Creflo Dollar - I'm Not Ok
We've discuss over several of our recent programs the epidemic of depression and suicide amongst our teenagers. It feels like it's out of control. So many of our youth are suffering from loneliness, stress, and suicidal thoughts, and our guest today is no different. Since she was 14 years old, her depression had become so great that she would cut herself and imagine herself dead. She also suffered from chronic illness that caused frequent fainting, and she was in constant fear of being helpless before the bullies at school. One night, our guest had an idea that she could change her situation and maybe also help thousands of others who felt the same way. She and her younger brother developed an app that gave a voice to teenagers who have been suffering in silence.
Our guest today found herself unable to cope with a recent medical diagnosis and bullies at school, which sent this teenager spiraling into depression and thoughts of suicide. Now, though she still suffers with depression, she has found a way to fight back, a way that may also help thousands of others who face the possibility of suicide. Please help me welcome Hannah and her younger brother Charles to "Your World".
Creflo: How have you been? Hey Charles, how have you been? Well guys, thank you so much for joining my today. I'm excited about this program. Let's set the stage, this is your world. It's an opportunity for you guys to take us into your world, and by doing so we create a weapon and we fire this weapon into the atmosphere. And this broadcast is going to go out, lives are going to be changed because they hear your testimony. And they're going to be changed in all kinds of wonderful ways because of your willingness to come and to share with us what you're going to share with us. And so, thank you very much. Hannah, let's start with a couple questions to kind of set the stage. Tell us about how and what was going on with your depression, what that was all about, and some of the things that can kind of give us an understanding of what you were going through there.
Hannah Lucas: Well, I'm a junior in high school. I'm doing this app, I'm speaking everywhere with my little brother, who's not so little anymore, but...
Creflo: He really isn't. He came out here and I'm thinking, "This is your little brother"?
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah, when I was a freshman in high school, I began fainting my second week of high school. It became this frequent thing. I didn't know what was going on. I was bullied, I was harassed, and I was even threatened by boys in our school who found out that I was this girl who fainted.
Creflo: So, you would get bullied for fainting. Nobody, I mean, to me, that's kind of, that's crazy.
Creflo: Well, I mean, I'm trying to figure out, I know this is a different generation, but it would seem to me that that would present some type of concern at least for the person that's fainting. And you got bullied for fainting and made fun of for fainting?
Hannah: Yeah, I became "that girl" in my school. It was to the point where I would just be doing my work or walking down the hall and I'd hear guys talking about, "Yeah, there's this girl who always faints in my class. I think she's on drugs or something". And I'm like, "You don't even know me. Like you didn't even ask, 'Are you okay?'" Like, I am going through something serious, but what came across their mind was that I was just stoned all the time. And that really frustrated me. Even my teachers and counselors thought I was just stoned all the time and not a medical problem, even though my mom was constantly emailing them, so that was fun. But because of all the threats I was receiving from guys in my class, it became a world where I just lived in fear.
Creflo: What were the threats about?
Hannah: Well, I'm a girl and I faint, so the threats were things like, "You better hope I don't find you passed out alone somewhere or else". And I'm like, "Oh great".
Creflo: What? Mama didn't raise them right or something. You know, go ahead, wow.
Hannah: It was terrible. But I told my counselors, I told the principal, my teachers, but my counselors and teachers just essentially said that, "Boys will be boys". And I'm like, "Well, that's terrifying for me". Fear was my life back then. And it wasn't really a life to live, you know? I was just waking up, going through day to day motions. Okay, get up, go to school, try to stay awake.
Creflo: And at this time, you had no idea medically what was going on with you, right?
Hannah: No, I bounced from doctor to doctor, ologist to ologist basically. Went to the neurologist, rheumatologist, cardiologist several times. Each doctor had their own diagnosis of what was going on, and it didn't really match up with what the doctor before had said.
Creflo: I mean, I think we can all understand, you know, the thoughts that weighed heavily upon your heart and, you know, what's going on. I don't know what's going on, the fear of the unknown. "Am I going to one day die and not come back"? And you know, that's rough, that's tough. So, does that explain maybe why you got into cutting yourself? What led to that?
Hannah: Well, I went to school, I just heard people talking at lunch asking if they wanted to hang out, just walking around the mall together and just going to the movies and doing normal teenage things. But when I got home, I had to sleep. I had to take all the medicine, I had to go to all these different doctors. I didn't really have a normal teenage life. So, I tried to escape my reality. Before, I was a gymnast, I was used to be this strong girl who could handle almost everything. And then going from that mindset, that mental toughness to going to be the sick kid whose brother has to sacrifice his weekends and his after-school time to help me walk up the stairs and to basically be the second child. Like everything was about me, and my brother really sacrificed a lot for me during that time.
Creflo: Wow. Charlie?
Charles Lucas: Yep.
