Letter to Myself

I had something else that I wanted to blog about today.  But then, the light broke through the pervasive darkness, and I knew that I had to write about how I feel.  If not for anyone else, then for me, for the future me who wonders if light even exists anymore.

These last few weeks have been more challenging than I ever knew possible.  It's like every time I think I have reached the lowest point, I find out that it's possible to drop lower.  These last few weeks, I battled non-stop darkness.  You probably couldn't tell if you saw me, because I tried really hard to hide it, but inside, I was pretty sure that there was no point in going on, that I had lost the fight, and that I wanted to give up.  I desperately wanted to tell someone how I felt, but there were no words to describe it, so I simply held on and watched as all the remaining light drained out of my life.  The episodes came and then switched quickly and ferociously, but the thick cloud of sorrow and hopelessness stayed around all the time.  I couldn't shake it.  I couldn't snap out of it.  I couldn't do anything about it.

Some days, I would take a nap and wake up to find my body paralyzed for 15 or 30 minutes by the heavy weight of darkness.  I physically could not move.  Other days, my whole body would viciously shake and convulse from mania.  I had no clue how to cope with the drastic and extreme fluctuations in my mood and my energy levels.

On Sunday, everything came crashing down on me.  At church, my mind was literally screaming repeatedly that I wanted to die.  I had no energy left to fight it.  I didn't want to get better, and I didn't care that I didn't want to get better, because I was sure that I would never make it through.  The darkness was swallowing me whole, and it seemed like no force was strong enough to pull me out.

I prayed for several nights in a row that Heavenly Father would allow me to die peacefully in the night.  I begged that it could be His will.  I told Him that I could not give any more and that getting better was no longer an option for me.  Every morning that I woke up after praying, I felt a little disappointed, but I kept holding on, even though I had no reason to.  I didn't want to, but I did anyway.

I got priesthood blessings, I talked to some people about how I felt, I prayed, I asked others to pray for me, and I spent lots of time with friends during the day and family in the evening, but nothing was working in bringing a small flicker of light into my pitch black world.

This morning, however, I woke up to find that something had flipped the seemingly broken and unflippable switch in my brain.  The light was back.  I don't know what did it.  I wish I did, because then I would know to do that every time.  But the light is back, nonetheless.  I don't want to sound pessimistic, but realistically, this light probably won't be here for very long.  So while it's here, I'll write a letter to myself about what I want myself to know next time this happens.

Dear Shantelle,

The desire to give up is not your own and will not last forever.  In the depth of darkness, it seems that there is no way out and no hope, but there is always hope!  There is so much to live for, including your beautiful family who loves you and needs you, even with these struggles.

The light will always come again!  Unfortunately, it's not predictable, so I don't know when, but it will.  And the light is glorious, beautiful, breathtaking, incredible, and definitely worth holding on through the powerful darkness that sometimes has to come first.  It really will come again, even when it seems like there is no way out.

Letting the darkness destroy you is a choice.  Do not give up!  Hold on.  Keep trying.  Trust in future light.  It will come.  I promise.

Don't forget to look for miracles.  They are everywhere.  Even if you can't feel God's love, it is there, and the evidence is in all the little tender mercies and miracles that surround you.

This is hard.  It's meant to be hard.  But you are growing stronger every day, and you can do hard things.  Be thankful for the struggle, because it is what is allowing you to become.

Someday this will be over.  I wish with all my heart that I could tell you when it would all get better, but all I know is that it will.  Don't stop trying to get better.  It's worth the effort and the wait.  You're worth it.

You will get through this.  You have an army of people surrounding you who love you and support you and are willing to help you when you need it.

Most of all, the Savior is here for you.  He understands you completely and loves you perfectly.  He will strengthen you, when you feel so weak.  You can do all things with Him.

Much love,

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