Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ten Things I Want my Son to Know Before He Starts Dating

1. Ask a girl out on a date. It doesn't have to happen frequently, but it should happen at times. There are circumstances when it's good to "hang out," but sometimes a girl wants to feel special, and actually go on a date instead of just "hanging out."

2. A girl does not owe you anything. If you ask a girl on a date and spend your time and money on her, that is great, and that is kind of you. However, please keep in mind that it was YOUR choice to do that. Just like any other time we choose to give something of ourselves, we should do it because we want to, not because we expect something in return. The only thing you should expect to get from your date is a simple "Thank you!"

3. Date a variety of girls. As a teenager and young adult you are still working on discovering who you are. If you continue to date the same person, and never branch out to others,  you will miss out on opportunities that will allow you to discover what types of girls you really like.

4. Never text your date to come out when you arrive at her house. The parents of the young lady you are taking out on a date are entrusting their daughter with you. Out of common respect for both the young lady and her parents, you should always go to the door and knock. This will allow the parents of the young lady to talk with you if they desire, and it will show them that you have respect for them and their daughter. 

5. Date in groups. When you are young, dating is about getting to know a variety of people. It's about learning how to treat and interact with others.  It is also a time of  a lot of hormones. To protect yourself and your date from having physical interactions with one another that you might later in groups.

6. You pay. If you ask a girl out on a date to get some dinner, you don't split the cost of the food with her. You extended the invitation, so you need to cover the cost. 

7. Use cell phones and social media properly. There is no need to spend hours and hours texting a young lady that you have interest in. The more you interact through texting, the more comfortable you will become,  and the more comfortable you become, the easier it becomes to send inappropriate messages or pictures.  You may think you're hiding behind an electronic device, but anything that is ever sent or posted electronically, can never be completely erased. If you would be embarrassed for others to read a text message, or see a picture that you sent, then DON'T send it! If a post on a social media website, or a twitter account is unkind, untrue, or degrading to a young woman (or anyone for that matter), then DON'T post it.

8.  A girl is NOT and will NEVER be an object. It is natural for you to think a girl is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with that. But never forget that there is much more to a young lady than her outward appearance. She is a person with feelings, values, opinions, emotions, and intellect. She should never be used as something to satisfy your desires, and then tossed to the side as if she has no value or worth. You can do that with an old football or video game, but NEVER to a girl.

9. Treat every girl with respect. Chivalry is becoming a lost practice, and it shouldn't be. When you are walking in to a building and a girl is entering at the same time, hold the door open for her. When you are riding on a shuttle bus, and there's not enough seats for the young lady,  give her yours. When you are taking a young lady on a date, open her car door for her. These things are so simple and yet, they don't occur often enough. A girl should also treat you with common respect, but that's for another article.

10. EVERY girl is a princess, and should be treated as such. If you abide by this one simple idea, than all of the other things will become easy to put into place.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Depression struggles

I haven't posted anything for quite awhile, but today I just need to write in hopes of  helping myself.

Two things that seem to make depression very difficult is first, the cost of treatment, and second, the fact that people don't understand it.

Having two daughters with mental illness, a son with ADHD, and myself who struggles with mental illness, the cost of treatment can add up very quickly. All four of us have seen therapists which can cost 70 plus dollars an hour.  The cost to see a good psychiatrist is even more. It has definitely taken a financial toll on my family.

It's difficult to deal with any type of illness, but specifically one which people in general don't understand.  Severe depression can be so overwhelmingly debilitating, but yet others around you have no idea what is occurring. I can hide away in my house, sleep the day away, or spend my day accomplishing almost nothing. I typically can come out of hiding when I have things that I have to attend to, but usually only my family is aware of what is really going on.

Since my first severe episode of depression which occurred a few years ago, I have never been back to a 'normal' functioning level. I still struggle to accomplish every day tasks. There are definitely days that go better than others, but I have had to learn to function a little differently than I would like to. I consider my successful times to be the days when I feel happy. I may not be able to take on as much responsibility as many people, but if I feel happy, I consider that to be a success.

I have to keep retraining myself on how to overcome my negative thoughts.  So many times I just feel as if I have nothing to offer to the world. I can barely get myself out of bed some days, so how could I possibly contribute anything of value to the world.

There are days that I wonder what is wrong with me. Why is it that others around me seem to be surrounded by friends? It seems in my case that people will be my friend for a short while, but then for some reason once a person gets to really know me, the frindship deteriorates. I try to reach out to others, to help others, to be kind to others, but that doesn't work for me. I don't know what I do wrong, so I seem to come to the conclusion that I must have an ulikable personality. That must be my problem.

