5.15.2019

Disappointing News

Last Friday, I got a text from my doctor with some bad news. We weren’t going to be able to move forward with the treatment we were planning to try, because the specialist he had consulted advised him not to. Immediately when I read this message, my eyes began to fill with tears. I hurried to my closet to hide away from Brooklyn, when all the strength left my body, and I fell to my knees in broken sobs. My heart hurt with such intensity that I could only gasp for air between the bursts of tears that seemed to overcome me. It felt like every last bit of hope I had in me washed away with each warm tear that streamed down my face. I didn’t think I would be able to find the strength to get up or stop crying ever again. I called my husband and messaged a few close friends to share my devastation. There was nothing they could say to make it better, but I felt love as they mourned with me in my moment of great hurt. I continued crying as I wished that my husband could be there to wrap me in his loving arms.

And then something so beautiful happened. My snuggly baby boy army crawled to my closet to find me. When he had finally made his way to me, he reached up for me, and I picked him up. He then laid his head on me and stayed there looking up at me and saying, “Aww” for the next 20 minutes! I didn’t immediately feel better, and I’m pretty sure I soaked his cute blonde hair with my tears that continued to fall, but I did feel the immediate goodness of God through this sweet boy as he wrapped my broken heart in love. It was such a tender moment, one that I will never forget, and one that will forever remind me that God knows me and is so mindful of me.

We do have a plan moving forward, so we will continue on this journey hoping and trusting in better days to come. It’s hard knowing that this struggle isn’t over yet, and I do have some anxiety about the days ahead, but I know that there will always be miracles to accompany the most difficult days, just as there have been SO MANY miracles in the past.

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5.07.2019

Feeling Hope

Things have suddenly taken a turn for the better for me emotionally, and I am so thankful. On April 27th, I reached the lowest I have ever reached before. I had no hope left in me. I felt broken beyond repair. I thought healing was beyond reach for me. I thought there was no reason to go on. And for the first time, I really could have been gone. It seemed like nothing could help me stay. Thankfully, I found the last of the strength I had in me to reach out for help, someone responded to my urgent plea, and I didn’t act on the feelings and thoughts that were so pressing at the time. After this traumatic, scary experience though, I decided that I needed a break from medicine for a while. Since my medications weren’t helping at all and were only making things worse, I decided with my doctor to stop taking them for the time being. I’m open to trying again in the future if we think that is necessary, but for now, I’m taking a much needed break. At the same time, my doctor discovered something that he thinks is the cause for all of this emotional turmoil. We’re still in the process of beginning a new, quite unconventional treatment option, so I won’t share the details until we see if it works 🤞🤞🤞 but just knowing that this might help me, that I might get better, that my heart has a chance to heal, has brought so much hope into my world. I still cry. I still struggle with getting overwhelmed by small tasks. I still have daily thoughts of dying. I know I still have a looooong way to go to heal from these years of struggle, but for the first time in a very long time, I have a tangible feeling of hope for a bright future ahead for my life. It’s finally my own feeling, not just me trusting in the hope that others have for me. It brings immediate tears to my eyes to think of all the people who have been there for me along this wild ride and who have saved me when the darkness seemed all-consuming and was literally impossible to fight on my own. My life is forever changed by the Christ-like ministering and love I have seen through my darkest days.

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5.02.2019

Mental Health Awareness Month

Supposedly, this month is Mental Health Awareness Month, but I feel completely unqualified to say anything about it. I guess it's because I feel like I don't know anything about mental HEALTH anymore, only mental ILLNESS with my brain being so sick right now. 😜 This last weekend, I experienced a level of darkness that has left me scarred, wounded, and changed forever. It hurts that there is something so powerful and so painful that it has changed me in such a drastic way. Thanks to my incredible husband, wonderful friends, supportive church leaders, and an amazing doctor, I'm holding onto a few things they have repeated to me during this difficult time that give me glimmers of hope. While I don't feel these things for myself yet (which makes me feel raw, vulnerable, and slightly hypocritical sharing them), I can trust that they are true, because I trust that the people who say they love me or care about me really do.

1. My life is never too broken to heal.
2. Asking for help is not weak. In fact, it's one of the strongest things I can do.
3. I am not defined by my lowest points.
4. I may never be the same again after what I've experienced. But isn't that the point of the struggles we face-- to change us, to open our hearts, to give us new compassionate perspectives, and to show us how to help others?
5. I don't have to escape if I can heal, and I CAN heal.
6. It's okay to not feel hope for myself at the moment but to trust in the hope that others see and feel for my future.

