A personal experience of healing ill mental health.

Mary Sanford, Somerset, UK

It is not unusual to find that many of those who suffer ill mental health have a troubled past with often abusive families or experiences that sets them up for a lifetime of mental turmoil. There are studies that affirm this.1-5  I was no exception. However, my state of obvious well-being today sits in contrast to where I have come from with a history of ill mental health traced back to a lifetime of unresolved deep hurts. I found a way to move beyond what might have been a crippling past to a life lived fully, untroubled by my past ill mental health.

As a child, I felt my childhood consisted of: I cannot, I must not, I should not or I would not get or have. I found this to be extremely negative and scornful and it had a crushing effect on how I saw life. I was either rebelling in my mind towards my father or trying to placate him; looking back neither worked – we just did not get on at all. I was seething inside at his ability to bully and manipulate the family. He would brook no opposition, his word was final and what I detested the most was the inequality within our family. As children we had to do as we were told irrespective of the fact that my father was a bully and disrespectful to his children; he could be this way towards us, but we had to respect and obey him. I wasn’t able to do this and it showed and was the bone of contention between us. I was constantly told I was a very insolent child and would be punished for being so. I felt the injustice of this singling out within the family.

I had been waiting for years for my father to die as he had been ill for at least ten years, suffering from many heart attacks but always managing to recover. There were occasions that I had wished him dead and had expressed this to my mother, especially during those really difficult times when I had been singled out for punishment that I felt was unjustified, and I would then think of ways to get my own back. Then I would feel incredibly guilty for having such thoughts and would try to placate my father, so that he wouldn’t know how much I wanted him not to be there. I just wanted him gone, it was that simple to me as a child. What I really craved was for my father to see me without all the anger or resentment he seemed to carry towards me. There were so many times I had no idea what I was doing or had done that singled me out for such abusive behaviour. What I also didn’t know as a child was that all these perceived hurts that I carried within my body unexpressed were actually harming me and having an adverse effect on the way I saw and behaved in life. Having negative thoughts does not make us bad people but if we allow the thoughts to infiltrate our conscious awareness they do have a negative effect on our bodies and influence the way we see and react to life. I realise now there was more going on than just my perception of events as a child, more on that later, but at the time I couldn’t deny that it simply left me feeling rejected and hurt.

I became pregnant when I was twenty and it became apparent that there was something wrong with the pregnancy and that I would eventually miscarry. When I did miscarry it was quite a harrowing experience and I didn’t feel able to talk to anyone about it because no one seemed interested. So, I again bottled up all my feelings because in those days you didn’t say anything, you just carried on with your life. There was no pause or reflection; it was a case of ‘dust yourself down and get on with it;’ the British stiff upper lip syndrome. As an example my local doctor said,

“Well at least you know you can have children.”


You can’t bottle up feelings for ever

But I couldn’t carry on bottling up all these hurts and emotions; something was broiling inside me and one night I just lost all control while drying up the dishes and I attacked my partner with a kitchen knife. I don’t even remember what happened; I just remember coming round when he and I were standing under a cold shower, we were both fully dressed and he was holding my arms down by my side. We stayed there for some time until I was back in control of myself again and then he called my doctor who came straight out to see me. I was given some medication and that was the start of the slippery road into a very dark place of ill mental health. I was given drugs to keep me calm, put me to sleep, wake me up and some of the side effects were not pleasant, so I didn’t know what was worse: the broiling from all the unresolved hurts, all those times I had not been allowed to express how I felt as a child and now as an adult; or the side effects of the tablets. I felt a total mess, not yet realising that the unresolved hurts around my father which I had bottled up inside me for years and had not been able to express contributed to my then choice to withdraw from life.

I now have a far greater understanding that my choice to withdraw from people and life, because I felt hurt and could not express what was truly going on for me, left a void in my body. And that emptiness has to be filled with something, which has an energetic quality. There are only two energies to choose from and the energy I chose and allowed in was a very negative and harming energy towards myself and others. My self-worth had hit rock bottom, I was rudderless, and life didn’t seem to be worth living.

After a few months it was quite clear I couldn’t look after myself anymore; I was just sitting all day in a chair unable to cope with life because the drugs kept me so heavily sedated. But I didn’t want to come off the drugs and face the mess I knew I was in. My relationship with my partner was a total mess; I had so much time off work sick that the company asked me to leave. So somewhere inside me I made a choice to just give in and give up, be a victim and indulge in the abandonment of myself to the drugs; it was so easy to make that choice to check out from myself and from life.


