Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ray of Light- DBSA

I just got back from my first support was great! I guess that sounds kind of funny to have a support group for depression and bipolar be "great," so maybe I should say it was uplifting, hopeful, comfortable, and an HUGE relief to be there with others who are fighting a similar battle.

This group is run by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). The best part about this group is that the ones running it are suffering too. It's not just run by a therapist that can't really understand how it is to be there. My husband is a therapist and I LOVE what they can do, but it is still different to be in a room with a group of people that a least to a certain extent know exactly what you're going through. Even though about half of us there were at this group for the first time, there just seemed to be this instant bond. We are all fighting and we've all decided that we don't want to do it alone.

I was definitely dragging my feet about going. Granted, it's been the summer and so I have legitimately had lots of things going, but I'm so glad I just did it tonight. I find the more and more open I am with what I'm fighting, the easier the battle becomes, or maybe more correctly, the easier it is to fight.

I don't think I learned anything or came away with a huge "aha" moment, but I definitely feel better because I went. I'll definitely go as often as I can in the future. This support group is truly a blessing and my "Ray of Light" for today.

***DBSA has chapters all across the country. If you've been diagnosed, or feel like you are suffering for either depression or bipolar disorder, I STRONGLY recommend your seeking out your local chapter. Even with the gas prices how they are today, it is well worth the 30 minute drive (both ways). The DBSA website is also a great resource for not only those struggling with these diseases, but also for family and friends that would like to know more. Check it out!***

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ray of Light

We've all locked our keys in the car, or accidentally left the car unlocked when we intended to lock it, but today's "Ray of Light" has to do with taking this one step further...

Yesterday was a busy day. I had to get Bradley to preschool, get the oil changed in the car, deal with getting the transmission leak fixed on Ryan's car, go to Costco, go to Smith's, and a choir practice. Oh, yeah and then go help Ryan pick up his car after the choir practice (the shop is about 30 minutes away). Now that would be busy for most people, but understanding that we live about 13 minutes from Smith's and the Oil change place and about 23 minutes from Costco, oh and I couldn't do them in the same trip (LONG STORY). Needless to say, my mind wasn't completely with me, especially if you consider my similarities with Dory.

I come out of Smith's with 2 cranky boys helping me push the cart (why did I even bother getting a truck cart if they weren't going to sit in it?!) scanning the parking lot for our van. I was pretty sure I knew roughly where it was, but the only van that looked like ours had it's door wide open.

As I got closer I realized...That's MY car!

Here I'd been in Smith's for at least 30 minutes with my "locked car" (I did push the lock button before I left) WIDE open. AAAACCKKK!

So my "Ray of Light" is gratitude for all of the honest people that didn't steal my car, or the DVD player in it, etc. Trust me I'll be checking my doors more carefully, but it is nice to think that as a general rule, everything would probably be just fine if I forgot again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ray of Light

Today is a special get pictures! Not often does a picture apply or seem appropriate to what I'm saying, but today it is.
This will shock my family, especially my father, but today my "Ray of Light" has to do with gardening or the bounty of the harvest.

For anyone that really knows me, they know that I hate dirt & bugs...therefore I'm not a big fan of gardening. I do believe it is a commandment from our prophet so I do it. I've kind of gotten off easy in the past because I really couldn't do much more than a pot here or there (the joys of apartment living), but now that we have a real yard and one with a garden plot built in by the previous owners, I really had no excuse.
So with the help of my parents, husband, and little sister Ruth, I planted my garden...and low and behold, it's actually growing and quite well I might add.
As you can see, the pumpkins have taken over. Just to the left of the sunflowers my "cucumber" plant is going like crazy as well (it was supposedly a cucumber plant, but it ended up being a zucchini...and ANYONE that has grown zucchini or has lived by anyone that has grown a zucchini they know they're prolific, to say the least.)

Here are some of my zucchinis. I FINALLY got smart and started picking them A LOT sooner. We can only eat so much zucchini and we only have so much room for it in our freezer.

And I've been SO proud of my little bean plants. These 2 pictures show just one picking from them!

I am truly thankful for the bounty from my garden. I am thankful to a wise Heavenly Father that commanded us to grow a garden. I am SO thankful for faithful parents that didn't give up on me...I seriously would beg to do the dishes so I didn't have to weed the garden...I'm not sure my dad was so sure I'd ever get the gardening bug. I may not like gardening, but I do have a testimony that it is what we should be doing...even if that means I have to face the spiders and dirt that come with it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ray of Light

****I'm posting this the night of the 21st since we'll be leaving the morning of the 22nd for some MUCH needed time alone****

Today, there is NO question what my "Ray of Light" should be. In reality it could be my "Ray of Light" every day. But specifically today on my 8th Anniversary, Ryan (my husband for those of you that didn't know that) HAS to be it.

An aside, if you don't like sentimentality or romance, stop reading know and just know that Ryan is AMAZING and I have NEVER made a better decision in my life than when I decided to marry him.

Anyone that knows Ryan, knows he's a great guy. Anyone that has watched him with our children knows he's a great dad. Anyone that has worked with him knows he's a HARD worker. Anyone that has gone to school with him knows he's CRAZY smart. Anyone that has had therapy from him knows Marriage and Family Therapy is his "calling." Anyone that has learned from him knows he has the gift for teaching. Anyone that has heard him speak or read his writing knows he is eloquent. Anyone that has asked for his help knows he really cares.

But no one, but me truly knows how he loves. I know the words I have are not enough, but I'll attempt to do him justice. No, Ryan isn't perfect, but he truly has been perfect for me...faults and all. Often other women will complain about their husbands and seriously the worst thing I could think to say was that before we had a dishwasher sometimes he'd forget to wash the bottoms of the plates! Sure we've had disagreements, but he was ALWAYS quick to apologize and forgive so really it was never anything I ever even thought to complain about. On countless occasions I have thought, "Oh if only there were more Ryans in the world...every woman deserves one of him." Or there have been times when I'd hear someone say something sad that their husband had done, and I'd think, "Wow. Ryan would never do something like that."

Ryan completely exemplifies the concept of, "If you each take care of each other, than you don't have to worry about yourself." I have NEVER had to worry that someone didn't have my back. Especially over these last 2 years as the depression has stormed through our life, the ONE earthly thing I could on was Ryan. He has NEVER complained. Even after long days of classes or work, he'd come home and pick up where I'd left off (which was often no more than feeding the boys). He'd do dishes, do laundry, pick up the house, work in the yard, cook dinner, take care of the boys, you name it...he has NEVER been above "woman's work." Even from the first days of our marriage, he never expected me to do it all.

