“I had suffered with mild depression most of my life, this became more severe after the birth of my daughter, leaving me feeling totally alone and isolated from the real word. I wasn’t able to do my job, go out, or do simple tasks. I became unable to relate to people and people found it difficult to relate to me. I had one great asset that many haven’t got; I was a Christian, with God on my side. I knew deep down that even feeling as desolate as I did, God loved me and would never abandon me.God spoke to me and showed me I wasn’t totally useless but that he could use my experiences, but I had to be honest with people, stop putting on a mask and open up to others. In admitting my failings, people would have permission to open up to me and share their burdens and problems, lightening their load and allowing us to carry it a while. I was taught that God is a God of as many chances as we need, even if we’ve written ourselves off he’s always there encouraging us to continue.

I had a community psychiatric nurse who encouraged me to open up my home to meet with friends who also suffered with depression. During these meetings we had tea and shared our difficulties, becoming real with each other, drawing close to each other, sharing how we coped and survived each moment.

We continued to meet like this for a year, but I felt God was telling me to open this meeting up for others to attend. We spoke to the leadership of Agape about making this group more formal and opening it up to other people who suffered with depression in the community – who didn’t have a loving God to help them through hard times. Although I knew God wanted this group to be set up, it was very daunting to me especially – an agoraphobic with a social phobia. Yet, here I was, setting up a group for people with depression and other issues, in which I would be expected to socialise and speak to people!

I believed that God would make it possible and Agape would not only back up the group but would support me in any way I needed. Although I had doubts I was told again and again I was the best possible person to relate to individuals because of my experiences and insights.

In sorting out a venue, we saw prayer answered; Danygraig Church hadn’t long opened their newly refurbished building and were looking to use the building for Community Groups.

Sheila was welcomed as one of the new leaders of this group and has proved herself to be organised, open-minded, sensitive and unshockable.

God has really used my depression, turning my weakness into opportunities for the people of Risca and the surrounding areas. I didn’t have depression because I was bad or because I wasn’t close enough to God. No matter how impossible our situation may seem, God will support through any channel and gives us as many chances as we need.

Shade is a work started and maintained by God. I feel privileged he changed my broken life and used my brokenness to form a well established group that values and respects each individual in the same way that God values and respects each one of us.”