Folks at First – Bryden Yeo

An interview with Bryden Yeo

Here is her story that she shared with Annabel Robinson…

You can read Bryden’s story included in our November 2019 newsletter.

Bryden, tell us something about your childhood.
(laughing) My childhood was really boring. I was born in Swan Hills, Alberta, where my father worked in an oilfield. I have a younger brother and sister. I was raised a Roman Catholic, and it was all pretty routine until one day I prayed to God and said if you are real I want to follow you. My faith grew and I made a commitment to him: I believe and I’ll follow.

How did you come to Regina?
(laughing again) It was 1999. I had broken up with the boyfriends I dated over the years and decided that Alberta men sucked. I had a friend in Regina who told me the men in Regina were nicer and much better. I wanted a fresh start anyway, so I just came to Regina and rented a room from one of her friends.

And how did you come to First Baptist Church?
I wanted to go to church, so I walked down Victoria Avenue looking for one. When I came to FBC I thought it was a museum! I asked some people who were going in, and they informed me that it was a church, and invited me inside. Everyone was so friendly. I was baptized two weeks later, and ended up getting married and joining the young adult group ran by Tim Furry. It was in that group that I learned a lot about scripture and prayer.

And were the boys in Regina nicer?
Yes. I learned early in my first days in Regina that I needed to pray specifically when I prayed to God. So I spoke to God about how I was tired of dating. I wanted to meet a man who would love me as much as I loved him, and start a family together. I really thought I was going to have a long wait. However two weeks later I met Shawn. He is completely unlike me. He is soft spoken. I thought we would date for a few weeks. We’ve now been married for 18 years and have 5 kids. I’ll never forget Henry Friesen’s advice about marriage: “Listen and compromise.” That advice has saved our marriage four times.

Then one year at Easter time, I was talking to my kids about what Easter was all about. I explained to them how God sent Jesus to earth for us, how he took away our sins on the cross and rose from the dead. Cool thing was that Shawn was also listening and asked me more about it. This is how he came to know Jesus.

Years later Joel called to talk to Shawn about baptism classes. Mark was teaching them and they wanted to know if he would be interested. Shawn asked William to attend them with him, and at the end of the classes Shawn and William were baptized. It was amazing to see my son and husband be baptized, but also amazing because William is on the Autism spectrum and I was never sure if baptism would be something he would understand. The Lord must have spoken to him, because not only did Will understand but it was something he really wanted to do.

You have other children too, don’t you?
Yes, I have five children aged 17 to seven: William, Gavin, Ethan, Madeleine, and Max.
Shawn works for Lennox and sells HVAC equipment to HVAC companies.

I know you have struggles with mental health. Do you want to talk about that?
Very much so. Mental illness is much more common than you think. But there’s a stigma about it, and people hide it. People struggle all the time.

I’ve had a long struggle with ADHD, depression, social anxiety, and type 2 Bipolar. What happens a lot is I feel overwhelmed, freeze up, and I have up and down mood swings. It’s very stressful and exhausting.

Tell us more about how you got professional help.
It’s so difficult to navigate the system. When you’re depressed it’s difficult to think, function or just to pick up the phone. People don’t take you seriously. They tell you to do exactly what you can’t do. You get told to go one place only to be sent to another. Doctors don’t always understand what you are trying to tell them, or they think it’s something else. Or, and this is what happened to me, they tell you that you need to find a counsellor or Psychiatrist, but then the Psychiatrist tells you that you need to be referred by the Doctor, then the Doctor says no that’s not how it works. It wasn’t until I felt like a complete failure and was moderately depressed that they took me seriously.

The frustrating thing about mental health is you are stuck in a downward spiral. People can’t find help. They turn to drugs or alcohol to find an escape. That leads to addiction, and that in turn leads to stealing. I drank and abused drugs for five years for this very reason. I couldn’t get help, and I couldn’t deal with my life. I remember praying to God, asking what was wrong with me. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that He was listening, and had already begun to lead me on a path to recovery. God has helped me through so many people, to get to where I am today, sober, supported and loved. I have been given tools like mindfulness, gratitude, grounding and medication, that have helped me to regain some independence, and control.

My psychiatrist has taught me to slow down. I want things to change NOW. I want to be recovered and get on with my life. But it doesn’t happen like that. It’s step by step, and it takes time. Also recovery is something that needs to be worked at daily, hourly even. It’s going to be a constant thing my whole life. I need to stop trying to live like someone without menal health issues, and accept myself for who I am.

To do that I have stopped looking for work, and instead, keep volunteering at the church and in my community, and beginning to take care of myself as well as my family.

You say that other things have helped as well.
My family has helped. God speaks to me through my husband and kids often. He encourages me though friends and opportunities. I have found support groups, and different programs in the city, that help me as well. All of these things are places that God has led me to go. He is my hope, my rock, guide and protector. I am so grateful to Him.

Talk about how the church has helped.
Church communities have been so accepting. Jenn and Reade heve been helpful on Facebook. Joel, Kayley, Richard and John have always been kind, listen and have been there for our family. As well as many other pastors over the years.

Worship service always grounds me. It’s like a reminder of who God is. How much He loves us and is with us. What his word is and just how much we love Him and are thankful for all God has given me and my family.

This church has given me friendship, a place to serve and a place to grow spiritually.

This year, for the first time in 40 years, I woke up and didn’t feel crazy. It’s all because God heard my prayers, took me as I was, and began to lead me from the dead end I was stuck in, and into a straight path that He had established just for me, a path of healing, love, strength and an amazing God.

I want to help in the church in any way I can. I’d love to help anyone else who struggles with mental health. God has made you the way you are. God can help you with mental health. You are not alone. All my hope is in my Lord and Saviour Jesus, and he can do the same for anyone who calls out to Him.

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