Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Losing three babies left this woman suicidal. So, what did turn her life around?

Talitha Ishi Loughlin says she has finally learnt that home is where the heart is

Whiteabbey woman Talitha Ishi Loughlin (38) was on the verge of committing suicide when she realised life wasn't about material possessions, but the love of God.

What is Living Stones?

It's a bookazine about the home and what exactly makes a house a home. It came about because I wanted to use my experiences to remind people that being happy isn't all about material things. It's not about the fabric. You might have a nice house, but not have a good life.

I say this because there are nice houses and there are nice homes, and a nice home is where you will be happiest, where you can be yourself.

I had a beautiful house - but it wasn't a home to me because I wasn't happy. My life was a mess, yet if you looked at all my materialistic possessions and my lifestyle - fancy car, house, clothes it seemed I was a great success. You can have a house, but not a home.



What went wrong?

My life was all very glam - but I was wearing a mask and inside I was really miserable. I worked as a freelance interior stylist with all the top glossy magazines in London from my homebase in Whiteabbey.

I had a lot of problems, obstacles I needed to overcome, but it got to the point that I was so broken I felt that I couldn't get back up again.



What happened?

I didn't know who I was or where I was going. If I didn't know who I was, how were other people supposed to know me? I suffered from anorexia when I was younger and then bulimia. I'm 5ft 7 now and a size 10-12, but I used to be really, really thin - 7st 2lbs. I exercised too much and I ate like a sparrow. I was obsessed with the outside and I forgot about the inside.

When I was in my twenties, I had three miscarriages, one at four weeks and two at four months. After my last one, I was told I needed a hysterectomy and I refused. Six months later, I started haemorrhaging really badly and had to have an emergency hysterectomy or I would have died.

I was only 29 and I was really devastated. I was at rock bottom. Totally and utterly distraught. I couldn't see any future in my life without children.



How did you find God?

I had always believed in God, I attended Bible College when I was younger. But somehow I became caught up in a materialistic world and forgot about what life was really all about - about meeting people, sharing your life with people and with God.

I was through with religion. I didn't feel like I belonged in the Church or outside of the Church.

One day, I was on the beach at Whiteabbey ... I was suicidal and that's when I really became aware of God.

The words from Psalm 139 came to me 'O Lord, you have searched me and you know me ... '. God knew I was wearing a mask, I didn't know who I was and I hadn't truly embraced myself, Him or what life was all about.



How did you put your life back together again?

I became very aware of the love of God. From that moment on, my perspective of life totally changed to the point that I am now a full-time minister. Gwen and Lewis Smith from the Jordan Victory Church near Monkstown really helped me.

I didn't feel good enough to go to Church, but they helped me to unravel the mess that was my life and I felt such love ... and I met my husband Sam in church, also! We got married three years ago.



How does Living Stones fit into all of this?

My husband and I were living with the Navaho Indians, Arizona, practising as ministers. They are very creative people and during my time there, they inspired me to use my own creativity. I started scribbling all my ideas on bits of paper because I didn't have a laptop.

I created it because I wanted to spread the word of God, I want people to embrace his love.

I had been completely in the gutter but was able to turn my life around with God's love and I want to get that message out there. It is for everyone and I have a special website where Living Stones appears as an e-book. It can be read online for free at www.livingstonesbookazine.com



What exactly is a bookazine?

It's like a magazine because there are sections of pictures and it has chapters of writing like a book. I wanted the bookazine to be something you could read in one sitting or dip into now and again if you wanted.

It's the size of a magazine and it's for your coffee table, to be left there so it can be read again and again or passed onto others.

Living Stones deals with real life issues like eating disorders, abuse, miscarriage, low self esteem, without being heavy. It's very real.



In writing it, you had another hurdle to overcome ...

Yes, dyslexia. I didn't know I had it until about eight years ago. I always struggled with words and I used to get really frustrated because I would get my words back to front.

I couldn't read out loud and I used to get very nervous. I couldn't spell for toffee.

It was something that always held me back. I was tested at a clinic and they confirmed I was dyslexic.

We had a lot of fun going through my writing when editing Living Stones - at least I can laugh at my mistakes!

I might not have any qualifications, but I have the experience of life.

I firmly believe that if you have a dream, you should take it one step at a time and eventually you will achieve it.



You've a very unusual name. What does it mean?

Talitha means little girl and Ishi translates as 'The Lord is my husband'. It comes from the Bible, Talitha Cumi means little girl arise.

My new name symbolises leaving my old life behind and embracing a new beginning in my life. I changed my name by deed poll, I used to be called Sharon. I never really liked it as I didn't think it suited me.



There's another important reason why you want people to know about the bookazine?

Yes, the proceeds from each bookazine sold will be donated to our next project - the building of an orphanage in India for 50 special needs children. I self-funded the book because I had an idea in my head of how exactly how I wanted it to be done. I wanted to use local people throughout - from graphic designers to photographers.

I was approached by two publishing houses who wanted to buy the rights, but they weren't prepared to put it online for free so I published it myself.

We've sold 700 in the past week and now one of the publishing houses has taken an order of books from us!



What has the reaction been so far?

Amazing. Readers have been emailing me from all over the world. One woman emailed to say that she had attempted suicide in the past and had planned a second attempt, making sure this time she would not fail, when she spied a copy of the bookazine on her table. She read my story about coming back from the brink of suicide and decided against ending her life. She realised that life was worth living.



Living Stones, £14.99, available from Faithworks, Glengormley, Wesley Owen Books and Music, The Spires Centre, Belfast, and online at www.livingstones bookazine.com or www.pondbigpond.net

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