After getting to know me, people often ask, “How are you so happy all the time?” or they’ll exclaim, “I think you’re the happiest person I know!” If I tell them that I’ve been dealing with chronic depression and anxiety since I was nine, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder since I was thirteen, their eyes cloud over in confusion. I can see on their faces the question in their minds, “How can this be?”
Anxiety is so hard. I’m afraid of everything. I worry that all of the things I need to get done will push me over and then trample me. I’m scared that I won’t be happy in the future. I have nightmares. What if’s plague my mind.
Depression is so frustrating. I feel extra tired and lay in bed all day. I have no motivation to do anything whatsoever. I feel despondent for no reason. Sometimes I don’t even desire to take the steps I need to take in order to pull myself out of it. The future seems bleak.
Sometimes I feel both anxiety and depression both at once.
When I’m trapped in the black abyss I wonder to myself, “Why haven’t I overcome this already? I’ve been dealing with it for ten years. I should be better at this by now.” And I am better at dealing with it now than I used to be, but the problem still persists, because this is mortality, and mortality is just plain hard.
To my puzzled friends, I explain that my walks in the darkness have taught me to love light. The pain I’ve known has taught me to cherish and cleave unto joy. The anguish I’ve felt has brought me closer to my Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
I find joy despite depression through relying on my Savior. It is during my darkest hours that I’ve poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father most fervently and with most sincerity. And it is during these heartfelt conversations with my Maker that I have felt the most tender and profound expressions of His Divine love for me. I can think of nothing else that could possibly bring me greater joy. It is during these times that I desire to jump up and proclaim to the world of the mercy and pure joy that come from our Heavenly Father and His Son and the knowledge of their Redeeming Plan of Happiness.
However, sometimes God doesn’t take away the pain immediately. Occasionally, I have to stick it out, and it’s really tough. Really tough. Sometimes it will last for days or weeks. In fact, I’ve been through periods of months marked by continual depression and anxiety. But this I know for a fact: no matter how bleak the darkness may be, or how gray the nothingness and numbness of life may feel, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is the light that emanates from the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I know that life is full of joy. It can be found. Sometimes we must dig really deep to find that joy, but when we do, it is that much more meaningful and rewarding.