The time is 31st of January 1994, my wife Alison and myself along with our children are driving with trailer behind towards Sydney.We have loaded up our trailer with our possessions and we are all looking forward to a new future while studying at the Baptist Theological College at Eastwood. It had been a pleasant drive and we are all very relaxed and enjoying the journey.
However as we approached the outskirts of Sydney I had a terrible sense of foreboding come over me. It was hard to place my finger upon the cause and the closer that we got to our destination the more foreboding the feelings became. I started to feel anxiety swelling up within me and could not understand the reason why. After we arrived at our destination at Colaroy Plateau in Sydney's eastern suburbs on the North Shore this sense of foreboding and anxiety seemed to dissipate. It was late afternoon when we arrived and as we busied ourselves unloading our needed possessions for the night and I felt that the experience had passed.
During that night at around about 2.30 to 3:00 AM I was awoken in a cold sweat feeling anxious and not knowing whether I need to laugh, sing, or cry. Once again these terrible feeling of foreboding began to escalate and I was unable to control my emotions and a great fear started to enter my mind. I asked myself what was going on, what's wrong with me yet I did not have an answer. I have only experienced such a thing once before in my life when I was about 21 and it had taken 12 months to pass away. That particular time I seemed to be filled with a deep anxiety and a concern about cancer as my grandfather had passed away suffering from a horrible death a few years previous. (I will go into this at greater depths in a later chapter)
As I lay on the bed that night I began to question myself and my ability to cope. I struggled with this anxiety for several hours and was unable to get control over it. Finally around 5:30 AM I rose and decided to take a walk around the suburb of Colaroy Plateau. As I walked along the semi-lite streets I started to ponder what may have gone wrong and I was reminded of how just weeks ago I had almost lost three of my children. This deep concern seemed to be what was at the root of the anxiety that I was now experiencing as I had never before faced a situation like this.
After walking for about two and half hours I returned to the dwelling where we were spending the night feeling much happier yet still filled with anxiety. I started to question whether or not I had made the right decision to leave Tamworth and study in Sydney. I was filled with self doubt and lacked understanding of the reasons behind the intensity of these feelings that I felt. I suggested to Alison that maybe we needed to return to Tamworth and see a doctor and try and find the source of what is happening. With her encouragement I agreed to continue on the path that we had chosen and to take on the battle to overcome the anxiety and emotions that I was feeling.
Fortunately we had only three days staying in temporary accommodation with a relative of Alison's. During those first few days I found that during the daylight hours I was able to cope quite well with the anxiety that was swelling up inside me however at night in those lonely hours of the morning I would wake and the feelings would start all over again. The terrible feelings of anxiety and foreboding with which I began to suffer became a nightly battle and one that eventually would make me seek out counselling.
We had arranged with some friends of ours, Michael and Cathy Choice to be able to initially moving to their one-bedroom unit at the college as they would not need it for several weeks. It was small but we decided that we would be best to wait here while our unit was still under construction at the college and we were finally given the go-ahead to move in. Each day I would go to the construction site and help the carpenters and builders tidy up and finish the job of building our unit. At that time the college had undertaken a building programme of erecting eight units or townhouses.
As I spend my days assisting the carpenters I found that the anxiety was shifted into the background and those feelings of foreboding gradually started to dissipate. It would be at night during the early hours that I would wake and battle my Demons. After several weeks our furniture was due to arrive from Tamworth and we asked the builders how long it would be before we were able to move in. Unfortunately the day of our furniture's arrival did not correspond with the day that the unit would become available. This only added to the anxiety that I was already feeling as we had to find a place at the college to store all our possessions and furniture. In consultation with Dr Vic Eldridge the principal of the college were able to store our furniture in the college dining room as it was not yet beeing used for feeding the other live on single student's.
After about to a 10 days of waiting we were finally able to move in to our unit. I was fortunate that I had my father's trailer with us and we were able to ferry our furniture and belongings from the college dining room to our unit piece by piece. With the help of other students that I had met on arrival we were able to carry out the move into the unit in only a few hours. I can remember quite clearly the first night that we spent in our unit lying awake during the night hearing nothing but sirens of police cars and ambulances. Sydney seemed to be such a busy place especially after having spent the last 11 years living outside of town with our nearest neighbour more than 500 yards away.
In an effort to overcome the feelings of anxiety that swelled up within me both Alison and myself set about setting up our unit and making it our home. The unit had three bedrooms, a small study and bathroom upstairs with a split-level dining and lounge area with kitchen downstairs. We chose to take the second bedroom so that our two boys could share the larger of the bedrooms while our daughter Jessica was given the smallest bedroom. We were grateful to have a roof over our heads and be able to unpack our possessions and lay out our belongings in such a way that the surroundings seemed familiar and welcoming to us.
I was fortunate during those first few days and weeks at the college to make several friends amongst the other married students and their families, friendships that were to last for many years. It seemed that we were in the right place at the right time because many of the families already living at the college were about to move from their present accommodation into other units at the college. There was to be a general move around amongst the married students each Christmas as those finishing vacated larger units and families that had been waiting in smaller accommodation were able to take up occupancy in those larger units. It was fortunate that I had our trailer with us as it could carry a large load of furniture and belongings.
It would be the support of these new friends that would enable me to deal with and cope with the feelings of anxiety that would pester me for the next six months.