Even when I've had times when I was incredibly low and I'd wonder why Ryan didn't leave me, I never wondered that because he gave any signs that he was thinking that way, only because I felt like he should. The hurt look in his eyes when I would suggest such a thing was proof enough that he never would.

He also LOVES our boys such much and that is one of the most significant ways he could pick to tell ME "I love you!" I've heard some women say that they're nervous to leave their husbands home with the kids for too long, that thought has never even crossed my mind. I have NO doubt that they are in the best of hands with him...often more emotionally stable than if they were in my own hands. He ALWAYS wants what is best for them. He is an active participant in their learning and growing. While in school he'd wake up early just so he could play with the boys before he had to leave. I could not have asked for a better father for my children.

He LOVES the Lord. Again, this is SUCH a huge thing for me. Do I ever have to wonder whether he's worthy to give me a priesthood blessing* at a moments notice? No! Do I ever have to worry that he's reading his scriptures or praying daily? No! Do I ever have to wonder if he has faith in our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ? No! But do I ever have to worry that he is arrogant about his knowledge and understanding of the Lord's plan for us? No! He is truly humble. He would never suggest that he knows everything or that he is better than anyone that might know less than he does. He shows me every day through his actions and words that his love for our Lord runs true and deep. On countless occasions I have had to lean on his spiritual strength and I have never fallen because I did that.

He is a true gentleman. He is always polite to my mother and sisters, not to mention his mother and sisters. He sees all women as they are, daughters of our loving Father in Heaven...and he treats them accordingly. He also tries to treat his fellow man (in general) with the utmost respect. Often he has run into others that believe differently than we do, both religiously and secularly. He would never think to belittle someone for that difference. He definitely stands strong in the truth, but he tries his best to share his message in kindness and love and truly if one was to be offended by him, I believe the fault would be theirs.

I could go on and on...seriously. But I will save that for another day. More than anything I want Ryan to know that I love him with all that I am. I loved him deeply when we were married & sealed** 8 years ago in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple*** and through the beauty of true love, I love him even more today. And it's not like I just don't mind him around, I truly cannot imagine my life without him, nor do I even want to. He is my best friend, my love, my spiritual advisor, the father of my children, my support, and the one that I can't wait to spend the rest of eternity with. I truly made the best decision of my life when I promised to not only him, but the Lord, to love him and be only his forever.

I love you Ryan! Thank you for lighting up my entire life!

*Priesthood Blessing: A blessing given by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, by the laying on of hands and by inspiration, to one who is sick or otherwise in need of special counsel, comfort, or healing. If the blessing is for the sick, consecrated oil is used (James 5:14-15).

**Sealed/Sealing: An ordinance performed in the temple eternally uniting a husband and wife, or children and their parents.

***Temples: Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where individuals make sacred covenants with God. Because making covenants with God is such a solemn responsibility, individuals cannot enter the temple to receive their endowments or be sealed in marriage for eternity until they have fully prepared themselves and been members of the Church for at least a year. Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. The Church is working to build temples all over the world to make temple blessings more available for a greater number of Heavenly Father's children.

Just Like Dory: Take 2

So I was telling my husband about my post from yesterday and he said something to the effect of (I'm proving his point right here), "Yeah, you're just like Dory, but with a slightly better memory!" (Dory, from Finding Nemo)

I could have been upset, but it's TOTALLY true!

My memory loss definitely started with my first pregnancy, and was very much present with my second, but seriously, since having depression I can't remember anything. People joke about "senior moments" when they get old...what's my excuse?! I'm not one toe freak out about age, but I definitely didn't think 27 was old (at least not after turning 12 or so). But I'm all about "senior moments"...too bad I don't have that excuse.

I do think depression in general makes it hard to focus. Like I've said before, it's almost like you have a TV or radio on in your head all the time and it is constantly flipping channels. With that much craziness going on inside my head all the time, I'm not even sure if the things that are said to me even stick correctly. I have become very bound to my calendar. If it's not on there, it would be pure divine intervention for me to remember it.

I feel so bad when I'm talking to friends and I KNOW they've already answered the question I'm about to ask, but I just don't remember it. :( I really think it is important to try to remember things that are important to other people (i.e. their kids' or spouse's names, etc.). To me it shows, to a certain extent, that you care enough about them to actually listen to what they say. So for all of my friends out there, I apologize. I'm trying my best to tune out the noise in my head and really listen. You are that important, I just can't help it if the recorder is broken!

Ray of Light

Today my 2 year old asked to take a nap!

I mean I asked Braeden just a little bit earlier if he was ready and he said yes, but jumped off my lap and started playing again, but less than 3 minutes later he came up to me and said, "Go nu-night!" It's a BEAUTIFUL thing to have a good napper.

Bradley, bless his heart, never got the napping thing down. Seriously if he slept for even 2 hours straight I was honestly worried something was wrong. Where Braeden's naps are usually 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours each. Bless him!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ray of Light

I kept moving!

Oh, my goodness, I think today was the hardest day yet (well out of the 3 I've been doing it) to get up and stay up. But through nothing short of the strength of the Lord I was able to keep moving. I read my scriptures at the table instead of on the couch...really I've done everything possible to not look at the couch...out of sight out of mind, right? And it's working! It's nearly 4pm and I haven't napped yet, phew! I think I can make it!

I hope others are finding these Rays of Light inspiring because it is sure making a difference in my life. As I originally mentioned, the more you make a point of noticing the little (and sometimes HUGE) blessings in your life, the more grateful you feel overall. We are truly SO blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father who is truly aware of what we need and what we're feeling. I am blessed!

Just Like Dory!

Many days, these last three days particularly (as I mentioned in other posts, Bradley started preschool this week and so I have to be up and going much sooner than I'd been letting myself do in the past while) I find myself having to say, "Keep Moving! DO NOT sit down! You may be slow, but at least you're moving!" When I'm feeling a bit more goofy, I find myself thinking, "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming! What do we do we swim, swim, swim!" (Like Dory from Finding Nemo) As dumb as it may sound, it really helps.

SO Often, I just want to crash on the couch after getting's definitely the easier thing to do, but I'm always SO upset that I didn't get anything done. So despite the exhaustion I feel, overall I'm much happier if I just keep moving. Sometimes I seriously have to muster ALL of the motivation and energy I've got to keep moving, but again, it's always worth it. And sometimes I've even made a point of praying to be able to keep moving. I suppose that's active faith, to prayer for help in being proactive in getting what I believe is best for me (learning to work with the depression, not be defined by it.)

