Category Archives: The Story So Far

My Voice, His Story – Celebrating 225 Weeks Sober

This is my voice, but His story.

This video was recorded back in March, just a few weeks before my four year Sober anniversary.  For weeks leading up to the recording I would find myself going over and over the story in my head, it had be suggested some time before that I make a testimony video, so I bit the bullet and arranged with Phil to record one, this is the result.

It has been played at all of our Church campuses, but this is the first time it has been shared on-line, I choose to share it now, the 225th week of my sober journey.

I am so thankful for those few days, where darkness turned to light and I felt the touch of God upon my soul, when the bottle fell from my hands.

I have to thank Gareth and Leanne, the senior Pastors at Everyday Champions Church, for not only giving me the chance to make this video, but for being there when I needed a second chance at life, also a big thank you for everyone who has stood by me on the journey so far.

Please feel to share this testimony.

MERCY TREE by LACEY STURM
On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree
Every broken weary soul
Find your rest and be made whole
Stripes of blood that stain its frame
Shed to wash away our shame
From the scars pure love released
Salvation by the mercy tree

In the spot between two thieves
Hung the blameless Prince of Peace
Beaten, battered, scarred, and scorned
Sacred head pierced by our thorns
It is finished was his cry
The perfect lamb was crucified
His sacrifice, our victory
Our Savior chose the mercy tree

Hope went dark that violent day
The whole earth quaked at love’s display
Three days silent in the ground
This body born for heaven’s crown
On that bright and glorious day
When heaven opened up the grave
He’s alive and risen indeed!
Praise him for the mercy tree!

Death has died, love has won
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome
He has risen from the dead

One day soon, we’ll see his face
And every tear, he’ll wipe away
No more pain or suffering
Praise him for the mercy tree

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree

My Defender (Exodus 15:2)

My Defender (Exodus 15:2)

Here I am stronger
In the presence of my Lord
My defender
My protector
The author of my salvation
I fight the darkest nights
And walk the brightest days
Singing my praise as I walk
Raising my voice to His love
My defender
My protector
I thank You for my all

Exodus 15:2

Exodus 15:2

Are You Alone (Matthew 11:28)

Are You Alone (Matthew 11:28)

Are you alone?
See His light

Is your heart cold?
Feel His warmth

Are you afraid?
Hold on to Him

Is it all too much?
Just don’t let go

Can you carry the weight?
He will take it

Are your skies falling?
In Him you’ll see heaven

Are you so weary?
Our saviour will be your peace

Can you feel Him now?
He’s always been beside you

Matthew 11:28

Matthew 11:28

The Story So Far – Chapter 25 – Surviving Christmas

CHAPTER 25 – SURVIVING CHRISTMAS

With that ordeal out of the way I set my mind on Christmas again.  Once the Christmas meal was out off the way the panic attacks went away with it.  I still couldn’t sleep at night, but I was learning to deal with that, each night I felt like I could sleep a little longer.  The Doctor had said it would take until around Christmas before I was back to normal sleeping patterns and he was spot on.

One thing that I really find disappointing during this period was that I stopped journaling, through all the struggles I found I gave up on that time I would find each night to record my most internal feelings, I regret that now, it would take a good few months before I got back into that habit, but I regret letting it go.  I kept my blog up to date and posted about where I was with things.  I am always honest on my blog, but there are also things I chose not to disclose.  Some of my deepest struggles I have kept to myself, I didn’t share them on my blog, with anyone at Church or with my Connect Group.  I prayed over them, I never kept anything from God, at the end of the day I figured He knows my heart anyway, He knows the pain I have inside and He wants me to come to Him with it.  I did that daily, as I said before at times I prayed not wake, as I didn’t want to live the way I was.  There were times I prayed for strength, I prayed for peace, I prayed for me, I prayed for the kids, I prayed for Victoria, I prayed for us, I never stopped praying, I may not have been able to share it all with anyone else, but I certainly shared it all with God.

I also kept putting things into poem form, I guess in a way this became my most honest way of posting, things I couldn’t outright say to someone’s face or even write about in a post, I could certainly put into a poem, where I could disguise the content to a certain extent, I could let off steam without being direct about the problem that I didn’t want to disclose, that’s the beauty of poetry, you can be direct and ambiguous at the same time.   I wrote a number of poems during this period, but many didn’t actually get finished a posted until some months later.

