11.13.2019

Enjoy the Good

Every time I am manic (which is usually once a month for a day or two, maybe even a few if we are lucky🤞) Kyle says, "We know the next 24 hours will be good. What do we want to do with them?" I love having him by my side to spontaneously make the most of the good days and to help me get through the ugly days. We'll have to see what wonderful adventures tonight holds for us. I'm sensing a random trip to the thrift store to celebrate 😂
#EnjoyTheGood #SoHappyTogether #ThriftStoresRock #ManiaRocksMore

11.05.2019

My Birthday

The days and weeks leading up to my birthday, I cried a lot. I didn't want that day to come. It felt like this painful reminder that it's been another year and I'm still not better, that I am still so young and overwhelmingly have so much life ahead of me yet to live, and that this used to be one of the most exciting days of the year but I am different now.

Despite all of the worrying and sadness leading up to it, yesterday was quite possibly the best day of the last year. I literally felt showered in love. I felt the warmth of so much friendship surrounding me and lifting me up. I felt like I could have a new start for my life, like I could build on the brokenness of the last while and make sense of some things again.

The best part of it all though was that I had my appointment with the hormone doctor after getting lab results back, and it was incredibly hopeful. It's going to take some time and tweaking to figure out how much supplementing I need, but he is confident that he knows what the problem is and that there are very good days ahead.

Also, I was too busy soaking in the day yesterday, so this is the only picture I got. 😂 Thanks to everyone who made me feel special and loved. I can't really describe how much it meant to me.

11.03.2019

What Makes Life Worth Living

This last month has been the hardest month of depression I've ever experienced. The days are long as I fight every day to find the hope and strength to continue living. Often as I am laying flat on my back in bed trying to survive until Kyle can get home, the thought slowly creeps into my mind, "Is it worth it? Is it worth it to go through so much heartache and bitter pain only for fleeting, intermittent moments of light? Is it worth it to put in the effort it takes to heal from where my heart and mind have been? Is it worth it to keep trying, knowing that things aren't better yet so this isn't the last time I'll be in this dark, painful place?" When these questions arise, I make it my mission to find what makes life worth living. It's taken a lot of effort to find it this last month, but the glimmers of hope have been there as I've tried to focus on looking for them.

--My family will forever be my main reason to hold on. Loving them and being loved by them makes my life worth living, even when it is difficult. They bear my burdens with me and make them lighter, like this last weekend when Kyle got our whole house cleaned. My family has always given me a reason to feel loved and needed, and they are willing to do anything to help me stay.
--Garrett is 16 months old and has struggled with learning to talk. We have been working with a speech therapist for the last 3 months, and this week, he said, "uh oh" for the first time. Since then, he has been trying to make more sounds too. Hearing his sweet, sweet voice made me feel that it was worth it to be there for that one beautiful moment.
--A few weekends ago, we took a hike as a family. I was really really struggling that day, so I decided to focus my time on looking for little beautiful things around me. It helped me remember that there is beauty all around me and that the darkness of depression can't take away my ability to find it.
--One morning, I was crying while making my kids breakfast. I couldn't comprehend how I was going to get through that day. I looked out our window and there was the most beautiful sunrise right in front of me. I suddenly felt this peaceful feeling that Heavenly Father was aware of me and wanted me to know that I wasn't alone.

I don't understand why things happen the way they do sometimes or why my heart has been allowed to be broken in this way, but I do know that it will always be worth it to hold on. I am determined to do whatever it takes to win this fight. And thankfully I never have to do it alone.



10.30.2019

Halloween

I'm not going to lie. Life has been extremely overwhelming lately. The littlest things feel almost impossible to accomplish every day, and many days have been a harsh fight for life.

As things continued to get worse and as Halloween came closer and closer, I finally accepted the fact that I couldn't make cute Halloween costumes and I couldn't coordinate our family to have some fun theme this year. In some ways, this was and still is incredibly frustrating to me, because it's something I've always loved and enjoyed doing with my family. But when I went to the thrift store to buy whatever random costumes were left, I reassured myself that this is really a win, a huge mental health win. I'm taking care of myself and my family all at the same time in the best way that I know how given my current circumstances. I'm succeeding by recognizing my limits and adjusting accordingly.

