by Anne Campbell December 5th, 2013
Do you know that if you’re an inpatient in a psych ward, you can’t have shoelaces in your shoes??? Do you want to hear how I know that?
Because two years ago – in November and December of 2011 – I was three times in the psych wards: twice in Linden Oaks in Naperville, Illinois, and once, the last time, in the third floor psych ward of Ottawa Regional Hospital in Ottawa, Illinois. And because shoe laces might be used as a means of killing yourself or someone else, they are not allowed. So you walk around with loose shoes.
It was an interesting, wrenching, terrible time. But God is faithful, and He brought me through mental illness and out the other end into mental health. And He can do the same for you.
Are you curious why I was so suicidal? Why did I wrestle day after day with the temptation to put my head on the tracks in front of an oncoming train? Why did I overdose on December 11th, 2011 and spend 36 hours in the Intensive Care Unit of Edward Hospital?
For me, there were several ingredients of severe depression:
–several relatives [mother, sister, grandpa] who had talked about suicide, attempted suicide, and a godmother who did take her life
–months of insomnia
–a malfunctioning thyroid
–a marriage that was not yet healthy
–and a deep, deep layer of lies in my gut that had been laid down when I was an infant and child.
How could lies get into my gut? In my case, they came from years of trauma – physical, emotional and verbal abuse. I had internalized my sister’s hatred for me.
While I was going in and out of the psych wards, my friends were praying, my family was praying, and God was unfolding His wondrous redemption plan. But I was miserable. And I am guessing that some of you who are listening are miserable – even now. Almost without hope, desolate… about at the end of your rope.
But on this day I am putting a candlestick on the table. And I’m fitting a tall, white candle into it. And I’m striking a match and lighting the candle. I’m lighting a candle of hope for you. And I’m putting this candle on your dresser where you can see its steady, glowing light. Because God did this for me, He can do it for you — if you give Him permission …. If you cooperate with God’s plan for your healing journey.
Back to the bitter end of the year 2011: it was a living nightmare. Days and nights of mental agony, shame, torment, desolation, being hammered relentlessly by Satan’s lies, hopelessness . 0, there are no words that can catch the depth of my despair. It was the worst Christmas of my life.
But at the end of December 2011, the days started getting longer, and something new was happening in me. Praise be to God on high. God hadn’t forgotten me. He was moving. God is faithful.
I was in the psych ward at Ottawa hospital and the thyroid med I’d been put on at Linden Oaks in mid-November was starting to work. A new psychiatrist, Dr. Dyers, listened to me carefully and he prescribed meds that helped my sleep. I hadn’t had three good days in a row for months, but in the Ottawa hospital that changed. There began to be days when I could read the Bible and believe it. Days when I used crayons to color the edges of the papers they gave us in our sessions on anger management and how to avoid distorted and dangerous thinking. Days when I smiled and gazed with appreciation at the flowers my friend Monica had sent me. My husband, bless him, was willing to consider making changes in our living arrangements, and my heart lightened when I realized that I would not have to move back to the isolation of the farm where we had lived for 22 years.
O God was moving!!!! I got discharged, put the laces back in my shoes, and my husband and I rented an apartment in town. I started regular visits with a therapist. That was January of 2012, and hope was getting stronger….
It was not hope in myself. It was hope in Jesus Christ, the One who had died for me. I had hope that His love and shed blood would and could make the difference for me. He was lighting the way. He was putting a new song in my heart.
But remember I spoke of lies in my gut? They were still there – undetected and lethal, like snakes. In therapy I told my counselor that every time I thought of my older sister I would cry…. In many ways I was getting stronger – taking care of my hair again, swimming at the Y, enjoying the sunshine and patterns of shadows and blue sky. But the lies were still there, the snakes coiled within. And God knew it. He had a plan.
God put it on my heart to write a letter to my sister, the one who had abused me. It was a letter that I never sent but a letter that changed my life forever. I did it on Monday April 23rd, 2012, in the afternoon, in our church sanctuary on a pew near an eastern window. It was the safest place I could think of. And it was right before a therapy session so I could get help quickly if I needed it.
And the words poured out – I scribbled them down in my notebook. And I relived the trauma and felt the terror and pain , but also – coming into focus for the very first time – were the lies that my sister and Satan had etched on my soul: Anne should die. Anne is not valuable. Anne is not protected. Anne is not wanted.
In that letter I did spiritual warfare, and I broke the covenant with death that had been placed on me by Satan. I repented of my own pride and my judgments of my sister, and I asked God to wash me clean. And I forgave my sister – deeper than ever before. And I exposed the lie “Anne should die” and the light poured in and the lie got revealed and expelled and rendered powerless. Then I was no longer entangled in the death message. On April 23rd, 2012 the trauma inside me died!!
And into that deep and hidden place inside me, now freed from darkness, God’s love – bright and radiant and energizing – came flowing, dancing, pouring in. And it’s still pouring in!!! I’ve been more able to receive and share God’s love than ever before. I am no longer a victim. I am a daughter of the King! I know for sure that Anne should live. Anne is valuable. Anne is protected. Anne is wanted.
So I rejoice that on this day I can set a tall white candle on your dresser, and it’s lit with a steady flame. I share my hope with you –hope in Jesus Christ, who came to set the captive free [Luke 4:18} and destroy the works of the enemy [1 John 3:8]. He came to give us life and life abundantly [John 10:10].
In closing I share a verse with you from Psalm 118:17. It really fits. “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.”
O, dear friends, He has done great things for me and He can do the same for you. To our mighty God be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.