When fear and faith collide

“Lock me in a room and never come back for me”

Those where my desperate cries and dark pleas to my husband, in the depth of utter despair, brought on my mental illness.

I spent over two years trapped in battle that I never seemed to be able to win.

It controlled me, consumed me and almost stole life from me.

I lost myself.

I lost my mind.

I lost my faith.

Or at least my version of faith, at that time.

It is no exaggeration to say that mental illness tore my world apart and that it also ripped what I thought was a firm foundation of faith from below my feet.

Despite the desperate places mental illness took me too (including considering giving up on life altogether), losing my faith was perhaps the worst and hardest.

Many days, life did not seem worth living and I did not want to ‘face tomorrow’ (as the old hymn goes) whether God was there or not.

That felt like failure - I had failed God and faith.

That failure felt final.

My mental illness was not caused by an experience in church, it was perinatal and began when I was pregnant. But despite my belief that faith was my anchor, which would ‘hold me fast' no matter what life brought my way, that ceased to be that case during these desperate moments and months. It simply did not hold. And instead of providing comfort in the midst of mental illness, my faith fostered further fear for my already anxious and fragile mind.

As I tried to piece together what was ‘wrong with me?’ (that question is incorrect by the way, it should be what is ‘happening to me?’), I told myself all sorts of stories about who God was and where He was in the midst of this unending nightmare. I imagined God was angry, disappointed and punishing me. I reasoned He must have abandoned me. And, I was so desperate to find absolution (for what I assumed was all my fault), that many times I tried to confess every sin I had ever committed in the hope that would be a fix.