5.24.2020

General Conference Quote

After every General Conference, Kyle and I update our conference frames with our favorite quote from conference, usually decorated with pretty nature or family pictures we have taken recently. This one is so powerful to me!

General Conference has not been an easy thing for me in the last several years. Many conferences have been spent crying in my bed or in the bathroom trying to fight the overwhelming, overpowering feeling that I was failing God and my family and that I would never be enough.

This last conference was different though. I had been feeling emotionally stable for 3 weeks straight at that point, so I wasn't overwhelmed in the same way that I had been in the past. But it did feel like the broken pieces of my life, especially the last very painful year of my life, were constantly laying before me, and I couldn't fix them. I couldn't make everything better all at once. It was almost like I didn't know how to begin living again.

And then I heard this quote, and it pierced my heart. I realized that I didn't have to heal or fix anything. That wasn't my job. That was the Savior's job, and I just had to give my brokenness to Him.

This was a turning point for me in my healing process. Finding the right medication for my body didn't make everything better immediately. It definitely started the process, but now I am working to improve and overcome little by little, day by day, with the Savior's help.

I chose to surround this quote with pictures that invoke deep emotion and memories within me, moments that only I know what was truly happening inside. These pictures represent to me my once shattered heart that only the Savior can restore, heal, fix, and permanently mend.

5.17.2020

Stronger Together

It's true. We are stronger together.

Kyle got me this hand casting kit for Christmas, and we enjoyed creating it together. When we finished and I stood back to admire it, the first thought that came to my mind was the phrase "stronger together." Our life together has proven that we can do anything hand in hand.

This last week has been hard as we have been painfully reminded just how sensitive I am to hormonal changes and how susceptible I am to depression. I hope things will be better soon, but until then, I am stronger and can do hard things, because I have Kyle in my life. ❤️


5.12.2020

Happy Mom

If I had to say the one thing I’ve been the most insecure about in the last several years, it’s hands down my ability as a mom. I’m not a super mom by any means, I don’t do creative or artistic things with my kids very often, I don't like baking any more than I have to, and to be completely honest, I don’t really like imaginary playing. 5 minutes is about my max. Sometimes, we watch way too much TV or I tell my kids to go play because I need my own time.

As you can probably imagine, Mother’s Day has not been my favorite holiday during these years. Hearing message after message about the divine role of mothers or praising the efforts of moms often left me thinking, “If only they knew what I’m like as a mom, they would never say those things about me.” In some of my more depressed years, I even found it easier to tell myself that I just wasn’t a good mom, and that somehow lessened the guilt and worry about my efforts.

But recently, I’ve been trying, really REALLY trying to focus on being the mom I am, not the mom that someone else is. I’ve realized that I can be so encouraging and supportive of the moms who do really fun things with their kids or who seem to fit the role of motherhood so naturally, while at the same time being happy with who I am as a mom. I’ve concentrated on doing what I’m good at or what makes me happy as a mom with my kids, and it has made a world of difference to me. I’ve recognized that I love working with my kids doing chores around the house, I love taking my kids on adventures and trying to take pictures that capture their unique personalities, and I love helping them nurture their own creativity.

I’m not a perfect mom, but I don’t really want to be. Instead, I want to be a happy mom, and little by little, I'm getting there.

4.27.2020

There is Hope!

It makes me sick to my stomach sharing this, so I ask you to please be kind, gentle, compassionate, and understanding as you read it. I'm only sharing, because I know the message is beyond important, and I hope it can reach someone who needs it.

April 27, 2019 was the scariest day of my life. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first or last time something like this happened, but it was probably the worst. Kyle was at a campout with the boys in our church, and I was all alone with my kids. This shouldn't have been a big deal, except that I was in the darkest depths of depression imaginable for weeks before that, so taking care of the basic responsibilities by myself for a whole extra day was so overwhelming. Our bishop asked me if I would be okay before inviting my husband to go along. I wanted to give Kyle this opportunity and I wanted to believe that I could be okay, so I told the bishop it was fine.

I only got a couple of hours of broken sleep the night Kyle was gone between my lonely, scared, overwhelmed sobs. The next morning, I thought he would be home around noon, so I turned on show after show for my kids, trying to survive until he would get back. Noon came and went. My house was a disaster, but I couldn't clean it. I couldn't do anything. I was so overwhelmed and overcome with depression.

And then something happened. Something in my brain snapped, and I thought of a very specific plan of how to die. It seemed perfect. I knew it would work, and then I would be free from this unbearable weight that I was currently carrying on my own. I was not capable of remembering in that moment how devastated my husband and kids would be without me or the possibility of feeling better someday, so I moved forward.

