It Really is Worth It

Last Thursday, I had the best day I've had in a very long time!  It's not that I haven't had good days, and honestly I've been doing really well emotionally in the last few weeks, but last Thursday was even better than all of those other good days combined.  Last Thursday, we found out the gender of our sweet little baby.  When the ultrasound technician showed me the picture of my cute little baby boy, I started to cry such happy tears.  And for once, in several months, I was so thankful to be alive in that moment. 

Before last Thursday, I had been thinking about these questions on and off for several weeks-- When was the last time that I felt truly thankful to be alive?  When was the last time that I felt like all the pain and sorrow of depression was worth it just to be alive for that one moment? 

I have a very good and blessed life.  I have a wonderful, supportive, loving husband and a beautiful, sweet, spunky daughter with an active little boy on the way.  I have everything anyone could ever want and more, and yet struggling with depression often makes it hard to feel the wonder of those blessings.  It's hard, because I know I'm blessed, but even those many, many blessings can't take away or lessen the darkness that can sometimes last for months at a time.  It's hard, because I often feel guilty that I struggle so much, despite how many wonderful things I have been given.  It's hard, because I want to feel how blessed I am, but those tangible, good, happy feelings often don't come.  And sometimes that leaves me wondering if it's actually worth it, if it's actually worth holding on through so much turmoil just for the little moments of light in between. 

The last time it had felt "worth it" was last June when my little family took a week long vacation together.  That week still feels like sacred time to me.  We did so many fun things and saw so many beautiful places together, but most of all, as we were together, I felt how good my life was.  I felt love and happiness, and I was so thankful to be alive. 

After that, I fell into months of seemingly unending darkness, including the very worst of it when I was trying to get pregnant with my baby boy and wanted nothing more than to be gone forever.  I couldn't comprehend in that dark, terrible week that anything could ever feel "worth it" again.  I couldn't comprehend that I would ever feel thankful that I had held on through such difficulty. 

Later, I found out I was pregnant, and then I got really, really sick, and I continued to wonder if I would ever feel that any of this was "worth it."  I was struggling so much emotionally and physically, and I basically felt like the rest of my life would feel like this, just holding on, waiting to feel good things again.  And I often wondered-- what if that "worth it" moment never came again?  What if I spent the rest of my life enduring and never felt happiness again? 

At moments, the darkness would lift some and things would be better, but for some reason, I still struggled with wondering if those good moments were really worth it for all of the struggle I had gone through for months and months before.  I worried about the future and all the pain that was sure to come, and I was overwhelmed with thinking about all I would have to endure for just small moments of light periodically.

But last Thursday, I felt for the first time in months and months that I was so thankful I had held on in those most difficult times.  I felt so thankful that I hadn't given up and that I was alive for that one moment of feeling such complete happiness.  In that moment, I truly felt that I would have willingly endured ten times the amount of pain I had endured just to feel that kind of happiness in my heart again.  It really was "worth it," and I can cling to the memory of that beautiful moment for months to come.

I don't know if I'll ever understand why the pain of depression must exist in this world.  I don't know if I'll ever understand how something can cause so much hurt and difficulty for seemingly no logical reason at all.  But I do understand that no matter what we have to endure to feel joy is truly "worth it."  I know that no matter how dark the present may seem, someday there will be a moment when all of that pain is swallowed up in the joy of that one beautiful moment when we can see how "worth it" all of the pain was. 

I'm still on a "high" from my wonderful day last week, but I know that whatever awaits me in the future, it will be worth it for the next moment when I feel a joy so complete and pure again.


Winter Always Turns to Spring

Every time winter lets up just a little bit, I realize just how hard winter is and has been for me.  Something about the cold, the lack of being outside as much, and the darkness that comes so early in the evenings really gets me down.  I use a "happy light," take extra vitamin D, and try to exercise, but the winter always seems like it is going to win over me.  I start out strong, but I slowly lose all motivation and most hope.  Every day seems like the same difficult routine of trying to keep myself busy as the hours and days slowly pass by with little purpose and little accomplished by the end of the day.

And then, one day, the sun comes back up, the temperature warms up, the snow melts, and I feel a literal energy flow into my heart.  It always surprises me how just one day of warmth and sunshine can renew the hope that had dwindled to almost nothing over the long winter months.  It's truly rejuvenating and refreshing!

A few weeks ago, we had our first really warm day.  The days and weeks before had been so difficult, filled with many tears, much guilt, and not much motivation to do anything that I "should" be doing.  I honestly didn't know how I was going to make it through this terribly rough patch, as I clung to any little glimmers of hope or joy around me.  It seemed like the winter blues had dragged me down so far that I didn't know how I was going to get back up.

But when the warmth of spring filled the air, I immediately felt the heavy and crushing burden I had been carrying lift off of me.  I had made it!  My long, dark winter had finally turned to spring!  I started to be productive again during the days that followed.  I no longer desired to get back in bed 100 times a day, and none of the little tasks I had to do during the day brought tears to my eyes.  I could be a "good" wife and mom again, I could feel happy again, and I could feel a little more like myself again.  Thankfully, this rejuvenating feeling has stayed with me, even weeks after that one warm day.

I've been thinking about this experience lately, how terrible I felt in the darkness of winter and how my spring was right around the corner and came again when I least expected it.  Sometimes struggling with depression can feel like being stuck in a long winter and not knowing if or when it will ever let up.  It can feel so hopeless, exhausting, and frustrating.  But these last couple weeks have reminded me that winter ALWAYS turns to spring.  There is always light and hope ahead.  I wish I could know when that light will come again, because it would make the painful days much more manageable, but I have been reminded and my hope has been restored that all difficulties come to an end eventually, and darkness will always be replaced with light.  Sometimes it takes months or even years, but that light will come again.