I first read this idea in The Ultimate Career, but it didn't sink in then. Thankfully I had it in the back of my mind to really help me now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ray of Light

***Disclaimer: I've been trying to write the first few lines of this post for several minutes, but I've been having a bit too much help...I'm just glad that my kids want to be around me (I guess that's a "Ray of Light" in and of itself), but no promise that this post will be at all coherent.***

Today I have 2 "Rays of Light" that are kind of interrelated.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was a really good and productive day, but last night was HORRIBLE. I just could get to sleep. I woke up several times and even had to get up to take a Ibuprofen because I was having back spasms...blah! I admit, I was REALLY worried that I was going to crash today. But I was SO thankful that the Lord gave me enough clarity of mind to be able reevaluate my expectations for today. So instead of trying to get my exercising in BEFORE taking Bradley, I went ahead and took it a little slower this morning and decided to walk the boys around the neighborhood after preschool. It wasn't he BEST exercise I've done, but I got it done, I got Bradley to school EARLY (gasp...I know!), got the errands done that I needed to, and was there on time to pick him up. So although different than I'd planned it still worked out.

And my second "Ray of Light" was some good quality time with Braeden. I did still have a few errands during the first part of Bradley's preschool, but we got back with about an hour to spare. So Braeden and I had some time to play. We colored with sidewalk chalk, he threw balls in my flowers while I was trimming the dead daisies, we kicked around a soccer ball, and then played with a HUGE red rubber ball. It was just fun to play with him alone. With him as a 2nd child, that doesn't happen so much. I'm so thankful for the 3 days a week that Braeden and I get some quality time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ray of Light

Today's "Ray of Light" is simple, but SO huge for me...I was up, exercised, dressed, showered, with my boys fed, clothed, and Bradley to preschool by 10:00 am! Miracles DO happen!

It was SUCH a huge accomplishment for me. YAY! It just makes me feel like maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel...still very much at the end of the tunnel, but at least it's now visible.

Ray of Light

So I didn't get a chance to get on the computer on Sunday, but I did have a "Ray of Light" that I wanted to post, so here's one for Sunday (I can't promise I'll post one everyday, but I had intended to do one Sunday, but just didn't get on the computer.)

Sunday's "Ray of Light:"
I am SO thankful for the power of music. I know how to play the piano and do enjoy doing it, but sadly it seems to be only an occasional event instead of a frequent one. Yesterday after the boys were in bed I took the time to play a little and it was SO uplifting. I often play Hymns* or selections from the Children's Songbook**, so the words in and of themselves are uplifting, but just playing and somehow having the music really move through you has a tremendous healing effect for me. So I thank the Lord for music and for my ability to be an active part of it.

Here are the text to three Hymns that have been especially powerful to me lately:

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

1. Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
2. Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
3. He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.
Text: Emma Lou Thayne, b. 1924. © 1973 IRI
Music: Joleen G. Meredith, b. 1935. © 1973 IRI
Related Scriptures:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Be Still, My Soul

1. Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In evry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heavnly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Text: Katharina von Schlegel, b. 1697; trans. by Jane Borthwick, 1813–1897

Music: Jean Sibelius, 1865–1957. © 1900 Breitkopf & Härtel. Arr. copyright, 1933, by the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education; renewed, 1961; from The Hymnal. Used by permission of The Westminister John Knox Press, Philadelphia, PA. Making copies without written permission of the copyright owner is prohibited.

Related Scriptures:
Psalm 37:3–9
D&C 101:14–16, 35–38

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Come unto Him

1. I wander through the still of night,
When solitude is evrywhere
Alone, beneath the starry light,
And yet I know that God is there.
I kneel upon the grass and pray;
An answer comes without a voice.
It takes my burden all away
And makes my aching heart rejoice.

2. When I am filled with strong desire
And ask a boon of him, I see
No miracle of living fire,
But what I ask flows into me.
And when the tempest rages high
I feel no arm around me thrust,
But evry storm goes rolling by
When I repose in him my trust.

3. It matters not what may befall,
What threat’ning hand hangs over me;
He is my rampart through it all,
My refuge from mine enemy.
Come unto him all ye depressed,
Ye erring souls whose eyes are dim,
Ye weary ones who long for rest.
Come unto him! Come unto him!

Text: Theodore E. Curtis, 1872–1957

Music: Hugh W. Dougall, 1872–1963

Related Scriptures:
Psalm 55:16–17, 22
Matthew 11:28–30

*Hymns: Three months after the Church was organized, the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, instructed Joseph's wife, Emma, to make a selection of sacred hymns for the Church: "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads" (D&C 25:12).

Now, 150 years after the first hymnbook was published by the Church, we are pleased to present this revision. Many hymns found in our original hymnbook and in subsequent editions are included, as are a number of newly added hymns. All have been selected to meet the varied needs of today's worldwide Church membership.

*Children's Songbook:
Dear boys and girls:
Here is a book of songs especially for you. You can sing them just about anytime, anywhere. You can sing some of these songs to show thankfulness to Heavenly Father, and some just for the fun of singing.

As you sing, you may feel good inside. The Holy Ghost gives you warm feelings to help you understand that the words and messages in the songs are true. You can learn about the gospel in this way, and your testimony will grow as you learn. You will remember more easily what you have learned when you sing about it. The melody of a song helps you remember the words and also brings the feeling of the song to your heart. The illustrations will also help you see what the songs teach. Once you know the songs, they can be with you always (like good friends) to help you make right choices and be happy.

Music is a language that everyone can understand. Children all over the world sing these same songs. Music can also link the past to the future. Someday you might sing these songs with your own children.

There are songs in this book on almost every gospel subject. The songs explain our beliefs about life in heaven; about prayer, thankfulness, and reverence; about the mission of the Savior; about the principles of the gospel; about the importance of home, family, and heritage; about the beauty of nature and the seasons; and about the need for fun and activity. The last section is music that can be played before or after a meeting—or in your home—to create a reverent atmosphere.

Someday you will be leaders of the Church and of the world. What you learn from these songs will help you to be faithful and to serve righteously. The good feelings the songs bring will give you happiness and courage and will help you to remember that you are children of God.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What is Faith?

The Ultimate Career, as I mentioned before was so helpful in re-guiding my scripture study. In general my mind is a mess of thoughts. I feel like there is constantly talking and craziness going on (no, not like hearing voices, but just busy thoughts and ideas). Focusing in general is hard to do, but even harder when you're talking about scriptural text. It's great, but not exactly the way we speak today. Focusing my study to one topic has really helped make my study SO much more productive.

I started with the topic of faith. I have always believed myself to be a person of faith. I mean, I have a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that the words of our modern prophets come from our Lord. I firmly believe that, "But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things." (2nd Nephi* 2:24). I believe that the Lord will not tempt us or try us more than we can handle. I could continue on for a long time about what I believe, but my point here is that I've always considered myself a woman of faith, but I think in a lot of ways I was more a woman of belief.

