A cracking tweet I read this week went something along the lines of: What will I be more embarassed about – telling people I spent the week at a Christian Conference, or that it was held at Butlins?
Well I think I owe a lot to Butlins and this is why.
I’ve been so low recently that I’d resolved to visit my doctor to talk to her about assessing me for depression. Being the only person in my immediate family who hasn’t formally suffered from it at one point or other, I have been silently and patiently waiting for my turn. I constantly watch myself for signs, and they were there. Mood swings, inexplicable emotional responses to nonsense things, crying constantly, insomnia, worrying about everything, memory loss and not enjoying anything at all and not feeling like I ever would again.
I was convinced of my layman’s diagnosis, but I lingered in making an appointment because I was trying to cut myself some slack. It has been a tough year and a half. My husband just got let go from his job for the second time in 6 months, and we’d barely recovered emotionally and financially from the last time. We’ve had a bereavement in the family and a few more family problems, none of which if considered on their own would be insignificant. I’ve been adjusting to a new job, trying to get to the bottom of some serious problems regarding some of the charities I am involved with as well as trying to rearrange and prioritise my voluntary commitments around paid work. These tasks haven’t been made easy for me in ways it wouldn’t be fair to divulge.
I know clinical depression is a disease, and although it can be linked to environmental factors it may be completely removed from them too. I became sure I was suffering from the disease, rather than the more general environmentally stoked blues. Positive things happened and steps were taken but my mood was not improving at all. Hubby has secured a job, we’ve been helped by the Bank of Mum to buy a car so he can get to said job. Other things have moved more positively although some remain stuck in the mud.
I also know that the impact of these events linger and that no one who knows what these things feel like expect you to recover from them overnight. It wasn’t until Hubby was in his recent job for 3 months that we started to breathe a bit more easily (pfft!) and we were able to sit and be honest with each other about how scared we’d really been. I was able, last time to be the strong, supportive, positive spouse. This time I fell to pieces and spectacularly too.
But back to Butlins. I spent this week at Spring Harvest, a Christian conference held at these twee and somewhat anachronistic holiday camps by the seaside . We went to the event being held at Minehead.
This isn’t an evangelistic and charismatic Christian tale of miraculous healing, or altar calls and sobbing, screaming release in front of 1000s of people. But I have been healed, in a way, by spending time with friends and family who made me laugh my socks off. Taking time to be with people I love and care about, and who love and care about me, has been uplifting, encouraging and cleansing in ways I never anticipated.
A 4 berth bike ride round camp with my hubby, niece and nephew, screaming with laughter at each speed bump blew away cobwebs I thought might never scrub off. Hooting wildly with my sister at Adrian Plass and Tim Vine rejigged something inside me, as well as reinstalling some much needed perspective and irreverence. Singing well loved songs to my God at the top of my voice with 3000 or so other folk giving it their best, awakened something that has been put to sleep by disappointment and hurts. Putting the world to rights over cheese and wine with amazing friends renewed my hope in the future.
Walking along the beach with my husband, as cold as I can remember being in a long time, chipped away at some of the loneliness and isolation I’ve been lost in.
It is probably premature to write this as soon as I am having only got home this afternoon, and I have not written off my decision to go and have a chat with the doctor. I do know I am not on some sort of spiritual high but I’m experienced enough to know that the wicked depression can be tricksy.
But tonight I’ve been able to check my work email without fear and trepidation that what I read will make me frustrated or angry. I’ve been able to acknowledge that hubby is going away unexpectedly for a week and that I will survive without him being here to clear up my brokenness. My creative juices feel like they are flowing again – I enjoyed editing images for my year long photo project which had begun to feel like a drag, and I loved writing this blog.
So I am thanking God for Butlins, for creating a place by the beautiful sea, where a bunch of bonkers Christians can gather annually for teaching and worship but more than that, for fun and friendship.