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Alan Dundas - Leaders Can Struggle


Age - 48

Occupation - Baptist Pastor

Favourite Food - Chinese, Chicken Satay and Fried Rice

Pets - A dog

Favourite Musician - Too many to name

Best holiday you have ever been on - Those on which it is hot!

1. When you were growing up what were attitudes like towards mental health?

Attitudes were really poor back in 80’s and 90’s. Sadly the main attitude I can remember is that of

most people making fun of those with mental health issues.

2. Is there anything from your child or teenage years that you feel contributed to your mental

health struggles as an adult?

Possibly the pressure of being successful academically. I was far from being a top grade student (I

failed the 11+ transfer exam) and therefore felt inferior to so many others.

3. When did you first realise that something was amiss with your mental health?

It was towards the end of 2002. For some time I felt overwhelmed with the demands of going into

pastoral work as the pastor of a church. My thinking of the need for being a perfectionist to be

successful wore me down and eventually led to being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and depression.

4. Describe what it feels like to be experiencing depression

Feeling helpless. Feeling an utter failure. Despair. Totally overwhelmed. Terrified. A burden to

everyone. Never ending! Never improving! No way back.

5. How does your faith help you in times of struggle?

My Christian Faith is absolutely crucial. The issue is not, Why does God allow it to happen? The

issue is, How can God use this for His glory and purposes? Looking back on it all there’s no doubt God

has been a refuge and help - Psalm 46:1. A turning point for me was realising God is in control of

all things with a specific plan for my life and that my experiences would not be wasted. The day I

learnt I am not created to be other people was a turning point. Ephesians 2:10 transformed me -

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained

that we should walk in them.

6. Apart from your faith what are some of the coping strategies that you use to maintain a good level of health?

Looking after myself such as taking a day off work each week. By this I mean a day off where I

literally lie around the house, listen to music, watch TV, etc. Also, holidays where I get away from it

all are vital. I normally need at least a weeks holiday (preferably in the sun!) every 4-5 months.

Going any longer than this leaves me mentally and physically drained.

I also have learned the warning signs physically (e.g. restless legs when lying down). When I

experience this I immediately make a point of taking a day off.

7. What are some of the unhelpful comments that have been made to you during periods of struggles.

The most unhelpful comment was regarding me going out for walks in the fresh air. People

questioned as to why I was doing this. Sadly with mental health there are people who think you

should be lying in bed all the time and if you are able to go for a walk then you’re okay again!

Someone with mental health issues can look perfectly healthy on the surface but it’s behind the

layer of skin it’s a different story entirely.

8. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in the area of mental health?

“The sun will shine again. I thought it never would but a man who had been through similar phoned

me to say this to me. It helped me because it came from someone who had once been where I was

and had struggled through it to see the sun shine again in his life.

9. How have your personal struggles helped you become a more caring pastor?

We often make the mistake of thinking we know what it is like for people going through struggles

but until we go through it personally we really don’t have a clue. This has been a huge benefit to

me in caring for others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 are key verses regarding this - Blessed be God, even the

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; [4] Who comforteth us

in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort

wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

The Sun will Shine again

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Your support will really help. Darren

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