by Lauren Roskilly
I moved to a new school at fifteen, into year ten– the beginning of GCSE’s. It was tough, as I didn’t have any friends and the school was more academic than what I was used to. I soon found out I wasn’t up to the standard I should have been at that time. We’d just moved to a new house again, too, and I felt really alone. Though, at school, there was one girl who let me sit with her on the first day and we were instantly friends. As the term went on, I made a few other friends, and it became more bearable. Then, it began… my body began fainting; I would just blackout, sometimes two to four times a week, or two or more times a day. Something was going on, but even the doctors didn’t know what.
My mum taught me to meditate, and she took me to a spiritualist church. She also did tarot card readings with me. One day we were in one of the shops in the Brighton lanes (can’t remember what she wanted from there) and I remember seeing a beautiful, purple velvet spell book which I was instantly attracted to. She bought it for me. In my bedroom, I set up a blanket on my chest of drawers, lit candles and incense and tried out the spells in the book. At the time, I loved it. It was something I was in control of.
Back at school, apart from the first friend I met, the rest of the girls soon got fed up with me fainting– whether that was the reason, or something else, to this day, I don’t know, but suddenly they turned against me. They would call me names across the classroom or snigger at me in the hallways. It soon grained on me, and, along with my health and the exams piling up, I felt really low. Then it came to half term and I was relieved. I thought I would try a specific spell, to get the girls to stop. When I returned to school after a week, I realised I hadn’t had any more trouble from them. I was amazed, really pleased with “my powers” and most certainly relieved! I scraped through my exams and came out with five GCSE’s, surprisingly!
In 2004, we were in a pub and an older gentleman approached our table. He was telling me things about myself he shouldn’t have known. He then began talking about witchcraft; he had his own coven and asked me to join. I was excited and took his number. Anyway, that night, without my knowledge, my partner called our window cleaner– a Christian (though my partner wasn’t a Christian himself) who came round quite quickly that evening, I learned later. That night we spoke for ages. Well, he spoke; I was quite defensive and pretty irritated by him! But in the middle of a video on creation, it felt like a light bulb turned on inside me, and I knew that I was sinful and that Jesus had died for me, and that I needed to repent and turn to Him! I said the sinner’s prayer with the guidance of the window cleaner, and immediately knew I had to get rid of my rune stones and spell books. After he left, I stayed awake until 3 a.m., filled with the Holy Spirit and writing my first Christian poem (see below).
In 2016 I began working for a local Christian charity, where we took services into care homes. I coordinated 52 teams in the local vicinity, organised events and led services and prayer meetings. I absolutely loved it!
The fainting had been on and off since I was 15; undergoing test after test at the hospital, but with nothing concrete– it was always a bit of this or it might be that. The in-between stages didn’t give quite enough time for me to take driving lessons (as I had to be faint-free for three years before getting into a car), but in 2018 I got my provisional license, took lessons, passed my test and bought my first car just before Christmas. Everything was finally falling into place; kids were happier, I was enjoying my job and now I was finally driving. My walk with God over the years just became better and better. He was my friend, my guide, my companion, as well as my saviour. In the darker times, He was my comforter and in the good times He was there with me.
I was studying mental health as part of the Health and Social Care degree I studied with the Open University. Then during prayers one day, God had put on my heart to raise awareness of mental health in Christians, and to write on how to help Christians improve their health and wellbeing. Over the next year and a half I began making notes; I had notes on my laptop, in a notebook and on my phone, which I’d made as and when He prompted me.
Then in March 2019, it happened again. I dropped my daughter’s P.E. kit at school, popped to the supermarket and was driving home, and I came over feeling spaced out and dizzy. I pulled up by the side of the road, ate a packet of crisps and sunk a bottle of water, then made it home. As I was coming up the stairs to the flat with the shopping, a neighbour stopped to chat, and as we were the feeling came over me again. Before I could do anything about it, I was unconscious on the floor, but instead of reviving, getting up and continuing with my day, as I can occasionally do, I kept blacking out. An ambulance was called and I was taken to hospital; I spent almost a week on the cardiology ward. From being discharged, I spent the next year fainting so regularly that I had to go on sick leave from work and was told by doctors and the DVLA not to drive. I had yet more tests done, and, in July 2018, finally, the cardiologist gave me a diagnosis: Neurocardiogenic syncope (which is to do with low blood pressure, having a bradycardic and occasionally irregular heart rate– the signals from there to the brain not doing what they’re supposed to). But the words he said to me are what stuck, “There is no cure or treatment for it”. My heart sank, and I cried. A lot! This began the start of the depression again, and soon I was on antidepressants and referred for counselling and CBT.
