Lisa - Interview 29
Brief Outline: In the 1990's Lisa lost two good friends due to murder. When her ex-boyfriend was stabbed, Lisa was in despair and at times suicidal. She was ill for over six years. She sought help in many ways. Finally, a healer from a spiritualist church restored her.
Background: Lisa is an artist. She is engaged to be married and she has 1 child. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
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In 1996 Lisa was devastated to hear that a girl-friend had been murdered. Seven months after that murder Lisa’s ex-boyfriend was murdered too. He was stabbed. Lisa read about his murder in the newspaper and then identified his body. The murderer was caught and pleaded guilty and was given a ‘life sentence’ of 15 years in prison. After that her girl friend’s killer was caught and sentenced.
Lisa was shocked by these events. She felt as though her soul had left her body. Reality had changed and she felt in utter despair. She cried and cried and at times she felt suicidal and she harmed herself. She also felt angry. Just being alive was painful. She also felt exhausted, and she gave up her job.
The Salvation Army organised a memorial service for her ex-boyfriend. It was a lovely event, but made Lisa feel suicidal. She went to the Samaritans and was helped by a wonderful woman. The Samaritans helped Lisa on many occasions. They helped her to survive and to stay alive by listening to her whenever she phoned them.
Lisa was very ill for over six years. Her GP referred her to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed depression, post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorder. He was unable to offer her individual psychotherapy, but prescribed various medicines. Some of these helped but others did not. He then referred her for group psychotherapy, which Lisa did not find helpful. Then he suggested individual art therapy, which Lisa did find quite helpful. Lisa tried Cruse counselling, but was disappointed by that.
Finally, in despair, Lisa found a healer at a local spiritualist church. One of the healers from the church put his hands on her shoulders and on her head and made her feel warm and relaxed. Lisa felt that he had restored her soul. She felt well again. Lisa went to see the healer weekly for a few months. The healer did not charge for his help.
During the awful time that Lisa was ill, her partner and friends provided help and support. Lisa also tried other forms of help, such as Reiki, crystals and pottery classes. She found that writing a diary helped her tremendously and she needed the company of animals.
Lisa is now grateful to be alive. She feels optimistic about the future and is back at work, running her own business. She feels really happy.
A newspaper article described two people who had been stabbed. Lisa thought one might be her ex...
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In November 1996, a friend of mine that I used to go out clubbing with, she was murdered in her own home. And we didn’t know who had done that for a long time. There was Crimewatch programme on it. And we all had our DNA taken.
It was shocking.
And then, while we still didn’t, still didn’t know who had done that, seven months later, my ex-boyfriend was also murdered. And he was murdered in the street.
He was stabbed. And I went and identified his body.
That must’ve been terrible. Did he not have any close relatives living nearby?
He, he’s from the north of England and you know living down here and.
I’d read in the paper that day that two people had been stabbed. And I thought that sounds like my ex-boyfriend, I wonder if it is. And I rang the police and they said, “Well it possibly is. Can you come and identify him?” [laughs]. So I did.
I went and identified him and it was him.
Is that first time you’ve seen a dead body?
No. No. But
But to see your boyfriend, it must’ve been awful?
It was, yeah. It was shocking.
Well straight after that there’s a gallery round the corner from the coroner and there were some big paintings that I really liked. And it was early in the morning and I went to the gallery. And I went in and sat in this room by myself, surrounded by these beautiful big paintings, Rothko. Do you know Rothko?
Beautiful big red… I just had a peaceful, quiet moment to myself just reflecting. And then, and the after that my life had just changed beyond description. I used to be really outgoing, happy, capable, confident person. And when my first friend died, it was like the world had changed so. And everybody was normal and going on about their business and I was working and I was just thinking, “How can you all be normal? People don’t… this doesn’t happen in life. I don’t get it.” And then when my ex was murdered, I was just like, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t… I can’t. Life doesn’t make sense. This is not normal. It’s not ok. It’s not reality, as people know it. And that I felt like at that point, part of my soul just left. I just thought, “I’m not staying here, this horrible. I don’t like being here.” And that I wasn’t very well after that.
I was seriously not very well. And for six and half years, I was very ill. I was classed as disabled.
All brought on by these murders?
Hm. I was suicidal. I was cutting, which I’d never considered before.
Lisa was very unwell after her friends were murdered. She self-harmed and could not stop crying....
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Can you describe any other feelings you had?
Reality had changed. The world had changed for me. It was just this does not happen, you know. It’s not normal. It’s reality, what’s happened? Why, why are people behaving like everything’s normal now when it’s clearly not? I just cried. I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and I felt like I was made of tears. I cried, and self harmed which is … I never thought I would ever do that. And now looking back, I can’t, I feel so sorry for myself that I felt that felt that bad. And I would never consider it again. And I’ve got a few little scars and you know, I don’t want to particularly show them to people.
And I’m sad that I’ve got them. But I’ve moved on and I’ve, I’ve let go that now.
Group psychotherapy did not suit Lisa. She found herself trying to help other people when she...
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Group psychotherapy was not so good. People… I seemed suited, with my personality, I help other people and I’m not one for asking for it for myself too much. So I found myself helping other people. But to me I was desperately trying to stay alive. And they were talking about irrelevant things like their mother not liking the curtains that they’d just made. And I’m just thinking, “Get real. I’m just gripping on and what are you on about?” [Laughs].