I really hope to be more motivated and able to enjoy things like this again next year, but if not, I will remind myself then just like I remind myself now that ultimately my family needs me, and if that means letting go of some things to relieve stress and anxiety and exhaustion, then that is what I will do.

Not to mention, how cute are my little witch and Dumbo?! 😍

10.24.2019

How to Help Someone Stay

14 times.

14 times something in my brain has snapped, and I have suddenly and painfully thought that I could not go on.  Each one of these times has added to the pain and trauma built up in my heart now, and yet, each one has been filled with life-saving miracles.  Unfortunately, 9 of these 14 times have been in the last 10 months.  One of the most common questions people ask me when they find out that this has been my struggle is "what can I do to help?" either in reference to me or their loved one going through similar challenges.  So I thought I could share this very vulnerable post about the most helpful things people have done for me or said to me that have given me the strength to stay.

1. Check on their immediate safety.  First and foremost, when I have reached out for help (I almost always do this by text), people have responded quickly by checking on my immediate safety.  They've done this by asking questions like: "Are you alone right now?"  "Are you thinking of doing something?"  "Can I call and talk to you?"  These important questions can allow the person I have entrusted with my deepest darkness to evaluate what is going on and decide if they need to intervene.

2. Make sure they are not alone.  If I am alone in these weak moments, people have stepped in to make sure that I am no longer alone, either by coming to my house to sit with me or by picking me up to be with them.  This is SO important, as being alone only causes the thoughts and feelings to get worse until they seem unbearable.  I literally cannot get through these moments on my own.


3. Express love.  It's difficult to emphasize enough how important this is.  Do you know how the three simple words "I love you" translate to my broken brain?  They speak to me and say, "I need you and want you to stay.  If you were gone, I would hurt, so please hold on."  These words give me strength and add to my ability to endure just a little longer.


4. Promise them that it will get better.  In my darkest moments, I am entirely blinded by the depression.  It feels like I am forever stuck in that broken place, like my world will never see light again and my heart will never heal.  Reminding me that there is hope, that how I feel in the present moment is not how I will feel forever, gives me something to hold onto again.  I can't comprehend at that time that things can possibly get better, but I can trust in someone else's hope for me.  


5. Give warm hugs.  That kind of physical contact brings immediate comfort to my aching heart.  The comfort doesn't last, but while I am wrapped up in someone else's arms, I feel safe.  The overpowering sorrow and fear subside for a small moment.


6. Help meet their physical needs.  It seems so obvious when I feel well that eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. are necessary for mental stability, but when everything in my world is falling, these important needs are difficult to meet.  My husband makes me food.  He reminds me to drink water.  He helps me do the things that are necessary for a good night's sleep, including helping me have access to sleep aids when needed.  These things are all so directly tied to mental health.  It's hard to have the strength to fight when my physical needs are being neglected, because I am too overwhelmed and tired to do these things on my own.

7. Repeat, "I won't stop loving you.  You are not burdening me."  This last while in particular, I have been paralyzed by the fear that I am going to lose everyone who has ever loved me by asking for help or telling them about this struggle.  It is terrifying when this happens, because I desperately need love, but I am often so afraid of losing the love of those closest to me by sharing my burdens with them.  I know it doesn't make sense, but I don't think I can ever hear enough in those hardest times that I am not going to lose everyone around me by asking for help.


8. Be available to listen and talk.  When I am surrounded by darkness, there are a million thoughts swirling around in my mind, and they continue swirling until I can tell someone about them.  Sometimes just hearing myself say what is on my mind allows me to recognize that it is not rational.  Other times, it is in the response the person makes that I can find clarity and peace.


9. Remind them that they only need to take things day by day or minute by minute.  This is hard to explain, because it simply doesn't make sense, but when I am severely depressed, I cannot stay in the present moment no matter how hard I try.  Everything, and I mean everything, big or small that I have to do in the near or far future fills my mind all at once, and it is understandably overwhelming.  Having someone remind me to let go of all of those things pressing on my mind relieves some of that stress until I feel better and can handle life again.