My time in a mental hospital

The doctor decided to send me to a mental hospital so that I could be taken care of. None of my family knew I was there; I had been living in a little village which had a public telephone box by the pub; this was my only communication with the outside world.  And as we did not at that time keep in much contact with each other, they were clueless to my circumstances. All the time I was hospitalised I was so drugged I had no idea what was going on with me, all I knew was at 6.00 pm every evening I would walk down to the public telephone box in the grounds of the hospital and phone my partner and just cry. I didn’t want to be there but I didn’t know where I wanted to be, and I knew I was not getting any better, but I had lost the will to get better. I felt as though I was slowly drowning; I would see the team of specialists who would ask me how I was that day but I didn’t know because I couldn’t feel anything, I had completely shut down. I do remember being asked about my family but I didn’t say anything because it was literally too much effort to talk to them. What can you say when the lights are on but no one is at home in the body; I had retreated somewhere inside myself and felt like a zombie.

Luckily for me one of my sisters came over to the UK from Europe and went to the house where I had been living and my partner told her that I had been sent to a mental hospital. The very next day she came and found me and had me discharged along with a huge supply of pills that I religiously took. As I was still incapable of looking after myself, my sister took me back to Europe with her and I lived with her for quite some time. She told me I had to come off all the drugs and the only way she could think of to do this was to go ‘cold turkey’ so she threw all my drugs down the loo and flushed them away. I don’t remember much about this time but she put me to work mucking out at her racing stables. This was ghastly as I disliked horses intensely.

Again, nothing was said about my miscarriage or why I was in such a mental disorder. I just got on through the day slowly making some sort of recovery, enough to make it look as though I was okay. But of course I was not okay and I was just finding ways to bury my angst deeper into my body. My body showed me the angst I was carrying as I started sleep walking, I would have a feeling that I was in a totally black space and couldn’t get out or breathe and I would make my way to the light of a window and then wake up. Sometimes I would wake up actually hanging out of a window with the wind on my face waking me up.


Learning how to function in life

I learnt how to function in life to make it seem as though I was living a normal life. Instead of pharmaceutical drugs, I used food and alcohol as the go-to distractions of life; they kept me going and this wasn’t out of place as everyone else was doing the same, so I fitted in. But all the time I was withdrawing from life, not wanting to participate. I felt too hurt and was unable to trust myself that I wouldn’t have another nervous breakdown as it was like a cloud hanging over me.

I felt it coming back so strongly in my late 20’s that I went to my local GP as my behaviour was becoming so erratic that even I couldn’t ignore it any more. My doctor advised me to see a psychiatrist privately which I did and this lasted for over 25 years at great personal expense. In all that time to be honest nothing really changed, I never got better; it was as though I was flat lining through life. My psychiatrist had become my prop or main stay in life; as long as they were there, I could just about manage. The most difficult time was when she went on her summer holidays and I had to cope on my own, that was tough and I counted off the weeks until she was back. Then I would spend the next few weeks unable to talk to her because I was so furious she had gone away and left me. I felt totally abandoned while she was away. I feel that I was encouraged to believe I was a victim; it wasn’t my fault that I had mental health issues and was behaving like this and my father was the culprit.


Learning that life is about much more than function: meeting Serge Benhayon

The reason I am telling everyone of my mental ill health is because my life completely changed when I met a man called Serge Benhayon. This was 11 years ago, and for the first time I met someone who actually saw me for me. He saw straight through all my defences I thought I had so carefully built up around me to protect myself from the world, to the very core of me and there was no judgment, no condemnation of me as a person, just me in my rawness.  Since meeting Serge Benhayon and attending the many workshops on offer and having sessions with Universal Medicine practitioners, I have come to understand that my depression and nervous breakdown was already manifesting in my body at a young age from my unresolved childhood hurts that I dragged around with me. This made sense to me and I also got to feel and understand that I was not a victim, that I had made choices.

I had made the choice to withdraw from life, I had made the choice to give up and indulge in pharmaceutical drugs so that I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life or what was happening to me. And again this made sense because I do remember knowing exactly what I was allowing but I had withdrawn too much to fully claim my body and take command of it. That is what happens when we check out, it allows another energy to check in, and it can then take control of the body. That is totally my responsibility and no one else’s as it is my body. The other thing I’m learning about life is that we save ourselves; no one can do this for us. At times it has been an up-hill battle but that’s because I allowed myself to fall a long way down and so getting back up again does take time and dedication to oneself to rebuild the self-worth and self-respect.


What I know now

I now know that all those times as a child I had not been able to express what I was really feeling for fear of the punishment, the times I was totally ignored or put down because I was ‘just a child’, followed by the miscarriage, feeling I had to once again bury all my feelings and not express how I felt losing a baby; the effect of bottling up all these feelings led to my outburst and attack on my partner. If someone had sat me down and got me to talk about everything, I might not have spun so totally out of control, but by my own choice to give up on myself I allowed myself to be given drugs to suppress, dampen and bury all the feelings I had, to the point where I was so numb I was completely checked out on life. I now understand this doesn’t work because the feelings are still there festering away and impacting my everyday life, nothing gets resolved unless we go to the root cause and heal that; in my case I feel it was because I wasn’t allowed, or able to, express to my family the devastation and sadness I felt that they could not see me for the delightful child I was. And I was the most delightful cutest child with curly blond hair, so full of joy it was bubbling over. I allowed myself to be completely crushed by the energy that my father chose to live by which was predominantly anger and frustration, who because of his own upbringing felt that children should be seen and not heard and that girls were of no importance what so ever. Whilst my father’s behaviour was abhorrent and unacceptable by any reasonable standards, I no longer blame my father as I now understand he was a product of his own upbringing and life and had his own unresolved hurts to cope with.

