Rachel's Story (*Name Changed)

I was very blessed to be born to an amazing LDS family in Ogden, Utah. I had one older sister, three older brothers and three younger brothers. A large family is all I knew in life. From a very young age however I struggled with anxiety and self-harm. I think I was angry but I’m really not sure why. I always struggled with knowing how and where to put my anger and frustration. I also struggled a lot with OCD. I remember there was one point when I was in elementary where I HAD to get to bed exactly at 9:30 PM or I would worry and worry that I would not get the right amount of sleep that I needed and I struggled with insomnia. If we were out late as a family, I would beg my parents to leave so that I could get home and get to bed. I’ve been diagnosed since with OCD and still struggle with it as an adult.

Since I was a little girl I’ve struggled with self-harm. I would hit myself and claw my legs until they bled. I would make myself have bloody noses and I would threaten to even hurt myself with knives when I was extra angry and upset. Throughout high school I would make myself throw up, not because I felt fat but to purposely cause pain to my body. I eventually was put on anti-depressants. My mom made me go to a therapist when she caught me trying to cut myself with a razor, but I wouldn’t go back.

Once I got out of high school things got better. Not perfect, but better. I worked in orphanages in Ecuador, was a live-in nanny for two amazing little girls, got married at the age of 21 and became a mom at 23. Besides the self-harm and anxiety, I really was a happy person growing up. None of my friends would have ever suspected anything was wrong. I hid it really well. I was a cheerleader, fairly popular, got asked to every dance there was, dated a lot, and had a lot of friends.  I was always dating someone.                  

When I met my husband the spring of 2012 I knew I had found the one. We dated for 5 month before he proposed. While we were engaged the worst thing that could have possibly happened, happened. My older brother, who was only 27, took his own life. He had struggled with severe depression since I could remember. My parents truly did everything they could to help him.

I married my husband just a month in a half after my brother’s suicide. I had not at all healed. I was completely and utterly broken inside. My husband seemed to be the only thing that was keeping my together. He was my glue, my rock. He held me when I would cry myself to sleep at night. He was so good to me.

The self-harm came back. I was put on medication again and went to multiple different therapists. About 6 months after my brother’s death my husband and I moved to Ohio for the summer. I became so sick. I would throw up and I had constant stomach issues and diarrhea. We went to specialists who couldn’t diagnose me with anything. It was the strangest thing. It wasn’t until we moved back to Idaho and it stopped, probably because I was a little closer to my family who were in Utah, that I realized it was severe anxiety.

During this time I have finished school, which is one of my greatest accomplishments, all while taking care of my other greatest accomplishment, my son. Needless to say my life has been filled with ups and downs of anxiety and other issues and it’s not over yet. It’s something I battle constantly but I LOVE my life. I know I am so fully blessed it’s not even funny. I have so much to be grateful for. And that’s what keeps me going every day. I have incredible people in my life and most importantly I have the gospel of Jesus Christ. My Savior is my strength. Because of the atonement I can heal and be made whole.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving through a beautiful canyon with gorgeous fall leaves and I just thought to myself, I don’t feel like I’m quit as broken anymore. I may have hard moments, but I feel like some, not all, of the pieces inside me that had completely fell apart after my brothers death have slowly but surely been repaired. I know we are all capable of healing and that our weaknesses do not define who we are. I’m a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. My illness is not who I am and I will not let it take over my life. I have way too much to live for. And I will continue to live with my anxiety, one day at a time.

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