I was stuck indoors, not being able to get out because of the syncope. My daughter was helping me whenever I had episodes and did the cooking and cleaning. It was a dark time, and I began self-harming. Looking back, I realised it was something I could be in control of, as everything else was totally out of my control. It was horrid. I couldn’t do anything to stop the fainting, I couldn’t help my daughter and I couldn’t do things a mum should be able to do. I missed driving them to school, parents’ evenings; I couldn’t do what mums are supposed to do and I hated it. Everything was out of my control, and self-harming was the only thing that gave that back to me. Though I was ashamed of it, and hid it from everyone. I withdrew from family and friends. I wanted to be on my own, and yet I felt so alone.
Days turned into weeks, and weeks to months. Eventually I became fed up with feeling the way I was. I wasn’t feeling particularly close to Jesus at the time, but started talking to Him again; just small prayers like, “Help me, Lord. I’m fed up feeling like this.” Within a few weeks, I began listening to some worship music again. Then another week or two later, a book from my large Christian collection, which I hadn’t touched for ages, jumped out at me, literally. What an eye opener it was; it spoke of how I was feeling, like it was written for me! It made me realise that I didn’t have to feel bad about how I was feeling, but it also helped to acknowledge and recognise what I was feeling. It eliminated shame and improved my relationship with God. Wow! As the weeks went on, I carried on listening to worship music, prayed more and more and ploughed through the book. The author explained that in order to receive healing we needed to break through denial, as David did. I’d finally reached the point where that was what I wanted, too. I was ready to accept my pain and difficulties and wanted release from it. At this realisation, I literally cried out to God, bawling my eyes out. I asked Him to release me and relieve me from the darkness.
Over the next week, I began to reach out to my family and a few close friends from church. I admitted self- harming to one friend, and asked for prayer. There were a lot of tears, it was hard enough to admit that I had a problem to myself, but saying it out loud was another thing! But she was supportive and prayerful.
Anyway, the day we were due to drive up to the site, she asked if I wanted to go along to her church first before we left. I felt ready to go to church again.
After the service we went forward for prayer. I asked them to pray for the Neurocardiogenic syncope. As they prayed, I followed along and agreed in my heart. Then I felt I was going to fall. Without a moment’s notice I was on the floor, but it wasn’t the usual– I wasn’t unconscious. I heard the lady going on to pray for any negative emotions I was experiencing; I hadn’t mentioned anything like that to her! When they’d finished, I felt such a sense of relief, peace and freedom, I just knew I was healed! In the weeks and months to come, I realised the syncope hadn’t been healed, but the toxic emotions definitely had! No more did I feel that despair, lack of control or the darkness that I previously had. Thank you, Lord! Since then I’ve had circumstances, including the NCS episodes, that would usually send me to that mindset of despair, but the Lord has kept me strong and in His peace.
The Lord has also asked me and guided me to write. I write on Christianity and mental health, which includes my experiences and how I overcame these in order to help others. I blog at www.mindfulofchrist.net and just published ‘Christian based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and how to become Mindful of Christ.’
Night Of Conversion
Silence is broken with just one word, Like an invasion on life,
There was never any care but still it was heard
Is there no such thing as a choice in life? No sign until now
Then a torture of words telling me to sacrifice
Is there never any justice in this place? Are we all trapped?
Then comes along the one we should know and eventually have to face
The sense of freedom is like an open window, The beginning of a new path
Ditch the devil and then with our love we must go
Search your heart and you will find, The route of fate
Then set out and let your journey unwind.
Lauren is a mum of two beautiful children. She recently completed a BA Hons in Health and Social Care and also has a diploma in CBT. Lauren became a born again Christian in 2004. She is transparent about her ups and downs with mental health, depression, anxiety and self-harm. But God helped her with these and she has learned to refocus from the negative towards Christ. She practices being mindful of Him, thus the name of her blog ‘Mindful of Christ’ and her recent publication ‘Christian based Cognitive Behavioural therapy and how to become Mindful of Christ.’