Tuesday, January 4

Being Honest with Myself: the 10th Day of Christmas

I used to think that ignoring my struggles in life would make them go away. Sometimes it helps. But, at least in my life, my self-imposed ignorance meant I was never fully able to deal with problems when they arose. 

I've lived with severe depression since I was 16. I've only ever told three people - my mom, my mission president, and one friend. But I don't think any of them believed me... or understood the extent to which it affects my life. No one ever knew. Each day, I could convince myself that I was happy... and if that didn't work, I just told everyone else that I was deep in thought. I threw myself into life and accomplished incredible things... all with the goal of never having unscheduled time where, inevitably, depression would hit again. But my best efforts always seemed to be in vain. Something would be cancelled, life would stop, and I would find myself reading my scriptures, crying, and praying for the strength to live through my pain.

It wasn't until I looked at my life and honestly acknowledged the struggle that I could plan and take steps to face it. As I did, I found a wealth of "resources" for dealing with it. Practicing a musical instrument (even if I'm mediocre), studying the scriptures, going to a public place where I can be around people who know me and will stop to talk with me, going somewhere to meet new people, giving service at the food bank or another place, going to the temple, finding friends and having meaningful conversations long into the night, finding something fun that is also productive and won't make me feel guilty after (I can't play video games - I feel like I'm wasting my life away), writing in my journal or to others, writing poetry, visiting family members (that's what I'll do today! I knew this blog was inspired. :) )... I still fight depression. Today I woke up and found myself crying before even eating breakfast. But I don't feel as hopeless as I did when I was 16. I know that, eventually, the shadows will fade and I'll be able to move forward with my life, and smile, again. And, in the meantime, I'm grateful for the opportunity to rely on God and see His hand in my life.

Living with my attractions has been a similar struggle, though I didn't honestly acknowledge it until after my mission. But since I have, and given my life to God, He has helped me see the light at the end of each crisis. Individual temptations, like depression, eventually go away. They'll come back, but knowing how to cope - whether running 10 miles or biking 20, finding a good friend keep my thoughts busy, going to the temple, taking a walk for a few hours, or even watching people at the mall or somewhere else - helps me to have hope in the midst of what are easily the worst moments of my life.

So I'm honest with myself about my circumstances. But I never give up hope. A friend told me this yesterday: We are the result of our actions. We're not a result of our upbringing, our nature, or our circumstances in life - we're a result of our actions - the choices we make. And that statement brings me hope. Even though I live with depression, I'm an awful friend, and I have the most pathetic, undesirable set of temptations known to man... I am a child of God, striving to keep His commandments and become like Him.

Honestly? I feel better. Life can be so incredibly, suffocatingly awful. I don't think there's any way to explain it. But it's ok. God is there for me; He will take care of me if, by my actions, I choose to follow Him.


  1. As a mother, I often wonder how our Heavenly Parents deal with seeing their children go through so many trials, unhappiness and pain. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that they are gods and have an eternal perspective that we can't understand. I see my own children and ache at every suffering they experience. One thing I have learned through the years is that sometimes pain is necessary. This is a lesson I learned well when my oldest was in the hospital. He had to have IV antibiotics for 24 hours. The medicine burned his arm as it went in. He was only 12 at the time and it was excruciating to have to sit and watch him writhe in pain. But, I knew that in order for him to heal from the infection he had, the IV was necessary.
    I hope you can see where I'm going with this. I'm sure, even though they are perfect and immortal, that it is still hard for our Parents to see us suffer. But, knowing as they do, they allow it, so that we can learn and grow and develop our spirits to become what they know we can. This life is HARD and very often it sucks, but we chose it and I'm sure we would choose it again, knowing what we're striving for.

  2. I am sorry that you are struggling so much and I really relate to what you said about people not believing that you were depressed. It often feels like a life and death struggle to just appear normal. No one knew I was depressed because I did everything within my power to hide it.

    Again, I am sorry that you are having such a hard time of it right now. You and I may have chosen different paths but I still understand how you are feeling. (((hugs)))

  3. Depression is rough. I believe that Christ has the power to heal all of us, though that healing takes a while sometimes.

    I insist on being honest with myself, even when, and in fact, especially when it means facing something unpleasant. I'm sure that honesty with ourselves is necessary also when dealing with depression. When I'm honest with myself I can learn what thought patterns I'm choosing that are contributing to feelings of depression. Having identified that, it's been much easier to avoid the consequences. That's not to say that we can just say "I choose to not be depressed any more, ever," and have it magically happen, and I reallt can't compare my experiences with others', but I know that it has helpd me a lot to think things through with myself honestly. It has enabled me to choose different paths mentally.

    Yes, depression is rough. Hold on to faith, hope, and charity.

  4. I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I could def tell you struggle with deep depression (I have a degree in counseling)I admire your coping skills (most people can not figure out all of those by themselves) but it still seems to be a big struggle of yours. My heart goes out to you!! I HIGHLY suggest that find a professional who can help talk you through all of the pain. Though the three people that you have told obviously are people that love and care about you, they are not trained or prepared to help you through depression! There are LDS professional counselors out there that will help you in a context of your faith. I know you said in a previous post that you did not want to seek counseling for same-sex attraction... that makes complete sense ... but you should seek counseling for depression - that IS a clinical problem and there are SOOO many resources out there. I believe God ministers to us through other people and counselors are no exception!! There is help and I believe that you don't have to live with such despair in your life. A counselor would also be able to really talk to you about your struggle to keep close friends!

  5. I completely agree with SLG! I myself have dealt with clinical depression before and while the triggers can be different for everyone, knowing how to manage depression itself is VERY helpful. Mine got so bad that I got to the point that even though I knew Heavenly Father existed I could NOT FEEL it. The combination of therapy and medication were crucial in getting me out of that horrid vortex. Do think about it.

  6. SLG & Lalis:

    I've talked with counselors before... and I really appreciate people who care enough to go into counseling... but it has never been an overly positive experience for me. The one time I spoke with a counselor while depressed in high school, she made me feel as if everything true in my life was questionable. I never went back. And if it's a chemical thing, I refuse to be addicted to something that numbs me to life. Yes, I live with depression. But it's never been so bad that a relationship with God hasn't been good enough. Granted, some people may need real help in facing clinical depression in order to take control of their lives. I don't feel that I do... and the few professional counselors that I know now would function more as paid (or volunteer) friends than someone who could enable me beyond what I already know.


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