I can almost guarantee that I will experience darkness again in the future, not because I am pessimistic, but because I am realistic and know how these waves of darkness come and go.  But for now, I am basking in the warmth of the spring light I am experiencing and filling up my bucket with all the good, happy things that this life has to offer.

Image result for winter to spring quote

Image result for winter to spring quote


You're Stronger Than You Know

So... I've been MIA for the last few months.

First, I was really sick at the beginning of this pregnancy, so I basically did nothing for over 10 weeks, and it was kind of miserable honestly.

Then, when the sickness lifted some, I got really depressed and discouraged.  I felt like my life was literally in ruins, and it was all my fault.  I felt so guilty for all the days that I had let my daughter watch TV while I laid in bed trying to survive the constant vomiting.  I felt completely overwhelmed at how far behind I was in EVERY part of my life.  I felt the weight of not being able to work out or get out in the sunshine or be productive doing good things, things that usually help lift my spirits.  I felt alone, like there was no one I could tell about how awful I was feeling, especially because I'm pregnant and should be so happy and thankful for this blessing (which I am, but that doesn't take away the difficulties).

When I finally opened up to my husband, I told him that I felt myself essentially giving up.  I didn't care anymore, and I couldn't find a way out of this dark hole.  I didn't know how to try to lift myself up, because I was so tired and so deeply buried in darkness that it seemed like there was no way out.  It really seemed like there was nothing that could help me.  I felt beyond reach and beyond hope, which is not exactly my favorite place to be.  Everything I did or tried to do seemed to distance myself more from where I wanted to be, and I continued to feel that my mind and my spirit were giving up.  I thought I had given all I had to give, and yet, the struggle continued with little relief.

As I was now spending hours of every day crying and feeling so much weight and darkness, I began to feel some bitterness creeping into my heart.  Why, if I did the right thing by getting pregnant even when that was a very hard decision for me, why was it so hard now?  Why didn't God give me an easy pregnancy as a reward for having so much faith to go off medication, to go forward with our infertility doctor, and to eventually get pregnant when things already felt so hard?  I thought I had done all the right things, and yet, here I was struggling now more than ever-- emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

I was clearly not in a good place and not in a place of finding joy at all through this struggle.  I was exhausted and was sure that there was nothing left for me to do but pray that God would take all of this away.  It seemed like too much to handle, and definitely more than my weak body and spirit were capable of enduring.

So I prayed.  I prayed hard.  I prayed for lots of things that I knew in my heart wouldn't be answered, but I said them anyway.  I knew deep down that things weren't going to get better right away, that asking God to take away all the struggle or to take me away from all of this pain was not going to happen, and I knew that giving up was not an option, as it never is.  But I was beyond the point of praying for strength to get through this struggle, because I felt I had already gone too far, and nothing small or simple could make this better.

As I continued praying every day for the "wrong" things, something happened.

One day, I was feeling so so discouraged about being a mom, and I distinctly felt to reach out to two people.  I didn't know why those two people, but my heart sure hoped that they could offer some peace and comfort to my brokenness.  It turned out those two people knew exactly what my heart needed to hear, one of whom was feeling discouraged herself about similar things, and helping me rise above my discouragement helped her as well.

A few days later, something similar happened.  I was feeling great concern and heaviness about some other things, and a thought came to my mind of who to ask for help.  Once again, I was able to get a little bit more help, and some hope started to return to my heart.

Then, I had the thought to return to writing in a tender mercy journal about all the ways that I see God's hand in my life.  As discouraged as I was, I couldn't commit to lots of writing, so I committed to write down just one thing every day.  My mind could handle that simple task, and slowly my spirit began to soften again as I realized all the little ways that God was blessing me and my family.

One evening, as my husband and I were talking, we decided to start getting up early to read scriptures together again since I wasn't throwing up all morning anymore.  This was something that was impossible to do on my own, but with him at my side, I could do it, and I started to feel little bits of light returning to my life.

One weekend, I went to a baptism for my cousins and was asked to play the piano.  I didn't know beforehand, but they also wanted me to play in the middle while the boys were getting dressed.  As I began to play some arrangements I had written a long time ago, I felt the Spirit for the first time in months, and I knew that I still had so much to offer, even when I felt so broken.

After several weeks of experiencing a series of little miracles, God helped me realize something that I hadn't thought about in too long.  I am stronger than I know.  Each of us are.  We are asked to go through some really difficult things, things that seem impossible to handle, and sometimes they are impossible to handle on our own.  But God sees us for who we can become, and He knows how to help us.  He sees how much we are really capable of handling, and He sees how our growing pains lead us to become someone new, someone we were content with not becoming because of all the pain it would take to get there, but someone that God knows without a doubt that we can become.

I look back at the last couple of years, and I see so much change in myself.  Some of that change is heartbreaking as I realize that I am not carefree or energetic or motivated or happy all the time like I used to be.  But some of the change is breathtaking.  I see how God has taken my broken heart and made it into something greater than what it was-- much more compassionate and loving and caring, much more responsive to the heartaches of others, much stronger and more capable of handling the heartaches that sometimes accompany this life.  And I hope that the breathtaking changes outweigh the heartbreaking ones.

I used to pray that God wouldn't give me any more struggle, because these continuing emotional struggles seem hard enough, but I have come to realize that praying for less struggles just causes me to feel bitter and upset when the additional struggles come.  So instead, I have returned to asking to find and recognize the glimmers of joy through the struggles that are sure to come, because that leads my heart to God and His love instead of away.  Doing this has reaffirmed to my heart that I am stronger than I've ever been able to imagine or see in myself, and that it is far better to feel heartache to become someone better than who I once was than to be content with staying the way I am.

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