My husband and I really enjoyed life with each other.

We did things together, we shared openly about everything. He would help me to clarify my thinking. He was my confidante. He was also my support when it came to parenting – my son has mild autism. It wasn’t easy bringing my son up, but my husband was there with me to manage his meltdowns and tantrums.

The turning point in our relationship came in 2009, when my husband was diagnosed with clinical depression. For the first time in my life, I began to really experience what it means to be lonely.

My husband started to hole up after being diagnosed. He was there with us physically. But emotionally, he was no longer there. He was not there to support me or to advise me on certain issues.

I felt as if I’d lost a soulmate.

In trying to give him the space to make sense of what he was going through, I kept his condition a secret from all my colleagues, friends and members of the family.

I couldn’t share with anyone the pain that I was experiencing as a caregiver to husband and son. I was discouraged, tired, and sad. I had no one to talk to about all the crazy things that were happening in the home.

There were many moments I felt so helpless because I had to rush home to attend to my depressed husband, or my son with his constant meltdowns. There were many times I cried in the MRT on my way home. There were times I cried because I could not bear the pain and needed a touch of human care.

I remember one occasion, a meeting in church I had gone to alone because my husband couldn’t go; he didn’t want to meet anybody. At that meeting, the leader was leading us in prayer and, as it was a couples’ meeting, he was led by the Lord to ask the husbands to pray over their wives.

There were times I cried and cried because I could not bear the pain and needed a touch of human care.

It was so difficult to see every husband holding their wife and praying for them while I stood there alone. I excused myself, went to the toilet of the host’s house, and I sat there.

I cried. And cried. And cried. Because I missed my husband so much.

That was also when I realised how much pain I had accumulated inside me. How sad I was, and how lonely I felt.

And that’s what I did a lot – just sitting there and telling God how helpless I felt. I never neglected my time with Him, kept holding fast to Him, reading the Bible, praying. But there were times, though, when the Word did not speak to me.

I remember one of my conversations with God where I told Him: “I just can’t do this alone – will You send someone?”

Then another morning, I heard God say to me: “Val, if you’re not there for your husband and your son, no one else will be.”

Of course, I knew that the barrier I first had to cross was to ask my husband for permission to even reach out for help. My struggle was so intricately tied with his condition that I could not share my feelings to others without compromising the confidentiality of his situation. And so, I plucked up the courage and told him my needs.

That was the first time I explained to him what I was going through. Thankfully, he was getting a bit better and it was then that he gave me the permission to find a few friends to share with.

I was very relieved to have two or three very close friends who could listen to me bare my heart. Those moments became healing sessions for me and for my soul. I felt a sense of release just being able to verbalise what I was going through.

Then another morning, I heard God say to me: “Val, if you’re not there for your husband and your son, no one else will be.”

No one else.

It was the first time I saw my season as my calling. To care for my depressed husband and my special needs son was God’s calling for me because no one else will do it.

Accepting that calling was not easy, but I did it – I surrendered. And as I prayed for strength from God, He supplied the strength for me. My weakest moments were where His presence was most evident, and it grew my trust in Him. You can’t imagine how His grace is sufficient, until that is all you have left to rely on.

That divine strength has sustained me for the past eight years.

The journey hasn’t been easy – not for me, my husband nor my kids – but it has been my privilege to participate in what God has called me to do. For Him, it is always worth it.