Creflo: Okay, when you saw your sister going through all of this, did you really understand what was happening when you saw her going through all this?
Charles: Not really. When I saw Hannah going through all this, all I knew was that something was wrong. She wasn't happy, every day after she came home, she just looked like she was beat by a bat at school and like hit by 40 buses in a row. Yeah, you looked rough. I just knew that something was wrong. I didn't know what was wrong, I just felt helpless this entire time because I couldn't catch her when she passed out. I couldn't drive her to the doctor. I couldn't get her medication. I didn't even know what was wrong with her. And basically all I could do was, like Hannah said, sacrifice my time, become the second and forgotten child.
Creflo: You know, but to be able to do that, I mean, you guys are obviously close. You can see that when you walked out here. It's really a powerful statement for you as a brother to, first of all, to even recognize that there's something going on with your sisters. Most brothers wouldn't. But at the same time, for you to be willing to give of whatever you could give of to help your sister out. She mentions and she talks about her depression and what she went through, and really I don't think anybody in our audience or on television has any problems understanding why emotionally you felt like that 'cause, you know, I don't know what's going on with me and I'm going to try to find out, nobody's telling me anything. Did you, Charlie, experience some of the fear and a little anxiety as well as you saw her going through this?
Charles: Every time Hannah passed out, there was just this deep fear inside of me, "What happens if she doesn't wake up"? And every time that she went to school, "What happens if she passes out in the bathroom again and hits her head and gets a concussion, or she just doesn't wake up"? Or something's actually wrong with her brain, just would completely destroy me because Hannah wouldn't be able to be Hannah anymore, and...
Hannah: Oh, you care.
Charles: Don't tell anyone.
Creflo: You know, and I think one of the things that you both make it very clear is the fact that of course he cares, you know? When did you find out in the process of all of this exactly what was going on and what was it that was happening with you? What did they discover?
Hannah: Well, I was at volleyball practice one night, and I passed out. I woke up, they sat me up, and then I passed right out. We ended up going to the emergency room. Luckily the nurse, she told me that, "Hey, it's going to be fine". And she told me, "Actually, I think you might have POTS. You want to go, you might want to go research that".
Creflo: The nurse suggested that?
Hannah: Yes, the nurse suggested that. I'm like, "Wow". For those of you who don't know, it's POTS, it stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. And basically, that just means my autonomic nervous system doesn't quite communicate with the rest of my body properly. So, for example, if I stand up too fast, the blood will drain from my head and from the top body parts and pool in my legs 'cause my veins don't get the signals to constrict to pump blood back up to my head.
Creflo: Wow. You know what? And once you discovered this and they were able to provide a treatment for it, tell us how relieved you were to at least find out what you were dealing with.
Hannah: It was bittersweet because it's just a ton of different symptoms pooled together as one, and they call it a syndrome. They don't have as much research on it as much as they do other diseases or syndromes or conditions or such. But luckily, there was a POTS specialist in Atlanta that I started to go see. But luckily, they did find a medication to put me on, so I'm really happy about that.
Creflo: That's good, that's good. You know, emotions are feelings on the inside that are caused by pain and pleasure, and they're designed to move you in a certain direction. Tell us about some of the deep emotional, and I don't hesitate when I use this word, trauma that you had to experience before we can see how your emotions moved you into an idea. Let's talk about that.
Hannah: When I was being bullied really badly at school, it got to the point where I was just absolutely terrified of being alone.
Creflo: So, the terror was mostly from the threats rather than being from if you were to fall out? It was like if I do fall out, will they carry out the threats they made to me?
Hannah: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I went into engineering and I felt like I was prey, being stalked. I mean, I walked into class, I tried to act like nothing was wrong, even though everything was. Their eyes would just follow me. And that one time, I actually did pass out in my engineering class. I was so, so terrified. But luckily it was with a full classroom and the sub was right next to me, so she got everybody out of the class. So, that was by far one of the scariest times ever.
Creflo: Now, let's talk about the development of this app. How did you and Charlie get together and come up with this idea? And you know, explain to us how the app helped you guys more and what it has the potential to do where others are concerned.
Hannah: Throughout the entire timeline of all this, I struggled really badly with bulimia nervosa. And I was also self-harming a lot. And one night, it just got so bad and I think that day I had passed out and my mom had to come pick me up from school again. And she just looked so, so disappointed that she had to come get me. And I never wanted to hurt my mom. Like, I think that was the biggest thing. And just seeing the pain in her eyes and especially the look on my brother's face when he got home and he had to essentially carry me upstairs to my room, I just had this idea, "If I'm gone, I'm taking all of their pain with me. I'm taking all of the problems that they're going through with me". So, I snuck downstairs and went in my father's medicine cabinet. And that night, my mom, she walked into my room that night and saved my life. And she just held me that night. And as she held me, I wished for nothing more than an app where I could just whip out my phone, tap a button, and instantly alert my friends and even my family members that I'm not okay so that they know exactly where to come find me.
