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"Chewbacca Mom" Reveals How She Overcame Suicidal Thoughts and Depression and Found Lasting Joy

Leah Marieann Klett : Nov 13, 2017 : The Gospel Herald

"Your biggest battle is inside of your head, especially for joy. You say things to yourself that you wouldn't say to your worst enemy, and this has to shift and change. There are so many things that God says about us in the Word, and repeating those words over yourself is a bullet for the enemy. You've got to shoot that gun. When you begin to think differently, neurologically, you're making new tracks in your brain that are moving away from negative habits." – Candace Payne

(Grand Prairie, TX) — [The Gospel Herald] Candace Payne captured hearts around the world last year when a Facebook Live video of her trying on a Chewbacca mask in a parking lot went viral. (Photo Credit: Candace Payne/ The Gospel Herald)

In the video — seen by over 170 million people — the wife and mother-of-two laughs infectiously as she wears the Star Wars mask, earning her the nickname "Chewbacca Mom." According to Forbes, the video became so popular that the mask sold out from every online retailer.

Watching Payne's uninhibited joy and laughter, one would never guess she once struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.

"When I was in college, I compared my worth, my value, anything and everything, to those around me," she told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "When those thoughts happen, they spiral out of control and you feel under the weight of them over anything else. Comparison had such a grip on me that it led me to diet pills, to self-harming, and to having suicidal thoughts."

It wasn't until a college roommate caught her self-harming that her life took a drastic turn.

"The greatest discovery I made about joy was the way my roommate loved me," she shared. "She didn't give me advice, she didn't scold. I would cry out of shame and embarrassment, and she'd walk with me and hold my arm when I needed it. It reminded me that joy, sometimes her only job is to bring us comfort, to keep her mouth shut. I really believe that some people need to know it is possible to experience joy even in their worst thoughts."

Payne shares her incredible story of perseverance and faith in her new book Laugh It Up: Embrace Freedom & Experience Defiant Joy (Zondervan/HarperCollins). She offers strategies for maintaining freedom in the midst of life's challenges and the secret to unshakable joy that no circumstance can take away.

A worship leader and stay-at-home mom, Payne never expected to become an overnight sensation.

"It was bananas," she laughed. "It took me on a wild adventure. It's a video of just me laughing, so I never expected the impact it's had. But, it's been a catalyst. I've had so many people ask me, 'How do you stay positive and find joy when you don't find it around you? So, I decided to answer those questions with this book. It seemed like a natural fit."

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