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4.25.2019

My Crazy Tracker Charts

Once upon a time, my cool, nerdy, amazingly supportive husband Kyle made me an excel sheet we lovingly call my "crazy tracker charts." Yesterday I had my first collaborative care appointment, which means that my doctor, a counselor, and a psychiatrist all work together on my care. I brought my charts, and they made it very obvious that I have rapid cycling bipolar 2. I've spent a lot of time in very deep depression this month, but there is hope and healing ahead. It's going to take time and work and figuring out more things medically first, but we will get there. Someday, I hope my charts will be small waves with lots of time spent at 0 (normal). But until then, I'll keep plugging in the data and enjoy seeing the craziness of my brain on my awesome charts.


4.19.2019

Miracles

I know I've shared a lot recently, and I won't share so much in the future, but my hope is that sharing can bring light and hope to someone else who is fighting similar battles.

Yesterday was a day of hellish darkness. When I woke up, I immediately knew that I was in the fight for my life. But this time, I couldn't find it in myself to try to be patient and submissive. I was angry that this darkness persists and so very tired of fighting. As tears soaked my face and as my heart crumbled, this thought came into my mind, "Be prepared to see miracles today." Every time the darkness is this thick, every time I don't know how I can survive one more storm, every time I wonder how a heart can endure so much pain and keep beating, I see miracles. Not miracles of healing, but miracles of strength and love, and yesterday was no different.

First, it was a good friend who listened as I cried and who spoke comforting words of encouragement. Then, it was two people who texted one right after the other saying that I was on their mind that morning and asked how I was doing. One of them also told me about an article in the Ensign which I read right away and it touched my heart. Next, it was a friend who dropped anything she may have had going to come and sit with me. She let me explain my darkness, she told me about her struggles, and our hearts connected on a level that can only come through struggle. After that, it was a sweet card that came in the mail from a dear friend with a package that I ordered from her. She didn't have to do that, but it couldn't have been better timing. Finally, it was a friend who sent me a picture of two Dove chocolate wrappers with sweet quotes that she said made her think of me.

None of these acts took away my darkness, and it stubbornly persists today. But they wrapped my broken heart in love. They buoyed me up and strengthened me. They carried me through the darkness and helped me once again find the will to win.

I am thankful for the "immediate goodness of God" that I see and feel through the wonderful people all around me. I'm thankful that I don't have to face this struggle alone, as I'm positive I wouldn't still be here if that were the case. I'm thankful that I am able to experience miracles, even if they aren't the miracles I sometimes desire. I'm thankful for the love that binds together the broken pieces of my heart until they can heal someday. Someday I hope to be the one to let someone else see God's goodness through me as so many have done in my life.

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4.17.2019

Smile

A few weeks ago, I was driving to take a picture of the foundation on our new house. I had been feeling alright that day, but as soon as I was alone, I began to cry and couldn't hold back the tears no matter how hard I tried. At first, they were tears of confusion and frustration as I wondered what had just happened and why my mood had crashed so quickly. After just a few minutes though, my thoughts spiraled downward, and I desperately wanted to die. I thought of my husband and kids and knew that I needed to hold on for them, but the pain was so great as I wondered how I could ever survive crash after crash after crash in the future. It hurt in a way that I feel few people could ever understand unless they have been there, and pretty soon the warm, angry, sorrowful tears steadily streamed down my face.

I got home, parked my car in the back corner of the parking lot, and sobbed. I felt all alone and weak in this moment of great hurting, and I wondered how I would ever find the strength to pull myself together and go inside my house.

And then something miraculous happened. I was parked in an area that didn't have an outlet, so no one would come over there unless they were parking there as well or lost. There were several parking spots open next to me and no one was around, so I felt like I could get my tears out without anyone seeing. After a few minutes, an older man came and parked next to me. When he saw my face, I'm positive he could see that I had been crying. Without saying a word, he smiled the most genuine and heartfelt smile I've ever seen. The look in his eyes was as if he were comforting me and saying, "It's okay. You're going to be okay." In that moment, I felt an overwhelming feeling of God's love for me. I felt that I was not alone, that God was so mindful of me, that He cared about me and hurt to see me hurt, and that I really would be okay. The man backed out of the parking spot almost as quickly as he had parked and drove away.

