When Loryn Harper was 12 years old, she gave herself fifteen minutes at a time to cry alone in her bedroom. The youngest of four children, she knew it would be only minutes before someone barged in. She needed to keep this unexplainable, constant sadness hidden.
To her family, Loryn seemed as bright and cheerful as the pink walls of her bedroom. She was daddy’s little girl, the baby of the family, who played with dolls, and used her smile to get her way with her parents. But she didn’t want to come out of her room. “I just wanted to lay around all day and hide,” Loryn said. As a child, she had no idea that she was suffering from depression.
Growing up with her father working in the local church, Loryn felt compelled to keep hiding her feelings. “A lot of our life was in the spotlight,” she said. So she made sure to smile and try to be who her parents were raising her to be.
“I LISTENED TO WHAT PEOPLE SAID I SHOULD BE— CONFIDENT, AND LOVED, BUT I DIDN’T FEEL IT. I ALWAYS FELT LIKE I WAS SINKING.”
A talented singer, Loryn was involved with the worship team at the Seacoast Church North Charleston Campus, and she continued learning and growing her skills in several areas—from piano to tech. It helped distract her from emotions that felt like they were about to drown her. But church, school, and friends, weren’t enough when her parents shared the news of their coming divorce. Loryn couldn’t accept that it could happen. Thinking they would work things out, Loryn told them, “You’ll be okay.”
Shortly after this devastating news, Loryn attended Custom Summer Camp, needing some time away. But during worship one night, the pain bubbled up to the point she couldn’t hide it any longer. She had to tell someone. “If I hadn’t, I would not be here, which is scary,” she said.
Desperate, Loryn recognized the familiar face of Natasha Gray, worship pastor at the North Charleston Campus. Natasha had known Loryn since she was a baby, but the two had never been close. It was to Natasha that Loryn finally spoke the words she’d kept inside for years, “I don’t want to be here anymore.”
Loryn’s admission of suicidal thoughts led to a deep conversation with Natasha and Kelli Hohm, Director of SEU Seacoast Campus, and that night, Loryn gave her life to Christ. “A lot of people supported me in that decision and helped me build myself up. It was the first time I felt okay.”
Returning home from camp, Loryn had to accept the reality of her parents’ divorce, and soon afterward, the loss of a close loved one. Although extremely upset, she found she could handle the pain of tough situations better than before.
Loryn’s deep connection to worship and music not only sparked her reaching out to talk to someone, but helped her feel more at peace. Now at 16, Loryn sings three Sundays a month at church and coaches young musicians on vocals and piano. “Music in general has made me stronger,” she said. “It has helped form me to be the person I am today.”
Loryn knows now how important it is to talk to someone, how it helps her handle life’s circumstances. “I take time to think about my trials first, seek advice, and talk about what I think my next step should be.” Listening to worship playlists helps her not slip back into old habits of hiding her feelings. “I sing my heart out, and let it go.”
Loryn shares her story with others who are hurting, to help them break free from depression. Finding unique opportunities to encourage someone else brings her joy.
“KNOWING I CAN DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE, MAKES ME STRONG.”