10. Have them promise you that they will stay and will continue reaching out.  Promises are powerful, even in my broken world.  Saying out loud, "I promise I won't do anything" brings incredible strength.  It's honestly very hard to say those words in the most difficult moments, because it doesn't really feel like a promise I can keep, but once I say it, I know I have to hold on.  I know I can't break my promise.  One of the best promises I have ever made is the promise to reach out to 3 people when I feel like my world has crashed.  That promise has saved me, especially in this last very difficult year.


11. Help them get the help they need, including going to the hospital if necessary.

12. Share your confidence in their ability to stay.  Some of the most helpful things people have shared with me in my darkest moments have been their expressions of confidence in my ability to endure this heartbreaking pain without giving up.  One time, someone said to me, "You have been to the lowest point multiple times before and you got back up every one of those times.  You can do that this time as well."  Another time, I was promising someone that I would reach out before doing anything.  They simply replied, "You won't do anything.  You've got this."  That confidence gives me strength.  It helps me recognize that I am stronger than this depression, and I can win.

13. Remind them that you would be sad if they were gone.  I know that might be uncomfortable to say, but for me, it helps me think outside of myself for just a moment and to remember those I love the most and how hurt they would be if I were gone.

14. Help them recognize that healing is ALWAYS possible.  Honestly, sometimes it feels like I have gone too far or I've struggled too much and can't come back from this.  One of the most comforting things someone has ever said to me was, "You haven't gone too far.  You can't go too far if you're still here."  I think of that often now, especially when the lies in my mind tell me that I am too broken to heal.

10.15.2019

3 Years

Three years ago today, something happened that instantly changed my life forever. I remember it so perfectly to this day. I'm sure I will never be able to forget as it is etched so deeply into my memory. It was evening, Brooklyn was already in bed asleep, and Kyle and I were sitting on the couch watching a movie. All of a sudden, something powerful overcame me. It was the most painful thing I could ever imagine as an indescribably intense darkness gripped my heart and flooded my mind. I ran to my room and fell to my knees sobbing. I was beyond scared as I couldn't understand what was happening to me. Kyle followed me to our room and wrapped his arms around me as I clung to his shirt so tightly and continued sobbing. I couldn't explain to him how I felt, and that terrified me. I felt completely alone in that moment. No one could get inside my heart to feel it with me, and thus began my often frighteningly lonely journey with bipolar disorder.

At first, I was desperate for a solution. I couldn't foresee this problem lasting any amount of time, so I was willing to do anything to find lasting relief. The more time that went by, the worse the cycling got and the more I realized that this wasn't going to be an easy fix. I prayed and begged Heavenly Father to answer my desperate pleas for healing, but nothing happened. No one could figure out how to help me. This last year has been the hardest, most faith-testing, soul-stretching year of my life as things have progressively gotten worse, and I have often wondered how it is possible to survive something so painful. Last week happened to be the darkest, longest week we've had yet, and it breaks my heart to imagine how much more we will have to endure.

This next Monday, I have hormone labs, and I am pulling together all the faith I can find to believe that this will lead to a solution. I know I will be devastated if it doesn't, so I have to believe that it will. As hard as it has been to face this trial of my faith, I have literally seen miracles over the last 3 years, people who have come into my life at precisely the time I needed them, fleeting moments of clarity that have given me the strength to continue fighting, powerful examples of love and ministering that have saved me from this brokenness, and even opportunities to bless the lives of others through my increased understanding and compassion. I am a different person today than I was three years ago, but I like to believe that I have grown and changed for the better.

10.05.2019

Opening Up

“When we open up about our emotional challenges, admitting we are not perfect, we give others permission to share their struggles. Together we realize there is hope and we do not have to suffer alone.” ~Reyna Aburto

This quote really struck me tonight. I've hesitated being very open recently, mostly because we just moved, and it's hard to be open and honest when I first meet people, because I want people to see me as I am. I don't want to be defined by depression, as it is just one part of me. But this quote gave me strength as I remembered how sharing my story in the past has given me the ability to connect and relate to people in such a beautiful way, and it can do that again if I can just be brave enough to share.