I know these negative thoughts aren't healthy. But It's hard to keep telling myself over and over again to not believe my harmful thoughts, when I feel as if I have so many circumstances that point to their validity.

Through my struggles, I am grateful for the knowledge that I have of a Savior who offers me His pure love. At times when I feel alone in the world  I am so blessed that I have an understanding of who I can turn to for comfort.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Finding Hope and Understanding In Our Trials

I want to personally pay tribute to Sister Julie B. Beck, the former LDS General Relief Society President. I know that she has been an inspiration and a shining example to so many across the world, including myself.

Thank you Sister Beck, for your many dedicated hours on behalf of women and their families world wide. Thank you for the many prayers you offered, for your many lost hours of sleep, for the time you sacrificed away from your family, and for your willingness to be a courageous, humble, and charitable servant of the Lord. You have made a difference in my life!

For any who have struggled with depression, please take some time to listen to these words of Sister Beck, as she offers hope and understanding to any and all, who are dealing with trials and adversity in their life.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

You're not Alone

It's been several months since I last posted on this blog. Not long after my previous post in September, I once again have had to work on restructuring life.

About six/seven months ago I stopped taking my antidepressant and anxiety medication. I did well for a little while until October came around. Then as a result of the culmination of several stressful situations, I crashed. Interestingly however, before my complete meltdown, I as well as my husband, could sense that I was on a downward spiral. However, I thought that I could do just a little bit more, and then I would focus on taking care of myself. Well, I thought wrong. One final situation occurred that created a lot of personal stress, and that in turn became my breaking point.

I once again became so severely depressed and anxious that it took everything within me to get myself out of bed. I spent most of my days either lying on the couch or in my bed. My appetite was completely gone. In fact there were days in which I scarcely ate any measure of food. I lost nearly 10 pounds in one week. My body was very deprived of food and therefore lacked energy. In addition to the food deprivation was the intense anxiety I was experiencing.
As a result of these struggles I was in quite a state of debilitation. To stand and walk was quite a feat for me. If it was required for me to stay standing for any measure of time I had to lean on something to support myself. I was so heavily weighed down by these monsters termed anxiety and depression, that even raising my arm seemed like an overwhelming task. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the level of debilitation that some sufferers of depression will face.

As soon as possible I resumed taking my antidepressants and anxiety medication. Because I acted promptly in resuming my medications, my severe depression symptoms subsided within about one week. I did continue to have some more mild symptoms of depression, but nonetheless I was very grateful for the short duration of the severe symptoms.

For those who have never struggled with this trial, I'm sure it seems quite unfathomable how a person who seems so blessed could become so overwhelmingly sad, hopeless, and debilitated. I have recognized on numerous occasions how personally blessed I am, and yet I was in such despair. I knew I should be happy, so why was I so desperately struggling?

I believe part of the answer to that question lies in understanding what clinical depression is. Everyone of us experience sadness in this life. In fact sadness is a very natural and even vital part of our mortal experience. However, when referring to depression, specifically that of severe depression, being sad or down is just a portion of what the sufferer experiences.

Although much is still to be learned about depression, many studies have revealed chemical changes within the brain of a clinically depressed person. These chemical changes or imbalances in the brain, affect a persons mental, emotional, and even physical well being. Sufferers of depression don't just feel down or sad, we feel physically ill, helpless, worthless, hopeless, guilty, and yes sometimes even suicidal.

I believe one of the most difficult parts of depression is feeling so alone in your suffering. Because of the stigmas still associated with mental illness, people don't talk about it like they do with other trials. Everyone needs someone to talk with, especially in times of personal despair.

I also believe that depression is still misunderstood by many. Because all of us experience times of sadness, the term "I'm depressed," can be used very lightly. When the term "depressed" is used, I would suggest that the majority of people understand that to mean that the person is feeling down, like we all do at times, but they will likely feel better in a day or two. They just need to toughen up.

Since every person understands what it means to feel sad or down, I feel that many overlook what it truly means to be clinically depressed. In fact depression sufferers are not just suffering from a bad day, they are suffering with a serious medical condition.

Why is it serious? There are several reasons. Depression can have life changing affects on not only the sufferers, but also on friends and family of those who are ill. Relationships can be severed or even destroyed because of the awful affects of the illness and the misunderstanding of those who care most about them. Depression is one of the leading causes of debilitation in the United States. And, of course the most frightening and serious complication of depression is suicide.

For those who are in the midst of this great battle against depression, I offer to you my hope and my reassurance that even in times of extreme sorrow and hopelessness, you are not alone. There is one who will never leave you alone. At times you may feel that you have been abandoned, but I offer to you these words of hope from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle in the LDS church.

"I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul. I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.

To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know. It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. He said it in the beginning of His ministry, and He said it in the end. He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure. He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” 2

He is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.”