What I do understand from all I have learnt from Serge Benhayon and the Universal Medicine teachings and presentations is that we are born open and loving to the world but as we grow, this way of being is denied to us by the very way that society is set up. Any hurt that is left in the body undealt with is an energy festering and poisonous to the body, so creating illness and disease. And so I now know that my mental illness didn’t just ‘happen’. I did not deal with my childhood hurts around my father, and to be honest it has taken me 50 years to have closure on my childhood. But thank goodness I have worked on healing those hurts, because I feel so free in my body now, spacious and open where before I was closed and shut down and I am fully engaged with life and living it to the full. No drugs, psychiatrist, alcohol, comfort food needed, just me being all that I am, naturally so.


1) Hughes K, Lowey H, Quigg Z, Bellis MA. Relationships between adverse childhood experiences and adult mental wellbeing: results from an English national household survey. BMC public health. 2016; 16:222


2) Read J, Bentall RP. Negative childhood experiences and mental health: theoretical, clinical and primary prevention implications. BJ Psych. 2012, 200: 89-91 http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/bjprcpsych/200/2/89.full.pdf

3) Anda RF, Felitti VJ, Bremner JD, Walker JD, Whitfield C, Perry BD, Dube SR, Giles WH

The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood. A convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2006 Apr; 256(3):174-86.

4) Chapman DP, Whitfield CL, Felitti VJ, Dube SR, Edwards VJ, Anda RF

Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of depressive disorders in adulthood.

J Affect Disord. 2004 Oct 15; 82(2):217-25.

 5) Mersky JP, Topitzes J, Reynolds AJ. Impacts of adverse childhood experiences on health, mental health, and substance use in early childhood: A cohort study of an urban, minority sample in the U.S. Child Abuse Negl. 2013 Nov. 37 (11): 917-925



Read More:

  1. Choosing our way out of depression 
  2. Depression ( a reframe)

765 thoughts on “A personal experience of healing ill mental health.

  1. Wow Mary, what an upbringing. In some respects I resonated with some of your experiences. Unresolved childhood hurts can mould us to who we become later in our adult lives. And we forever make it about others and yet we also need to acknowledge our part in it too. It’s the latter many of us struggle to accept.

    Isn’t it interesting you spent 25 years seeing a psychiatrist and yet along comes a man with less credentials, sees you for who you are and your life changes to who you are now today. And some people will and have an issue with this, instead of celebrating and appreciating that you’re no longer drug dependent or checked out from life. You are now living your life to the fullest and no doubt giving it back to others.

    I am truly inspired reading your story, thank you for sharing.

  2. Knowing you now as I do, Mary, it is hard to believe that you ever had such an extreme case of mental illness. The awesomeness that you are and live is a true inspiration and the fact that you have come so far is a true testimonial for the teachings of the Ageless Wisdom and for taking responsibility for your choices in the way you have.

    1. michelle819 coming back to my soul it’s as though life before Universal Medicine is a hazy memory. I have grown so much through my own choice to heal that the teachings of the Ageless Wisdom are my normal every day. And what a day to wake up and feel vital and to look forward to the day knowing that I am a part of it; how amazing to wake up and know I am a part of something so grand that I’m a part of the vastness that is the universe. I cannot explain what it feels like to allow myself to truly feel myself to be part of something that is just so expansive and yet totally holding. It’s been quite a journey to come from feeling inadequate and worthless to feeling the fullness and joy of being reunited with an energy that holds us all as equal and in unconditional love, so very different to the energy I had been choosing.

  3. “I had made the choice to withdraw from life, I had made the choice to give up and indulge in pharmaceutical drugs so that I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life or what was happening to me” – this is very powerful, and also broadens the meaning of our choice and responsibility in life whether we have a diagnosis that indicates we have something that needs to be dealt with or not.

  4. Mary your blog offers us a greater understanding of mental health and how it can affect us, and that it is not something that just occurs out of the blue but is a build up from our past. As soon as we see ourselves as a victim it can be so easy to give up and blame other people for our situation but as you have shown we do have a choice and with true support, we can take control of our life again. I know Serge Benhayon has supported many people to take control of their life but he can only show us the way, at the end of the day it is always our choice.