For a while as Christmas approached and the tablets were doing what they were supposed to do, I left behind those feelings about wanting cut the words “I Will Never Be Enough” into my forearms, they were consigned to the desperate times when I felt so alone and out of touch with every one, when I couldn’t explain to anyone where my mind was or how I was thinking.  I couldn’t think how I was going to explain these feelings to anyone, they weren’t rational and I chose to just bury them, until they rose again, I would fight them, pray for peace and sleep it off.

But with Christmas days away they came back.  The previous year I was invited for Christmas Dinner at Victoria’s Mum’s and afterwards I spent the rest of the day alone, this year there was no invite.  Victoria asked if I wanted the kids with me, but as I didn’t really have any plans, I would see them in the morning and evening anyway, I thought that they would enjoy being around their cousins at Victoria’s Mum’s and Gran’s again.  So I chose to be with them whilst they opened their presents, I would then go to Church, when I return they would be gone, so I would make myself some dinner and watch TV until they came back.

But as this day approached I began to imagine myself coming home from Church, going upstairs into the bathroom and carving “I Am Not Enough” into my arms again.  I would do that and then just wait there until someone would find me, passed out from the loss of blood.

Even though my mindset was so much stronger than it was the previous month when I had these thoughts, I still couldn’t shake them and they got stronger and stronger.  Then came Christmas day, I spent the first few hours with the Kids as planned, at one point I left the room to cry, I didn’t want them to see, then later I set off for Church as planned.

The Christmas Day service was good as usual, I felt a little odd, everyone else had their families around them, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Then I left to walk home, that was when the imagine of cutting into my arms came on the strongest, because now I was entering the actual point where all this could happen.  I cried as I walked home, because this year I knew the house would be empty, there would be no life when I got home, just emptiness.

When I got in, it felt so bleak, so empty, I felt so lost, so alone.  I didn’t feel like eating, I didn’t feel like cooking either.  I made myself something to eat anyway, nothing like a Christmas dinner, it was the first Christmas Day ever that I hadn’t had a traditional Christmas dinner, but it was okay, I wasn’t that hungry anyway.

I had prayed on the way home, between all the tears, all I wanted was peace, I didn’t want to do what I imagined myself doing, I didn’t want them to find me like that on this day of all days, I had cried out in tears.

So now I was home, I had eaten, yet the house was still empty, there was no one here, I had felt so alone, I had felt so empty, but suddenly all of that had vanished, I just settled down, watched a bit of TV and fell asleep for a while.  Later when the kids and Victoria came home, I felt okay, all that despair and loneliness was gone, there was no blood, there were no tears, just a happier me.

I spent some of Boxing Day alone too, but that was fine.  I actually did get to have a Christmas dinner, albeit a day late, Victoria’s Mum had made a plate up for me and sent it home with Victoria, I warmed it up for Boxing Day dinner.

Between Christmas and New Year our merchant’s is open, usually just until lunchtime.  I actually don’t mind this, it’s not busy and it was good to get out the house and still actually be in a routine.  I prefer routine, I’m a much more together person when I have a routine, without that daily routine I can slip back into the lazy waste that eventually became an alcoholic, as I don’t want to go down that road again, I prefer to stay in a routine, I don’t mind the odd lazy day, but generally I thrive on routine.

For some reason over Christmas I had to go down into the cellar again.  Last time I was in there I pulled out twelve empty bottles of wine, I wrote out twelve bible verses, put one in each bottle and then placed them in the bottle banks.  This time I came across a number of other bags that had empty bottles in too, this time twenty five of them.  So on New Year’s Day I decided it would be the perfect day to take these out and do the same with these, one verse for each bottle and then dispose of them.

So I took the bottles out from the cellar, spent the moving searching for verse and writing them down on coloured paper, my daughter was inquisitive as to what I was doing, so she asked if I could help, mainly because I was using her coloured paper!  She found a couple of bible verse for me and wrote out a few on the paper, but then they all went out once again and left me alone once more.  So I finished writing out the verses, but this time I not only put them inside the bottle, but I stuck the verse on the outside of the bottle, over the label and then took them into town.  As I placed each one into the recycling bins, I felt an enormous sense of freedom, a release from all the fears and anguished I had subjected myself to over the last few months, all of that seemed to lift as I let each one go.

Verses & Bottles

Verses & Bottles

It was a new day, a new year and now a new start, I was determined not start 2014 the way 2013 had finished, I was determined that things were going to get better and I was going to start moving forward again, with the release of these bottles, I was hopefully finally letting go of the past and now could truly move forward.

