Country gospel music star David Cook, recently inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame with other music greats like Loretta Lynn and Barbara Mandrel and nominated for a Dove Award, shares his painful past of abuse and how God healed him of the psychological and medical conditions that eluded him. Gorman Woodfin presents this powerful story.
David L. Cook is at the top of his country gospel music career.
“In October of last year, they inducted me into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame. They inducted me with people like Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrel, Jodie Miller, Andy Griffith, and I was the youngest one. I was the youngest one to be inducted. Now I’m nominated for a Dove Award for Country Album of the Year, so I’m really excited about that.”
With recent gospel music honors, David is rated along with the best in country music. David has been in the music business for twenty-eight years, starting his singing career at the age of five. He used to perform with the Cook Family Singers (not the Singing Cook Family).
But David’s life was not always so positive. In fact, his gospel- singing family had a dark secret.
“I had a father who was very abusive. When we walked out on the stage, he was very cordial, very nice, very pleasant, but when we got back on the bus or wherever we were going, he would then sometimes become very, very, very violent.”
David has vivid memories of the physical abuse his mother suffered at the hands of his father.
“My mother was a model for a long time. My father came in one night and had been drinking and hit her in the face with the butt of a gun and busted a blood vessel in her face. She modeled no more.”
“I remember sometimes when my father would sit there with a gun and he would aim it at her. I remember one time when he locked her in the trunk of a car. Then I remember sometimes when he would take me personally and he would hold a gun to my head and he would click the trigger. No one knew if that gun was loaded or not. All I could do is I remember my mom screaming.”
Due to his traumatic childhood, David developed several medical problems. He was later diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and Psychogenic Amnesia.
“The dissociation is the ability of cutting yourself off from reality so that you don’t have to suffer the traumas or anything that you may be going through at that moment,” David describes.
“So while I was beaten or whatever was happening — mentally I was not there; physically I was there, but mentally I was safe.”
As he grew older, David’s condition worsened.
“Whenever I found myself in a situation that was very stressful or something like that, it would just happen. I didn’t ask it to happen; it would just happen. It was like second nature to me now to have these little periods of time that I couldn’t recall. But people would tell me I was fine. People would tell me they didn’t see anything wrong with me, but I couldn’t remember.”
At the age of twenty-five, David’s medical problems came to a head. His body was showing signs of a stroke, and David had to be hospitalized.
“The left side of my mouth had fallen. I couldn’t see out of my eye. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. So they took me to the hospital and they kept me in intensive care. They did every kind of test imaginable and it was all coming back unremarkable — there was nothing organic.”
“I had a lot more than just dissociation; I had what they call a conversion reaction, which is the manifestation of physical symptoms (which would relate to the stroke aspect of it). And then I had what they call Psychogenic Amnesia.”
Imagine losing five months of your life. That’s how long it was from the onset of the stroke symptoms to the day David got his memory back.
“I had just found out that I had lost five months of my life. I lost time. I lost a lot of time. And I’ll never be able to get that back.”
“The doctors were so worried about me they started a whole regiment of medications. I’m talking about some strong medications — lithium, Zanex, Cloneped.”
David was not comfortable taking all of these prescriptions. He said he couldn’t feel the touch of God on his life anymore due to the heavy medication.
“One night I was sitting in my home, and I had all of these medications laid out on the table, and I just got down on my hands and knees and I just began to cry. And before I knew it, I was laying flat on my face, just crying.”
“I just said to Jesus, ‘ Lord, if I can just feel You touch me one more time, if I can just feel Your hand on me just one more time, I’ll never touch anymore of that stuff.’ And I felt the hand of God touch me. I felt Him touch me on the top of my head and go all the way down my body. I got up from there, and I took my hand and I just hit that table and I never took another one.”
David has been off of the medication for over six years. With his current Dove Award nomination and his career in high gear, he is enjoying his success, and with almost three decades in the country gospel music business, David feels he has learned some powerful lessons.
“God is my friend. God is not some awesome being to me that is way out there in the distance. My God is someone who can come and can sit right here with us, and He can talk with us. He’s a friend.”
“All the time that I was going through so much pain and so many problems, I could hear God saying, ‘Just a few more steps. You are okay. Just a few more steps. “