    1. Mental health issues are on the rise as more and more people choose to detach themselves from life, we have the tools to promote this. Games, social media etc are indulgent things for the mind when innately we are born to be with and around each other. Humans thrive with connection, contact and love, just like a baby who is newly born, turning to its mother for that love and nurturing.

      Could there be another way if more of our patients healed those childhood hurts, could our lives be lived differently if we were free from these issues? Mary is a testimony to the possibility of this.

  5. Without judgement, but it’s a fact that it is an awful way to bring up a child with everything focussing on the negative. That approach destroys the person and is pure evil.

  6. ‘What I also didn’t know as a child was that all these perceived hurts that I carried within my body unexpressed were actually harming me and having an adverse effect on the way I saw and behaved in life.’ There is so much that we don’t express in life, holding in our hurts and not feeling free to speak about them. As you say Mary, we do not realise the damage that we do, when we do this.

  7. Mary you are AMAZING.
    What you have been through and to realise your part in it all is super inspiring.
    “There are only two energies to choose from and the energy I chose and allowed in was a very negative and harming energy towards myself and others’

  8. Thank you for so honestly sharing your experiences in detail, highlighting the huge error in offering support systems that promote being a victim, blaming others and looking at numbing our feelings as a way out. It provides a wonderful understanding of mental health, the role of unresolved hurts and trauma and the importance of healing the underlying issues.

  9. ‘You can’t bottle up feelings for ever…’ True, Mary unless we deal with them they tend to come out in a gush, rush and with intensity as the pressure builds and finally explodes.

  10. There’s only so much we can bottle up inside us. I’ve also learnt the freedom that comes with letting go of those hurts and also the depth available to bury things gets more shallow the more love I connect to. Anything that is still hanging around can’t be hidden for very long.

  11. However much we try to keep our hurts closed away inside us, there comes a time when they will eventually be revealed in one way or another, and there is no avoiding that fact.

  12. I work at times with people who do have heavy mental disorders and I can totally relate to how you must have been living. It is like they are running off a script that is not them. They are accepted as ‘they are the victim of this mental disease’ and of course we all do the best we can to care and bring that spark of the being back, but what is missing is what you are sharing here and that is that there is always a choice made by the person to withdraw first. And we need as a society look at how it is that society is that people can withdraw like that and then how we can make it a society that does not produce that.

  13. It is very inspiring to read another’s account of healing and how they came to back to themselves and not give up.

  14. “I had made the choice to withdraw from life, I had made the choice to give up” – this really stood out for me. And when we choose this, we allow something else to take our place. If it is not our true essence, it is something else that is running this body. If we put it like that, we can see how our entire life is dotted around with those moments of withdrawing. And bottling things up and carrying childhood hurts – again, who doesn’t? These things are so common, yet we seem to ‘manage’. We may not want to admit this, but we are actually pretty unwell as a society.

  15. The way that humans bottle up so much inside them, it really is extraordinary how the species keeps functioning… But that’s just it it keeps functioning, with an extraordinary amount of medication to keep going… This is not who we are, and there is a spark inside us, that, when ignited, will lead us back to our true state of awareness and being.

  16. An incredible turn around that would support so many people with similar experiences. As a society, we generally consider ill mental health to be bad luck or random (and likewise our perceptions of most other illness and diseases), but what you’ve clearly shown here is that nothing happens to us by accident: nothing is random; our choices add up over our lifetime and have to come out somewhere through the body. What we don’t express just gets buried until such time that we are ready to face and deal with it.

  17. One of the greatest presentations that I have experienced by Universal Medicine, is when Serge Benhayon presents that we are not our hurts, we have hurts yes, but they are not who we are. And by re-connecting back to who we truly are, the hurts become more clearly seen for what they are and thus we have the power to let them go. In reading your journey with mental ill health, I can see these great teachings being confirmed, because it was not until you the beautiful person that you are was confirmed that you were able to begin to heal, whereas before that, it seems that the ‘problems’ were the main focus of much of the help that you were offered – which is quite regular in medicine today, due to the systems that are in place which do not necessarily support doctors to treat the being of the human being first.

  18. After attending courses with Universal Medicine it’s very clear now that our childhood hurts do not just go away because we age, they stay in our bodies governing our next move, thought and reaction.

  19. Mary, you write with such transparency for us all to learn and grow from, it is very beautiful that you are able to reveal yourself so openly. It is a stark difference in a world where everything is concealed. Thank you.

  20. Surprisingly, recovering from mental health issues can take longer than recovering even from ingrained physical issues.

  21. Sharing your story Many is an amazing service to humanity, we are all born open and loving into the world and we do need to know that there is a way back no matter how lost we can get along the way.

  22. IT took me 40 years to heal my child abuse.
    It took me to meet Serge Benhayon to truly heal, to release all what I kept as a secret within.

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