The truth is, I am struggling. There I said it. Not only is my depression back in full force after losing all of my happy pregnancy hormones and especially with winter coming closer every day, but this year I am dealing with a lot of trauma from how hard the last winter was. Few people know the extent of how much I struggled last winter, but I can oversimplify it to say that things have never been that difficult before and that miracles literally saw us through. I've spent a good portion of this last week crying alone in my closet or at a friend's house, and I'm forever thankful for the people Heavenly Father has placed in my life to bless me on my dark days. As much as it hurts and as hard as it may get, I'm holding onto faith. Faith in better days to come, faith in God's perfect plan for me, and faith that I can be strong enough to win this fight.

If you are struggling too, just know that you are not alone. You are loved. You are needed. You can do really really hard things. I am here. That's one of the beautiful blessings of struggling through this myself. I can be a safe place for anyone who needs someone to confide in. There really is hope. There is always hope.

10.01.2019

Hormone Doctor

Today was my first appointment with the hormone doctor. After hearing my story and my medical and pregnancy history he said, "Well, your last doctor sounds like an amazing and wise doctor, and your husband sounds like a very very patient man." He couldn't be more right. I brought in my crazy tracker charts which make it very obvious that hormones are involved. He is confident that there will be a solution to this. I have some labs at the end of the month, and then based on those results, he will decide what direction to go next. I feel so much hope I could burst. I think my crazy days are coming to an end.

6.23.2019

I Am Enough

Two months until Brooklyn's birthday. Two whole months, and I have already started worrying obsessively about making her birthday cake. Why? Because baking is beyond overwhelming when I'm depressed. Because I'm not good at it, so I know it will frustrate me. Because anxiety is my depression's best friend, and it knows no limits sometimes.

Today, I came up with a brilliant idea. I could pay someone else to make her cake. It would relieve the stress on me, she could have a beautiful mermaid cake after all, and everyone would be happy. As soon as I asked my friend and she agreed though, the guilty thoughts started to eat away at me. I suddenly felt like I was failing my kids, like they need someone else, someone more talented and fun and creative and energetic, the person I want to be and maybe could be if the burdens of depression didn't weigh so heavily on my heart so often.

Struggling with depression at this wonderful time in my kids' life is heartbreaking. But recently I've adopted the phrase "you are enough." I repeat it to myself over and over again every day. I trust in it, even when I'm bombarded with thoughts and doubts that tell me otherwise. I tell myself that this is how God sees me and how He wants me to see myself.

Do I feel like enough? Hardly ever. But I keep trusting and believing and trying, and that is enough.


6.10.2019

Being Real

I remember being a young, naive little 12 year old. One Sunday, my beehive teacher asked as part of a church lesson, "What do you want to be remembered by?" My answer came quickly, like I didn't even need to think about it. I replied, "I want to be remembered as always being happy." At the time, this seemed easy. Surely being happy was a choice, I thought, and I would simply always make that choice.

Fast forward 4 years... I was 16 years old, and I was engulfed in depression for the very first time. Suddenly, happiness wasn't a choice anymore. I tried to keep it up. "I am happy," I'd tell myself, "Always happy." But inside, I was hollow. It seemed like everyone should be able to see right through my fake smile, but they couldn't. They didn't know anything had changed, so I kept smiling, kept faking, kept hiding. I wanted to be happy, but the feeling wasn't there very often anymore.

Fast forward 5 more years... I was a newly married 21 year old engulfed in depression again. People would say, "How are you always so happy?" and then I'd go home and cry. I felt like a fraud. No one knew that behind that bleak smile was more pain than my heart had ever before endured, but I thought I still had to hide. I had to be happy. After all, how could I ever be remembered as being a happy person all the time unless I kept a constant smile plastered on my face, even if it wasn't real?

But eventually I couldn't keep it up anymore. It hurt too much. I needed help and love and support, so I did the scariest thing imaginable at the time, and I opened up about my struggle with depression. I knew that it would change how people viewed me and that I wouldn't be viewed as the "always happy" person anymore. But something else changed that I couldn't foresee. It took time, but after a while, I didn't want to be known as the person who was always happy anymore. Instead, I wanted to be known as the person who was real, the person who wasn't afraid to admit that life hurts so deeply sometimes, the person who was relatable and available when someone else's heart and world was crumbling.

Depression has changed my life forever, but more importantly, it has changed me, and I'm thankful that I can be real and loved for it.