Church This Morning

It’s never a great start to a Sunday morning service when you’re fighting hyperventilation and keep telling yourself that you’re going to be strong and stay in the sermon.

I desperately wanted to get up and leave … but there were people I wanted to see after the service… and I knew we wouldn’t be in church for the next two weeks. So I stuck it out. I wrote ‘to-do’ lists in my diary and planned our long-over-due holiday next week. I tried hard not to think about the sermon and how I was negatively reacting to it. I tried to block it, and all the negative thoughts and feelings spiralling crazily out from it, from my mind.

By the time the service was over I was worked up, angry, tense, short of breath, emotional, completely exhausted …

And how do I explain that to other people? Some don’t need to know one way or the other, but I can imagine some people wondering what the flip had me so dazed, tired and disconnected.

How do I explain that? How can I say that I found the sermon massively uncomfortable and triggering and I’m still coming down from that? In what world but mine do hebrew root words, talk about covenant relationships and the umbrella of God’s law set off a panic attack?

But this is my world!

In my world, talking about hebrew roots, the torah, covenant relationships, shalom, the umbrella of God’s law/will, God hating injustice … I’ve actually had to calm myself down after writing that sentence.

Each one of us has our mix of triggers; our own combination of events, words, sounds, situations or smells that will set off a reaction. This is one of mine. Your’s might be another.

It leaves me feeling isolated and alone. I look around me – to the friend to my right who is enthusiastically taking notes on her phone, to my husband on my left who I know is mostly not paying any attention to the sermon – and I’m by myself having my panicked reaction to the words and phrases the preacher is using.

I leave the room longing to express my feelings to my close friend who knows so much … but even this is beyond our shared experience and empathy. I say the words that sent my pulse erratic and it means nothing.

I don’t blame her, I don’t blame my husband – in one way I’m glad they don’t get it! But I’m still here feeling sore, lonely and misunderstood.

Why would anyone get why this was so difficult for me? Oh yeah, they wouldn’t. Because they weren’t brought up a fricking Messianic Jewish Fundamentalist Homeschooled Girl in the South West of England.

Church can be a very painful and lonely place.

I hope that today church was an encouraging and happy place for you!

Mental Health Day?! Here’s my years …

I think it’s great that there is a Mental Health Day. Don’t get me wrong on that one – this is something that needs ‘A Day’ and the publicity so YES! Let’s embrace it!

This post, though, is for those whose Mental Health goes beyond a day … those who wake up every morning and wish they hadn’t … those who were told eight years ago that they’d only be on meds for 6 weeks … those who were given a cd of calming music to cure the sleeping problems and knew it never would … those whose experience doesn’t fit into a box.

This post is for those who exhausted all the treatment they could have on the NHS and still need something else … those who spent 3 years plus filling out those “1-to-10-how-do-you-feel” forms … those who can’t say whether the meds make a difference or not anymore … those who aren’t sure what ‘normal’ is … those who can’t picture a life without mental health … those who keep on fighting.

This post is for those who work so hard to get out of bed in the morning … who fight their way into the shower maybe twice a week … who conquer a pile of plates … who have to climb the mountains of laundry.

This post is for those who keep on going day, after day, after day; sometimes just minute by minute; the next breath, the next cup of tea, the next glass of wine; work day by work day; getting through the next week.

We have survived every single thing that has ever happened to us! It might well have been horrific along the way, but we’ve survived it and we’re here!!

Go us!!

My Story Isn’t Over Yet;

This post contains a lot of triggers for many different issues! Please, if you are feeling sensitive – stop reading! Please seek help if you are feeling at risk.


I only realised this afternoon that today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I’m a bit behind, but now I know.

With that knowledge comes a sense of responsibility. A need to add my story, my words, to the many voices out there today.

This is how it happened for me.

About 7 and a half years ago I was in a pretty bad place. I’d gone on medication for depression about 4-5 months ago, I’d lost both my jobs and I’d gone from living in a shared house to lodging with a family, because I couldn’t cope by myself. I was between 7-7.5 stone (98-105lbs) and had started visibly self-harming just in the last month. PTSD and flashbacks weren’t in my vocabulary yet.

