Emmy has had a dream ever since she was young; to be a nurse. But when she is 13 years old, she falls ill: “Overnight my energy was gone. At first it seemed like a flu, but it stayed. I did nothing for a year; it just didn’t work. I lay limp on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Doctors had no clue what I had.”
After a year, Emmy manages to go to school for one or two hours a day: “Because I was so absent and had no energy for social contacts, I lost my friends and became socially isolated. I felt left out. From the happy person I had always been, I became depressed.”
With great difficulty she finishes secondary school: “I don’t know how I did it, but I only had my eye on one thing. I had to and would succeed in studying nursing.” She started doing that at the age of seventeen. She works as hard as she can, but it succeeds moderately – partly because of the medication she takes. Just before her final internship, she collapses. She’s out.
“Then my world fell apart. I thought: it never gets better. I became so depressed that I became suicidal. I couldn’t hope anymore and I couldn’t feel anymore. Only by cutting myself did I feel anything.” Emmy is admitted to a closed institution. It is one of the low points in her life.
“One evening I walked to a major road near the institution. I had often toyed with the idea of ending my life, but now I was serious.” As she stands on the side of the road, one of the passing cars pulls into the shoulder. A visibly angry man steps out. “He shouted something like: ‘My child has cancer and you consciously choose to end your life. How dare you!?’” Angrily, he takes Emmy back to the institution. “I really see that as an intervention of God. Chances are I wouldn’t have been there otherwise.”
After a year she is ‘treated out’. They don’t know what to do with Emmy. She ends up in “De Schuilplaats” (The Hiding Place); a place with families, lots of structure and the obligation to cooperate on the farm. “It was a relief, people standing next to you instead of everything going top-down. Even at that time, things were still not going well for me. I wouldn’t hurt myself again, but I did. So they sent me to a psychiatric clinic.”
“I suddenly realized very consciously that I had a choice. Then I said: This is not my future, I want help.”
She gets one more chance; she can come back to “De Schuilplaats”, but only if she really has the will to change. “I thought: this here, this psychiatric clinic, this is what the rest of my life could look like. Here I am surrounded by people who have given up and are destroying themselves. I suddenly realized very consciously that I had a choice. Then I said: ‘This is not my future, I want help.'”
Back in De Schuilplaats, Emmy has a conversation with a counselor about God’s love. “I knew God was there, but I could never believe He could love me. I felt like a failure and my life sucked. My counselor said, “Why don’t you tell all that to God?” And I did. As I poured out my heart to God, His words sank from my head to my heart. I felt such deep joy. That’s when ‘being loved’ became a belief – and that has never been taken away from me.”
I always thought: first everything must go better. Then I’m worth it. But God said, “However you are, I love you. You are worthy of my love.’ I felt His acceptance.”
That day, Emmy tells everyone she meets what happened. In the evening after dinner it is her turn to choose a song. With the whole group they sing: “Father God I wonder how I ever lived without knowing that Your Father Heart has cared for me for so long.” Emmy grins broadly: “Everything fell into place that day, so beautiful .”
Immediately afterwards she hastens to say, “This is not a hallelujah story. In the sense of: and then everything suddenly turned out fine. It was still hard. But the meeting with God has helped me climb a little further up. Fall and get up again. Knowing I was loved helped me make better choices.”
“When doctors or psychiatrists say negative things about me, the fear kicks in. Then I hold on to God and His promise that He is the light in the darkness.”
It is five years later when she now lives on her own and decides to do a mini-Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Spain. “I thought: nice, two weeks of Bible study on the beach.” Before she leaves, she would like to completely stop taking the medication – which she will then have considerably reduced. Her psychiatrist has little confidence in that. “He said, ‘You’re going to relapse, I’m sure I’ll see you again. When you’ve had depression so often, it keeps bothering you.'” Nevertheless, she also stops the last piece of her medication and leaves for Spain.
There she hears things that are completely new to her: “I learned about hearing God’s voice and about living with the Holy Spirit. I was flabbergasted.” At the end of the DTS, all participants receive a prophecy. She is somewhat disappointed with hers: “They had the most wonderful things for the others, but they told me that I was in a dark ark and had to wait for the door to open. I was furious. I didn’t want to wait, I wanted out of the dark ark now. But they said cryptically, “Wait a minute, you still don’t know what freedom is.”
Back in the Netherlands, she decides to find a church that can tell her more about the new things she has learned. Without knowledge of the prophecy Emmy received in Spain, they advised her to follow deliverance ministry in her new congregation: “During those sessions, a lot was released. I received the Holy Ghost and began to speak in tongues. At the end of the journey, I said, ‘I want to be baptized.’”
“There was such a huge joy over me. Literally and figuratively, a door opened.”
The congregation Emmy visits has
no private bath, so the baptismal service takes place in another church. It is a church in the shape of an ark. “After I went under, I jumped out of the water. Such a great joy came over me. Literally and figuratively, a door opened. From the ark I stepped into a new life.”
In that new life there are mainly many ups, but also downs: “I am an emotional person. Many people know me mostly as cheerful and positive, and I am – but things can touch me deeply and pull me down. Like that psychiatrist at the time, doctors still say things like, “With your history, you’re likely to get postpartum depression after pregnancy.” When things like that are said about me, anxiety kicks in. Then I hold on to God and His promise that He is the light in the darkness.”
Emmy has now completed two courses and works as a nurse in the hospital. She met her husband in Spain, where they both managed a DTS. When the photos are taken for this article and Emmy has her two daughters in her arms [whom she gave birth without postpartum depression as a result, ed.], tears appear on her smiling face: “I could not have dreamed this. My life has completely turned around.”