Q&A: What does it feel like when Christ is helping you?

Q: Exactly what happens when you feel like Christ is there helping you? I usually hear a lot of people say something about turning to Christ and feeling better, but no details. So I'm wondering how does He help you, and what does it feel like in detail?

A: I've been thinking about how to answer this, and I feel like it's not one simple answer.  It's different almost every single time I need help.  So instead of saying "this is how it feels every time," I'll give several recent examples.

First example:  It was at the beginning of all of this new mental illness stuff, when I was experiencing mania/panic one day.  Since it was the beginning, I didn't know what was happening, and I was terrified!  As my legs shook and my chest felt crushed by an impossible amount of darkness, I prayed.  When I got done praying, I got on my phone and found a music video a friend posted on Facebook.  I listened to it over and over and over again until my husband got home.  It helped me feel calm and peaceful through the raging storms in my brain.  Christ didn't take away the storm in that instance, but He helped me find something to keep me calm.

Second example: One day in December, I experienced the worst episode of mania/panic I've ever experienced before. My whole body was overcome with this awful misplaced energy, and it felt like the most overwhelming thing possible. As I was laying in my bed shaking and sobbing in emotional pain, the thought came to my mind that I needed to ask someone to pray for me. I could hardly do anything with my muscles so tight and my mind so weighed down by the burdens of mental illness, but I managed to text a friend and ask her to pray for me. After I sent the text, I curled up in a tight ball and prayed as well. Instead of asking Heavenly Father for help though, I tried to thank Him for every blessing I could think of, especially for this trial and how it is allowing me to grow, to learn, to have compassion, and to help others. A few minutes later, my friend texted back and told me that her and her kids had prayed for me. Suddenly, the awful tension in my heart left and my legs stopped shaking as an overwhelming feeling of peace washed over me.  Normally, prayers aren't answered that quickly, that powerfully, or that miraculously, but that day, they were. I was left feeling exhausted, but, more importantly, so so thankful for the Savior!  That day, He took away my storm for several hours and allowed me to feel a very real calm.

Third example: Another day, I was in the depths of depression.  The sadness I felt was so intense and so overpowering that I did not know how I would overcome.  As I laid curled up in a ball crying, I felt this very comforting message that all of this had a purpose and that my ability to endure it well would bless others.  The pain was not taken away, but my heart was softened, and I knew that I needed to experience this sort of sadness to help others through their similar sadness.

Fourth example:  As in THIS instance and THIS instance, Christ used someone else to help lift my pain and make it bearable.

Fifth example: While in the hospital, I was able to recall scriptures I had read before that brought me comfort and peace through my scary experience.

Sixth example: SEVERAL times, someone has sent me their story for my "That We Might Have Joy" project at my EXACT moment of despair, and it has lifted me.  Like really I can't even count how many times this has happened, and it strengthens me every time to know that other people's trials can bring me joy, even though our trials are different.  I can't help but feel like Christ helps other people have the courage to write their stories so they can send them to me right when I need them.  

Seventh example: Often times, I write as a means of "therapy."  It helps me to process how I feel.  But often times, as I am writing, God teaches me.  It's like I just have to start, and then He does the rest.  One of those times was when I wrote this: "While my heart yearns to question why mental illness must exist in this world, my spirit answers, "Because you need to know how strong you are." And certainly I am proving to myself how strong I am-- every day, every moment, as I fight and conquer the darkness that threatens to overtake me."  I was in so much pain as I was writing that I didn't think I could stand it.  I wanted to share my pain so that I wouldn't feel so alone, but I didn't know what to say.  Then God used this moment to teach me.  He helped me recognize that I was stronger than I knew and that I could make it through that dark night.

Eighth example: I remember having a really rough weekend one weekend.  It was stake conference, and I couldn't sit and listen, because the pain was too much.  I paced the halls at church and ended up sitting in a classroom sobbing.  When I finally got the strength to go back in, the speaker quoted a scripture that had been a comfort to me just a few days before.  I was amazed at God's mindfulness of me to prompt this speaker who didn't know me or my situation to share a certain scripture in their talk that could give me comfort, peace, and strength through my tempest.  

Ninth example: My husband.  That man is amazing!  Often times, I struggle feeling the Spirit or discerning truth from lies when I am drowning in mental illness, but my husband always knows EXACTLY what to say to help me recognize the truth.  I used to wonder how he was so good at knowing what to do or say to help me, but then I realized that he is this powerful instrument in God's hands sent to give me strength and bring me light in my darkness.  And he does an amazing job of it!

I'm not sure if this helps answer the question at all, but I do know that the Savior is able to comfort, bring peace, and heal us.  One of the big blessings about this trial is that it has helped me recognize the many different and specific ways that the Savior brings comfort.  He doesn't always take away the pain, but He ALWAYS provides a way to endure it.  I have felt His comfort more times than I can count, and He is the reason I am still moving forward and finding JOY today!  

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