LEARNING TO FALL by THIS BEAUTIFUL REPUBLIC
I’ve heard it said a million times
That I should hold on tight to Jesus
But I took this road so far from home
And distance came between us

When I walked away, I knew one day
I’d need Your grace

So now You’ll find me on my knees
Surrendering
Cause I know that I’m really not so strong
And now, I’m done fighting for control
Oh, You can have this life
That I’ve been holding for so long
I’m learning to fall
Let my world crumble

You ran so fast to rescue me
While I was barely breathing
You picked me up, You touched my face
And I began to see more clearly

So now You’ll find me on my knees
Surrendering
Cause I know that I’m really not so strong
And now, I’m done fighting for control
Oh, You can have this life
That I’ve been holding for so long
I’m learning to fall
Let my world crumble

Though I’m such a disgrace, You still forgave
Your love remains

So now You’ll find me on my knees
Surrendering
Cause I know that I’m really not so strong
And now, I’m done fighting for control
Oh, You can have this life
That I’ve been holding for so long
I’m learning to fall
Let my world crumble

Take me as an offering
I surrender everything
No more living without You

So now You’ll find me on my knees
Surrendering
Cause I know that I’m really not so strong
And now, I’m done fighting for control
Oh, You can have this life
That I’ve been holding for so long
I’m learning to fall
Let my world crumble

The Story So Far – Chapter 24 – No Sleep ‘Til Christmas

CHAPTER 24 – NO SLEEP ‘TIL CHRISTMAS

The only problem with December is it brings with it the dark side of the Christmas festivities, well I guess the dark side of my Christmas was to drink more than I usually would during the rest of the year.  Who needs an excuse to drink at Christmas, it’s almost like it a ritual that goes with the holiday.  Certainly even before when I worked pretty much full time for the Architects, we would close over the Christmas period and when we were doing well I would get a bonus before we broke up.

Although I used that to get the kids and Victoria presents for Christmas, it would also allow me to pretty much fill the house with booze.  We didn’t usually get many visitors, so I wouldn’t really buy for anyone else, all for my own consumption and off course there were the bottles of wine I would buy in specially for Christmas day.  When I was off work over Christmas I would probably start drinking during the day and then carry on through the evening too, not at a great pace, not at the pace I eventually was able to drink at, but it was definitely a time to enjoy alcohol.

But since I had had this new job at the merchant’s the concept of Christmas meals was introduced too.  The first year I joined in with the other’s, drank whilst we ate and then ventured around town to the various pubs and carried on drinking, eventually turning to shorts, before going home a little worse for wear.

Although before I liked to drink, I didn’t like the atmosphere of the busy pubs in town, especially over the Christmas period, where things were generally more hectic, people had consumed more alcohol and things were more likely to kick off.  Thankfully that time nothing kicked off, but I guess I didn’t really enjoy the evening, I just took part because I didn’t want to be left out.

The year after that was my first Christmas sober, it was difficult sitting in the restaurant watching everyone around me drink.  Sometimes it’s not the urge to drink that makes it difficult, but when you look and see what people are actually drinking, you’re reminded of how much you actually enjoyed the taste and I guess kind off miss it.  Let’s be honest here, I don’t miss all the side effects and mess that drinking brought me too, but I do sometimes miss the taste.  Even when I see adverts on TV I sometimes wish I could just taste it again, but I know I can never do that again.  That Christmas I stayed for the meal and then went home alone, I didn’t miss the pub crawl and actually enjoyed watching TV with my Son at home more than the meal anyway.

So now December 2013 was moving on and I was still trying to get my head back to some form of normal, the tablets had by now kicked and I was beginning to feel a degree of normality to my mindset, the drawback still was that I couldn’t sleep at nights and would still spend them watching Christmas movies.  But having said all that I still felt a better person, much better than I had done just a month before.

This Christmas meal was arranged for a pub in town, which also had restaurant facilities, the meals were booked for a Saturday evening and the usual pub crawl would take place afterwards.

The week before someone at work asked me about my drinking, they asked if I felt I could ever drink again and I said no, I couldn’t trust myself if I did, to that the reply was “that’s because you’re weak!”  I was livid, absolutely livid, I tried to laugh it off and walked away, but it was eating away me as I worked, when I walked home it was boiling over, but during the twenty minutes of so it takes me to get home, I started to get over it.

But after that the panic attacks that I had suffered earlier in the year returned, not as severe as back then, but they were uncomfortable, especially coupled with the jittery feelings I was still experiencing.

During the week I began to question whether I really wanted to go, I felt I didn’t, but as it was all booked, I also felt I couldn’t really pull out either.  On the afternoon of the actual meal itself the panic got worse.  I was so undecided as to what to do, one minute I was adamant that I wasn’t going, then I was going, then not, it went on all afternoon.  About forty five minutes before we were due to meet at the pub, I finally made my mind up that I was going, but as before, coming straight home afterwards.

