R. David Fenske III’s struggles began at 7 years young when his dad left home; he struggled with feelings of abandonment and not feeling loved. I took him for counseling because he didn’t want to eat, sleep or talk to anyone. The counselors diagnosed him as mildly suicidal, with anxiety and depression.
David’s way of coping with his emotions was to excel at sports. To prevent embarrassment, he kept his struggles a secret from everyone, he avoided being exposed by refusing medication, and had a difficult time with relationships. David also had a tough time in school and struggled with reading comprehension due to having a different learning style. Instead of the school working with him, they labeled him as learning disabled, which caused him to feel he was stupid and unable to succeed at anything. Coupled with feelings of being unlovable, unworthy and full of anxiety and depression, David began to self-medicate to hide his pain. As a result, he was in and out of many types of rehabs, over many years, but he never really spoke about the severity of his anxiety and depression.
Years later when David joined the Army, he realized he couldn’t escape the anxiety and depression, so he began to talk to doctors about his feelings and was given meds. Rather than taking the prescribed meds and continuing therapy after severely injuring his back and shoulder, he began to mask his mental and physical pain by abusing opioids, which eventually led to heroin. Over the years, he would start to process his feelings in various rehabs, but his darkest fears would arise and he would shut down, stop his meds and resort back to opioids and heroin.
On February 5, 2017 my son lost his battle and went to be with King Jesus! As I look back over the years of my son’s struggles and this past 18 months since his death, I can say without our faith in a loving and good Father God, I have no idea how we would have gotten this far. Churches and schools have failed by stigmatizing people with mental health issues and addictions. Mental health professionals ignore the significance of faith in the restoration of the mind, body and soul — I believe they need to come together in a holistic approach, as we cannot continue to separate healing and wholeness from Our Creator God.
— Jacquelyn Zambito