Jim Wells gay row: ‘I never lost faith, even in dark place’

Jim Wells pictured with his wife Grace after the May 2011 election
Jim Wells pictured with his wife Grace after the May 2011 election

Jim Wells yesterday spoke about how his Christian faith helped him after he lost his job following remarks about gay couples.

Jim Wells told the News Letter that following his resignation as health minister on April 27, he had been “rapidly heading towards clinical depression” and had sought help.

He was speaking as he vowed to “clear his name” after controversy engulfed him following remarks he had made.

He stood down on his 58th birthday, and in the midst of his wife’s debilitating medical condition.

“I had the most miserable birthday imaginable,” he told the News Letter.

He was reluctant to speak much about the help he received, except to say that it involved prescription medication.

“My career of 33 years crashed around me in 17 seconds, and I hit an extremely low point in my life,” he said.

He added: “I would say to people: If you have a bereavement or something terrible happens to you, seek help immediately. Because I was going to a very dark place in my life – I mean, a really dark place.”

Asked if he had questioned his Christian faith in the midst of this turmoil, he said: “No, not at all.

“And if it wasn’t for the help of so many Christian people and pastors and ministers, and so many of my party backbenchers who are Christian, if it wasn’t for their support I don’t know what I would have done.

“I believe that whatever happened to me happened for a reason.”

Mr Wells’ also spoke candidly yesterday about his wife Grace, who is currently in hospital after suffering strokes on both sides of the brain.

The condition is rare, and doctors believe she will never walk again.

They are working on trying to determine how much of her memory and mental faculties can be recovered.

Mr Wells said she had been recovering from the initial stroke when the second one struck; something he witnessed personally.

“Grace is not aware, for instance, of my resignation as a minister,” Mr Wells told BBC radio yesterday. “Grace is, to some extent, in a world of her own, and we’re hoping that as a result of the excellent treatment she’s receiving that her understanding, her intelligence, her short-term memory can be restored.”

He said he found it difficult to be at home by himself.

“This all happened as my life crashed around me, and Grace was totally oblivious to it. And every night I had to go to the hospital smiling and say: ‘Oh, I’ve had a busy day’ – when my world was in absolute turmoil.”

Asked by the News Letter if he can say whether he will stand for election again, he said: “I can’t. I depends entirely on Grace’s medical condition.”