As I generally dislike being late, I was the first to arrive at the pub, so I ordered a coke, stood there looking completely out of place and waited for everyone else, I felt so awkward as I waited.  Thankfully I only had to wait about five minutes, but that was bad enough.  We went upstairs to the restaurant area and sat down for the meal.  I didn’t have to sit near the person who had called me weak, but I did sit opposite her partner.  During the evening we spoke about my not drinking and I explained things to him, he totally understood and commended me for my will not to drink.

Despite all of that, I still felt out of place and that I just didn’t want to be there, I couldn’t wait to get out of the place.  Then when the conversation around me turned to first politics and then religion, I felt an even stronger desire to get out of there, there’s one guy at work who definitely likes the sound of his own voice and won’t listen to anybody else’s opinions, he will just continue to force his and try to provoke a reaction that he can argue against, it’s was getting a bit like that and in the end I just sat there, talking to no one and hoping that everyone would just finish eating and talking, so they would all leave to go continue drinking and I could just go home.

Eventually their conversations came to a close, everyone had finished eating and the consensus amongst them all was to move on to another pub, that was my cue, thank you all for “a pleasant evening”, but I’m going home and I’ll see you all Monday.

I was so glad when I left the place, I didn’t want to go in the first place, I knew why and everything was pretty much just as I thought it would be, bloody hard work!  As I walked home I resolved that that would be the last time I went to the work’s Christmas meal, I wasn’t going next year, wherever my head was next year, no doubt it would be in a better place, but I still wasn’t going to subject myself to all that again, if I didn’t feel comfortable, what’s the point in being there.

I made that decision that night, but I didn’t tell anyone about it until a year later when the discussions about the Christmas meal came around again.

BATTLE FOR PEACE by LUMINATE
There’s a trench in the floor
From my knees, from my knees
I’ve prayed for years, I’ve wanted more
Down on my knees, on my knees

And I have lost my voice
Crying out, crying out
Until I hear You speak
I’m crying out, I’m crying out

I will fall down, I will fall down
I will fall down, at Your feet
And all this time, I was blind
I couldn’t see, I couldn’t see
That Your love, is never earned
Oh, it’s free, it’s free

What am I fighting for
Is it for peace, is it for peace
How can I stop this war
Inside of me, inside of me
I will fall down, I will fall down
I will fall down, at Your feet
I’m trading this battle for peace
I’m trading this battle for peace

The Story So Far – Chapter 23 – Inside The Fear

CHAPTER 23 – INSIDE THE FEAR

I started on the medication the day after I met with the Doctor, he suggested a minimum of a six month course, but stated I should come back within a couple of weeks to assess my condition, I booked an appointment and the only one I could get was on my 40th birthday.

The earlier side effects to the tablets were almost instantaneous, just as the Doctor suggested, which mainly manifested themselves as bouts of diarrhoea and some extreme dizziness.  The diarrhoea thankfully only lasted a day or two, but the dizziness lasted a week or so.  The only way I can describe these feelings was a little bit like on the Lord Of The Rings films, when Frodo puts on the one ring and his world turned to shadows and nothing seemed to be in focus, that was how I was seeing the world in those moments, thankfully they only lasted seconds, but it did leave me feeling very disorientated for a while afterwards.  I spoke with a work mate who I knew had taken antidepressants in the past and described the feelings to him, he identified with the same feelings and said when he knew he had to take them again, he would book off a week so he could get through these side effects, unfortunately because of the days I already had booked, I didn’t have this luxury, I had to tough it out at work.

I had kept Sarah and Paul informed of my visit to the Doctors and how I was feeling, on the Wednesday I went to their house a little bit early, neither of them were present the week before when I sat at Ally’s house in complete tears, but when the rest of the group arrived Sarah let me briefly explain where I was at and the medication I was now on.  It was hard to try and explain what the previous week was all about, as quite honestly, I don’t know what it was about or why it all happened the way it did, but in explaining the visit to the Doctors and the medication, I’m sure they understood things a little better this week.  As always they were all extremely supportive and once again, they prayed for my situation.

Once the early symptoms of the medication had all but worn off, I was left with just the odd mild jittery feeling, it would come and go, the dizziness slowly disappeared, but I would find that I felt really jittery from time to time.  By the time the weekend came around I was feeling relatively normal, compared to the last few weeks anyway, I still was struggling to sleep, I wasn’t getting many hours sleep at all, so it was making me tired, but I was getting through each day and the feelings of desperation were subsiding.

