My name is Tosin Oyelakin, and I am a gospel singer/songwriter and physiotherapist. I was born in Nigeria where I lived until 2005 when I moved to the UK with my husband. My parents were both teachers and I am the 3rd of 6 children from my mum.
I started singing in children’s church at the age of about 7 when I would sing in Sunday school with my siblings and other kids. I had been led to say the sinners prayer as a child in Sunday school so many times. In fact, my younger sisters and I would go about preaching after school, in taxis and buses, and walking home from school. So I already had a great affinity for the things of God. But I believe the first time I said the sinner’s prayer with full understanding was my first year in secondary school. I had just got into secondary school where incidentally, my mum was also a teacher. We had seniors then who ran a Christian fellowship because the school has a Christian ethos as a Methodist school. They preached and I was touched by the preaching, and when the altar call came, I was out there in a jiffy. They prayed for me and laid hands on me and boom! I was baptised with the gift of speaking in tongues right there and then.
I believe a combination of the emotional traumas I went through while growing up, rejection and some specific incidents all contributed to me almost spiralling into clinical depression.
As a young girl who just finished secondary school, I promised God that I would spend my time in university serving Him, if He would help me gain admission straight after my secondary school. He miraculously made this happen even though I did not score enough marks in my university entrance examination to get into my first choice of course of study,He raised up a total stranger to me through my stepmom, who helped me get into another course for which my marks were sufficient.
My father passed away in my first year of university after battling high blood pressure and the kidney failure that eventually took his life .This happened not long after I got into uni and I was assaulted by someone who was a supposed friend from home, but then took advantage of the young naive girl that I was leaving home for the first time, fresh in uni. I didn’t know my way around and he offered his help to get me settled. I didn’t know he had his own agenda.
This incident affected me, mentally, rather badly. I stopped going to the Christian fellowship which I had already started to attend in order to fulfil my promise to God. I did my own thing for the first year or two in uni until God Himself reached out to me by His Holy Spirit after my father’s death. He used my grief to touch my heart and then at the same time, I somehow lost all my friends for no real reason. So I was ‘isolated’ in a sense. I had no one to turn to in my grief, so I turned to God who drew me back to Himself and guided me back to fellowship – Christ’s Love Fellowship (CLF). There was so much love in that fellowship, it’s unbelievable. God used that environment of joy, acceptance regardless of where I was coming from and pure brotherly love to heal me of the pain I was experiencing at that time. He built up my self esteem and used me to heal and touch others in the fellowship and through the hospital outreach which I went on to head.
After I got married and got pregnant, in 2003/2004, I had preeclampsia which is unexplained high blood pressure in pregnancy. I was on admission for 5 weeks. This got so bad and uncontrollable that the doctors felt that the only way to save me and try to save the baby’s life was to deliver her early at 27 weeks through caesarian section. And then the battle to try and keep her alive started. She was fine for a few weeks, but then caught an infection through the carelessness of the medical staff working in the neonatal unit of the hospital where she was born, in Nigeria. It was a very hard and traumatising time watching the countless times when she would stop breathing and the doctors and nurses would spend time, trying to resuscitate her. This is something no mother should ever have to watch. But I would watch, and I would cry and pray initially. Eventually, I couldn’t pray anymore because I had no words to say to God to help me keep my baby alive. Then my husband and I would just sing to her a song called “My Help”. We sang the song, believing that God would just arise and help us save her. Then it was the doctors trying to manage our expectations that they were not sure if her brain had much activity going on and if she survived, they could not guarantee the quality of life she would live.
Eventually, about 5 weeks after she was born, I had a vision in the middle of the night of the hand of God descending into the incubator where she was kept, and God asking me to let her go back to Him. I woke up from this dream extremely sad. The hospital called my husband that morning to say she had stopped breathing for the last time, and they could not resuscitate her. I only ever got to hold her once. At first, I felt that I was alright, so I did not grieve as I should have. I bottled it all in. I did not allow myself to heal. And everyone told me it was good that we hadn’t brought her home, that I shouldn’t cry, and so on and so forth. No one told me it was fine for me to let go and feel the hurt, or to allow myself to go through the process of healing by acknowledging that I was a mother who had just lost a baby.
I stopped singing for a while and stopped writing songs for several years. I was going through the motions of going to church, and generally just getting by, but I was mostly unhappy with my life. The incident that was the final straw happened a few years after this. It was a case of rejection by a group that I belonged to in church. I was told that I wasn’t good enough to be a part of the group and was asked to leave. It affected me so much emotionally. I began to see myself as never good enough, worthless and someone no one wanted around. My self esteem sunk below ground level. I was always questioning God and asking why I had to go through so much. I would wake up crying everyday for months. It wasn’t this incident in itself, but I would say it was a combination of everything else that had happened in the past which I did not fully deal with that culminated in this final state that I was in. I started feeling hateful of my friends, which for me was a totally strange feeling. It’s usually hard for me to feel like that about anyone. I was becoming bitter. Then I realised that I needed help. So I prayed to God for His intervention and asked Him to take these feelings away from me.
So one day, in answer to my prayers, I was woken up in the middle of the night, with a song that tells me “You’re Precious.” This song and another one called “Beautiful” helped me get through this difficult time. Afterwards, I found myself writing songs again after many years of not being inspired. I have now found that singing and writing songs that are inspired by my life experiences help me stay above depression and to overcome my low self esteem.
I wouldn’t say that since then, there haven’t been challenges that have tried to take me back into that state of mind, but I feel that I am now better equipped to deal with such issues. I have close and trusted friends who are also counsellors that I talk to, and I have my music which always takes my to my happy place where nothing else matters in that time and moment when I am singing or writing a new song, but the words of comfort and worship that are flowing from my heart. I now believe that I have something precious to give to this world. I feel useful and I make it my life’s mission to spread love, joy and encouragement simply because I know what it means to be rejected, to experience hurt, to go through the pain of loss, to be discouraged and to feel useless.
I would say my advice for anyone who finds themselves depressed or with low self esteem, anyone going through loss or rejection, is to avoid isolation and stop internalising these issues. Find a way to let out your feelings by having someone you can trust enough to open up to. If there’s no one immediately around you, then seek professional help in terms of counselling. Your GP or medical personnel can guide you to where you can access this. Allow yourself to go through the grieving process. Even God expects us to mourn because Jesus said in Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” There is a time to mourn, and there is a time to be comforted. Achieving a balance in everything is key.
Also find purpose in the midst of whatever you’re going through. God specialises in turning bad situations around for good. Personally, I found my purpose right in the middle of the ashes that was my life. I got a song in the night and my life changed forever. What I never thought I could do, I started doing and it’s gone beyond anything I imagined. Lives are being reportedly touched in many countries by my songs and words of encouragement. I receive testimonies practically everyday. Anything we go through is not just for us to learn from, it is so that we can also help someone else get through it. So, find out the real purpose of your experiences.
One thing I would like to do on this side of eternity is to travel and visit every country of the world.
You can check me out on:
my website: tosinoyelakin.com