CN: drug use, attempted suicide, depression.
What do you love most about Oxford?
The thing I love the most about Oxford is the people. Everyone is so friendly and open and it’s such a welcoming place.
Tell us about your experience with faith?
I have known people who called themselves Christians my whole life but no-one who had really spoken about faith to me. I think that is what made my initial hearing about Jesus properly when I was 17 so striking. As amazing as that entire experience was, it was just the start of a bigger journey. I look back to a time a little while after my coming to faith as the time I really came to appreciate how amazing God’s love is.
Since I was 14, I have struggled with depression. I thought that once I had God in my life I would be happy again and that the want to do all that stuff would go away, but unfortunately that’s not quite how it works. I went through another bad period and it got to the point that I was considering killing myself again. I spent a good few hours sitting at my desk at home, crying and praying to God that it would stop and He would just take the pain away. When I didn’t immediately feel better, I gave in to the temptation and took a bunch of pills and went to bed, not expecting to wake up.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself in hospital a couple of hours later! About a half hour after going to sleep my parents saw the paracetamol wrappers in the bin and woke me and rushed me straight there. When I was there the doctors pumped me full of drugs that took it all out of my system and I was fine.
I was really not in a good place mentally, it was the 5th time I had tried to kill myself and I just couldn’t manage it. It was making no sense in my head and it all just seemed so bleak and void. And it was right in that lowest moment, that God met me there, and pulled me out. I came across the verse Isaiah 53:4, which says ‘Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted’.
It struck me that as awful as my pain felt to me, the God of the universe suffered far more, for me. He let Himself be beaten and crucified, all for my sake. He volunteered to feel worse than I ever could purely out of His love for me. I have never been able to look at my depression the same way again; while it is horrible to feel down and hurt, as everyone knows, the knowledge that there is a God who understands, a God who cares, and a God who joins me in it is the most amazing knowledge in the world. God gave me an incredible realization, that with him there is real transformation available to move out of those dark places. That there is an opportunity to become fully alive and fully human, in Him. My attitude now is stolen directly from scripture: ‘I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength’.