But as the day approached where Victoria was to go away, then a wave of fear began to come over me.  Although I felt that I was doing a lot better, those dark feelings of the previous weeks were still fresh in my mind.  The fear manifested itself as strong feelings that I was going to completely mess up in the ten days or so whilst she was away.  I’ve never had the kids for more than a full day on my own, yes I’ve looked after them alone, increasingly over the last couple of years, but now I had this fear that one of these dark moments would manifest itself and I would end up doing something stupid.  I couldn’t shake the feeling and after all the progress after starting to take the medication, I was beginning to be unravelled.

But I had so many offers of support, so many families at Church all offered their support and said to call them if I was struggling, a few offered to cook a couple of meals for us, which they very kindly did and dropped off for me, it eased the pressure.  Victoria’s mum had them for a couple of night’s so I could attend my Connect Group and took them over the weekend so I could have a bit of a break.

All the while though my struggle for sleep was getting worse.  I would just lay their at night unable to drift off.  The good thing about that was, that on a couple of channels on Sky TV by now were running Christmas films literally 24 hours, so on the nights I couldn’t sleep I would just lay their watching Christmas film after Christmas film, some were good, some were poorly made, but the feel good factor of the films took away any stress I had because of not sleeping.  In the daytime while the kids were at school I would catch up on the odd hour of sleep here and there, but essentially I was still only getting three or four hours sleep each day, but it was enough, I was getting by and gradually feeling better and better.

On the middle Sunday I was invited for dinner at a friend’s, I didn’t have the kids as they were at their Gran’s, so I spent pleasant afternoon in the company of my friend’s family and also a few of our senior Pastor’s who were invited too, it was a really nice way to spend the afternoon and their support and encouragement helped me even more.  Earlier that day at Church I actually felt I was able to participate in worship like I used to.  Over the previous month or so I found I just couldn’t engage with worship, I would sit at the back, on the floor, clutching my knees to my chest and just praying for help, rather than worship, if I tried to get up and worship I just found myself stood there, unable to open my mouth and unable to move, I would just sit down again and go back to that familiar position of holding my knees to my chest and crying into my hands.  But this was the first Sunday where I actually began to feel I was becoming “normal” again, it wasn’t the normal way I would worship, but it was an active worship, not crouching at the back in the shadows anymore, if there were tears, they were more of joy than despair.

We had a couple of film nights at home, I would get in sweets and popcorn and get a new DVD, myself and kids would watch the film and tuck in as though we were at the cinema, only in the cinema you’re not really allowed to lay down wrapped in your duvet like we were, but we enjoyed it, after we had done it for the first time, the kids wanted to do it again, they would have done it every night, if I had let them, but we did it a few times and we all loved it.

By the end of the second week of Victoria being away, all those fears of mine of failing and messing up big time were gone.  I surprised myself at how well I coped and began to realise that being a stay at home parent is not as easy as it looks, there’s so much to do each day, it’s not just about sitting down and drinking coffee!

On the last day of Victoria being away it was my 40th birthday, I spent the morning having breakfast with a friend and then went to see the Doctor again.  We chatted for a while and I explained how I was feeling and how I was doing so much better than when we last met, the Doctor was very pleased at the progress, but warned me to stay the course of at least six months, coming off the tablets too early will bring about a relapse, so I agreed to the six months and to come back after that for a review.

That evening at the suggestion of my Connect Group, I took the kids to see Frozen as a treat, I guess even though it was my birthday, the treat was mainly for the kids and how well they had behaved over the last ten days.  I must admit myself and Ben, my Son, both enjoyed the film, even though it was a Disney Princess film, but my daughter who was seven, totally enjoyed it, she sat engrossed in it from the beginning and talked about it all the way home.  She liked it so much so, that she insisted the next morning that she go and watch it again, so I booked her a couple of tickets so she could go with her Mum, who had arrived home in the earlier hours of the morning, I’m not sure she was too pleased to be going, but by all accounts, she enjoyed it too, they must have done, because over the next few weeks they would both go and see it a few more times!

With Victoria back and the Doctor’s pleased with my progress, the pressure was off and I able to relax a little bit.  I was feeling so much better and was actually really pleased with how I had coped, considering all the fears I had beforehand.  Although I still wasn’t sleeping, the Doctor had said it could be a month or so before I got back to regular sleeping patterns, things were going so much better and I felt I was moving forward again, slowly, but I was definitely moving forward.

