Hi folks. Sorry I’ve been such a sporadic and infrequent blogger lately. Truth is I’ve been gritting my teeth and surviving most days. I’m almost permanently depressed, but at least I’m not psychotic and haven’t been for the best part of a year.
It’s been an important week in my life however. Last Thursday was my 50th birthday. It passed without any major disasters and with a respectable number of cards and well-wishings by friends and family.
Then yesterday was Mother’s Day and also the appointed hour for me to get baptised in my local Church of England Church, St James’ Muswell Hill. There was me and four other baptisees. The seriousness of the commitment was reflected in the total immersion of each of us in a special baptism pool lent to the Church for the occasion.
I invited three friends (including M) and they all came, much to my gratitude. Before we were dunked we each had to give a short speech to the assembled congregation at the evening service just saying why we were doing it.
It was an immensely moving occasion, not just for the baptisees.
We were each in turn thrust backwards and right under the water by two clergy who stood in the pool with us, on affirming our faith. ‘Is this your faith?’ ‘This is my faith’.
OK so what did I say as to the ‘why’? I said that I’d been on the Alpha Course in Autumn 2010. This did not lead straight on to Church attendance but I began attending the 9.30 am service at St James’ several months ago, first accompanied by M but then on my own.
I had been privileged to meet many impressive and inspiring people since that first Alpha contact, and decided I liked St James’ and felt at home there. I had also begun a relationship with Jesus which had been a sticking point for many years when I pick and mixed bits and pieces of various religions but found Christianity hard to grasp…
I love the Jesus of the Gospels who shocks and surprises the ‘religious’ people of his day. The ‘beautiful outlaw’ who speaks freely and compassionately to confirmed sinners, outcasts and fallen women. This Jesus was eminently approachable, no matter what I’d done in my life to feel ashamed about…
There’s a bit of the ‘last chance saloon’ about my gravitation to Christianity. I can’t live any more without clinging to some kind of faith. I’ve been brought so low, and thoughts of suicide are never very far from my mind. The difficulties of my 16 year old son J weigh heavily on me. He still won’t go to school. He continues to seclude himself away from normal daily life, sleeping in the day time, awake on his computer at night. He still lives with my Mum who seems better able to cope with his behaviour than I am, maybe because as the grandmother, she is a bit more removed from it.
I’m tormented by shame and guilt a lot of the time. I certainly feel ‘less than’ almost everyone I meet…
I spend quite a lot of social time with addicts as opposed to those with long term mental health problems, and I’ve noticed how much more hopeful and positive can be the life of a recovering addict, than that of someone with mental health. Once you’re recovered you can plan for a better future. You’re not a permanent outcast from society. Those of us with mental health often remain somewhat apart from society. We are in some ways the lepers and outcasts of our day.
Yes. I have internalised stigma. Lots of it.
So I’m happy to be baptised into the faith. Being part of something bigger is therapeutic when you live a life apart so much of the time.
I’m happy and sad all at the same time.
Lots love X