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Roundabout Recovery

Audio Version

I've heard our previous lives likened to a roundabout and mine certainly was.

At 15 I looked at the roundabout with longing eyes. It was full of older people who were having a whale of a time. There was laughter, loud music and bright shining lights. The whole thing looked fantastic. I couldn't wait to be old enough to jump on board. So instead of waiting until I was 18, I stepped on when I was 16. It was fantastic! I felt so 'grown-up' but quickly became dizzy, fell off, was sick, ripped my trousers and found a nearby bench to fall asleep on. That experience might have put most people off roundabouts. Not me. After a few months I had forgotten the pain and humiliation. I learned many years later that my brain cannot retain pain. I thought "It wasn't that bad. ''m older and will handle it better this time." I felt uncomfortable on my own, in myself. If only I could jump back onto the roundabout, I knew I would feel 'right'. I would fit in with the crowd.

So, I jumped back on. This time it was great. I felt comfortable with all the other revellers. The more we went round the wilder I got. People seemed to like me. I joined in and seemed to fit in. But deep down inside I felt uneasy. This was a sham. I knew I was a fake. I was frightened I would be found out. What the hell! Let's make it go even faster so nobody will notice. After years of so-called merriment, I became ill and fell off again. This was not like the illness I experienced when I first fell off. This time the doctors called it a mental breakdown. Was it possible that the roundabout had affected my sanity? Surely not.

The doctor's diagnosis concerned me so I decided to give up the roundabout. I even spoke to a nice psychiatrist about my possible problem. After much thought we came to the conclusion that I didn't have a problem with roundabouts. I had just been overworking.

Nine months later I was feeling good, without a problem in the world. My wife was happy that I was spending time with her and our daughters instead of wasting it on the silly roundabout. Life was good. So good that I decided to try it once more. This time I would ration myself and not allow it to take over. That worked for a while but I enjoyed the ride so much that very soon I was back to my old ways. I became completely devoted to it. I did not want to live without it. Family and friends tried to talk sense to me. I ignored them and one by one they left my life. It was going at the speed of light by this time and I felt very ill. I knew I had to get off but although I tried to stop it, I found I could not. I felt I had no choice but to keep going until the end - whatever that end would be. I knew it would either drive me insane or kill me.

At this point I have little recall. I must have passed out and fallen off. My instinctive reaction was to climb back on board but something was happening to me. When I look back I realise that some unseen power was relieving my powerlessness. I asked for help and it was freely given. I was taken to a gathering of people just like me. People who had managed to get off their roundabout and live a happy life. I was no longer alone. They explained that I was physically allergic to roundabouts and mentally obsessed by them. Due to the physical and mental illness my spirit, my will to enjoy life, was seriously damaged. Then the depressing news - there is no cure.

What was I to do? I knew that on my own I would forget the pain and climb back on. The answers came quickly - abandon yourself to the power that cradled you when you were beaten, join us, meet us every day, join in, find someone you admire and ask that person to guide you through our Programme of Recovery. They added "Look around. If you don't believe what we say, believe what you see."

That was 16 years ago and I haven't been on a roundabout since. Now the only Roundabout in my life is the one I read. I am grateful to have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I express my gratitude by trying to help others who are affected and inflicted as well as carrying this message of hope into all corners of my life.

Colin I

Troon Sunday