry. Forgive your old man. This unforgiveness will consume you”, she had said to him.

A year after his mother’s death, Keith the pastor has been suffering from depression because of the guilt he has been harbouring in his heart. He is too afraid to talk to anyone about it because he worries that a pastor shouldn’t have to show weakness.

One evening Keith locks himself in his study for hours. His wife Teresa noticing his absence at the dining table for dinner gets up and walks to his study. She asks her two kids to carry on and have their meal as she calls their father to join them.

Teresa tries to open the door but it’s locked. She reaches for the spare key inside the flowerpot by the door and opens it. As the door flings open, her eyes are met with what she says is the most horrific thing she has ever seen. Her husband is on the floor with bulging eyes and a lot of foam coming from his mouth.

She quickly goes back to the sitting room and gets her phone and calls for an ambulance. All this while, she does her best not to alarm her children lest they have a panic attack. Lucky for them, there is a nearby hospital that sends an ambulance almost immediately. Teresa dashes to the neighbour and asks them to have their kids spend the night at their home in case she doesn’t come back.

After a few hours of waiting, a doctor meets Teresa at the waiting area and tells her that Keith is OK and may need to talk to a counsellor.

Keith opens his eyes for the first time in the few hours he has been knocked out, he is met by a warm smile from his wife. “We are going to get you the help you need Pastor Keith.”

“But people may throw stones at me. I don’t know what I was thinking…”, Keith responds but is quietly hushed by his wife. “No one is going to throw any stone at you. You are a man who needs help. That’s all. So let’s get you that help.”

The month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness. May this be a reminder for us that seeking help is not a weakness. Your mental health is equally important as your physical health.

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