It was a small thing. I accidentally cut my finger whilst preparing lunch. As it began to bleed, I was catapulted back.
Back to those darkest of days when I was gripped by an addiction to self-destruction.
I could not quite work out what I felt. Thankful because that part of my life is over? Ashamed because it controlled me for so long?
The olympics reminded me of the week in 2005 when Britain won the olympic bid and my world began to crumble. They have no connection of course, apart from the proximity of time, but for me, my battle with self-harm will always be remembered alongside the week that saw Live8, the success of the Olympic bid and the devastation of 7/7.
It reminded me that personal lives and the life of the rest of the world are inextricably linked. We cannot live without reference to what is going on in our world. Self-harm and the olympics are strangely linked in my life, but it I am realising that the olympics are also now linked in my life with starting again and independence.
Whilst the legacy of self-harm may be long lasting, recovery and freedom from its grip is possible.
Remembering the pain is not necessarily a bad thing, it can remind us how far we have come. It reminds us that there is life after self-harm; despite the scars.
Last Wednesday ThinkTwice held a Cafe Concert at the London School of Theology. It was a wonderful evening hosted by Jade Greasley and Sam Amos, with over sixty people in attendance and £84 raised! I thought I would share here, the talk I gave on the night (I warn you, there is shameless promotion of ThinkTwice!)
So why are you here? Aside from the wonderful music, free drinks and nibbles? Aside from the fact that it cost, at most £1 for you to get in!?
Well perhaps I should start by telling you why I’m here. Why on earth did I decide to throw a concert for mental health? Any of you who have spoken to me for longer than a few minutes, will have heard a little bit about my passion for mental health. I would love it if, one day, people were able to be as open about having a mental health condition as they are about having the ‘flu. I’d really love it if christians didn’t say things like “Real christians don’t get depressed” or “You shouldn’t be anxious, it’s wrong to be anxious the Bible tells us not to worry”.
Because the truth is, mental illness is as indiscriminate as any other illness. There is no vaccination against mental illness, and although there are lifestyle choices such as not drinking too much and not dabbling in drugs that can help to keep you mentally healthy – there are no guarantees and no sure fire way to prevent it.
But we can make an unbearable pain a little more bearable. ThinkTwice has, in some ways made mental illness in my own life a weight more bearable. If you had told me, aged fourteen that I would still be suffering with depression some seven and a half years later – I would have wanted to give up. And yet, it is the love and care of friends and family, and the seeds of calling planted in my darkest hour that have made depression a weight easier to bear. They’ve given a purpose to the dark days -because if I can make a difference – if ThinkTwice can make a difference – then I’ll be more than happy.
So what can we do?
Ask people how they are, encourage the sufferer to see a GP, don’t be afraid to talk about mental illness, pray about it – individually and in your churches and finally…Over the next year we are going to be producing a resource for small groups and youth groups so if you’d like more information ‘like’ ThinkTwice on Facebook, follow us on twitter and help us spread to word.