One day, she was at the pinnacle of her career, a co-host of a national Christian TV program and the next day she was checking into a psychiatric hospital, under a suicide watch.
Her candid journal entries say it all – “Lord, please hold me. I’m falling into a dark well. I feel as if I am disappearing a little more every day. I am so angry inside that I am afraid of myself.”
Loved Back to Life
I read “Loved Back to Life,” Sheila’s life story, in two sittings, not because it was an easy read but because it was a book I couldn’t put down.
In the late 80’s I co-hosted a radio program out of Champlain, New York, called “Rock Solid.” We played tunes from Sheila’s albums.
Little did I know there was a war going on inside of the mind of this stunning, Scottish singer – life and death battles with anxiety.
Fatherless at Age Six
When Sheila was six, her father suffered a brain thrombosis. He was never the same.
A once warm, funny and kind dad, he returned from the hospital angry and violent. One time he tried to kill Sheila with a cane. Within hours he was taken away to an asylum and she never saw him again. He escaped the asylum and was found, drowned in a river. He was thirty four.
She blamed herself for his death.
Meet Sheila Walsh on Monday September 24, 2018 at North Pointe Women’s event.
Words of Death
Sheila was the popular co-host of the 700 Club, with Pat Robertson. She was funny, engaging, attractive, and caring. When she left her role to enter a psychiatric hospital, Christian leaders and co-workers told her:
“Do you know the damage you are doing to this ministry?”
“I always knew you would lose it someday.”
“You will never be trusted again.”
Sheila replayed those haunting statements over and over again in her mind.
She learned the hard way that mental illness has the curb appeal of the Black Plague.
“For a Christian who wrestled a disease of the mind, it was assumed that something in your behavior or a pervasive lack of faith had brought it on.”
How Do You Mend a Broken Mind?
Sheila thought that if she just tried hard enough she could make everything right. She fasted and prayed for twenty one days asking God to heal whatever was wrong with her. She threw herself deeper into helping others.
All of her efforts failed.
It was as though winter had settled into her heart with no hope of spring.
It took an act of desperate courage to check into a psychiatric facility.
Her hospitalization was a new beginning. A first change of many. Sheila would later marry, become a mom herself, embark on a new career of public speaking and inspire and support thousands of women just like her.
She learned that depression was not something she would get over but something she would get through.
5 Lessons Sheila Learned
1.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He will love you back to life.
“I never knew You lived so close to the floor,
but every time I am bowed down,
crushed by this weight of grief,
I feel your hand on my head,
Your breath on my cheek, Your tears on my neck,
You never tell me to pull myself together,
to stem the flow of many years,
You simply stay by my side,
for as long as it takes,
so close to the floor.”
2. Acknowledge what’s inside you. Her doctors identified that she had never given herself permission to feel the inner anger or speak up for herself.
3. Identify what defines you. They asked her, “What are you afraid of?” She gave one answer – “I am afraid of losing what defines me. If all the fancy wrapping was taken away would I be left with just an empty box?”
4. Face your false beliefs. She believed that her father’s death was her fault. She worked tenaciously to try to compensate her mother and brother for their loss.
5. Live secure in your faith. Until her crisis Sheila had spent so many years trying to make God proud of her and to never fail Him. She learned that the Lord makes a far better companion than a judge.
More From Sheila
Do you know someone facing a hard time or depression? Share this post with them. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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I heard Sheila Walsh speak a few years back at a Women of Faith conference, along with Christine Caine. I bought both their books and read through them quickly. “The Storm Inside” truly made me realize how God walks with us along the way. “Unstoppable” reminded me that God has a role for me to play. A life of ease is not what God is wanting for me, but a life of love for others.
Good takeaways from the books Adena! Thank you for connecting with a comment. (You are “Unstoppable” with your Run Burundi and Walk Run Ride and all the other supportive ministry you engage in. Have you read Christine Caine’s “Undaunted?” We have a copy in the bookstore.
Do you sell her book in the North Point Store?
I love such open faced honesty as is found in this book and in her ministry. So many false concepts and beliefs about mental illness exists and God in His grace and mercy and love sends the message that He is enough to take us through and to be trusted on the journey.
Haven’t read the book, but I know that God is never more near, than when we are at our lowest ebb. Through the 18 month valley of darkness I journeyed through in 2010-11, I was never alone. Ever. His goodness & mercy, as well as his rod and staff, were constant companions. Finally, I learned, in God’s economy, my most eloquent prayer was three words long… “I Need You.” Thankfully, I came out the other side a more empathetic, patient teacher; better able to offer hope to my students. We learn so much more about who God is in the valleys than on the mountaintops.
Keep writing Pastor Bob. You are a blessing to so many.
Shaner! It’s been too long, friend. The last time we talked was in the basement of D and C Glubish’s place after C and C dedicated JT. True? You are one of the rocks in my life that provide an invisible support because of your consistency. We may not connect much but I know you are there and you keep keepin’ on. Your comment means a lot. I hope you’ll help Barb get to meet Sheila at North Pointe on the 24th. Jocelyn would love that.
I’m glad to know about this. Thanks for sharing!