Memories, like the corners of my mind

I love the Facebook memories function. I enjoy looking back at them; most of the time they are a good laugh. One day last week, some memories popped up that threw me back to what was a very dark time, and I suddenly realised how far I’ve come.

When we moved back to Ireland in 2007 I was in a bad way. I finally let out the sadness that I’d been holding in for a long time. I was on mild medication and going to counselling. I thought that was the beginning of the end; but it turned out to be the beginning of the slow road back to health and strength.

I’m surprised to see myself smiling in the memory photos; inwardly I felt like I was crumbling. Even my hair was awful. I remember coming home from the hairdressers and I cried my eyes out. It didn’t take much to make me cry, but I was so upset by the hatchet job I’d ended up with. Maybe I was too dazed I didn’t communicate properly. I’m sure I showed her a photo, but whatever happened I pretty much ended up with a crew cut. I looked as dreadful as I felt.

The photos are of a holiday we were taking in South East of Ireland in 2008. Friends let us stay in their holiday home. It was a refuge we were grateful for. It was in the middle of nowhere, with no wifi and hardly any phone signal. Just what we needed. Richard was doing a lot of reading and studying for Bible college and sermon prep. I would sit on the floor each day with my guitar, singing and crying to God. It was the lowest I had ever been. I felt sure I’d never recover. I was convinced I was going to die of sadness. It was like I’d saved it up for years; it all came out in one go. Seriously, how I’m smiling in those pics, I don’t know. I remember feeling so empty.

It’s hard to believe the difference. And I suppose that’s the point of this post really. To say that things can change. I didn’t believe God would be ‘the strength of my heart’ – even though I sang it through tears, sitting on that floor.

After my mam died in 2005, God had led to me a beautiful verse which I had taped to my monitor in work. 1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. I had been hanging on to that hope. I didn’t just want restoration. I wanted it to be true that “he himself” would restore me, even though I did not believe he would.

Over time though, it has become true for me. I feel stronger, firmer and more steadfast than I ever have. That’s not to say that I don’t have rough days,  just flick through some old posts here and you’ll get the drift.

I just want to encourage anyone who feels overwhelmed with sadness. It can change. God can turn your mourning into dancing. It takes time, and a lot of clinging on. He does it though; I promise.

Better than that… HE promises.

Don’t give up! One day, these sad days will be memories.

A x

Suicide Awareness

small__14361441374I would be lying if I said I’d never thought about it. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know about the struggles I’ve had over the years with childlessness, weight/food issues and loss. 2014 has been pretty rough too. I’m generally cheerful and am always good for a laugh; but I’ve considered it.

Not seriously, I’ve never tried it. I’ve thought about options and on one particularly dark night I hatched a plan; and that made me feel a bit better. That night was the turn around. The woman I had been at 4am, calmly calculating what it might take… well she frightened the living daylights out of me. For the first time, I had become aware of my own suicidal thoughts. It was terrifying, and I knew it was time to tell someone.

I can understand why people don’t say out loud that they have considered taking their own life. When you hear yourself say the words it makes you feel ill. Physically sick to the pit of your stomach. When you see the face of someone you love react to that statement – actually I can’t describe it, but it’s not good. We then had to enlist some help and I had to say it out loud again. In that moment I understood what and ‘out of body experience’ felt like.

My prayer life was a mess at that stage, but I started trying to say the Our Father regularly. When you spend time praying that and only that, you realise it pretty much covers everything.
Honouring God’s name, accepting His will, asking for daily provision, asking for forgiveness, asking for help to forgive others, help against temptation, and protection from evil.

I started having counselling, I went to the doctor, and was prescribed some mild medication. I remember sitting in the car with the prescription in my hand, crying my eyes out; convinced that anti-depressants were the beginning of the end. I was sure I’d never come back from there. But it was the opposite. They helped me to lift my head just enough to see over the darkness, and I started to recover. 18 months later I reduced the dose and was off them 6 months after that.

I remember the counselling session when I said “I want to live!” It took me a while to get back there, but I did.

