11/30/13

Feeling Nothing

When I was young, my family would spend summer evenings at the Mueller Canyon park. Not quite summer but not quite fall, the sky was tinted with the in-between. Tinfoil dinners consumed, feet sandy from playing in the volleyball court, I would sit at the edge of the stream and dangle my toes in the water. The first touch of the water against my skin always made me gasp. It always amazed me that a temperature could be so sharp and a current so possessive. After a few minutes of my feet in the water, my feet would go numb. Leave them in even longer and the numbness crept up my legs.

My depression is like a icy river I find myself treading in. Shocks of sharp emotion, damaging experiences that are painful and sometimes seem unbearable. But as I wade and swim, I find myself turning numb. It creeps in from my extremities and hits my heart hard. I stop caring, I turn into a shadow of myself. I find it hard to laugh, cry, sing, dance. I'm not sad. I'm not happy. I'm numb.

Is numbness a feeling? Seems like a paradox to me. How do you feel nothing? I guess nothing is something, and it's a something I find myself feeling.










Luckily, numbness doesn't last.

11/25/13

All About the Numbers

Tonight I had an awesome conversation with my dear friend Cara about perfection.

When dealing with large numbers, namely infinity, mathematicians consider numbers as approaching infinity equal to infinity. .9999999999999999999=1
There is such a small difference between the two numbers as .99999999999999 is approaching 1, therefore, they are equivalent. (Can you guys tell I'm trying to make myself sound smart? Ha) 

As we compare 1 to perfection in life, we technically won't ever get there. However, we reach the equivalent of perfection in the process of trying. The journey, the pathway is what matters.

What a comforting thought. The Savior said to us, "Be thou perfect, even as I am." When He gave us this commandment, He knew we wouldn't be able to reach ultimate perfection in this lifetime. But, He knew that in the process of this life, we can obtain the skills necessary to gain perfection. We can become "perfect" as we continuously try, and continuously turn to our perfect Example.

11/24/13

Pushing Against Boulders

The past few weeks, I have been facing an unanticipated emotion: Anger.

There are five stages to loss: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. For some reason I expected this process to be linear, but let me tell ya, it isn't. I constantly find myself jumping between the different stages, and lately I've been angry.

Angry I'm home. Angry that I'm angry. Angry that no one really understands. Angry that I have depression. Angry that I just wasn't strong enough. Most of all, angry that I am in this situation.

I was thinking about my situation last night, this situation of having debilitating depression. The more I thought about it, the more riled up I got and the less I could sleep. It just didn't seem fair. Here I am, trying so hard to get to a normal level day by day, and my progress seems so small, if even existent. I am doing the things I am supposed to yet things aren't changing as much as I want them to. This reminded me of a letter that my dad sent to me on my mission:

May 27

"I hope things are going well. No doubt you are working hard and losing yourself in the work. I know it is hard, as you are figuring out. Remember that I had only one baptism and taught probably three other people who were baptized, but who all went inactive, or joined other churches. It reminds me of that little story about the Lord asking someone to push against a large rock. After a long time, the person complained that the rock wouldn't move. The Lord said that didn't ask the person to move the rock, just push. And He commented on how strong the person had become by pushing against the rock...that was the goal."

For some reason, the Lord has seen fit to give me this specific rock to push against. The more I think about it, the more I realize that He doesn't want the rock moved, He wants me moved. Isn't that how it usually goes in life? We face challenges expecting to overcome them in our own way, in our own time. But the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves, and helps us meet the challenges we face. Too often I want God to lower my challenge, get rid of the roadblock. But that isn't how it works. He asks that I turn to Him, and He will help me meet the challenge.

Depression is a challenge that millions face, and it is only one of a myriad of challenges in this lifetime. As the prophets have told us throughout the dispensations, we chose to live in this world and to face challenges. Only by doing so can we ultimately become like our Father in Heaven. I see so many around me with worse challenges than mine--mine is so small compared to theirs. Yet, God knows us and knows what we can handle. Trials and challenges provide opportunities for us to grow.

I am grateful for the strength I am receiving by pushing against my rock. It is at some times excruciating and all I want to do is quit, but I know that God has a bigger plan for me. He knows that I can overcome, and that I have invaluable lessons to learn by facing these challenges.

11/22/13

Light

I've never been good at keeping quiet. Call me an open book. I'm hoping that by being open about my challenges, I'll be able to help somebody, somewhere.

    I want to start out by crushing a common Mormon Myth:

Myth-Read your scriptures, say your prayers, and go to church and everything will be healed and solved.

Fact-Being a good Mormon doesn't solve your problems, but it helps. When I was on my mission, I was often told that to read more or pray more. I read, and I prayed. I've never prayed more earnestly in my entire life during those hellish moments. I received many priesthood blessings. I poured over my scriptures and conference talks. Guess what? I still got sent home. Even those prayers and blessings and scriptures didn't heal me, they still helped. I found peace and comfort. 

One of my last nights in Washington, I could not sleep. Thoughts of self-hatred and despair haunted me, clouding the already dark night. The emotional pain made me want to dissolve into the darkness that surrounded me. I was reaching for something-anything-any shred of light. Then came the words:

  "The Lord is my light..."

Over and over, I sang those words. Eventually, I found enough peace in my Savior that I was able to sleep.

I haven't been cured, far from it. I fight this demon depression daily. But I know without a doubt that The Lord is my light. He leads me and guides me along. His Atonement is much more than repentance and forgiveness, it is sunshine and light when I need something to cling. 

I testify that Jesus Christ is a living, loving Savior who is with each of us in our trials. Trust in Him. Trust in His peace. He too is your Light.