Ann Layne on My Experience With Mental Illness

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Even when I was young, I felt the presence of Jesus in my life.  I guess it started when my mom sent me to Sunday school.  I felt a stirring inside of something I can’t fully  explain.  All those songs about Jesus loving the little children… I knew he loved me.

When I went to camp as a young girl, I’d walk along the beach alone.  Lost in my thoughts.  I’d pretend that I was beautiful like the teenagers I saw.   I was beautiful, I just didn’t see myself like that.  While I was walking on the beach, I remember feeling like I was being watched.  At the time I didn’t know who it was.  As I got older, I’d wiggle because I felt I was being watched.  When I was an adult I put it together and realized Jesus was watching me grow.

It was a love affair from the beginning between the Lord and I.  With all passionate loves there is heartbreak.  My mother died of cancer when I was ten years old.  It was a long drawn out illness that lasted about five years. I think I saw my mother suffer too much.   It’s hard for a child to watch your mother die of cancer.  The intense pain and grief lasted years. I didn’t know but I was depressed.  All I knew was that I was very angry with the Lord.  I know now that he has a plan for each of us.  I only understood this as l got older.

My dreams were dark and I stayed away from church in my late teens.  Jesus did not abandon me.  He had never left my side.   As time passed, I went to Mass by myself.  I prayed for my mother and for my own health. Other than that, I did not know what to ask Jesus for.  It was only later in life that I began to understand all my blessings come from the Lord.  I could ask him for financial assistance, protection, guidance and much more.

My 30s were not peaceful.  My marriage was stable but I was not.  My work life was lacking, so I quit my job.  What happened is difficult to explain.   I started not feeling well and I was becoming increasingly paranoid.  My obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms came back.  In my 20s, I had the classic hand washing compulsion and the obsession with germs.  It was bad for a while but I learned a remedy on my own.  That if I don’t give in to the compulsion, it slowly goes away.   Years later I took a course on OCD.  The instructor said you have to at first live with the anxiety.  Stop yourself from checking or washing and live with the anxiety.  Then slowly the anxiety begins to lessen.  Does it go away?  Everyone is different but mine although it did not go away, it is considerably better.  I am able to function quite well now.

Dealing with all these mental health issues was not easy.  I began to pray in a way I never did before.  I would just speak to the Lord and tell him my problems.  I’d pray every day that He would alleviate my illness.  It did not happen overnight but I could see that things were changing.  My relationship with the Lord grew and I could tell He was listening to my prayers.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Ann Layne