I had heard the scripture from James 2:14, 26 "14. What doth is profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?...26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." But I think in many ways I really hadn't internalized it. I had faith that Lord could help me through my struggle with depression, but what "works" was I doing?

I spent many days reading from the book, We Believe. It is a fabulous compilation of words of scripture, both ancient and modern.** It definitely helped me get a great overview of the many things spoken on faith.

Each topic in the book is divided into different subheadings. This, again helped me to guide my study further. There were 3 specific subheadings that I found particularly helpful. (1) "Faith is the principle of righteous action; it will cause a person to do good works, whereas passive belief will not." (2) "Christ can do all things for those who exercise sufficient faith in Him." & (3) "Faith overcomes fear and doubt."

As I read the selections under these 3 subheadings, in conjunction with the others, I realized my mistake. I had great belief, but not great faith. Here I was praying for things to get better (which yes, on a base level is an action, but you need so much more), but I really wasn't DOING that much.

I love what James E. Talmage*** had to say:
"The terms faith and belief are sometimes regarded as synonyms; nevertheless
each of them has a specific meaning in our language, although in earlier usage
there was little distinction between them, and therefore the words are used
interchangeably in many scriptural passages.
Belief, in one of its accepted
senses, may consist in a merely intellectual assent, while faith implies such confidence and conviction as will impel to action."

"Dictionary authority justifies us in drawing a distinction between the two,
according to present usage in English; and this authority defines belief as a
mental assent to the truth or actuality of anything, excluding, however, the
moral element of responsibility through such assent, which responsibility is
included by faith.
Belief is in a sense passive, an agreement or acceptance only; faith is active and positive, embracing such reliance and confidence as will lead to works. Faith in Christ comprises belief in Him, combined with trust in Him. One cannot have faith without belief; yet he may believe and still lack faith. Faith is vivified, vitalized, living belief."

Was my faith "vivified, vitalized, [or] living belief?" No! Again, to certain levels it was, but not fully. In same way I think I even thought that if I tried to take medicine or see a counselor or seek other outside help, I was NOT having faith. I was SO wrong.

How do you think great men and women discovered anti-depressants, or learned proven techniques to help ease the struggle, if not without inspiration from the Lord?

I felt like the flood gates of knowledge and understanding had just opened for me. Again, I knew the words in my mind, but I didn't KNOW them in my heart. I had belief, but I didn't truly have faith.

I know truly understood that I needed to do everything within my power to help myself and then when I was no longer able to continue, the Lord would pick up from there. Yes, as always, the Lord has mercifully helped me along the way and inspired my mind to search out specific things, but I was no longer passive, I was and am actively seeking to improve my situation.

There were SO many other quotes that just filled my mind and heart.
I'll post a few more below, but the main body of this post is done:

"10. If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts
and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily
discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all
action in them; that without it both mind and body would be in a state of
inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and

"11. ...Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence,
unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown, if you had not believed that you would reap? ...In a word, is there anything that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions of every kind, dependent on your faith? Or, may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings, are they not all by reason of your faith? Reflect, and ask yourselves if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts on your own minds, and see if faith is
not the moving cause of all action in yourselves; and, if the moving cause in you, is it not in all other intelligent beings?"
(Joseph Smith, Jr.**** , Lectures on Faith)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"The problem of faith as of every gift of the Lord, is twofold: to secure it, and to use it. We speak easily of faith, but altogether too often fail to use it. We recall that it is knowledge, high knowledge, but forget that it is also power, mighty power, and therefore fail to use the greatest force placed within our reach in every issue of life."
(John A. Widtsoe*****)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"I do not realize that we need to speak of faith and works as distinct from each other. There is no true faith without works. It is only belief if the works be left out. And in that sense, the sense in which Paul, the scholar, the student of language, the master of philosophy of his day, used the term, he meant by the use of the term faith, faith as God understands it, faith as it has been declared in the divine word, which means work, effort, sacrifice, service."
(James E. Talmage)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
(Luke 6:46)

*2nd Nephi: This is a book of scripture contained in The Book of Mormon. To more fully understand what The Book of Mormon is, here is a copy of the introduction. (For more information visit


The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.

The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and
afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a
few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”

We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message
it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See
Moroni 10: 3-5.)

Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.

**Modern Scripture: Part of the LDS Church doctrine is the idea of modern revelation. We believe that the Lord can speak to us today, just as he spoke to prophets of old. We believe that the word of the Lord is scripture and therefore, the words He has revealed to our modern prophets (see below) are scripture as well.

-Prophets: As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. (

***James E. Talmage: James Edward Talmage (September 21, 1862July 27, 1933) born in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1911 until his death in 1933. (Wikipedia)

****Joseph Smith, Jr.: As a young boy in 1820, Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was true. As he searched the Bible for help, he read that he should ask of God. Acting on this counsel, Joseph went into the woods near his home and prayed. Suddenly, a light shone above him and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. When Joseph asked which church he should join, the Savior told him to join none of the churches then in existence because they were teaching incorrect doctrines. Through this experience and many others that followed, the Lord chose Joseph to be His prophet and to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church to the earth. (

*****John A. Widtsoe: John Andreas Widtsoe (pronounced /ˈwɪtsoʊ/, 31 January 187229 November 1952) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1921 until his death. Widtsoe was also a noted author, scientist, and academician. (Wikipedia)

Ray of Light

I had some former roommates come over for a visit so my house got cleaned and my yard was weeded! YAY! Not to mention I had a great time visiting with them and just enjoying a nice BBQ in our backyard!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ray of Light

I LOVE Fridays...for the obvious reasons, but especially since Ryan is usually home. And today my "Ray of Light" is that Ryan is currently with the boys shopping! YIPEE! No, he's not doing the grocery shopping...that's still usually my job, but none the less he has the boys with him and I have a little time to myself.

An added benefit that I didn't expect was some validation on how hard it is to get 2 boys out the door. Sure I helped some, but mostly I just let Ryan figure it out by himself. I feel bad that the boys were so trying for him, but it was nice to see that I'm not the only one that wants to pull my hair out after the process of getting my 2 busy boys in the car.

Oh, and another "Ray of Light," I got to sleep in until just before 9!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ray of Light

One thing I've found VERY helpful is to look for the positives. Granted typically in a really hard moment I DON'T want to hear that, but as something I do as a regular part of every day, I find this VERY helpful. I first started actively doing this after hearing Pres. Eyring's Oct. 2007 General Conference Talk. He specifically suggested writing down our blessings each day. Even though I was mired in the depths of depression, this really helped my overall outlook. I'm not as diligent in writing my blessings down each day, but since then I've definitely become more aware of the little "rays of light" all around me.

