2.02.2021

She Kept Going

 Sometimes I feel like my life is some dramatic, weird story 🙈😂 when I would really be fine with it being a normal, boring story. But let's face it. Where's the fun in being "normal"?! Or at least that's what I tell myself... 😉

This last October, after losing another baby and pretty desperately needing stability in my life again, I went back on the "miracle" medicine that had brought so much peace into my life before. I was more than ready to get back to a good place and to work on gaining strength before wanting to try for a baby again this spring. But this time, the medicine didn't work the same.

I became incredibly anxious, to the point that my muscles would tense up and make my arm and leg randomly go numb, which only served to increase my anxiety to an unbearable level as I wondered what was happening to me. I tried to tell myself that this was normal and was just my body's reaction to starting the medicine again, but it kept happening. I also tried to tell myself that the anxiety was caused by counseling as we dug into really hard, painful things. But after more than two months, nothing had improved, and the constant worry paired with the feeling that I couldn't breathe or function normally made me finally reach out to my doctor. I was terrified of what he would think or if he would still believe me. Thankfully, he is not like that, and I was really just crazy anxious about that too.

At my appointment, he mentioned how something must have changed in this process. We remembered how when I switched from the one month supply of the birth control to the three month supply, just before going off to try to have a baby, the brand had changed. Everything else was exactly the same, but the brand was different. When we realized this, I immediately felt something so comforting inside of me that maybe there was a reason for this unexpected reaction and that things could improve without having to start all over with trying to figure out what to do next.

A few days later, I took my normal one week break that I take every three months and then switched to the new medicine. Unfortunately, all of these hormonal changes threw me into the deep trenches of what I call "suicidal hell." I suddenly didn't think I could make it. I didn't want to be here anymore. And even worse, I didn't want to tell anyone. I thought I had to be gone this time. I was so discouraged and frustrated and sad. I couldn't foresee things getting better and felt no hope for my future. It was like the darkness was caving in and swallowing me whole, and I was all alone in fighting it.

One day, a good friend let me into her home and somehow asked the right question that broke through my silent darkness and allowed me to share my very honest feelings. I was so scared that no one could love me anymore like this, but she reassured me of her love and encouraged me to open up to more people. I told a couple more people in my close circle and felt the comfort of loving family and friends in my life again.

I continued to struggle deeply for days, reaching out for help when I needed it and spending time with people constantly, until the darkness began to part and let the light in again. The light has been increasing slowly each day, so I think the old brand is working, and that really was the problem. 🤞

We also found out during this time that the surgery I had hoped would give me a better chance of having a healthy, living baby is not a possibility for me. I'm not ready to try again any time soon, but I'm holding out hope that our family will still be able to grow one more time.

So there you have it. Everything you didn't need to know, but you do now 😆 You're welcome.

I hope someday the summary of my life story can be condensed into three words, "She kept going."

1.12.2021

Broken

 This last while has sure thrown me down. Unmanageable levels of anxiety and bouts of depression mixed in have left me scared, confused, and concerned. My medicine hasn't been working the same this time as it did the first time around, and that has been disheartening, to say the least. At the same time, I've been amazed, once again, at how the darkness makes even the tiniest glimmers of light shine brighter. Really I write these things down for my own benefit to help me recognize and remember, but I share in case they could benefit someone else.

I see the light in my incredible husband who reassures me when I need it that he won't leave me for some better, happier life and who is always there to comfort, uplift, and walk with me through the dark.

I see it in my kids who give me every reason to get out of bed and to keep finding my purpose and who make me smile in the process.

I see it in my good counselor who has helped me take lots of little steps of progress in the last several months and who is slowly helping my heart heal.

I see it in my kind doctor who I know cares about me personally, who won't ever give up on me, and who takes the time to remind me that better days will come again.

I see it in my friends who help with my kids so that I can go to counseling, who listen to countless hours of me explaining what my heart is feeling, and who also don't give up on me, even though they don't have to be there.

