And all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
Well, the first part of that is true, but in reality I’m definitely stirring part in panic and part in excitement.
Learning to Breathe has been an idea, a hope, a dream of mine for a decade, and tomorrow it becomes reality as anyone, anywhere, can choose to buy it, borrow it and read it.
There is something particularly terrifying, because people are not just reading my words, they are reading the story of the worst days of my life.
But as I sit here, with a pile of books, that I wrote and that others have turned into this beautiful looking book; I can see that the promise of restoration and redemption on which I pinned my recovery for all those years, finds some fulfilment in the book that I began to write when I was at my darkest.
I began to write because I wanted to make sense of what I’d been living through; but I finished writing and started editing, preparing it for publication because I believe that whilst the church has come a long way in terms of mental health awareness, we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding.
We may know that 1 in 4 have a mental health problem each year – but do we understand the effect it has on them, their families and their work?
We may know that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people – but do we understand why- and, more importantly – how to hold out hope?
I have only written my story, my perspective, but it is my hope and my prayer that it will lead you on to listen to the stories of those in your midst who are struggling, to equip yourselves with understanding so that you can begin to know how to help.
And whenever the terror of the reality that my story is there for anyone to consume – that’s what I remind myself of – that ‘Learning to Breathe’ was not written merely for my own catharsis – but so that others may glimpse something of God’s compassion and kindness for those whose minds are lost in their own darknesses.
Because, as Psalm 107 proclaims: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”
I’ve told mine, not because my story is anything but ordinary, but because the God of our stories is beyond extraordinary.