I knew my kids needed to be taken care of, so I thought of someone I could leave them with. I started getting them ready to drop off at this person's house when the thought came into my mind, "Give someone a chance to save you."

I stopped getting my kids ready to leave, went to my room, and laid in my bed for the next hour trying to formulate the words to tell someone how much I was struggling. My whole body was shaking, and I was so scared to tell anyone what was happening inside my mind. I didn't want to tell my husband, because I desperately wanted him to still be able to enjoy doing something I knew he loved without worrying about me. So I finally worked up the courage to send a group text to three trusted friends and then curled up in a tight ball, sobbing in such bitter pain. Almost immediately, one of these friends called me and said she was on her way to pick up me and my kids and would be there soon. I knelt down and asked God to give me just enough strength to survive until I wasn't alone anymore. The tears flowed, and I couldn't imagine enduring even one more moment. Pretty soon, my friend arrived and wrapped my shaking body and broken heart in love. I stayed with her for some time before returning home to my husband.

The weeks following this dark day were so hard. I felt broken, like my heart could never heal, and I would never be the same again. I felt like a hollow shell of who I once was, like I was going through the motions of life with no purpose or feeling anymore. This feeling lingered for a long time, and sometimes I wondered if my light had gone out forever.

Fast forward one year to today. Looking back on this day still brings tears to my eyes and pain to my heart, but I don't feel broken anymore. I'm not magically healed or completely fixed, but I'm not in that dark place fighting for life every single day. If I could have known one year ago how good life would be today, I would have been amazed and full of hope, trusting in better days to come. But I couldn't see that one year ago, and in the instability of my mind at that time, I almost acted on an indescribable pain with a permanent solution. I never would have made it to this wonderful time in my life when I feel happiness, how much my family loves and needs me, and the desire to live again.

If you are in the place I was in one year ago, please hold on. Please. There really are better days ahead. I couldn't feel that for myself for several years. I relied completely on other people repeating that truth to me. But now I can feel it again for myself, and I want to share it with anyone who needs it. Choose to stay. Choose to reach out to someone for help. You are loved and worth saving. You'll never know how good life can be a year from today unless you stay to find out. It's worth it. I promise.

4.11.2020

One Month!

Not to brag or anything 😉😂 but I've been emotionally stable every day for 1 month straight now. Take that depression!
#ThankGoodnessForEstrogen
#LifeIsSoGood
#HappyToBeHappy

3.16.2020

My Light Has Come!!!

15th time is the charm I guess 😉 After trying 15 medications over a 6 year period with 12 different doctors, we have FINALLY figured out what my body needs to thrive mentally and emotionally.

In the hospital this last December, the hormone psychiatrist I met with told me that my brain has a severe reaction to hormone changes in my body. Through several indicators from my mood charts, she knew that my body responded well to estrogen, so she prescribed an estrogen-based birth control to stop my body's production of hormones, thus stopping any hormone changes that were making my life so difficult.

This one didn't work well for me, and I was devastated. There were no words for how tragic this felt. After 2 months, my doctor switched me to another estrogen-based birth control (one with higher estrogen and lower progesterone), and this one has worked WONDERS for me!

For the last 3 years, I have been between a 23 and 25 (out of 27) on the PHQ9 depression test. Two weeks after starting this new birth control, I was down to a 17, a number I had not seen since the first time I went to the doctor for this problem 6 years ago. Now, after 5 weeks on this medication, I am down to a 12!!!

I can't really describe what it's like to feel the emotion of happiness again. I can't explain how remarkable it is to have the energy and strength to do not only the basics of life but everything I want to do again. I can't put into words what it's like to want to live again. It's like having a second chance at life, one that I will NEVER forget to appreciate and love, and one that is dedicated to helping others through their own darkness and heartache.

For so long, I never thought this day would come, but it is here now, and it is oh so sweet. I'm thankful for every person who shared their light with me when mine was gone, who helped me to hold on when it seemed there was nothing to hold onto anymore, and who wrapped my heart in love when I felt unlovable. I am here today because of you, so thank you!!!

#YouAreLoved
#YouAreNeeded
#YouAreEnough
#YouAreWorthTheFight
#DontGiveUp
#ThereIsAlwaysHope
#YourLightWillCome

3.01.2020

Progress

Progress is slow. Progress is long. Progress is hard. Progress is not a straight line. Rather, it is a series of many little ups and downs that overall follow an upward course. But progress is progress.

That's where I'm at right now. We switched medications again, and finally, after all of these years of trying and praying and believing, I am seeing some positive progress. It's not that I'm all better. In fact, I'm still in the moderately severe range on the depression scale. But I'm not in the severe range right now, and things are slowly improving, so progress is progress.

