Owning my Truth
This is the incredible story of an amazing soul called Julian Turner. It is about him owning his truth, all parts of his truth. It is about being real. It is about being brave enough to be vulnerable and as a beautiful reward finding the portal to true connection and belonging.
“I can remember as a young boy suffering with depression and often asking my mother what the purpose of life was. My bedroom used to be my sanctuary with my music and a plethora of pictures covering every part of the walls. I had a successful schooling career, was popular with my school mates and achieved my honours blazer. Football was my life and I dreamed of being a professional superstar. My bedroom used to lift my depressive spells. University was a drag and although I obtained my degree, I hated every minute of the institution. I did my national service and started working at a bank where I have now been for 35 years. I found the love of my life through a moment of fate and we have been married for 31 years. During my 20s, I had thoughts of committing suicide. These thoughts dissipated in my 30s and 40s, but I still continued to have spells of highs and lows and would battle like anything to overcome my depressive periods. When I was 46, I went to see a psychiatrist for the very first time. I was given medication for anxiety disorder. This immediately changed my life and I felt more confident and was full of energy. I felt as though I could take on the world and achieve my greatest dreams. However, what I didn’t realize was that I was moving towards burnout. During the second half of 2013, I was involved in a major car accident with a motor cycle which shook me up badly. Then I had a spell working in India and on my return picked up hives (medically known as urticaria). Towards the latter part of the year I contracted shingles, which confirmed the stress I was going through.
In early 2014, I mentioned to my wife that my work was pushing my buttons and that if I reacted in the wrong way I could get fired. If that did happen, to ensure that the family (wife and three sons) was financially secure, I would have to take myself out. It was a not a suicide plan, but just a thought of what I would need to do. Little did I realise that the day of fate would actually arrive on 10 February 2014 where I was caught in an altercation at work. I stormed out of the office and knew where I was heading – to Kloof Gorge in KZN to jump off the cliff. I drove for 7 hours, stopping on the way at various fuelling stations to carry out administrative tasks, such as transferring monies to my wife’s bank account. On my arrival at Kloof gorge, I made my way down to the cliff edge. I was very fond of this gorge as it reminded me of God’s Kingdom from the many family holidays we used to spend there. I paced the gorge edge for the best jump spot, which I selected. I made my way to the shops to see humanity for one last time before purchasing a bottle of whisky to take the edge off. I then fired off the necessary messages from my mobile phone, alerting people as to where I was going. My faith was not strong at that time, but I had decided that I was going to be with God. I made my way back to the gorge and wrote out my suicide note…
The last people to arrive at the gorge were these two young girls (18 & 19) who had been planning to meet at the gorge as the best of friends and discuss life’s issues. However, they had been attempting this for the last three months but kept calling it off. Today, however, was the day as the one phoned the other to say that they had to be there. They walked past my car and commented to each other that one day they would be successful like that man in the car; little did they know that I was a broken man. I made my way down to the girls sitting on the edge of the gorge and told them that I was ending my life. The one tried to stop me, but I managed to take a running leap into the air like an Olympic diver and I was over the edge. They peered over the edge in horror and then alerted the emergency resources. When I regained consciousness, it was pitch dark and my mouth was filled with sand. Immediately without any hesitation I uttered the words “thank you God for saving my life”. The rescue team took 5 hours to lift me out of the gorge where I had fallen an incredible depth of 80m. In hospital the surgeon on duty said that I was the most lucky man he had ever seen, escaping head, spinal and internal organ damage. I had crushed ribs, a dislocated hip, a fractured femur and a crushed peroneal nerve.
I stayed in hospital for 10 days before being transferred to a depression healing clinic in the mountains of Inchanga. At first I felt very depressed on entering this cold institution… In time I however decided to embrace it and to try and help those who came through its doors. I worked closely with a whole team of healers – psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists and more. I had to face me. I had to come to terms with me….all of me.
I went on various trials of medication and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Many people surrounded my car when my wife came to pick me up and cried, making me realize how many people I had an effect on. I knew that this was my new purpose in life, to tell my story to others and help uplift them. It took quite a few months on the road to recovery before I was welcomed back with open arms in my organisation which I had abandoned. I gave my name to SADAG, South African Depression and Anxiety Group, and they have placed me on many assignments to uplift those who suffer in silence. I know what it takes now not to be sucked into those depressive spells I experienced in the past, and I ensure that I take my medication every single day, have a routine sleeping pattern and avoid alcohol. I am happy in my life today knowing that I have a purpose and that those dark days are behind me. At 56 years old, I have a renewed life. I know that what happened to me had to happen, as it was my destiny as part of my life’s journey. I have no regrets.” Julian Turner
This Christmas, I invite you to give yourself a gift that truly matters… a gift that only you can give yourself. This gift is a promise to yourself….a promise that you are going to do whatever it takes in order for you to experience true connection…true belonging… by owning all parts of your truth, all parts of your life story. Coming home to yourself takes the courage to be vulnerable. For us to be vulnerable, requires a feeling of safety, the sense of being contained whilst exposing our deepest deep. It requires the non-judgemental, understanding and approachable ear of a fellow human being. Often, this human being is a therapist, a psychologist, a counsellor, a healer. Be bold. Be courageous. Take the step.
(HPCSA registered Counselling Psychologist – PS0051802)