I see it in my church family who let me share my whole heart with them this last Sunday and who have since embraced me with such warmth and love. 

My heart physically aches right now for the hurt that it is bearing, but knowing that I don't have to bear it alone is the greatest blessing I could be given. 

12.09.2020

One Year Later

One year ago, I was released from the psych unit of the hospital after spending a few days there, and simply stated, I was terrified. I didn't know how to go from the rock bottom of not eating or drinking for 5 days to making a life for myself again. I didn't know if this new medication I had been given, the 14th one I had tried in 6 years, would finally be "the one" that could help me. I didn't know if healing was a possibility for me anymore. My friend drove me to my house and gave me a big, warm, loving hug while advising me to take the day one minute at a time. I got out of her car and slowly walked up to my front door while feeling the heavy weight of the world pressing down on my weary shoulders. I opened the door to the silence of an empty house, and while dropping my bags on the floor and slipping off my shoes, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was this "Welcome Home Mom" sign my family had made for me. No sooner had it caught my attention when I fell to the ground sobbing as the strength in my knees gave way to the emotion that overcame me in that tender moment. The love of my family instantly wrapped me in comfort, and I knew that somehow I was going to be okay.

One year later, the 14th medication didn't end up working out, but the 15th one did. I started seeing a counselor a few months ago and am continually working hard to do my part in the healing process. And now today, with the help of lots of eager youth and such generous, supportive friends, we finished a gift of 100 pairs of fuzzy socks with encouraging messages to donate to the psych unit of the hospital, the place I left one year ago feeling so completely and helplessly broken.

The truth is, I'm still healing and still learning how to pull myself out of surviving and into thriving. But I'm here, I'm trying, I'm progressing. My little family is supporting me through every step of this long process, and I feel blessed to able to give of myself, because I know what it feels like to wear those uncomfortable hospital socks with doubts of living a good life again. It's just one year later, but my future really does look bright.

12.07.2020

Beautiful Winter

 Winter has always been a difficult time of year for me.  Less sunlight, less getting outside, and less opportunities for natural exercise with my family has led to worse depression.  For the last several years, taking pictures of the beauty of winter has been like a lifeline for me, helping me find the good that is in the details that surround me.  This year might be the best winter I've had in years, but I still can't help but find joy in the unique beauty that only winter can offer.



11.20.2020

What I'm Thankful for about Depression

I have this secret note on my phone listing all the things I am thankful for about experiencing depression. It's secret because often I don't want to think about being thankful for something that has hurt me so much, and I certainly don't want other people to tell me to just be thankful in my darkest moments, but since this is the month of thanks, I want to finally share it. Please know that if you struggle with depression too, I am not telling you to be thankful for it. This is just my perspective.

1. Depression has brought my little family closer together, especially my husband and me. This is not my trial; it is ours, and we fight through it together. 

2. Depression has made me hypersensitive to the sadness of others. I think about how others feel more often and am aware of what depression might look like in someone else. I am no longer afraid to ask someone if they are doing okay, even a stranger. I'm also not uncomfortable talking about "hard" topics.

3. Depression has given me opportunities to help others that I know I wouldn't have had otherwise. It has allowed me to speak up, reach out, and connect with people literally all around the world over this common struggle so many people face.

4. It has taken away *almost* all of my fear of being vulnerable. It has given me the burning desire to be 100% real and to share my story in an effort to help others know they are not alone.

5. It has made me appreciate the light in my life in a way that I know I wouldn't have had I not faced such frequent, debilitating darkness.

6. Depression has taught me valuable lessons about asking for and accepting help, learning to say no when needed to protect my mental health, simplifying my life, and being patient with myself as I do these things.

7. I have learned how to love more completely. I'm not perfect at this **obviously**, but depression has opened my eyes and my heart to understanding others and trying to see how they feel from their perspective. This has literally changed me and how I feel about the people around me.

8. It has made me appreciate and not find shame in embracing the God-given gifts of medicine and counseling to overcome and heal.

