Award-winning worship leader Christine D’Clario has opened up about her battle with suicidal thoughts and the shame that came with it because of her role in ministry.
D’Clario is embarking on the “Hasta Poder Ver” tour featuring Evan Craft this spring and will bring a powerful message about mental health and the Church while sharing her journey through her latest album of the same name.
“This album, project, season, worship environment for me has a very, very strong deposit of healing,” the New York native who moved to Puerto Rico when she was a child shared with The Christian Post in a recent video interview that can be seen below.
“I say that because the group of songs that’s in this project particularly are the songs that came out of a very arduous journey with mental health, recovery and inner healing.”
The 39-year-old said the songs came out of a season where she came to the “very end” of herself.
The Latin worshiper admitted that she forcefully let the Lord intervene in her healing, which peeled away a major layer of brokenness to reveal His character in her.
D’Clario said her brokenness began when she was 5 years old after being sexually abused. When she was 6, she lost her father to addiction. On top of that, she was bullied because she was different from other kids.
When she matured into an attractive young lady, she received lots of male attention that she did not want. She admitted she was living a “broken” life even when she was a worship leader singing in church as a young adult.
“Whenever I was away in college, I was leading a life that was absolute opposite to what a child of God does because I was so broken,” she said. “And frankly, I was just angry at the world and at God because of all the brokenness that I was enduring, and I didn’t have an outlet to heal it, or at least I didn’t know I had an outlet to heal it.”
D’Clario said after a couple of years leading a “covert double life,” she hit “rock bottom.”
In that phase of her life, the singer said she faced suicidal thoughts. But she had a “coming to Jesus moment” in 2003, where God showed D'Clario that He had His eyes were always on her. The artist’s book The Prodigal Heartdetails her journey.
Now married and doing ministry with her husband for nearly two decades, D’Clario, who also struggled with infertility, says she found herself in a dark place again following the birth of her second child. Her two children, Ian and Kenzie, are 16 months apart.
‘Shame kept me a prisoner of my silence’
“I fell into a terrible postpartum depression after I had my second child,” she said. “I was depleted in every way, shape or form. My mind was depleted, my heart was depleted, my body, my hormones, my chemistry, I was fully depleted.”
“I had not learned that ‘no’ is not a bad word. I had not learned to give from what I had, and for years, I had been giving from what I didn’t have.”
She told CP she was running herself “completely dry.”
“In postpartum depression, I became suicidal again,” she acknowledged. “And that was the really hard part because [of] shame. Shame was so loud. Shame kept me a prisoner of my silence. It screamed at me every day.”
D’Clario thought about what people would think about the fact she goes on stage and preaches life, but “everything that is in [her] cries out death?”
“What are people going to say about you?” she wondered. “What are people going to say about the God that you preach?”
According to PostpartumDepression.org, approximately about 70% to 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, “the ‘baby blues.” Many others will experience the more severe condition of postpartum depression or a “related condition.” Postpartum depression can take different forms, and its awareness first arose during the 1980s.
The shame caused D’Clario not to share her struggles with anyone. However, God orchestrated an intervention with her midwife that would help D’Clario break free.
“She sat me down, and I know moved by the Lord, she said, ‘How’s your heart? What’s going on? What’s happening inside of you?’ And that question made a big difference,” the singer detailed. “I like to believe that that question saved my life. Because from the moment I conceived my first child until I had my second, no one had asked me that question — ‘What’s going on inside of you, how are you doing, mama?’”
The midwife gave D’Clario the contact information for a therapist and held her accountable until D’Clario booked an appointment.
“Even with my inner healing journey up until that point, which had already been of quite depth, I didn’t know that I would be capable to undergo a mental health, formal in-office therapist,” she commented. “I’m like, ‘that’s not for me.’”
‘Stigma within the Church’
“There is a stigma within the Church in general,” she continued. “Not everyone thinks this way, but the general stigma within the church is — ‘If you have depression, you’re in sin, fix your sin, and your depression will go away.’”
She added that some believers will refer to anxiety as a “spiritual attack” and say something to the extent of “It’s not of you, it’s of the devil.”
She added that others will call suicidal thoughts “demons.”
“‘Go pray so that they can cast the demons out of you, because that’s a demon,’ While that may be true for some people, it is not a general rule of thumb that we can judge with,” D’Clario advised.
She pointed to the scriptures where Jesus instructs his followers to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and all your strength.”
D’Clario said that means people have four integral parts within our beings that need to be fully healthy to love the Lord and others as you love yourself.
“If I look at that Scripture flipped, it’s love yourself so that you could love others well so that you can love Him with all your strength, your body, your physical, with all your mind, ... with all your soul, your emotions and with all your heart, your will,” she assured.
That Scripture and revelation of the text has transformed the songstress and helped her overcome depression.
“If your body is not OK, your mind is not OK, and your soul is not OK, and your spirit is not OK, ... We can’t separate one from the other. And sometimes as Christians, we take really, really good care of the things of the Spirit, but we often neglect the things of the body and the things of the soul and the things of the heart,” D’Clario noted.
“You want to advance in your ministry, you want to advance in your walk with God, you want to advance and [have] a good relationship with your family [and have] good physical health? OK, how are those four elements in you, and are you really able to give them fully?”
She advised those suffering similar situations to focus on getting “healed.”
“Let’s go through the journey, let’s walk through some difficult conversations and some difficult discoveries. But let’s do it to heal so that you can become the very best version of yourself possible and that way glorify the Lord in a greater way,” she said.
“So I am redirecting all of my negative feelings, which in this process, I’ve had to sit with quite a lot and just not hide from them. Anger is a valid emotion. Hate is something that we do feel when we are wronged. Frustration is a valid emotion. Disappointment is also a valid emotion. [But I am] redirecting all of those negative emotions to who they’re due, which is the enemy.”
‘Mama bear is awake’
D’Clario said that she is “mad because the enemy nearly took the mother away from my children.”
“And that’s a no, no,” she said. “Mama bear is awake, and I am adamant about telling the world that mental health is a thing. We want to talk about pandemic? The greatest pandemic of our generation is lack of mental health, especially in the Church!”
In a study co-sponsored by Lifeway Research and Focus on the Family, about a quarter of pastors say they’ve experienced some mental illness. Additionally, 12% say they received a diagnosis for a mental health condition.
“The statistics of pastoral suicide is unacceptable when we have hope in Jesus Christ,” D’Clario said. “So I’m on a mission to tell people, everybody who will listen, that there is a way out, there is a way through, and the Lord does help us. We just need to go through the journey.”
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic