Thirty years and a couple of months ago I was in a mess. I had been talking about committing suicide and my parents didn't know what to do so they sought medical advice.
I was taken to see a child psychiatrist who said I needed immediate long term hospitalisation, a range of drugs and ECT. Urgent. She wanted me placed into the child psychiatric hospital in the county.
Somehow that didn't happen. I didn't want it to even though the psychiatrist had pretty much built up the hospital as a fun place to be. Hey, fun. A child receiving ECT in 1985. Fun, fun, fun. I realised that the good things she had said were not that good and that the experience would be hell not help for me. I was totally distraught the next day. I've cried a lot since that day but probably never as bitterly and uncontrollably.
In a state of complete worry my mother asked some people we had met that year for advice. They recommended that I be taken somewhere that might help me. It was called White Lodge.
The woman I met there was named Judy Fraser and she counseled me and led me to a place where I could lead myself out of the darkness and survive and find a way. There has been a lot of darkness since then but I firmly believe that without White Lodge and without Judy, I would have died.
Plain and simple. If we hadn't found White Lodge I would not have reached adulthood. I would have committed suicide. There is no questioning that.
The cover of this little book shows one small part of the place that used to be White Lodge.
The first time we met I somehow knew I was in a safe place. At the end of that session Judy gave me a few things. I have none of them now. Among those things was a cassette of "new age" music. I played it a great deal. I lost the cassette a lot of years ago but I've thought of it often because the simple, peaceful music helped me in bad times.
This post has arisen from thinking about that cassette. I saw some CDs by Medwyn Goodall in a charity shop today. I have some others by him that I haven't played in while and rather than buying more CDs I wondered if his music could be found on YouTube. It can. Lots of it.
And then my brain asked. "What about that cassette that Judy gave me? That cassette which stayed with me through that deathly dark period. It was never released on CD. But is it on YouTube?"
And yes. It's there. Yay! I looked a couple of years ago and it wasn't there but someone uploaded it last summer. Since then it has received 115 views. Popular music. But more so than something else I looked up once. That had received a total of zero views before I looked at it.
It's simple. It's probably nothing special. But listening to it now takes me back to listening to it then. It's not the best instrumental music ever created. And there is background hiss from the transfer from a maybe thirty year old cassette. But these simple notes and melodies take me right back to a place of comfort in my pain and a place where bright light shone into my blackness.
I am grateful for the cassette. Grateful for Judy. Grateful for White Lodge. Grateful that I didn't die at the age of fifteen. Grateful to be alive. I am so grateful.
And proud too that I have got this far. Proud that I have got through all the dark years of self hatred, all the years in which I didn't know whether I would make it. Proud that in the last few years I have been learning to accept myself.
Annie Locke has a website. http://www.innerharmoniesmusic.co.uk/ The tracks are available to buy. It's tempting. Because they are an important part of my own history.
I bought a book of daily readings today too - for fifty pence - by a woman I had not heard of before coming to White Lodge. I hastily disposed of her books when I became a Christian. Unchristian! Unclean! Satanic! [yes, I did used to think that way.] That woman is Eileen Caddy, one of the founders of the Findhorn Community. The circle turns, the paths lead to the beginning. I now have many of the books from my White Lodge days again and approach them from a very different place and perspective than I ever could have done thirty years ago.
Eileen Caddy writes, as part of today's reading:
Do what you know you must do because it is something which has been revealed to you from within, not from without. Always know from within that what you are doing is right; then you can go right ahead and sweep all obstacles aside with real strength and conviction. Know that I AM your compass, I AM your guide, and I will lead you to your goal, no matter how difficult the path may appear to be.
Now that's a challenge. But it's one that I am increasingly determined to commit to.