You see, last month, I was asked to play a piano solo in church. I knew the song very well and was more than ready to play it. The morning of the performance, I was feeling some mania, but not too much. As I sat in the chapel with my family, waiting for my turn to play, the stress and anxiety made the mania much worse. By the time I got up to play, I was completely overwhelmed and surrounded by thick darkness. I sat down on the piano bench and could hardly remember anything I was about to play (I didn't bring music because I had it memorized), but I started anyway, hoping that God would guide my fingers to the right notes, since my brain was so clouded and confused.
As soon as I started playing, my toes and fingers started shaking. This was fairly normal for me to shake a little when I get nervous, so I knew how to handle it. After a little while though, the shaking spread to my feet and hands, then my legs and arms. My legs were shaking so much that I was making a knocking noise with the pedal as I tried my very hardest to hold it down. At one point, I stopped using the pedal, because I didn't want anyone to notice all of my shaking, while I attempted to hold it all together.
I wanted to stop playing, run out of the chapel, and leave church, hoping that I would never see anyone again. The intensity kept building until EVERYTHING was shaking. I couldn't keep playing. I stopped, took a deep breath, and then started going again, reminding myself that I was so close to being done with this song, and then I would never have to do this again. I was sure that everyone saw what happened to my body in that moment, and I was deeply embarrassed. I wanted to hide and never come out. I somehow finished the song, only by God literally taking over for my fingers, but I vowed that I would NEVER play piano in church again, at least not with these issues.
But then I remembered that I had already agreed to accompany someone the next month, and the song had 4 sharps, something I would normally never agree to play. I was terrified at the thought of facing something so awful again. Even though it seemed that hardly anyone noticed the intense battle I fought while playing, I knew the next time would only be worse, because I would be more stressed about the possibility of the shaking happening again. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.
I wanted to back out, but I knew that I had already committed, and I didn't want to be flaky. I wanted to get "sick" that weekend, so I couldn't be there. Or I thought several times about how I could get out of it if I died. I was that afraid.
I practiced the song nearly every day and tried to come up with ways to maybe control the shaking if it happened again. But I knew it was something I couldn't control, so my techniques would be useless. Every time I got together with the singer to practice, my mind felt intense fear about the upcoming performance. I couldn't do it.
The weekend of the performance came. Almost every second of every day I spent worrying and begging God to help me. I kept crying and pleading and asking God to take away my mental illness just for the weekend. I cannot begin to explain everything that I felt and endured in the days leading up to Sunday. It was almost unbearable. I wanted a way out.
Sunday morning, I prayed again. Please, PLEASE help me do this. Please help me not to shake. Please help my mind to have clarity. Please help me to remember all that I've practiced. PLEASE.
I felt nothing. Nothing but fear, that is. I wanted to scream it so loud so that I could make sure God heard me. I needed Him. I could not do this alone. He was the only way I would make it through. I desperately needed a miracle.
I had asked my husband to pray for me too, but I needed even more. So I asked him for a blessing. He said several things in the blessing, but one of them was just what my mind and body needed, "I bless your body to be calm." As he said those words, I felt peace pour over me. Yes. That was just what I needed. Now I can do it without shaking, I thought.
I got to church and still felt some fear, but repeating to myself the words of my blessing made the fear wash away immediately. The speaker right before the musical number talked about the enabling power of the atonement and said something along the lines of, "You will be blessed with strength beyond your own as you use your talents to bless others." I felt even more peace. I could do this, because the Savior's atonement would give me the strength and power to overcome the weaknesses of my mortal body as I attempted to use the talents God has given me to bless others.
She finished her talk, and I got up. With every step toward the stand, I repeated to myself, "I bless your body to be calm." It was a blessing, a promise. Everything would be alright.
I sat down, took a deep breath, and started playing. My fingers and toes didn't shake! I could think perfectly clearly. I remember looking at the music and thinking what a miracle it was that God was allowing me to remember what those symbols on the page meant. I felt so calm, so collected, so peaceful. It was a beautiful, remarkable feeling.
A few times while I was playing, I started to feel some anxiety, but then I remembered my blessing and the atonement and kept playing.
As soon as I got done, the feelings of my mental illness returned, but in my moment of need, I was healed. I was given strength. I was given the ability to play with confidence and without embarrassment. It was a miracle, one that I will never forget, because I was strengthened by the Savior, one by one. And He is the greatest source of my joy!