Despite a really hard year, I'm doing great. Writing helps :)
Despite a really hard year, I’m doing great. Writing helps 🙂

I wish I had some inspired words of wisdom that would change people. Suicide awareness is increasing all the time, yet people still take that option. The change came for me when I became aware of my own thoughts. I thank God that I spoke up about it.

In 2012 I wrote about a couple of people I knew who had taken their own lives. I briefly referred to my own struggles, and made lighter of it than it was. I wasn’t ready to be honest about it.

Say it to someone. Say it to me if you like. It will sound even worse on your tongue than it does in your head. But in my experience, real suicide awareness started with myself; then I knew I had to make others aware of it too.

I thank God that I am alive 🙂

A x

Places to call:
Pieta House Call +353 1 6235606
Samaritans Ireland Call 116 123

Photo credits:
1, Polina Glezova via photopin cc
2. me 🙂

Looking back… moving on

I’m using journals from a time when I was having counselling, as research for a book I’m writing about… a girl having counselling.

Still a long road ahead,  but I've come a long way
Still a long road ahead,
but I’ve come a long way

As I’ve gone through them I’ve been disappointed with myself, because I’m still struggling with a lot of the same stuff. The journals were only for me, my counsellor didn’t insist on reading them, but she believed anything I wrote down was significant and should be discussed. So no one has read these journals.

I’m going to share an entry here but first I want to give you some background… In 2002 I had lost all hope of having children, I lost my mother in 2005 and in 2007 I thought I was losing my mind with grief and sadness. I ended up on anti-depressants and out of work for a few months.

The ‘promise’ I refer to in the journal entry, came just before I hit rock bottom in 07. I read 1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” I typed it out and stuck it on my pc monitor in work and looked at it every day.

2 years later and some counselling, I wrote this – still on the meds at the time…

April 2009 – “I know God has restored me as He promised. He gave that word of promise to me from 1 Peter. He is making me strong and helping me to deal with life.. Who’d have thought that life would turn out like this…?”

Yes I am still struggling with a lot of those issues in the journal entries. But that little gem from 2009 reminds me how fragile I was. How close to the edge I came.
And how far I have come.

If you feel like you’ve stalled take a good look back.
Maybe you’ve come a lot further than you think 🙂

The chorus of one of my favourite songs says this…

Lord lead us through the wilderness,
We trust that you’ll provide.

Be our cloud by day and our fire by night,
and when we reach the other side

we’ll look back,
and all we’ll see
is your goodness.
(Stuart Garrett – guitarist with Delirious?)

More sadness!

I was going to write a blog post about how miserable I am at the moment. Lots of good reasons to be down in the dumps and a bit of an explanation as to why…
Then I heard that another teenager has taken her own life because of bullying and suddenly – well I’m just being a sap really!

I was bullied in school. Got all the ‘fatso’ jokes you can imagine. Got pushed around a bit. But I saw others get worse treatment and thankfully it never occurred to me NOT to say it to my mam and older sisters.

I wrote a post for Suicide Awareness Day this year. But just wanted to say that my thoughts and prayers are with that poor girl’s family. And with the many other young people in despair 😦
I’m also praying for bullies too – they need to realise what they are doing and STOP!
But I believe they are also victims.

If you’re reading this and you think there is no hope… there IS hope.
Get in touch with Pieta House, Samaritans, someone… anyone…

And thank you Lord for the reminder of my many blessings!
Somehow I totally forgot ot mention Console Ireland. They are another organisation helping those who are in suicidal crisis and those bereaved by suicide. They are this year’s beneficiary of funds raised by the Twitter Xmas Single.


Response and follow up to – Saying it out Loud

On Twitter earlier this week, I referred to this old blog post. For some reason it had popped into my head and I was mulling it over. The post mentioned that for the first time, I’d done a public talk about being childless.

I got a couple of comments/questions about it. After thinking about it for a while I realised that unless you knew the Bible story I referred to, it might not make sense. So, rather than add the story as another blog post I thought I’d put the recording of the talk up on MixCloud. It’s about 20 minutes long and still may not make sense 🙂

You’ll find it here, if you’d like to listen 🙂