The breaking point came when a close friend of mine at the time told me about a recent rape experience. I was only just starting to let my own experiences rise to the surface and this struck just that bit too deep on a number of levels.

The most powerful feeling I remember having? Nothing. I was just numb. I can still see myself going through it as if watching someone else. I was detached from everything and everyone around me and wasn’t thinking of anything except buying the pills.

I took a lot of basic painkillers. Let’s leave it at a lot. Of the many mercies I received that evening: I didn’t take any more than I did; I didn’t take them with any alcohol; I didn’t start taking my anti-depression meds that were lined up next; I had a complete crises of faith.

I was sitting there on my bedroom floor when absolute panic came over me. The only thing I could think was, ‘Where am I going when I die?’ I didn’t know where I was with my faith, with God and whether when this was done with and I wasn’t here, I was going to heaven or hell.

I called a friend. The same friend whose horrific experience I had just heard about. She was the only person I knew who had been through something similar, so I thought would immediately understand and not panic.

It was past 11pm and she and her mum took me to A&E. She sat with me through the waiting, the drs, the throwing up, the questions.

I stayed on an old people’s ward for about 18 hours with a drip. I was discharged after meetings the next day, when I said I was going home with friends.

I thank God and the many good friends around me that that was the one and only time I was in hospital for attempted suicide.

I was asked on that night if I had really wanted to kill myself, or if this was a call for help. At the time, I clearly said that I wanted to die.

Now, I don’t know. I’m not sure if I would actually have fully gone through with it. Maybe in the back of my mind I always knew I could call someone. Maybe somewhere in my self-conscious I was trying to let people know about the sexual abuse when I didn’t have the words.

However much I can reflect back on it now with more perspective, at the time I was so desperate, and wanted to not be in my life so badly, that I tried to kill myself.

I am beyond grateful to God and to my friends then and now that I decided to live and keep on deciding to live every day.

This past week has been so horrible as I have battled yet another trauma from my birth family. I have had moments where I have felt so very desolate that I can’t picture what my life would feel like if I was to carry on.

But I carried on and I’m here.

Despite how far I feel from him or how angry I am with him, no matter how little I understand, I believe that God is here.

Tomorrow my husband and I will have been married for six years. We want to have kids. I have so many happy moments, even if I can’t claim complete days or weeks. I very much want to do some significant things with my life.

I still have moments of completely crushing sadness; moments where the enormity of what’s happened to me overwhelms me.

My overwhelming desire to make a difference to at least a few people is stronger; the enormity of how much I want other people like me to know they’re not alone conquers.

I could have chosen to end my life; I didn’t.

If you need help right now, please phone a friend you trust, call The Samaritans free on 116123 or in emergency call 999 for an ambulance.

Project Semicolon:

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to.
You are the author and the sentence is your life. 

To Write On Her Arms:

“To Write Love on Her Arms,” also represented a goal – to believe that a better life was possible.

God Wins?


I was just reading a blog post with this very title – minus the question mark.

I love the blog and the writer and have enjoyed following her life for a good number of years now. I value her honesty and her attitude to life. Nicole, you’re great! So this is no criticism of the blog or the post, just reflections on my response to this particular post. 🙂

I started reading about how God has provided for this family when they need it, specifically in the form of providing money when it was needed, through friends. At the same time as thinking “this is great!” I was also thinking, “but this kind of thing never happens to me…”

When have I ever seen God’s amazing provision demonstrated like this? Why can’t I say “God wins, God is good, God is there in the tough times” and not question it? The questions snowball and the resentment spreads further…

I have never had my next mortgage payment provided when I didn’t know how it was going to be paid; I’ve never had friends rally round and pay for cars, food and bills. I’m not in a place where I can see God’s hand in my pain, or even him carrying me when it hurt; God hasn’t miraculously healed anything for me and I can’t be forgiving of some things. Why everyone else but not me? Maybe I just don’t have enough faith?

