10.23.2020

Hard Life Lesson

 Hard life lesson: Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to.

Three months ago, I went off my medicine to try to have one more baby to complete our family.  I knew that it would be hard, I knew that there was a possibility of it not working, and I knew that I would be heartbroken if not.  But I did it anyway.  I had been doing so well for a few months by that point that I *hoped* I could handle staying off long enough to get pregnant.  After three months and still no baby, I had lost 5 lbs. from not being able to eat much, I could hardly sleep anymore, some days I could barely function, and many days were a fight for life again.  I knew that my husband and kids wanted me more than they wanted another baby, so I decided to go back on the medicine.

At first, I was bitter and angry and hurt that things didn’t work out the way I desperately wanted, especially when I felt like I had given so much to try to make it work.  I felt like I had failed my family in every way.  My heart broke at the thought that we might never get that one more baby, especially after losing the last one, and I didn’t know if I could be okay with that.  While some parts of me still hurt so much right now, I’m following the wise advice of my friends, family, and counselor that I can try again later.  This isn’t the end.  I don’t know that I’ll ever understand the path my life has taken or why some things happen the way they do, but I’m trying to take more time to heal and to be content with my life as it is until I am ready to try one more time.

10.01.2020

Flowers

Sometimes when I share a post about how I'm struggling, a beautiful arrangement of flowers will show up on my doorstep.  This has happened more times than I can count in the last several years, and it has always had the same effect of bringing a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.  Often times, there are some tears cried too.  😉😭 I don't usually know who they are from, so I get to imagine that any one of the loving people around me are reaching out to show their support and love.  And every time, after I've smelled them and admired them, I then pull out my camera and attempt to take some pretty pictures of them.  It reminds me of beauty, especially in the little details, and that makes me happy.  So to whoever has blessed my life in these years and brought me joy through your kindness, THANK YOU!  I appreciate it more than I can say.


9.29.2020

October

 Last October was the worst month I have ever experienced.  Over the previous few years, I usually had a couple of -10s on my mood chart every month, representing the most intense suicidal lows, but that month, there were 25.  I was seemingly stuck in the darkest depths of depression imaginable and constantly wondered if I would ever get out.  Every day, I would tell myself that I had to stay for that day, but then I could give up the next day.  And then the next day, I would tell myself the same thing again.  Living more than one day at a time was impossible to comprehend in my state, so that was what it took to survive.  

One morning, I was sitting on my couch crying.  The tears wouldn’t stop, and neither would the persistent thoughts that I was not strong enough for this continuous battle.  I felt broken and feared that I was broken beyond repair.  Every part of my body hurt with my heart as I prayed that someday my mind would find relief.  

And then I got an idea.  I would make a list of things I had to look forward to in the next while, things that could make my life worth living just a little longer and that I wanted to make sure I was still here to be a part of.  I always had a general list in my mind with my husband and kids at the top of that list every time, but I wanted more specific things this time that I could check off once they were reached.

After a few minutes, I had come up with six things:

• Spending Christmas Day with my family

• Celebrating my friend Kristy's birthday

• Holding my friend Kristina’s baby

• Watching Garrett take his first steps

• Hearing Garrett say, “I love you” for the first time

• Having my Ensign article published

I wrote these notes down on my phone, so I could look back at them whenever I needed to remember my purpose in continuing to live for the next few months, and I did look at them often.  They became like six little lifelines that wound together to make a strong rope to hold onto as I attempted to claw my way out of the dark hole I had been thrown in and to reach my way back into the light. 

The other day, I found my list on my phone again and was so happy as I realized that I could check off each one.  I did it.  I saw and heard and was here for each one of these.  But it wasn’t just those.  Every moment portrayed in this video is a moment I was blessed to witness since last October, because I chose to stay.  Even more heart pricking is the thought that I would have missed these precious moments if I wouldn’t have held on.  Life has not been easy in the last year, and it continues to be a struggle today, but I’m here and I will continue to stay here for more moments like these.  Through medicine, counseling, and the support of my family and friends, I am finding hope and healing and have confidence in many happy days ahead.

If you are in your own “October,” please choose to stay.  Reach out for help.  Don’t try to do it alone.  You are loved, wanted, and needed, and will never know what beautiful moments you will miss out on if you don’t hold on.  It’s worth it.  It really is.

9.15.2020

Published Article

 I’ve been keeping a little secret, and I’m so excited to finally be able to share!  I had an article published in two different places-- a worldwide magazine and a large website for mental health and other health challenges (see the links below).  It’s an article about how to pull someone out of the darkness of suicide, about how to love and respond and ultimately save a life.  

