My Story 5 – The Dark Years

I became disillusioned in my job as a research assistant and left. Where to next?

I wondered if there was something like Voluntary Service Overseas only in Britain. There is: Community Service Volunteers (CSV). I applied, but whilst waiting I became involved with B.

I was accepted as a CSV at a centre for truants in north London. This was ideal, as I’d thought of teaching, but was reluctant to do my training if my only motive was ‘there’s always teaching’. As I’ve explained, a 2:2 isn’t good enough for research.

I loved working at the centre. It was run by two teachers and a social worker. They welcomed me as part of the team, even though I had no experience of this sort of work.

And then… I found out that I was pregnant. B’s reaction was, ‘Good. Now you’ll have to marry me.’ Oh, really? Most people thought it was an unsuitable match; though they didn’t say so at the time.

My parents were understandably upset; so after the birth, I went to live with B as I couldn’t think of another option.

As I think back over these dark years, from what I know now, I can see that I showed classic Borderline Personality traits:
suicide attempts
alcohol problems
emotional disturbances
impulsive/risky behaviour
problems with relationships

My symptoms were relatively mild, so I probably wouldn’t have met the criteria for a diagnosis, but I definitely had problems. I’d often tell patients that I couldn’t have been a mental health nurse when in my 20s as I was too much of a mess (without going into details, of course – I kept it professional). It has meant that I could empathise with many of my patients. As time went on, I thought of myself as an emotional cripple.

My daughter was a model baby. She slept through the night at 3 weeks, had a lovely sunny personality, and was very adaptable.

At that time I used to go to a high-anglican church, taking T with me. After a while, I thought maybe B and I should marry. I read through the marriage service and thought, ‘I can’t promise all that to him’. Two phone calls later, and my leaving was all planned!

My friends from the centre drove me to Southampton, and I stayed with relatives of one of them. I managed a late entry on a graduate teacher training course, and my parents offered to look after T.

However, I struggled with teaching. There was a one year probation period in the UK. At the end of my first year it was extended for another year. I still struggled, so after another two terms I was advised to have a break. That way, I retained my qualified teacher status (which I still have), and could return to teaching at a later date and redo my probation. If I had stayed on, I probably wouldn’t have passed my probation, and so would have lost my QTS.

That was devastating experience number 2.

At this point, I ‘threw in the towel’ as far as being a Christian was concerned. As I struggled with teaching, I prayed ‘till I was blue in the face’ – with no obvious result. This wasn’t ‘victorious Christian living’.

I didn’t really think any of this through. Somehow, I’d got the idea that as a Christian I should lead a ‘good’ life, and everything should work out fine. Instead, I was ashamed of things I did, and devastated that my plans to set up home for myself and my daughter had fallen through, they seemed further away than ever…

See at:   for earlier parts of my story.

Have you experienced ‘dark year’ in your life? How did you get through?


About Sandra Delemare

follower of Jesus, retired mental health nurse, writer. Interests: crochet, photography, wildlife I blog on biblical meditation, mental health and crochet. I'm also posting a series on my life story so people know where I'm coming from.
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4 Responses to My Story 5 – The Dark Years

  1. Sarah Curtis says:

    Found this post really honest and refreshing. Has got me thnking and reminds me of a very poignant exchange we had once. Thanks Sandra.

  2. You know a lot about me already regarding my depression but there was one particular time within that period that I was whammied with two crises as well to deal with.. To be honest I didn’t handle it well and it devastated me. I ‘tried’ to think that I was handling things but it became clear that I wasn’t and wondered how much more God expected me to take…It took of course time, love, perseverance and remaining in prayer…God never gave up on me and I was determined I wouldn’t give up on Him either….Eventually the crises resolved but the remnants of them took some time to heal within me….Diane

    • delemares says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Diane.
      God never gives up on us – that’s the message of this series of posts. ‘When we are faithless, he remains faithful.’
      What a wonderful God we have.
      Bless you… Sandra

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