Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Former Lisburn woman launches her autobiography 'Beyond the Edge'

Former Lisburn woman, Hazel Rolston (nee Patterson) launched her autobiography, 'Beyond the Edge' at the House of Vic-Ryn, Lisburn last Friday night (28th March). Daughter of Harold and Meta Patterson, Hazel was born and grew up in Lisburn, but has lived in Bristol for more than a decade. A qualified nurse and social worker, she is married to Steve and they have a daughter Rachel.

Karen Bowden and Louise Clarke led the praise and Karen opened the evening with prayer. Richard Bailie, Christina Hampton, Lynette Guiney, Abagail Graham, Laura McDonnnell, Louise Clarke and Laura Bittle, young people from Railway Street Presbyterian Church, performed an item of drama. After welcoming her friends and guests, Hazel was interviewed by Denise Bailey. They have been friends for over 20 years and shared a house in Dorset when Hazel was working as a nurse in Dorchester and Denise as a language teacher in Yeovil. During the interview Hazel spoke openly and emotionally about her experiences and give a brief overview of her autobiography, which tells of her journey out of post-natal depression and anxiety.

Hazel explained that at the start of her illness, she visited her local Christian bookshop looking for a book on post-natal depression, only to be told there was none. This made her angry with God asking the question 'Am I the only Christian with this illness?'

Speaking of the difficulty of writing and planning her autobiography she said that she felt God wanted her to write the book explaining that it fulfilled a dream within to be a writer.

Recalling the Old Testament story of Job, the most read book in the Bible, Hazel joked, 'If people wanted to read about Job, then perhaps they might just want to read my story'.

Asked to explain the title 'Beyond the Edge', Hazel recalled that one day she was pushed to the edge and how after this she became severely and mentally ill and felt that she had fallen off a cliff and was broken.

While writing her autobiography, she found dialogue with God to be extremely difficult due to heavy sedation. This made her feel cut off from her faith and when she attended church; sermons went over her head. Most depressing of all was that, due to her illness, she was not able to be the mother she wanted to be to her daughter Rachel and speaking of the 'darkness' and how she felt cut off from God, she explained that she went from people pleasing to being angry with God saying 'He's up there ' why am I down here?'

On joining a mothers' church group called Soul Mates, Hazel soon discovered that it was not just her that had this illness and although she felt that God had left the building deep down she knew that He had not left her and explained that even in deep depression and severe illness, 'God remains with us'.

Hazel went on to explain that during her three years of recovery, she felt the darkness starting to lift and feeling the need to find something different to do, she decided to learn sign language, which allowed her to communicate with some Deaf church members.

Concluding a most interesting interview, Denise said that she had found inspiration in reading Hazel's autobiography and spoke of her wish that it would bring blessing and help to many readers.

During the singing of the closing hymn, Hazel displayed her sign language skill as with great passion, she signed the words of 'When I survey the wondrous cross' which tells the moving words of God's love so amazing and so divine, that demands my soul, my live, my all - clearly the reason that prevented Hazel from really going 'Beyond the edge'.