But then a list started unfurling in my brain: that job, essential to getting out, came through despite the odds; a family came forward and let me live in their house when I couldn’t be where I was before; I was let out of my rent agreement early without charges; I was handed a bakery treat bought for someone else when I hadn’t eaten that day; there was that £200 given to all the interns when I was still living with my parents, so I got to squirrel it away in my bank account for leaving; I had friends’ sofas and beds to sleep in when I needed it; I called someone and got to hospital, instead of taking more tablets; I never got to the point where I took drugs; I never slept on the street; I married the most amazing man who understands; I have friends who believe in me; I’ve found the box of curry I thought we’d already eaten, on the night when I thought I just couldn’t take another thing…

Hang on a minute – this sounds a lot like God’s timely provision to me … right?

What about that day when I really thought I had taken all I could and just wanted someone to sort everything out for me while I curled up in the corner? God didn’t send anyone to step in and do the dishes for me and fix supper. I did the dishes, I fixed supper, then I went to bed and I got up to face another day. It wasn’t the solution I wanted, but surely God still provided by giving me the strength to just get through the next thing?

What about when the pain of all that had and was still happening was just too much, and I felt like my chest was going to burst apart from sadness, and I couldn’t stand to think what life was going to look like in another half hour? No one dried my tears and said it was all a mistake and it had never happened, and no one came and showed me a photo of how much better life would be in a year. I had to dry my own tears, take my own breaths through my own pain and live one more minute, just to start the next minute and get through that one too. It wasn’t what I wanted to happen, but surely the fact that I’m still here means that God gave me the strength to cope with the pain and live the next minute, even if not with joy?

I don’t feel like I have any victories to encourage people with – I feel like I’m still in the middle of a never-ending battle. I find it hard to see the evidence of what God’s given me. But what if each time I manage to raise my sword off the ground again and each time I just miss being slashed across my leg by the opposing sword is God at work too?


UnHappy Father’s Day?

This is for you if Father’s Day is far from happy; if you can’t think about your father without it bringing you pain; if you roll your eyes when you see yet another card with words like ‘daddy’, ‘hero’, ‘the best’ on it.

This is for you if you can’t find anything to celebrate about your father; if you get a pang of jealousy when someone says how great their dad is; if you avoid the question when asked if you’re doing anything for father’s day.

This is for you if you feel slightly sick when you read another facebook post gushing about a great dad; if singing church songs about ‘Father God’ is confusing; if you know your children will never know their grandfather.

This is for you if you see a little girl with her dad and pray hard that he’ll never hurt her; if hearing how earthly fathers are meant to be a picture of our heavenly Father makes you question your faith; if sometimes – when memories are the darkest and the pain is too much to bear – you wish you never knew your father.

I don’t have words or answers. Just questions and pain. But I’m thinking of you and hoping that this year Father’s Day is a little easier than the last one.

Most of all, when you roll your eyes at yet-another dad advert, give your finger to a ‘family is the best’ movie or burst into tears over a spilt drink because it’s easier than crying over what really makes you sad … know you are not alone.

Here’s to too much chocolate, silly comedy and cold cider!



I’m Listening

I might talk about some female issues that cause distress

Yesterday afternoon I got stopped on the way back from work by one of those charity fundraiser guys on the high street.

Not being the most assertive of people (I know those who would call this an understatement…), it’s taken me a long time, much practice and numerous encouraging/teasing/incredulous words to reach the point where I deliberately avoid them, obviously blank them or politely refuse to talk to them.

Yesterday I was exhausted, ill, two down on three work days in a row and most definitely in a vulnerable state of mind.

I stopped when the fundraiser guy stepped in front of me and thrust his hand in my face. I put on what I could muster of my cynical mindset and prepared to be polite but firm. I wasn’t going to sign up for any charity and if he so much as mentioned child abuse – was he going to get a speech he wasn’t going to forget!!

He was trying to get me to sign up for a campaign to stop child marriage and FGM.

Um, what was that I said about not signing up for anything and speaking my mind?! Umm…

I put up some token resistance, asked a lot of questions to make him work for it, but I knew and he knew … he’d got me. He even said “I can see you’re emotionally invested”.