So what happens in group psychotherapy, could you explain?
It was, it was just silly to me.
How many people sat round?
There were four or five of us.
The therapist would just sort of open it up and it.. maybe she’d sit there in silence for a while and just wait for somebody to speak [laughs]. It could just be like who’s going to go then? And then people would just bring up what was bothering them that particular week. And it could be something really petty. They, the rest of the group just could not get where I was coming from. There was one other girl and she was trying to stay alive as well. She hadn’t gone through what I’d gone through. But you know she had her own things that were very serious and she was trying to stay alive. Me and her, we were like, “What is… this is just silly.” And then we’d, we both got art therapy separately, one to one. So that was good.
Did you have any individual psychotherapy?
No, that wasn’t available. There was a waiting list for that… so… yeah, at that time. I had to wait for the art therapy too. But that can through a lot quicker and that was a better thing for me.
So there was no individual counselling or psychotherapy available for you?
Well psychotherapy’s different to counselling anyway.
But there was none available not for a while no, no.
Not free on the national, national health services?
Bereavement through two traumatic deaths affected Lisa very badly. Her mental health improved...
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Can you remember why life seemed so hopeless even though you had another partner, another boyfriend?
Everything else was irrelevant. It was all-irrelevant. It was just too painful feeling how I felt. The emotions were just overwhelming. I was angry. I was in despair. I… reality had just flipped into somewhere that I just never knew existed. And I was lost, really lost.
Did you have any sort of spiritual belief at that time?
I do believe that the soul carries on. I hadn’t been brought up in any religion. But I do think you know that the universe is a massive place. And this, this little existence on this planet is, it can’t be all that there is. There’s, there’s a lot more to it. So I was very open minded. I did try lots of alternative ways of, of getting help. I tried the regular ways as well. Did lots of different medications, therapies at my local hospital, you know. I tried lots. I tried everything to get better. I knew it was not okay where I was.
What alternative therapies did you try?
I tried healing at my local spiritualist church.
And the first people that I went to, that didn’t help me. But then I was recommended a person. And I went to him and from that moment of seeing that person, I was restored. It’s just bizarre. Because when I was really ill I would look in the mirror and I couldn’t see myself in my own eyes. I didn’t look like me. I wasn’t all there. The lights were on but nobody was in. It was I wasn’t, I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t… I wasn’t sociable. And then when he, he put his hands on my shoulders, on my head, and you know basically channelled something. I was back. And I looked in the mirror and I was so excited because I could see myself again. And I was just so …I was holding on like “Oh God how long is this going to last, you know. I’m might go to sleep tonight and then wake up and then it will be rubbish again.” And I woke up the next morning and I was like, “Wow I’m still here, brilliant.” And I’ve been here ever since. And I just …I’m so relieved. I can’t explain it. I’m not a religious person. I …apparently this spiritual healing works on plants and animals. You don’t need to believe in it for it to work. And you’ve got to find the right person. But for me, that did it [laughs].
Can you say a bit more about this? Where did you have to go for it?
I went to my local spiritualist church.
It’s free to go. They don’t expect any money. You can give a donation to the church charity if you want but you don’t have to. And I just was recommended the right person. And I carried on going weekly for a few months, just because it felt nice [laughs].
It’s really relaxing and uplifting. And when you come out you feel like you’re walking on air. It’s lovely. That’s what worked for me.
Lisa was in deep despair when two of her friends were murdered. She was ill for a long time but...
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How has all this changed your life?
I was appreciative of my life before all this. And then it knocked me down to a place that I just didn’t know existed. And I, I crawled and clawed my way back. And I don’t know how I got the right answer for me but it came. And now I’m so grateful to be alive. I’m really enjoying my life [laughs], which is how it should be.
You know murder is just inconceivable. People… it’s not normal. It’s not every day. Its… people don’t know what to say to you. People don’t know how, how to listen and; people generally don’t know how to listen. They talk and they try and give you advice and say the right thing. And you’re just thinking, “You don’t get it, please just let me say what I need to say.”
“Let me let it out.” …But it does get better. And honestly you’ll want to slap me. But time does heal [laughs]. It really does.
And how painful that is to hear at the beginning you know, when you come through it, it does heal.
So how do you view the future?
It’s beautiful. I’m really happy. You know I’m really optimistic. This is who I generally am as a person, optimistic. Yes, I’m really happy.
Lisa was in despair after her friends were murdered and at times felt suicidal. She recommended...
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I found the Samaritans were the best at, at that [offering support] you know. They would phone back.
Did they call you on a regular basis?
No. No. If I’d called them and said, “Look I’m feeling like this. I don’t know if I’m going to stay alive today”, they’d stay on the phone for, for as long as it took, even if I was just sitting there being quiet, not saying anything [laughs].
They’d just be quiet with me. They’d just sit there with me.
That was good.
And they would phone me back if, if they thought you know, give her an hour. Give her you know, phone the next morning or you know. They would phone me back [laughs].
Do you have any message for other people who’ve been bereaved like you?
Just hold on. Let it out anyway you can, whether it’s writing it down, screaming, punching pillows, just drawing, going into the forest. Just find a way of letting what you’re feeling out. Don’t bottle it up. Just let it out in a safe place. And phone the Samaritans if you ever need to, honestly.