Life has been tough for Anne-Maree Landgren but she knows God is with her.
I was a junior soldier at The Salvation Army but I started to self-harm at 13 due to Asperger’s syndrome, which wasn’t diagnosed until I was 21. I withdrew into myself and stopped going to church.
In 2006, I was devastated to have my Pomeranian Cross Corgi put to sleep following a Pit Bull Terrier attack, but in December we welcomed our white Pomeranian Jess into our family and life was happy again.
In 2013, Jess suddenly started barking and scratching on my closed bedroom door and wouldn’t stop.
Mum opened the door and found me unconscious. I was in renal failure when the ambulance arrived so I was rushed to hospital. During my first few days in Geelong Hospital the medical staff struggled to keep me alive.
I dreamt I went to the gates of Heaven and was met by Jesus who said that this was not my time; that my work was not yet done, and to go back. As I was leaving he said don’t turn left, go right. But given my poor sense of direction I went left only to be confronted by a horrible monster. I screamed and ran back the way I had come. I woke to find that I was being resuscitated. It was then that I realised it was no dream. I had actually been to Heaven and now I know Heaven is real, Jesus is real, and everything I grew up believing is real.
I came home from hospital with a CPAP machine as I sometimes forget to breathe when I am asleep.
On my return home I decided to go back to The Salvation Army but I struggled with sudden urges to self-harm, which I hadn’t done since 2010.
In November, 2014 Mum and I moved back to Tasmania and started attending The Salvation Army in Devonport. I was still self-harming in a big way. I almost died from an overdose and spent time on a ventilator. I remember waking and I couldn’t talk or move but my heart screamed out to God to not let me die. Thanks to my new GP and my mum, my medications were changed and I regained some control over my emotions.
The real turning point, however happened on 14 February 2016 when I met Commissioner Tracey Tidd for the second time. She told me how many people in The Salvation Army love me and how they and my mum would be devastated to hear I had killed myself.
I believe I was spiritually reborn that day and as I posed for a photo with Tracey, I felt new inside.
I now no longer self-harm and I am currently doing The Salvation Army’s adherents course with Captains Sugu and Kevin Meredith, and later I hope to become a senior soldier. I love serving God and spend a lot of my time writing poetry. I belong to a closed poetry group on Facebook called ‘Growing through poetry’. There I post lots of poems, mainly Christian in content. I go to Bible study most Mondays which I enjoy.
My health is now improving as I have lost 17 kg since May this year, and my dog Jess is now 10. She is not the healthiest but she is fine for now. The day I lose her will break my heart and I will never forget the little white dog who saved my life.
Jess watches me all night and makes sure I put my CPAP machine on when I go to bed. I am extremely grateful to Jess and to God for telling her that I was dying that day in 2013.