Well DUH!! I’m the girl who has to watch the program about any kind of abuse against women, because if I don’t, I feel like I’m ignoring their voice, not listening to their story and being just like the people that turned away from me. I know that the girls in a documentary are never going to know if I watched or not, but I do, and I’m not going to leave their voice unheard. Absolutely it brings me extra pain and heartache I don’t need, but I know what it’s like not to have a voice or not to be listened to. Not if I can help it.

So I signed up for this charity. I was annoyed with myself and the person fundraising as I did it. I know that although this is a heartbreaking issue that desperately needs support, my heart lies in hidden issues a lot closer to home. That’s where my money should be going. (Note to self: Why haven’t you done something about that before girl?!)

I worried, I went off on one at the guy (just in my mind), I stewed, I couldn’t settle for a nap (don’t judge! Another post …) And I had to explain it all to my ever-patient husband amidst much self-incrimination and repeatedly saying how weak I am.

Thankfully, my hubby knows me well. He knows why it was difficult and knows why I signed up. He calmed me down and reminded me that when they did a follow-up call to see how it went, I could just cancel then and choose a charity I actually wanted to support.

And that is what I did. Maybe I’m just a little proud of myself ….

I tried to point out that the fundraisers should check if the person they’re talking to is alright emotionally/mentally with the subject, or if they need to stop. Just a simple question would be enough, right? “Are you ok if I talk about child abuse statistics? If this subject is too difficult for you, please say.” Yes, I can see all the ways this could be taken advantage of, but for those of us who can’t get to the words, for whatever reason, “I can’t talk about this,” this would be the way out … without feeling like a heartless women that just doesn’t care.

(I kind of put a lot more feeling – and a fricking load more of stumbling, rephrasing and apologising – into my explanation, but that’s the basics)

The person I talked to on the phone said that he was a psychologist for his other job and got the whole trigger and emotional (to drastically paraphrase) thing, and would definitely pass it on. He was very nice about it all and definitely made the whole process better than I thought it was going to be.

I’ve no idea if what I said will make it through to any kind of meeting, be suggested to fundraiser teams, or just discarded in the office paper bin.

But I really did try.

For now, that’s the point.

I have to listen to girls or women who are hurting. That’s what I have to do. I feel it. I’m glad I feel it. But I need to learn when that listening needs to be turned into action, and when my role is just listening.

Small and Tierd

Today I am feeling small and tierd. I’ve actually been feeling that way for the last couple of weeks.

Scrap that. I feel small and tired all the time. I can acknowledge that what I have done and what I continue to do takes strength, from an intellectual point of view, but inside? I’m still just little old me.

I cancelled a Skype talk with a friend tonight. I didn’t go to church this morning. I was so glad some friends couldn’t have us over on Saturday. I bailed out of coffee with a friend on Friday. I can’t quite bring myself to say how long it’s been since I had a proper shower. I’ve had to put more than one washed laundry load through on the 15 minute cycle because it had been sitting in the machine too long. I cancelled seeing a friend on Monday afternoon and then cried over the phone to my husband. I slipped back into bad coping strategies this week.

I see a whole lot of failure. I see a whole lot of letting people down. I see a whole lot of weakness.

If someone in a like position came to me, upset because they were feeling a failure, I would be able to list all the things they’d done this past week, all the ways they’ve fought and stood their ground, all the ways they’ve continued to be brave, all the two steps forward they’ve taken to their one steps back … Somehow I just can’t give the same grace and understanding to myself.

I’ve been trying hard recently to show myself love and care, to extend the same understanding to myself that I freely give to other people, to at least give myself some slack and allow myself to have a bad day.

It’s a slow process. It’s a hard process. It feels so often like it goes against everything I should be thinking. But it is a process.

So yes, I’m feeling tiny and am just so exhausted of fighting.

But you know what? I’m still fighting. Whether I can forgive myself for what I think went wrong this week or not, I am still here, I am still fighting and tomorrow is still going to come … although hopefully after a night of nightmare-free sleep.

We’re still here and we’re still fighting.