9. Depression has allowed me to see the goodness of others so clearly.  I have been the recipient of such kind encouragement and love over these years of struggle and have seen firsthand the powerful effects of simple ministering.

10. It has given me opportunities to talk to my kids about depression openly and age-appropriately. We talk about "happy medicine", the hospital, people being sad because something is chemically wrong in their brain, and compassion. My hope is that my kids can be a force for good in the world because of this knowledge.

Depression has been the hardest, longest struggle I have ever faced, but it has also blessed my life in incredible ways. I still can't say that I am thankful to have experienced it as a whole, but I am thankful for the little things it has done to change me and my life for the better.

#givethanks

11.10.2020

Another Little Miracle

On October 26th, we got the shocking news that I was actually pregnant, despite the many negative pregnancy tests I had received the week before and no real signs pointing to pregnancy. On October 30th, we found out that the pregnancy was not looking good and that we would most likely lose our baby. On October 31st, everything proceeded as expected, and we lost another sweet baby. 

The roller coaster of emotions we've experienced in the last few months is hard to put into words, but we're surrounded by really good people and will be okay. Mostly, I just want to share this baby, because it was there and was loved even if it was only for a few days that we knew. We are heartbroken but have hope for a beautiful, healthy rainbow baby in the far distant future.



10.23.2020

Hard Life Lesson

 Hard life lesson: Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to.

Three months ago, I went off my medicine to try to have one more baby to complete our family.  I knew that it would be hard, I knew that there was a possibility of it not working, and I knew that I would be heartbroken if not.  But I did it anyway.  I had been doing so well for a few months by that point that I *hoped* I could handle staying off long enough to get pregnant.  After three months and still no baby, I had lost 5 lbs. from not being able to eat much, I could hardly sleep anymore, some days I could barely function, and many days were a fight for life again.  I knew that my husband and kids wanted me more than they wanted another baby, so I decided to go back on the medicine.

At first, I was bitter and angry and hurt that things didn’t work out the way I desperately wanted, especially when I felt like I had given so much to try to make it work.  I felt like I had failed my family in every way.  My heart broke at the thought that we might never get that one more baby, especially after losing the last one, and I didn’t know if I could be okay with that.  While some parts of me still hurt so much right now, I’m following the wise advice of my friends, family, and counselor that I can try again later.  This isn’t the end.  I don’t know that I’ll ever understand the path my life has taken or why some things happen the way they do, but I’m trying to take more time to heal and to be content with my life as it is until I am ready to try one more time.

10.01.2020

Flowers

Sometimes when I share a post about how I'm struggling, a beautiful arrangement of flowers will show up on my doorstep.  This has happened more times than I can count in the last several years, and it has always had the same effect of bringing a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.  Often times, there are some tears cried too.  😉😭 I don't usually know who they are from, so I get to imagine that any one of the loving people around me are reaching out to show their support and love.  And every time, after I've smelled them and admired them, I then pull out my camera and attempt to take some pretty pictures of them.  It reminds me of beauty, especially in the little details, and that makes me happy.  So to whoever has blessed my life in these years and brought me joy through your kindness, THANK YOU!  I appreciate it more than I can say.


9.29.2020

October

 Last October was the worst month I have ever experienced.  Over the previous few years, I usually had a couple of -10s on my mood chart every month, representing the most intense suicidal lows, but that month, there were 25.  I was seemingly stuck in the darkest depths of depression imaginable and constantly wondered if I would ever get out.  Every day, I would tell myself that I had to stay for that day, but then I could give up the next day.  And then the next day, I would tell myself the same thing again.  Living more than one day at a time was impossible to comprehend in my state, so that was what it took to survive.  

One morning, I was sitting on my couch crying.  The tears wouldn’t stop, and neither would the persistent thoughts that I was not strong enough for this continuous battle.  I felt broken and feared that I was broken beyond repair.  Every part of my body hurt with my heart as I prayed that someday my mind would find relief.  