Do you—or someone you love—face disease or depression or death? Whatever other steps you may need to take to resolve these concerns, come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. In that regard Alma’s testimony is my testimony: “I do know,” he says, “that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions.”

When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way."

I know the heartache of depression. I know the feeling of being completely abandoned, even seemingly by the one who loves you most. However, please know that He has not left you alone and that amidst your personal trials, He is fully aware of both you and me. You may not have the capacity to fully recognize this when plagued with the terrible affects of depression, but I have a firm testimony and knowledge that He is by your side, just as He always is.

Again from the words of Jefferey R. Holland:

"We cannot sign on for a battle of such eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight-a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless."

I plead with each one of you to continue your fight. Even through the darkness, pain, and despair, don't give up and don't give in.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Power of Music

I'm a Rascal Flatts fan. Since the time I gained a love of their music, I've wanted to attend one of their concerts. Well, last night I was given that opportunity. Thank you to my parents for the awesome birthday present! The concert was awesome!

I don't want to turn this into a post about Rascal Flatts, but I would like to give you just a little background. I recognize that we all have different taste in music. Some love country music, some despise country music. To me, it's not really about the type of music, but it's about what I gain from the music, whether that be a country song or any other genre. What I love most about music is the ability it has to convey messages in a different way than words alone are sometimes capable of.

With that being said, I would like to reiterate why I took a liking to Rascal Flatts music. I found in listening to many of their songs, themes of faith and encouragement that really resonated with me. I can't say that all of their songs have been inspirational to me, but I found in them a recurring theme with much of their music that I really appreciated it. Here's a sample of lyrics from two of their songs that I found some meaning in.

"My Wish"

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

"He Ain't the Leavin Kind"

She stayed mad at him for a lot of years
For taking her husband
Started losing her faith and thinking that
Her life meant nothin
But when she looks at those kids
She raised all by herself
She knows she had some help
Yeah she knows

He ain't the leavin' kind
He'd never walk away
Even from those who don't believe
And wanna leave him behind
He ain't the leavin' kind

No matter what you do
No matter where you go he's
Always right there
With you

Even from those who don't believe
And wanna leave him behind
He ain't the leavin' kind

For me both of these songs convey messages of faith, encouragement, and the reminder that God is always near.

Another song that I found great meaning in and that came in a very timely way for me was one that Racal Flatts sings called "Why."

This song is one that tells the story of a friend who loses a good friend to suicide. I first heard this song on the radio not long after I began my journey in recovering from depression. The first time I heard the song I was a little taken back, not quite sure if I had heard the words right or if perhaps I didn't quite understand what the words of the song were conveying. However, I took additional opportunities to hear the song again, and my first impression of the song was correct. The song was addressing suicide. More than once this song has moved me to tears. I have found such personal meaning in its words and have gained such gratitude for the blessing it was to me as it came out in such a timely way for my personal situation.

If for no other reason, I hope this song "Why" has the ability like it did for me, to touch the lives of those who are dealing with depression or who have dealt with the sobering hardship of the suicide of a loved one. I hope this song will have the power to bless the lives of many and to help them understand that "life is worth the fight."

-Christipher Reeve

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are We Loving Each Other Through It?

Wow! I have been a bucketful of tears over the past couple of days! If you'll be patient with me, I have many thoughts floating around in my mind that I need to share. Sometimes I have an experience that leads to a reminder of another experience, and then another, and so on and so forth. Well that's been the case with me over the past several days. Many times this blog is where my thoughts are shared, and today is no exception to that trend.

I've recently had several conversations with a sweet young woman whom I have stewardship over in the young women's program in my ward. This young woman is only fifteen, but has already learned many of life's important lessons. Over the past year she has had to deal with her dad's diagnosis of a rare brain tumor, along with the complications that have come as the result of that. During this same time her best friend had been diagnosed with cancer and fought a valiant battle, but the cancer took her life. Needless to say it has been a very difficult year for this good young woman.

In addition to my conversations with this young woman, I have also had conversations with her mom. She too expressed some of the hardships and struggles she has faced as she has had to learn to cope with her husbands brain tumor diagnosis, the ongoing recovery process, and the mourning of lost hopes for the future. Both this young woman and her mom are wonderful people who have had to cope with some of life's very difficult challenges. I've been reminded of many things as I have spent time talking with both mom and daughter. However, one thing that has really resonated with me, is knowing that even though we cannot always change the circumstances that we are dealt, we do have the understanding that we can make a positive difference in one another's lives as we take opportunities to love and support each other. We may not be able to take the hurt away, but we can always help to lift a burden as we strive to love each other through one another's individual circumstances and hardships.