A few times in the last week I've caught myself genuinely laughing or smiling, and it has surprised me to feel the emotion of happiness a little more often. A few times I've felt the delicate feelings of the Spirit again, and those times have been so sweet and cherished. A few times I've seen a little more of who I really am shining through, and I've felt hope that my light hasn't gone out.

I still have a long way to go, but I'm finally going somewhere, so I'm thankful.

2.10.2020

Love

For many reasons that I won't explain now, this last week has been really difficult. The darkness of depression has been unbearably heavy, and I have once again battled for my life. As with so many times when I am in that scary, lonely place, there were miracles that saw me through, not the big miracle of having the struggle magically disappear, but little miracles of strength and light that allowed me to be okay, even when the struggle remained. I realized this morning that all of these miracles had one thing in common, and that thing was LOVE.

--There was the love of my husband who willingly came home from church early with me yesterday because that's what I needed, who patiently listened to me share the heaviness on my mind for the millionth time, and then who reassured me this morning that I am deserving of his love and kindness.

--The love of several good friends who were willing to share with me personal, powerful truths for why they choose to live and what gives them hope.

--The love of another wonderful friend who brought clarity to my mind about something that has confused and hurt and tested my faith for so long. It suddenly made sense in a way that it never has before, and my faith was strengthened.

--The love of yet another kind friend who rearranged her day to spend time with me. When she told me that she had changed her plans so we could be together, her love instantly broke through the thick walls of my mind, and I remembered that I am worth someone else's time and love.

--The love of my kids who are always willing to hug me and who consistently remind me that they want and need me just as I am.

So, if you're wondering how to help someone you know who is struggling, someone who is going through something unimaginably difficult, the answer might be simpler than you think. Just show them you love them.

1.20.2020

One Small Victory

Lately, I've been frustrated, because I see little bits of progress in my depression, but they are slow and seem so very small compared to what I wish for. I know I have to be patient, and thankfully I have good people around me who help me focus on how far I've come vs. how far I have left to go, but it's still hard wanting to feel better than I do.

Today, though, I saw a leap of progress, and I'm counting it as a win! This may not seem like a lot to anyone else, but to me, it's huge.

Last March, I had to make cupcakes for a young women's activity. I bought a cake mix and frosting, because heaven knows I wasn't about to make them from scratch. I told myself that I could do this, I had agreed to do this, and it shouldn't have been that hard, but I was in the middle of trying a new medication that made it nearly impossible to get out of bed or function, so the thought of adding a few ingredients to a cake mix, baking the cupcakes, and then frosting them was literally beyond my ability at that time. I felt dumb. I mean seriously, who can't make stupid cupcakes from a box?! After fighting and fighting and FIGHTING myself to try to make the cupcakes, I finally opened up to my friend Kristina, probably in tears, and told her how I couldn't make the cupcakes. She immediately invited me to come to her house, and she kindly baked and frosted the cupcakes for me.

Last week, I was at Walmart and saw a cute unicorn cookie cutter in the Valentine's Day section. I thought about Brooklyn and how much she would love making unicorn cookies, so I bought it and promised her that we would make cookies soon. But things have been so hard lately. The depression is still very much a part of my life, as well as pretty severe anxiety now as a result of this new medication, so I kept putting off making the cookies, hoping for some good day to come along. That day still hasn't come, but since she didn't have school today, I decided that today was the day, regardless of how I felt. I pulled together all the strength and motivation I could find, made the cookie dough and frosting from scratch, and we decorated cookies. I DID IT!!!

I don't know why life is so hard sometimes or why the littlest of tasks can be nearly impossible to accomplish, but I find hope in moments like this that tell me I will get there. Someday. Little by little. One small victory at a time.

1.05.2020

Brave

I haven't wanted to write this, because I haven't wanted it to be real. While this new medication I've been on for the last month has helped with some of the lowest lows, it has also made me incredibly anxious and emotional. I cry for hours every day and worry incessantly about everything. What if Kyle gets sick of my crazy and decides not to come home to me after work one day? What if he dies in a car accident on the way home? What if one of my kids chokes or stops breathing or gets kidnapped in the night? What if my doctor stops believing me or thinks this isn't real or tells me I need to find a new doctor? What if everyone I love stops caring about me and I'm left all alone? What if this medication never helps and there is nothing out there to make me better? And then I worry that if I tell someone all of these things, they will feel burdened or think I'm exaggerating or stop loving me.

This is day in and day out for the last couple of weeks, except for a few good hours. It's exhausting and irrational. Sometimes I can see how irrational it is, but that still doesn't take away my racing heart and shaking legs and tightening throat. So I cry, mostly alone, and wonder where and when I will find peace.

Right now, we're sticking with this same medication, trying to be patient to give it the best shot at working, and desperately praying for better days to come. There have to be better days ahead.