That being said, I'd like to start posting "rays of light" that come into my life. I'd love to hear yours as well.

Today I have 2 rays to share:

#1: I had a hard night last night because I pushed myself too much yesterday. Usually that leads to a hard next day. Ryan knew that and so he left the following post-it note in the bathroom for me.

It was a simple and sweet gesture, but it meant the world to me.

#2: The novelty of helping clean up has LONG sense passed for Bradley. He'll still help us, but typically it's with a good share of whining and he'll NEVER do it without help...or so I thought. I suppose it was about the proper motivation.

Our stake* does a special program called Hearts for the Holidays. Last year our stake provided Christmas for 85 families. It is all based on donations from the members of our stake. Each ward* decides on specific things they will do to help donate to the cause. One thing they're having the children do is to find ways to earn money around the house to donate.

I told Bradley that every time he picked up his toys without my having to ask him more than once, he'd get 5 pennies to give to the kids who didn't have any toys. He was SO excited. Needless to say, his toys have been picked up without much protest since we started this.

What a SWEET thing for someone that is only 4 to do. It made my heart melt!

*Stake: A stake is an administrative unit composed of multiple congregations in denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. A stake is approximately comparable to a diocese in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations. The name "stake" derives from the verse "[e]nlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes" (Isaiah 54:2). A stake is sometimes referred to as a stake of Zion. -Wikipedia

*Ward: Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the congregations are broken up geographically. Instead of choosing to attend a specific service based on the preacher, members of the LDS Church attend a specific service (or ward) based on where we live.

Expectation Manipulation

With my change in reality had to come a change in expectations.

The first expectation that of course had to change was my belief that the depression was going to go away. Again, I still very much have the hope that I can become more stable, but I don't think I'm going to wake up one morning and everything is suddenly better. Sure it would be nice, but totally unrealistic and therefore totally unhealthy for me to think that way.

A HUGE change in expectations had to happen in relation to what I felt I could accomplish each day, or rather how much I had to accomplish to feel good about myself. I just kept believing that I should hold myself to the same standard of productivity that I had once been able to accomplish. Even since the depression started I really pushed myself to keep up with my perceived acceptable level of productivity. And in all reality the only thing that came from that was less productivity...I'd push too hard and then crash and be even less able to accomplish what I felt I should be able to do.

Along with expecting myself to be as productive as I once was, I was still trying to compare myself with other moms. I remember very distinctly going over to one of my friend's homes. She had just given birth to her 3rd child...less than 2 week prior. As I often do, especially post depression, I was sure to ask her how she was feeling...both physically and emotionally. As you might expect, she said she was doing fine. Plenty of people tell you what they think you want to hear, or what they should say, but this wasn't the case with this friend. I knew her well enough to know that she was being honest. Not to mention the fact that she looked FABULOUS (i.e. showered, hair & makeup done, and really just radiant) and it was before 10 am!

I remember having a tiny panic attack. Through heavy breathing I thought, "Oh, my goodness! How can she do it?! I didn't feel that good at 2 weeks with either child and she has THREE kids. That's supposed to be the hardest number! I just can't do it! What's wrong with me?!"

You might say, "Well her situation was different." Sure every one's is different, but in a lot of ways she was in the same boat as I was. She had recently moved to the area, they were only going to be in the area for a year, she was away from family and friends, etc. The one glaring difference...she didn't have depression.

I was crushed. I just wanted to curl up and cry. I just wanted to feel capable again. Heaven forbid, I didn't feel as good as she looked and my baby 18 months! I knew then that I had to change, but my expectations were skewed and so I wasn't truly able to change at that time.

So now I look at things very differently. Now don't think I'm so good that I've been able to never compare myself...Yeah, not seeing that one happening ANY time soon...but I do it less...a lot less. I realize that my sweet neighbor with 4 kids, the oldest being 4 has a different life than me. I can't even imagine what state I'd be in if I had the same configuration of kids, but that's okay.

I've had to set more realistic goals for each day. Truly right now for me to get up and not go back to sleep on the couch is a MAJOR accomplishment.

An aside, I wish I could describe to you the intensity of the urge to curl up and sleep. Since making this last move that has been one of THE HARDEST things I've had to deal with. To put it in Freudian terms* (and I'm not talking about Freud and sexual things) it's like my Id was SCREAMING at me to sleep while my Super-Ego knew I shouldn't, but it's protests didn't matter. It was like my Super-Ego was on mute and my Id had hijacked my Ego, so there was just no other option.

Exercising, reading my scriptures, praying, showering, and feeding my family constitute an EXCELLENT day.

I realize that I just plain DO NOT have the energy I used to and like I said before, if I push it, I pay for it in even less productivity. I have to be VERY stingy with my energy. I have to pace myself and according to how I was before depression, I can give about 50%. I admit it still frustrates me, but I'm doing better to realize that it's my reality and to push against it only makes things worse.

I've also had to change my expectations for my children. I would LOVE to be able to teach them all sorts of things or to spend hours and hours playing with them, but sadly I can't. I'm sure Bradley could be reading, but likely won't until school...we'll just have to see if I can muster the energy before that or not. I try to give them as much time as I can so I've tried to pick activities that will give me the most bang for my buck. And then I make sure I tell them I love them and give them lots of hugs and I have to hope for the best. sure I could probably help them reach higher goals, but right now that is just not realistic for me.

I also had unrealistically wonderful dreams for how life would be after Ryan was done with school. I just figured things would be so much easier. We'd finally have a real paycheck, Ryan would have so much time to spend with me, and life would just be peaches and cream...uh, wrong!

Sure we had a real paycheck coming in, but more bills and financial responsibilities than ever before. Ryan was done with school, but officially he was ABD (All But Dissertation) so he's had to spend MANY hours on that. He loves his job, but he is away from home a lot on Monday & Tuesday (usually 7:20am - 9:00pm or later) that means I play single mom on those days. I knew the whole moving transition would be hard, but I'd set myself up for post-graduate school life being this wonderful land of milk and honey, that I fell flat on my face when reality hit.

So now I'm more realistic about that. Yes, we finally have money to actually SAVE and pay back those lovely student loans, but there still aren't a lot of extras. But at least we're moving up in the world and not continuing to create more dept!

Now that Ryan sent in his final copy of his dissertation for binding...hallelujah...his time is a little more free in the evenings. Sure, he's still busy at work most days and often has to take calls when he's "off," but I'm SO thankful I get him as often as I do. And maybe some women get their husbands physically home for more time, but not emotionally home. I get Ryan emotionally and mentally home 100% when he's physically home.