FALL APART by JOSH WILSON
Why in the world did I think I could
Only get to know you when my life was good?
When everything just falls in place
The easiest thing is to give you praise
Now it all seems upside down

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when I fall apart

Blessed are the ones who understand
They’ve got nothing to bring but empty hands
Nothing to hide and nothing to prove
Our heartbreak brings us back to you
And it all seems upside down

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when I fall apart

I don’t know how long this will last
I’m praying for the pain to pass
But maybe this is the best thing that has ever happened to me

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when
You will find me when
I fall apart

The Story So Far – Chapter 22 – Stumbling To The Foot Of A Mountain

CHAPTER 22 – STUMBLING TO THE FOOT OF A MOUNTAIN

Over the first few days after that meeting, I felt like I was getting things back together a little.  But slowly things began to change, I seemed to be totally exhausted all the time, I began to get headaches and also dizzy spells.

Gradually I started to become very angry with things, the simplest of things became a problem and it was all I could do to control and stop myself from taking it out on the innocent people around me.  At one point in my journal I actually wrote this:

… Since then instead of tears I’ve replaced them with anger.  If that’s the case I would
rather cry, let me cry, I don’t want to be angry, I don’t want that anger and aggression,
I would rather cry, I want to cry, but I’ can’t, I want the tears to flow, but they won’t.
Lord help me, I’m not me, it’s not who I want to be and I’m sure not who you want
me to be, I’m worn, I’m tired, I’ve had enough.

PLEASE LET ME CRY!!!

Mixed in with the moments of anger, were the moments of nothingness.  There were times when I felt nothing, totally empty, I didn’t know how to feel, no anger, no emotion, no happiness, there was just nothingness.  Along with those moments, I would just drift off into nothingness too.  At work I would just be stood there, staring out into the distance, I don’t know how long I would be stood there, then someone would say something or the phone would ring and I would snap out of it.  I don’t really remember what I was thinking of, if anything, I would just remember coming back into myself and not knowing where I was or where I had been.

Right in the middle of all this going on, my Boss at work decided to put me through my fork lift driving test.  At this point I hadn’t explained to anyone what was going, no one, not at work, at Church or my Connect Group, mainly as I didn’t really understand myself, so I couldn’t tell my Boss what was going on and I also really couldn’t say no.

I don’t drive a car, I never have, I’ve never had a lesson, so now I was being put into this training without really wanting to do it.  What I feared most were the dizzy spells I had been getting and more importantly these moments where I drifted off into nothingness.  The last thing I needed was for this to happen whilst I was driving a fork lift!  I kept quiet about everything and just went along with it all, hoping I would be able to keep my focus on what I had to do.

Thankfully something to focus on did help and I kept it together when I needed to.  When it came to the day to take the test, my work mates were putting me under a bit of pressure, in fairness, quite innocently.  All the way through the day, they kept asking if I had passed yet, normally it wouldn’t bother me, I would pass it off and laugh about it, but on this day, I just wanted to run away.

When it came to taking the test, I found myself singing a song in my head.  For some reason I was singing the words to the song “When You Walk Into The Room” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt, just singing these words seemed to calm me down, kept me focused and totally in myself.

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM by BRYAN & KATIE TORWALT
When You walk into the room
Everything changes
Darkness starts to tremble
At the light that you bring
When You walk into the room
Every heart starts burning
Than just to sit here at your feet
And worship you
We worship you

We Love You, and we’ll never stop
We can’t live without You, Jesus
We Love You, We can’t get enough
All this is for You, Jesus

When You walk into the room
Sickness starts to vanish
Every hopeless situation
Ceases to exist
When You walk into the room
The dead begin to rise
Cause there is resurrection life
In all You do

We Love You, and we’ll never stop
We can’t live without You, Jesus
We Love You, We can’t get enough
All this is for You, Jesus

Come and consume God
All we are
We give You permission
Our hearts are Yours
We want You
We want You

Come and consume God
All we are
We give You permission
Our hearts are Yours
We want You
We want You

Come and consume God
All we are
We give You permission
Our hearts are Yours
We want You
We want You

Come and consume God
All we are
We give You permission
Our hearts are Yours
We want You
We want You

We Love You, and we’ll never stop
We can’t live without You, Jesus
We Love You, We can’t get enough
All this is for You, Jesus

Oh how we love You
Oh how we love You

There was just something about these words, I had been listening to the song quite abit during the previous month or so, but it was this song, out of all the songs which I listen to that came to mind and kept me focused.  It must have worked, as I passed the test with no problems at all, all that fear, all those nerves and all that doubt, were completely for nothing.

I guess passing something like this in the middle of what was going on was a bit of high point, it once again helped for a few days, but it wasn’t long before all the nothingness and emptiness returned.