Creflo: That's a really powerful revelation to use technology to get some help. I don't think you guys understand the lives that you're going to be responsible for saving because you sit there, it was just by the grace of God that your mom came in the room, right?
Hannah: Oh, it really was.
Creflo: And had it not been God's grace coming in the room, you wouldn't be here talking to me right now.
Creflo: Well, there are lots of people who don't know what to do. If they could reach out to somebody, I don't know, but to be able to just punch a button and to engage in an app and just let somebody know, "I need help right now," wow. Charlie, how does the app work?
Charles: So, the Not Okay App, it's essentially a digital panic button that when you press it, it sends a text message to your pre-selected up to five closest contacts. These can be your friends, your family, your therapist, anyone that you trust to help you when you're not okay. And then when you press that button, it sends a text message to them, the text message says, "Hey, I'm not okay. Can you call me, text me, or come check up on me"? with their current GPS location and directions.
Creflo: Thank you. Such a simple idea to be able to use it to help so many people. Now, how did you learn about coding?
Charles: Ooh, ever since I was like seven, I've been learning how to program and how to make apps and stuff.
Creflo: Since you was seven?
Creflo: Man, I don't even know how to get my phone to do nothing. Seven?
Charles: Yeah, I was teaching myself at seven.
Hannah: Yeah, his nickname is Tech Support, guys, for a good reason.
Charles: I don't really have a life.
Hannah: You still don't.
Charles: I still don't, I agree with that. But so I've been teaching myself on Khan Academy, online stuff like that. I only took like three classes, like physical classes. Basically, Hannah told me about her idea for the app, the first thing that I said was, "Let's go". Because as I mentioned earlier, I've been helpless this entire time. I couldn't do anything for her. And this was sort of the only thing I could actually do to help her because intentionally this app was only for her so that when she passed out, we can find her and we could know that she's not okay.
Creflo: That does something to me. 'Cause I mean, you know, whether you guys realize it or not, this is the love of God because of the love and concern that you had for your sister. Who would ever thought that this is something that can be available to the whole world? This is something I'm interested in. This is something that, you know, the people that I counsel, I'm thinking like, "You need to get this app". This is something that, you know, guys who are hooked on drugs and, you know, they try to call their sponsor because they're in a place and they're getting ready to use, and this app can help them to say, "Look, I'm at a bar right now. And you know,I'm going to take a drink". So, has the app helped to ease some of the anxiety? And if so, how?
Hannah: I was tired of being that sick kid. I wanted an option to where I can get a little bit of that freedom back. So, that's why we created an app. When I was actually doing the research for the marketing and our target market, I realized this goes so much deeper than I initially thought. And I didn't believe in mental illness, which sounds so stupid for me to say knowing what I know. And when my brother and I actually launched the app, we started getting requests to do interviews and to speak and to share our story. And the more I shared my story, the more I felt like this burden being lifted off my chest, the more I felt unashamed and unapologetic for what I went through because, yeah, I went through it, but I went through it, I didn't just stay stuck.
Creflo: You better come on now. Yeah, you better come on, I'm going to tear something up now. Oh my goodness. That is exactly right, though. A lot of times, people just don't understand that what you may be facing today is only dress rehearsal for what you might be called to for tomorrow. And I can see that just loud and clear. And I also want to believe with you for a total and complete supernatural healing of your physical body. I think now that you've gone through that and you see that there's a greater calling, a greater outreach that, well, God go ahead and heal her completely. Go ahead and deliver and set her free completely of it.
And I mean, and for Charlie there, you know, teach hisself that on the internet, and I am really embarrassed with the fact that I can't, I just pray that y'all have like 50 million people that would become a part of this because it's like a sermon that you're preaching that can change the world. And I believe you're world changers because of your concern and love for one another that's produced something that's going to change the world. And I congratulate you, I congratulate you both. You know, so you know, Charlie coming up here, "Well, I don't really have a social life. I don't have friends, da da da". Well, you will after this broadcast. You just going to have to figure out what their motives are, you know? And then you might have some little girl watching the broadcast, talking about "Well, you know Charlie kind of fine. I like that".
And congratulations to your mother, your parents. Is she here? Excellent job. I mean, you should be, and I know you are, just so proud of them. And I just met y'all, I'm so proud of y'all, I don't know what I'm gonna do. Praise the Lord, give them a big hand. Don't you appreciate our guests today? Awesome.
You know, the roots of depression run so much deeper than many people realize. Too many of our youths succumb to suicidal thoughts before anyone even realizes there's anything wrong. Our guests today did something to deal with this issue head on, and they overcame. Today, I encourage you to get involved by helping our teenagers that God is the answer, letting them know that his grace is sufficient. And listen, that God has healing on every level already set aside for all of us, and he's just waiting for us to accept it.