Again, the move was hard, but now we have our own home. Darling little first time home that might even end up being a good enough forever home. The previous owners took wonderful care of it and we have a cute yard that has plenty of room for everything we need...not to mention a great park across the street.

Really our little post-graduate life is great...not what I expected...but great!

Children...this is something I've always wanted in life. Thankfully I've been blessed with 2 darling, energy-packed little boys. They have honestly been life savers to me. I feel tremendously blessed that the Lord loved and trusted Ryan and I enough to be their parents. But I expected more.

Not more from my sons, but more children in general. Many of you reading this might say, "Lady are you crazy?! Two kids is more than enough!" Or others might feel, "How can you even say that?! I've tried desperately to have children and have never been blessed with any. Be thankful for what you have!"

Both of those comments definitely hold weight, but they still don't change the fact that my expectation was to have a larger family.

Ryan and I are both one of eight children. We're used to the craziness and fun. We love getting together for reunions. There are kids everywhere and we laugh and have a great time. We wanted that for our own children. Again, others might say, "Well then have more." That doesn't appear to be our reality.

We aren't set in stone on this, but through much prayer we both really feel that our little family will likely end here. I could explain all of the reasons, but every time I do, I feel like people give me some excuse or way around things. This is a decision between Ryan, the Lord, and me and right now the answer we seem to be getting is to be done.

We would welcome new additions to our family and so we will always be open to the possibility, but right now, just like I have to live with the idea that there might never be an advancement in mental health treatment, I have to accept my family as it is. I have cried many times and mourned the loss of the children I wanted. I have mourned the loss of large family gatherings for my 2 boys. I have cried because I didn't have enough in me to give to more sweet spirits from our Father in Heaven. But I have also found peace.

In all of these areas, and many more, my life and expectations have had to change. Would I have ever guessed my life would be where it is 10 years ago? Of course not. But in the same thought I can't help but say that I wouldn't want it to change either.

This has been such a TREMENDOUS time of learning. I can't wait to see what else I can learn. I know for a fact that my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus Christ are carrying me through this storm. I have grown so much closer to Them and I'm truly learning to trust Them. We are not asked to muddle through this life alone. There is ALWAYS someone there for us. All you have to do is ask. They truly are the light. The light in my darkness and they can be the light in yours.

*Freudian terms:Id, ego, and super-ego are the three parts of the "psychic apparatus" defined in Freud's structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction mental life is described. According to this model, the uncoordinated instinctual trends are the "id"; the organised realistic part of the psyche is the "ego," and the critical and moralizing function the "super-ego." - Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My New Reality

The Ultimate Career was wonderful for me in many ways, but in one specific way it was definitely a blessing in disguise.

As I've mentioned in other posts, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD). One big problem with that, I'm still suffering and my son turned 2 on Sunday. For most PPD suffers they usually get over it in less than 2 years.

An aside...every case of PPD is different, but at least from my understanding most women do get over it in less than 2 years. The Mayo Clinic website says this: "Untreated postpartum depression can last up to a year or longer. Sometimes untreated postpartum depression becomes a chronic depressive disorder. Even when treated, postpartum depression increases a woman's risk of future episodes of major depression."

I was desperately holding on to the fact that my depression would be going away. I think it was what kept me going. I kept thinking "this too shall pass." But it wasn't! I'm sure somewhere deep down I knew that something more was going on, but I definitely didn't want to admit it to myself. After reading the chapter from The Ultimate Career, I had to face the music.

This was a turning point for me. Whether I had depression before having Braeden and the birth was just the last straw on the camel's back, or whether my PPD wasn't treated well enough and turned into full blown clinical depression, I'm not sure, but either way, I had to start looking at things differently.

I just knew in my heart after reading how Elaine had suffered from depression for 14 years before the book was written and it wasn't going away for her. I knew that my reality was the same.

I also knew that my approach to life with depression was all wrong as well. I had been praying from the beginning that I might overcome the depression. I had asked for help in making it go away when instead I should have been making a completely different request.

There were a few VERY "slow days" while I was trying to reconcile in my mind what having a chronic illness meant. I realized that I'm only 27 and even if I have a shorter life than most I should live at least another 40 years. I wasn't sure I could handle 40 years of this. In many ways it felt like it would be 40 years of hell.

An aside, I don't use the word hell lightly, but I think it accurately describes what I was feeling. To have to live in that darkness for 40 years really would be like hell to me.

Thankfully, through nothing short of divine intervention, I realized that since my reality had changed (or at least my awareness of my reality), that my outlook had to change as well. So instead of praying for my depression to go away, I had to start asking for help living with depression, but not being defined by it.

Who knows what medical science will bring in the years to come, a cure for depression would be WONDERFUL, but I can't put all my eggs in that basket. My new way of looking at things is to assume that medical science will make no improvements in mental health treatment, so the remedy has to come from me.

I started to look for more outside help. I looked into various therapist options, I searched out a support group (The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance), and I prayed with new fervency.

Again, I may be blessed to have this trial removed from me before this earthly life is over, but if not, that's okay. I definitely still have "slow days" and some really "bad days," but overall I'd say my progress is in a positive direction. I take one day at a time and more and more often I feel happy.

I am in a war with my depression and I am going to win!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another key point from The Ultimate Career

I neglected to mention one additional point that really struck me from the chapter in The Ultimate Career. Elaine mentioned how her therapist gave her a unique suggestion. She told her instead of calling them "Bad Days" call your harder times, "Slow Days."

Somehow calling them "Slow Days" has really been a positive for me. I guess it comes down to connotations of words, but "slow" doesn't sound nearly so depressing as "bad." So for my own personal classification, I have "Good Days," "Slow Days," and thankfully only occasionally "Bad Days." (Bad Days = Days that aren't even good enough to use the nice euphemism, "slow days.")

My First Ray of Hope

I had a CRAZY freshman year experience, but from that my apartment and the one next door have become such good friends. To this day (over 8 years later) we have an online forum where we keep in touch from literally all over the country and from time to time all over the world. I love our forum. It has been such a blessing to me in so many ways, but the most amazing blessing came after I mentioned my continued struggle with depression.

One of my sweet friends, Natalie, hadn't realized I was still struggling. Some might say by chance, but I say through the hand of the Lord, Natalie was guided to rereading a book she hadn't picked up for years...The Ultimate Career. There was one chapter entitled, When Illness Strikes Home: One Woman's Story of Depression that she felt inspired to share with me.