And then I got an idea.  I would make a list of things I had to look forward to in the next while, things that could make my life worth living just a little longer and that I wanted to make sure I was still here to be a part of.  I always had a general list in my mind with my husband and kids at the top of that list every time, but I wanted more specific things this time that I could check off once they were reached.

After a few minutes, I had come up with six things:

• Spending Christmas Day with my family

• Celebrating my friend Kristy's birthday

• Holding my friend Kristina’s baby

• Watching Garrett take his first steps

• Hearing Garrett say, “I love you” for the first time

• Having my Ensign article published

I wrote these notes down on my phone, so I could look back at them whenever I needed to remember my purpose in continuing to live for the next few months, and I did look at them often.  They became like six little lifelines that wound together to make a strong rope to hold onto as I attempted to claw my way out of the dark hole I had been thrown in and to reach my way back into the light. 

The other day, I found my list on my phone again and was so happy as I realized that I could check off each one.  I did it.  I saw and heard and was here for each one of these.  But it wasn’t just those.  Every moment portrayed in this video is a moment I was blessed to witness since last October, because I chose to stay.  Even more heart pricking is the thought that I would have missed these precious moments if I wouldn’t have held on.  Life has not been easy in the last year, and it continues to be a struggle today, but I’m here and I will continue to stay here for more moments like these.  Through medicine, counseling, and the support of my family and friends, I am finding hope and healing and have confidence in many happy days ahead.

If you are in your own “October,” please choose to stay.  Reach out for help.  Don’t try to do it alone.  You are loved, wanted, and needed, and will never know what beautiful moments you will miss out on if you don’t hold on.  It’s worth it.  It really is.

9.15.2020

Published Article

 I’ve been keeping a little secret, and I’m so excited to finally be able to share!  I had an article published in two different places-- a worldwide magazine and a large website for mental health and other health challenges (see the links below).  It’s an article about how to pull someone out of the darkness of suicide, about how to love and respond and ultimately save a life.  

A little background story about this article and the online magazine publishing…

Last October, I wrote a blog post about how to help someone stay.  I knew I needed to share it, because maybe it could help someone else, but the thought of sharing something so personal from the lowest parts of my journey with depression made me feel very vulnerable.  After several days of attempting to ignore the persistent thought that I really needed to share the post, I finally worked up enough courage to do it.  My heart was racing and there was a huge pit in my stomach, but I shared it.  For the next several hours, I debated taking it down multiple times.  It just felt like this shameful part of me was exposed, and I wasn’t sure if that was okay yet.  

And then I got a few very specific comments and messages about how this post had helped someone else along with encouragement to share this with the world, and slowly the feelings of shame and fear started to leave and were replaced with peace.  I began to recognize that I didn’t need to be ashamed of the deep struggles I had faced, and pretty soon, I had the desire to spread this message even further.  

It has always been my belief that people genuinely want to help others, but unless they have been there themselves, they usually don’t know how.  I knew this article could be a powerful tool to help others know how to help, so I started thinking about how I could get it out there even more.

The next day, my friend Kelley Walker suggested that I submit my article to the Ensign magazine.  Immediately when she said that, I had such an incredible feeling in my heart that this was exactly what I needed to do.  I consulted with my talented friend Rachael Eliker who helped me edit and refine my article for submission, and after a few days, it was ready to go.  The submission page informed me that it could take years for my article to be published, so I clicked “submit” but didn’t expect to hear back for a long time, if ever at all.  

The next morning, less than 24 hours after submitting, I got an email saying that my article was approved for publication.  I cried as I called Kyle to tell him the news.  I was overcome with this humbling feeling that everything I had faced had a purpose, that my voice needed to be heard, and that Heavenly Father had given me this beautiful opportunity to help others through my experiences.

It still took some time to work through the publication process, but this month, my article was published.  You can check it out in either of these places (both are a little different based on the editing done by the publishers).  You are also welcome to share these if you think they could help someone you know.  

Ensign Magazine

The Mighty

***I recognize that suicide is a very tender subject for many of my friends.  Please know that if you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are not to blame.  ❤