Then came Wednesday 13th November 2013, that night I was at the place which is usually a bit of fortress for me, at my Connect Group meeting.  Although I didn’t initially feel that bad, I started the meeting in quite a good mood, maybe I wasn’t as involved in the meeting as I usually am, but I was feeling okay.  I don’t remember what we were discussing that evening, but as discussion went on I felt more and more distant as it went along.  Then the discussion came to me for my input, all I could do was to reiterate what someone else had said and then breakout into tears.  For the rest of the evening all I could do was sit there and cry quietly to myself.  It was really quite awkward for those there at the meeting, they didn’t really have a clue what was setting all this off and I couldn’t explain either.  By that point I couldn’t say anything else, I couldn’t open my mouth to speak, words just wouldn’t come, all I could do was cry and when I tried to speak beyond the tears, the crying became stronger.

They prayed for me, even though they didn’t understand, they knew I had been having some ups and downs of late, but I guess they never expected anything like this either.  It made for a difficult night for everyone, I guess they wanted to help, but as I couldn’t explain the situation, then all they could do was to pray for me as a group, but that was enough.

At work my Boss realised that something wasn’t right too, he came to me one day , after I had had one of those moments where I was staring into space and not in the room, he has known me almost thirty years, he knew I wasn’t myself, so he asked what was going on.  I explained as best I could how I felt, I’m not surely he truly understood, but he said if I felt like I needed space, then just disappear off, then just give him the nod and just go away and do something away from everyone else and he would cover for me.

It was causing issues with others at work to, I heard mumblings between people about the way I was acting, so eventually I began to tell them what I felt like, that I felt really depressed and I was struggling, that sometimes I just needed space and felt I needed to get away from everyone, it helped clear the situation and they cut me some slack once they knew why I was acting the way I was.

What was making things worse was the longer this went on the more I was struggling to sleep.  I was only getting a couple of hours sleep each night, which wasn’t helping my state of mind.  I found I was just laying there, trying to sleep, praying for sleep, but nothing was helping, in a way I think I wasn’t letting it help, because I couldn’t let go, the more I tried to get the sleep, but couldn’t, the more I became stressed about it.  It was taking me back to those dark days when I couldn’t sleep because of all the stress I was under, back then I solved that problem by drinking myself to sleep, now I knew I couldn’t do this and I was determined I wasn’t going to, I’m not saying I never thought about drinking, because I did, but when those desires came about, I prayed and prayed.  Maybe I still couldn’t get to sleep, but I still had that resolve to beat any urges and stay sober.

On the Friday night following my breakdown at Connect, I found once again I couldn’t sleep, at 1.30am in the morning I found myself writing a poem on my phone.  The poem I called Mountains, once again it was in prayer form, asking for help as I felt I had come to a mountain I couldn’t climb, I had nothing left and needed help to conquer the mountain.

Mountains

Oh Lord
Stand me in the palm of Your hand
And lift me high above the clouds
To place me upon the top of this mountain
So I can stamp down upon this giant
Then watch it crumble beneath my feet
But I can’t take another step
My heart is losing it’s beat
I’m beaten by the journey
I’m tired
No longer do I have strength to fight
My grip to hold is failing
All I have left are my falling tears
Yet within my faith keeps beating
For tonight I feel Your breath
So I’ll rest against You just for now
Until I can rise again
For with You nothing is impossible
So tomorrow We will conquer
Together We will start the climb
Then I will stand upon the ruins
Of another crumbled mountain
Where I’ll sing so the world can hear
My worship unto Your name

Then after another a short period of sleep, I found myself awake at 5am in the morning, this time writing the poem, I Call Upon Your Name, this time admitting I was in a battle and I knew that God would see me through it.

I Call Upon Your Name

All wounds out in the open
Old scars have been broken wide
Doing all I can to be honest
Trying to rise above my pride

Another battle here is raging
Yet not one I wish to fight
So I call upon Your name
With You I’ll make it through the night

As shadows rise around me
Before me Your light brightly glows
Your name alone repels the demons
Inside my faint hope slowly grows

As the sun rises in the morning
Your light will shower me with love
I will stand to continue the battle
With mighty strength from heaven above

For I know You’ll never leave me
It’s time to start to turn this tide
Knowing I can never be defeated
When I can feel You here at my side

But the following Sunday I really hit a big low.  I remember sitting on my camera podium, just watching the worship practice, normally I really like to just sit there and listen to them play, sometimes I write poems on my phone as I listen, inspired by what I’m listening too.