It was nothing short of a Godsend! It was exactly what I needed at a TREMENDOUSLY difficult time. Elaine, the woman in the story, shared how she had been diagnosed with depression 14 years earlier. What first drew me into the story was her description of her struggle with depression...I felt like I could have written the description myself.

An aside...I think it is very important to understand that depression comes in many different forms. I know I don't understand them all, but not everyone experiences it the same way I do. Some have more anxiety, some get more moody and angry, but I got low...and I mean SUPER LOW!

I just felt SO thankful to hear of someone suffering to the same extent I had...again, not happy she had suffered, but thankful to not be alone.

She shared how she had struggled, but even more importantly she shared how she had coped.

There were SO many wonderful things that she listed. I was HIGHLY recommend anyone struggling with depression to pick up this book and read the chapter. But let me share with you the ideas that were most meaningful to me.

Scripture Study: This is something SO hard for me right now. In general, scripture study is hard for most people, but I have dyslexia as comprehension is already hard to come by, then add the language of the scriptures to that and it's just plain hard. But then add depression to that and it feels nearly impossible.

So often I feel like my mind is in a fog. When I try to think quietly I feel like someone inside my head is flipping stations on the radio...there is NEVER any calm. I feel like I'm constantly fighting to focus. So you can imagine how difficult that would make trying to read and glean ANYTHING from the scriptures.

Elaine suggested topical study vs. reading chapter to chapter. I've heard of that before and even done it before, but it just didn't click to do it now. So I tried it. Oh, my goodness! I seriously felt like a whole new world had been opened up to me. For some reason not having to guess the topic of what I was reading and really being able to spend several days on one topic made a world of difference for me. I felt like I was reading some verses for the first time. I really had whole new eyes. It was such a weight off my shoulders.

She specifically mentioned starting with a study of faith (for obvious reasons) and that was PERFECT for me. There is SO much to be said about faith that I'll dedicate several other posts to what I learned.

Love: For this topic, I'm going to quote a chapter from the book:

"Another time, during a low moment when I was feeling particularly distraught, I said to Mark [her husband], 'I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to leave me.' He looked at me as if I had hit him. ' We are in this together!' he exclaimed. 'I would never leave you, I love you,' he declared as he gave me a hug. 'Wouldn't you do the same for me if things were reversed? Honey, we are in this together.' Well, of course, I would not leave him and, of course, I would take care of him if he were sick..." (The Ultimate Career, pg. 159)

I had had those VERY same feelings on countless occasions. I seriously felt like Ryan would have every right in the world to leave me. I felt like all I was doing was creating more work for him and dragging him down. Somehow reading the words Elaine's husband told her, made everything Ryan had tried to assure me of, so much more real. I knew it then, and I know with all my heart now, that he's in it for the long haul and the LAST thing he'd think of doing is to kick me when I'm down, by deserting me.

An aside, sadly I know this is not the reality for everyone. I honestly thank my Lord EVERY day that I was blessed with such and understanding a wonderful husband. I'm sure there are days when it is really hard, but thankfully the love that we have for each other runs so much deeper than depression can ever truly touch.

Natalie was a Godsend (on more than one occasion) and this chapter was a Godsend. Together they were one of the first real rays of hope in the darkness I called my life.

Opening Up

I slowly became more open about my depression. I think I kept quiet for various reasons:

(1) I think I was scared of the stigma. I didn't want people to look at me with sad eyes and wonder how they could help this poor woman. Of course I wanted people to understand, but I never wanted to be looked down upon or to have others assume I was incapable because of the depression.

(2) I was afraid of rejection. This is similar to number 1, but still slightly different. I didn't want people to stop being my friend because they didn't feel like they could handle a friend with depression. I was also afraid that others wouldn't understand what depression was and basically assume I was just lazy instead of struggling with a disease just like someone with diabetes has a disease.

(3) I was afraid others wouldn't understand. I often felt like I could tell others what I'd been going through and they'd say something like, "Well we all have hard times. Just keep reading your scriptures, praying, and going to church and I'm sure it will get better soon." or "If you just exercise more, get more sleep, and balance your diet, everything should be fine." I think this forum has been the best way I've thought of so far to attempt to express what I'm going through. I can write my thoughts and ideas without interruption. In a conversation that can be very hard to do. I think I just felt like no one can really understand.

And probably the biggest reason of all...

(4) I was afraid to admit it to myself. Sure I wanted to have a reason why I was so out of sorts, but somehow opening up to others about what I was struggling with made it that much more real. If I was claiming I had depression to others, then I could no longer tell myself everything was just fine.

Finally I started to tell a person here or there as it seemed appropriate. The more I opened up the more comfortable I was about what was happening to me. I did find that some of the things I was scared of did happen, but never from close friends, and never with any ill intent.

Especially in relation to wanting someone else to understand, how could I truly expect them to do that? I mean, I think it's kind of like asking a man to completely understand what it's like to go through labor. Sure they can sympathize with how much pain and stress it is, but if you haven't given birth to a baby yourself, you'll only understand so well...and would I get mad at a man for not understanding that, of course not. They just can't. It's that plain and simple.

So the more I changed what I was expecting from others, the easier it was to share.

I was so touched by how so many people tried to understand the best they could. I obviously don't know what was going on in their heads, but at least outwardly they were so kind and non-judgemental. I really felt like they were trying to take it for what it was and let me dictate how much or little I could do.

I was also very surprised by how many others had suffered from some level of depression and not just moments of depression, actual diagnosed and medicated or treated depression. I can't say I was happy they were suffering, but it was also comforting to know that other women (I admit I didn't talk to many men about it, though I know many men suffer from depression as well), ones who I felt were on top of things and happy, had or were struggling with depression.

I had shared with many people early on that I was struggling with Post-Partum Depression, but many people did not know that I was still fighting and opening up about that revealed another layer of vulnerability. I think many people expect new mothers to struggle...I mean it's just plain hard to have a newborn...but the situation really changes when things don't get better.

But I was SO glad that I finally opened up...I was so blessed in return.

Overwhelming Support

I would like to thank all of you that have shown your overwhelming support for my blog. Blogging scares me to death, but I knew this was something I needed to do. I felt very inspired that this could be both a way to help others, and an outlet/forum to discuss my experience. I know that some of the ideas expressed here are mine, but many come from above and the clarity and way in which I am writing is also LARGELY aided by spirit of the Lord. I'm not trying to be modest, just honest.

I welcome comments and ideas from anyone. I truly believe that we have all felt moments of depression and therefore can at least appreciate what I'm saying to a certain extent. I also know that I don't have a monopoly of good ideas or ways of coping so again, I would welcome your input.

Please feel free to share this with friends, family, or even just acquaintances that you feel could benefit from participating in my blog. I truly feel that being open and honest about our struggles and discussing them freely is one of the best ways to overcome them.