My thoughts began with the experiences of this mom and daughter, and have expanded to many other thoughts as I have taken time to reflect on how my life has been blessed by this simple, yet profound idea, of "loving one another through it."

I have been reminded of my grandmas valiant fight with pancreatic cancer. I watched as her loving children and husband gathered around her to care for her. They took care of many of the very basic needs at a time when she was not capable of doing it herself. I watched as my grandpa read to her from the scriptures, and I relished the time I had to sit by her side and talk to her before she passed on.

I was reminded of the difficult night when we were told that my dad had a tumor on his kidney. We didn't have any idea at that point if we were going to be given a time table on how many days we had left to be with him. The doctors shortly thereafter removed my dads kidney. Miraculously, my dads tumor was benign. How grateful we were.

I thought of a good lady whom I had the privilege of helping, as she battled breast cancer. Having no family nearby, with the exception of a handicap daughter who lived with her, her ward family became her family. As a member of the relief society presidency during that time, I had many opportunities to be by her side as she fought her battle.

My thoughts have been turned to an experience I had many years ago when I was assigned to visit teach a sweet lady who was battling the devastating effects of an eating disorder. She was very ill, but I had great opportunities in the short time that I was blessed to visit her to understand what a good lady she was. I took the opportunity to visit her at the hospital when she was so sick. As I left the hospital that afternoon, I didn't realize that would be the last time I would visit with her. Not long after she was released from the hospital, she passed away at her home.

I've been reminded of the day when I received a phone call from my mom letting me know that my cousin had died. He was in a car accident during the night. He was young, only in his 20's. The police officers showed up on the front porch of his parents home to inform them of the passing of their son.

My memories turned to the time about seven years ago when I was struggling with kidney problems. I had to have a kidney biopsy done in order to confirm a diagnosis. I was only in my 20's. I was nervous and feared what might lie ahead in the future for myself, my husband, and my children. I received the biopsy results showing that I had a chronic disease.

I thought of recent correspondence I have had with the wife of a husband who recently passed away. He struggled with depression and anxiety for a good portion of his life.

My thoughts turned to many around me who have faced their battle with depression. I have had the blessing of being able to associate with so many good people who have faced this trial, and have come to love many of them dearly.

I've reflected quite a bit on my own battle with depression. I've thought of the many good people who have been by my side offering to me their love and support.

I recognize that most of these experiences I have shared are not happy or uplifting experiences. However, each and everyone of these experiences have taught me that we all have our own burdens and trials to carry. Although in most circumstances we do not have the ability to remove a burden from another person, we do have the ability to love, stand by, and support another person as they cope with their own personal burdens. Sometimes just knowing that we are loved and supported can make all the difference in the world.

I want to express me deepest gratitude for so many who have loved me through my trials. You have been a blessing in my life. I hope that I can share that same love for others around me, that I have felt from so many of you.

Also, I was very touched by this song that I heard a few days ago. It was written specifically for ladies who are battling breast cancer. However, I think the message of the song can be applied to any and all who are dealing with trials and hardships in their lives.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Depression Tragedies : Lost Hope

Yesterday I learned of the death of a father and husband. I attended junior high and high school with him, and I was friends with his older brother. I was shocked and saddened by the news of his passing. As I read his obituary I expected to read of his battle with cancer or of injuries sustained in an automobile accident, as the cause of his death. I didn't. Instead I was filled with the grim reminder of the tragedy of lost hope as I read the words: "(He) has fought against anxiety and depression since he was a teen. He became too tired to fight...."

My heart sank as I thought of his personal battle that I'm sure many around him were not even aware of. I was overwhelmed by the thought of those he left behind who now have to move forward with overwhelming grief as they try to cope with the tragic loss of this husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend.

Since learning of his passing, I have had many personal reminders of the awful feelings and difficult struggles that accompany depression and anxiety. I have felt that sense of complete hopelessness and understand the almost unbearable pain that occurs as the result of this terrible illness.

My resolve to share my journey and experience with depression and anxiety has been strengthened even more. Depression and anxiety can be a very silent battle, yet one that is filled with overwhelming anguish and pain. However, having personally walked down that long and lonely road, I am living proof that there is hope, and that brighter tomorrows are in store for any who may have lost hope that they will ever understand and feel happiness and peace again.

For anyone who may have lost hope I pray that you will find reassurance and comfort in the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

"No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.'

The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk. They uphold us through trials, temptations, and sorrow. Everyone has experienced discouragement and difficulty. Indeed, there are times when the darkness may seem unbearable. It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light."

If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, reach out for help, seek out treatment, turn to the Savior, and don't ever give up! However dark and hopeless life may seem right now, I promise if you hold on, you will find brighter days ahead.