I had the amazing privilage of contributing part of my story to a brilliant ebook by my friend Mandy Steward. The following is included in chapter 3 - some of it you will have read before but I've included a little more detail. I urge you to buy the book as it is such an encouragement - Mandy is incredibly gifted.
"I’m a child of the ‘70s, born and bred in Belfast in the height of the ‘Troubles’. My mum and dad met when they were very young, and Mum got pregnant. Two weeks before I was born, my dad was shot in the spine. Shocking, I know! As a result, Dad has been in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down ever since.
I got married, became a primary school teacher, had a daughter, and was very involved in church leadership. I tried to combat the feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and numbness by keeping very busy. One day, three years ago, I found that I just couldn’t keep self-medicating any longer. I remember sitting at my desk after my class had gone home, feeling absolutely nothing. I even contemplated pushing the scissors I was holding into my leg - I wanted to feel something, anything, so badly! This was the beginning of my breakdown.
I took medication for my depression; however, this alone was not to be the answer and the escape from all my pain. It was a great tool, but it was only when I allowed God access to all of me that I began a journey of recovery.
This scripture really helped me during the process (as did the unconditional love of God, my family, and my church):
I discovered I could be completely honest with God, and He would still love, accept, and desire me - what a release and relief that was! I could come out from behind the ‘fig leaf’ I stupidly thought was hiding me from His gaze and attention. His kindness has literally brought me to my knees. When I finally admitted that I couldn’t keep it together, that I felt so lost and alone, His love came rushing in, filling every empty space.
It’s been three years, and today I would say I’m still learning a lot and taking it a day at a time. It has been incredibly painful, and I lost quite a few friends along the way who couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t ‘get over it’.
After feeding the multitudes, Jesus told the disciples to gather up the leftovers “so that nothing may be lost or wasted.” (John 6:12) There’s no way we can escape pain in life. But I’m learning it doesn’t have to be wasted. I’m letting my pain be someone else’s gain"