A little background story about this article and the online magazine publishing…

Last October, I wrote a blog post about how to help someone stay.  I knew I needed to share it, because maybe it could help someone else, but the thought of sharing something so personal from the lowest parts of my journey with depression made me feel very vulnerable.  After several days of attempting to ignore the persistent thought that I really needed to share the post, I finally worked up enough courage to do it.  My heart was racing and there was a huge pit in my stomach, but I shared it.  For the next several hours, I debated taking it down multiple times.  It just felt like this shameful part of me was exposed, and I wasn’t sure if that was okay yet.  

And then I got a few very specific comments and messages about how this post had helped someone else along with encouragement to share this with the world, and slowly the feelings of shame and fear started to leave and were replaced with peace.  I began to recognize that I didn’t need to be ashamed of the deep struggles I had faced, and pretty soon, I had the desire to spread this message even further.  

It has always been my belief that people genuinely want to help others, but unless they have been there themselves, they usually don’t know how.  I knew this article could be a powerful tool to help others know how to help, so I started thinking about how I could get it out there even more.

The next day, my friend Kelley Walker suggested that I submit my article to the Ensign magazine.  Immediately when she said that, I had such an incredible feeling in my heart that this was exactly what I needed to do.  I consulted with my talented friend Rachael Eliker who helped me edit and refine my article for submission, and after a few days, it was ready to go.  The submission page informed me that it could take years for my article to be published, so I clicked “submit” but didn’t expect to hear back for a long time, if ever at all.  

The next morning, less than 24 hours after submitting, I got an email saying that my article was approved for publication.  I cried as I called Kyle to tell him the news.  I was overcome with this humbling feeling that everything I had faced had a purpose, that my voice needed to be heard, and that Heavenly Father had given me this beautiful opportunity to help others through my experiences.

It still took some time to work through the publication process, but this month, my article was published.  You can check it out in either of these places (both are a little different based on the editing done by the publishers).  You are also welcome to share these if you think they could help someone you know.  

Ensign Magazine

The Mighty

***I recognize that suicide is a very tender subject for many of my friends.  Please know that if you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are not to blame.  ❤

8.28.2020

My Rainbow

 Healing is an interesting thing.  This day last year, I saw my lifeless baby on an ultrasound and the next day we moved into our new house.  I felt so broken as we unpacked and organized, and I wondered if the gaping wound in my heart would be there forever after.  I didn't think I would ever heal enough to want another baby or to have days where I didn't think about this heartbreaking loss.  But last night, I realized what today was, and it didn't hurt.  It's not that I've forgotten or that thinking about it doesn't make me sad or wish it could have been different, but I'm okay.  I've healed so much in the last year and have moved forward carrying those tender memories with me while looking ahead to growing our family in time.   

At the same time, certain wounds surrounding the most traumatic parts of my journey with depression aren't healing as well with time, so I am seeking the help of a counselor to work through some of those painful memories.  I used to be incredibly ashamed at the thought of needing to see a counselor, but now I'm thankful for the availability of that kind of help.  I foresee healing in my future. 

#Healing

#MyRainbowWillCome

#ThereIsHope

7.20.2020

Wounded

I remember listening to this talk on repeat for several months after it was given in the October 2018 General Conference.  The title "Wounded" seemed to fit how I felt then, and the words of the talk were precisely the words my aching heart needed to hear at that time.  But this morning I listened to it again through heartbroken tears, and it offered the same peace that it did before, although under different circumstances.  In 2018, I was in the middle of a soul-crushing battle with depression.  The wounds of my heart were painfully fresh with no chance of healing yet, as they were continually ripped open by each dark day and each failed attempt at finding relief.  Now I'm not in that dark place anymore, but the wounds still haven't healed, and it seems the only way to let them heal is to allow myself to feel them again and work through them.  While my natural reaction is to stuff the pain down deep into my heart where it will never be able to resurface, I know that's not really healing.  And so I'm allowing myself to feel pain, to understand hurt, and to be broken, all for the hope of finding the future healing that I know will come in time.

Wounded

6.14.2020

Mood Charting

Almost four years ago, when my depression very dramatically shifted to become severe depression, my excel-loving husband made me some mood charts to track my ever fluctuating emotions along with medication changes, menstrual cycles, and other factors that might have influenced how I felt. This chart became an invaluable resource at my many doctor's appointments and eventually became the key to figuring out what my body needed when I realized that my once a month upward spikes were centered around my ovulation.

Many people have asked me in the last couple of months what they can do to get the help I've gotten. Unfortunately, this is not a simple answer, as other people's source of mental anguish may not be hormones. The best help I can provide is to suggest doing consistent mood tracking, so my husband Kyle Avery and I worked on these charts to make them easier to use. My dream is to someday develop an app to do this, but for now, an excel spreadsheet is the best I can give. If you click the link below and download it on your computer (it won't work on phones), it has all the information you need. 

Download

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.