Immediately, my tears stopped flowing, I dried my face, and I returned to the safety of my home and family. All because a kind man took the time to smile at me.

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4.14.2019

Faith in God

I try to be vulnerable and share my experiences with depression for two reasons-- 1) to help those who experience similar things to know that they are not alone and 2) to help others who don't experience these things to have more understanding and love for those who do.

Since beginning to write, I have had a lot of comments and opinions shared, some that brighten my day and lighten my load and others that aren't very helpful or kind.  I have reached the point where I am able to disregard these and they have very little affect on me, but I've been thinking about some of them recently. One of the most frequent opinions that has been shared with me is that if I just had enough faith, then this problem would be healed.

At first, this was devastating to think that I was being judged as not having enough faith because I experienced an ongoing struggle with depression. Over time, the comments about my apparent "lack of faith" have stopped bothering me, but in listening to the recent General Conference talk by Elder Brook Hales, I have appreciated this part of his talk: "Sometimes our prayers are answered quickly with the outcome we hope for. Sometimes our prayers are not answered in the way we hope for, yet with time we learn that God had greater blessings prepared for us than we initially anticipated. And sometimes our righteous petitions to God will not be granted in this life. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, 'Faith also includes trust in God’s timing.'"

I believe that I have the faith to be healed. I really do. But that has not been God's will for my life. It hasn't even been His will for me to find a medication that can relieve the burden yet. That does not mean that I don't have faith. It simply means that God has greater plans in store for my life than what I can understand right now. I will never stop praying for my miracle or praying for relief, but even if that prayer is never answered in this life, I have faith that someday my mind and heart WILL be made whole, never to be broken in this way again.

I'm not trying to direct this at anyone or make anyone feel bad, and I truly believe that people mean well. I simply want to point out that some things are less helpful or even harmful to say.

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4.12.2019

Rock Bottom

I am moved to tears today, but for the first time in a very long time, they are happy tears. After 15 days of a darkness so thick that it once again redefined my definition of what it means to experience darkness, I feel the tangible feeling of hope again. My doctor has a new treatment plan that is unconventional but seems to have a very probable chance of helping (I'll tell more about that later). I have family and friends and church leaders who love and support me through my darkest days. And most of all, I have a firm testimony of the Savior and of His ability to comfort, love, sustain, strengthen, and bless. Though this struggle has beaten me down to what feels like a rock bottom, I find comfort in knowing that the only direction to go from rock bottom is up.

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4.11.2019

Inspired Quote

Why not take advantage of not being able to sleep to post an uplifting quote? 😜 There were two talks in general conference this last weekend that particularly touched my heart. One was the beautiful talk by Sister Eubank about Christ being the light that shines in darkness. I've already listened to that talk twice more this week and it continues to reach the parts of my heart that need comfort and light. Out of all the inspired words of her talk, this part brought instant tears to my eyes as I felt like she was talking directly to me. I feel the truth of these uplifting words, and they continue to bring light to my darkness.

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4.09.2019

What if the Greatest Good...

I've thought about sharing this post for a few weeks now, but I've hesitated because I don't want it to draw attention to myself. I finally decided to in case it can help someone else, but just know that this simply meant to uplift anyone who feels that their current circumstances limit their ability to bless the lives of others.

I've honestly prayed many times in the last several years for this struggle with depression to be taken away. Of course, I want relief for my broken heart and mind, but sometimes there is this more pressing concern that I could do so much more good in this world if this wasn't an ongoing struggle in my life. I would be so much more available to serve and give of my time and energy to bless others if this struggle was miraculously healed.

Recently when I've prayed and tried to explain to Heavenly Father my desires to serve that feel impossible to fulfill at this time, this thought has come into my mind, "You want to be healed to do good, but what if the greatest good you can do comes through having this struggle?"

This took me back at first, as I confusedly wondered how a life that feels broken into so many tiny pieces can still be used to do good. But slowly, my eyes have been opened, as I have recognized the beautiful opportunities my broken heart has been given to connect with other broken hearts in ways that I know it couldn't have otherwise. I have been humbled to witness how God can take my small offering and multiply it to make it so much more. I have been able to see ways that I can serve within my own capacities that still do good in the world, even if they're different from what I desire to do.

I still want to be healed, and I always will. I will never stop trying to find relief and I'll never stop hoping in better days ahead, but I find joy in moments when I can see things from a different perspective and know that whatever happens in my life is truly best for me and for those around me.

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