As I sat there I think I was in another one of those blank moments, just staring out.  Rebecca one of our worship leaders came by and asked how I was, after a morning of lying and saying okay, this was one too many and all I could do was cry, I don’t think I responded with anything but tears.  I guess that put her in a really awkward position, she sat with me whilst she called for husband Michael and then James.  It was James who then came and sat with me and asked what was going on.

As James had been there for me when I first came to Church and had been struggling through withdrawals and then been very much part of every step of my recovery, he had this amazing knack of calming me down and getting me to talk.  So on this day, just like that day early that year when I was hiding from everyone crying over my Nan, he managed to get me to calm down and start speaking about what I was going through.  James works for the National Health Service, so he suggested I should see a Doctor, he felt I needed help and medication to get me through what I was going through.  I must honestly say that I don’t think I would have ever gone to a Doctor over this had James not suggested it, but I trusted him and said I would make an appointment.

I struggled my way through the rest of the day, when it came to worship, I just couldn’t do it, in the end I found myself crouched at the back of the room, head in hand crying, it was Alex this time that came and sat with me, putting an arm around me as he prayed for me.

The next morning at work I spoke with my Boss when I got in, he told me to go in office at the time that the surgery opened and make the call and get an appointment.  I managed to get an appointment for later that afternoon and I left work early to go.  All through this I couldn’t take any days off, as I had no holiday left, I had booked every remaining day I had for the end of November and early December to look after the kids, because Victoria was going to Gambia as part of a group from a local charity that runs a Christian school over there, so I had to tough it out at work, but at least that gave me something to keep occupied, I believe I was better at work than being at home, with nothing to do I could have done something stupid.

One thing that kept running through my mind was how much a failure I believed I was becoming.  Every time I went home I would have these thoughts about going up into my bathroom and grabbing that old knife of mine.  But this time I didn’t want to kill myself with it, I had these thoughts about cutting the words “I will never be enough” deeply into the skin on my forearms, I don’t know why I was thinking this or what the words meant to me, but that was I saw myself doing.  When I would get in the house and especially if I was the only one in, I would shake as I fought against any urges to do it.  I thought about looking through Victoria’s room to try and find if she still had that knife, but once again I fought off the urges.

On top of all this I found myself praying at night, that if I did sleep, then please God do not let me wake.  I prayed that if this was life, then I didn’t want to live anymore, I want to just sleep and go to heaven now, I didn’t want to live life this way, I didn’t feel normal and I didn’t want to feel this way anymore, I wanted it all taken away.  This became almost a nightly occurrence and I never told anyone that this was happening, neither my Connect Group, James or the Doctor when I saw him that afternoon.

The strange thing was that when I actually got to the Doctor’s I was in a good mood, not the lost or empty place I found myself drifting in and out off.  When the Doctor asked how I had been feeling, I was as honest as I could possibly be, without going into the deepest of secrets I was hiding, he asked if I had felt suicidal and I said that I had at times, I guess mainly the cries in the night not to wake again and also this feeling of wanting to carve my arms up, but I didn’t mention specifics.  In the end he said I had two choices, therapy or medication, I chose medication of the two.  He prescribed me Sertraline antidepressants and informed me there would be side effects, in particular in the short term it could heighten any suicidal tendencies!

When I got home, Victoria asked why I was home early, I explained I had been to the Doctor’s and he had prescribed me antidepressants, immediately she asked if I would be okay to look after the kids while she was away, I replied I would be and spoke no more about it.

BE MY HEALER by JENNY SIMMONS
What would it take
How many walls would you have to break down
Where do I meet you?
Where does peace heal the past and bring me home?

I want to be well
I want to be well

So how does this work,
How much will it hurt to open my heart again
Will there there be scars?
Reminding me of the way you heal me

I want to be well
I want to be well

I’m splintered, I’m many
There’s light and dark within me
But I’m bringing all these pieces
Only you can heal me Jesus
I’m here now, I’m ready
Giving everything that’s in me
Only you can mend these pieces
Be my healer, be my Jesus

So while I am here,
Living between the dreaming and coming true
I am making my way
And your making the space for me to be made new…

Cause I want to be well
I want to be well

I’m splintered, I’m many
There’s light and dark within me
But I’m bringing all these pieces
Only you can heal me Jesus
I’m here now, I’m ready
Giving everything that’s in me
Only you can mend these pieces
Be my healer, be my Jesus

Cause I wanna be whole
Yeah I wanna be whole

Cause I’m splintered, I’m many
There’s light and dark within me
But I’m bringing all these pieces
Only you can heal me Jesus
I’m here now, I’m ready
Giving everything that’s in me
Only you can mend these pieces
Be my healer, be my Jesus