Thank you again for your truly means more to me than you could ever's really an answer to many prayers.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

To See a Therapist, or Not to See a Therapist...that is the question!

Ryan is a Marriage and Family Therapist and so I was very aware of the concept of counseling or psychotherapy, but as I mentioned early on, it was NOT something I wanted to do. I kept coming up with excuses about life being stressful and we should wait until things calm down and see if I level out with the medication...So if I was waiting for things to calm down, I might have to wait until I was dead!

Finally after Braeden was already 18 months old with strong encouragement from my OBGYN, I decided to try to see someone. I got in contact with the leader of a local post-partum depression support group. After speaking with him he was more than glad to have me at sessions, but he also offered to see me privately once a week. With Ryan only being a graduate intern, money was an issue, so his offer was very tempting because he offered to see me for free if I didn't mind having a student listen in on the sessions.

Originally I told him no, but after contemplating it and talking it over with Ryan, I decided I really should give it a chance. So the following week I began seeing a therapist, that we'll call Dr. X.

Dr. X had been working at Duke University for something like 20 years and doing the post-partum depression support group for roughly the same amount of time, but his degree was in social work, which made me a little hesitant.

An aside, I do not have anything against social workers. They provide a tremendously valuable work to the community, but sadly they are one of the least trained in therapy of those working in the mental health profession. Many LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) can be WONDERFUL at therapy, but again, starting with less training makes me nervous.

I figured I'd give Dr. X a try anyways because of his extensive work with those suffering from post-partum depression.

I was COMPLETELY nervous for my first session. Here I was doing something that I really had deep issues with. I really didn't know what to expect. Obviously I figured we'd talk, but I admit I was skeptical he could really do anything for me. I felt like I'd hashed the issues out with Ryan SO many times that I wasn't sure what good talking about it would do.

The first session started by him asking to tell me about myself. Being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted to make sure I was answering the question the way he wanted me to. He just told me to start little direction really makes me uncomfortable, but I gave it my best shot.

I didn't mind telling him about myself because I figured he'd need to know that in order to understand my situation. But when I started to get a little frustrated was when EVERY week started like that.

Again, I have no problem with the therapist letting you dictate to a certain extent where you feel you need to discuss, but I also feel like what is the point of a therapist if all he has me do is just talk.

I personally feel like therapy needs to be an active process. A good therapist shouldn't tell you 100% of what you should do or shouldn't be lecturing you during sessions, but I feel like they should be guiding you in the discovery process and helping you find things you can do to make your situation more functional and healthy.

Dr. X didn't do this.

After several sessions of me just hashing out my past life and discussing every possible event in my life that could have made me feel the way I do, I let him know that I wanted to know what I could DO about my situation. Dr. X said there wasn't anything I could DO. He felt that if I came to grips with why I was feeling this way that then over time (he meant a LOT of time) I would be okay.

He made a lot of assumptions about me and my situation. He assumed that I had never discussed these past issues so fully...WRONG. He had NO idea how often I'd hashed them over in my mind and with others.

One of the things we talked about was that I was a guilt motivated person...he assumed that I didn't know that...WRONG AGAIN! I'm not sure how long I've known that, but at the very least I was aware of that before I was married (nearly 8 years ago).

And I think the biggest mistake he made was to assume that a higher power couldn't be involved.

I will always be glad I went to see Dr. X because he did indirectly help me give up some of my negative feelings towards people in my past. I started seeing him in March and so when the LDS Church's General Conference* came along the first weekend of April my mind was very focused on my past and those things that I was holding on to.

I had made these things a matter of regular pray and as I listened to the worlds of our prophet and leaders, I knew in my heart that I could forgive those that had hurt me. I knew that the comments and actions that had happened in the past were not meant to hurt, and even if they were I no longer wanted to be tied down by them. I no longer wanted to be a victim. The miracle of the atonement** had taken place in my life and I could instantly feel a weight lifted off me.

All of us have times where the actions of others make it easier for us to want to do something we know we shouldn't, but we still have the agency to choose how we will respond in that situation. The things that had happened in my past made it VERY easy for me to want to blame others for how I was feeling, but ultimately I still get to choose how I react. I didn't want to be victim to those actions any longer. (For more reading on this subject I would STRONGLY suggest the book, Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Group. Truly one of the most life changing books I've ever read.)

After my beautiful experience that General Conference weekend I was excited to tell Dr. X that I no longer held resentment toward those that had wronged me in the past. I was ready to and had let go of those feelings and I no longer wanted to dwell on them.

Thinking back on his response I don't remember the exact words he said, but more than anything I remember the way what he said made me feel. He basically looked at me with these sad, condescending eyes, and said something to the effect that there was no way I could have given these things up yet. We hadn't been discussing them for nearly enough time.

I remember thinking that I wanted to tell him, "It's no thanks to YOU that I'm over these things. The power of the Lord and His atonement are SO much greater than what any earthly therapist can imagine. So yes, if it was just up to you, I'd still be mired in the negative events of my past, but thankfully there's more to it."

I admit that I was feeling pretty harsh toward him at that time. I obviously didn't respond that way. I tried my best to explain the atonement and also the concepts I learned in Leadership and Self-Deception, but he just didn't understand.

It wasn't until months after the event that I realized that a quote by President Boyd K. Packer*** perfectly fit this situation: "The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."

Needless to say our time in therapy didn't last much longer. I appreciated very much going to see Dr. X because it got me over my fear of therapy. I also will never forget him for helping me be more focused on my past and therefore more ready to give it up that memorable General Conference, but ultimately I needed something different.

In finding the right therapists, just like clothes and shoes, there is a different fit that works best for every person. I now know that I need a much more action oriented approach.

The type of therapy that has the most evidence of being effective in treating depression is cognitive behavioral therapy. Couples therapy is also often an important part of this treatment.

*General Conference: A semi-annual conference held by the LDS Church where religious instruction is given by the leaders of the LDS church and is broadcast worldwide.

**Atonement: Our Savior Jesus Christ, suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane for every person that has lived and will live on this Earth. One aspect of that suffering is to allow us to repent and then be forgiven of our sins. Another aspect is the blessing of having our pains eased. I wish I could truly express this concept. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord and Savior felt the pains of the world. He alone KNOWS completely what we have felt. If we ask in faith we can give up those pains to Him.

One of my favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon is Alma 7:12 ~ "And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

***Boyd K. Packer: Boyd Kenneth Packer (born September 10, 1924) is the current president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Prior to his current position, Packer served as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Packer has been an apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve since 1970 and a general authority of the church since 1961.