Monday, November 22, 2010

"There's A Place For Us"

Many times I have asked myself the question if there truly is a place for me?  I think it's a natural feeling for anyone at times to question where their place is, where they belong, and what their personal value is. We all have the innate desire to feel like we belong, and that the individual that we are is in fact a worthwhile person who is loved and valued.

Sometimes our earthly experiences can thwart our understanding and knowledge of our true value.  Particularly individuals who battle with clinical depression.  Anyone who has fought this battle, can testify that it truly tests your belief that "there is a place for you."

The feelings of darkness, worthlessness, inadequacies, and failures, can completely engulf individuals who suffer with severe depression. These crushing thoughts and feelings can quickly leave it's sufferers to forget that they in fact  were created with unconditional love and with a very personal and individual purpose.  These distorted thoughts create deep feelings of hopelessness, which if not challenged and treated properly, can create suicidal thoughts and tendencies.  For anyone who is currently in this position, please seek out proper treatment.  Talk to a trusted friend or family member.  Talk with your Bishop or religious leader.  If needed call 911, or a confidential suicide hotline.  It is vital for anyone having suicidal thoughts to receive proper treatment.

For myself, proper treatment included counseling with a professional therapist, finding the right combination of medication, gaining understanding and knowledge of mental illness, and seeking out spiritual guidance and inspiration.  As I have combined treatment from each of these individual and varied sources, I have been able to once again understand and believe that "there is a place for me."

Some individuals find relief and/or recovery quicker than others, however, it is so important to not loose hope.  In the midst of depression, it is difficult to be able to even envision a happier and more worthwhile you.  Please remember that your worth has not changed.  You will always be a worthwhile individual who is a child of a Heavenly King.  Your thoughts may tell you differently, but as you continue to hold on, and seek for hope, you will again be able to see your divine value.

President Uchtdorf, a member of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said:

"Think of where you came from.  You are sons and daughters of the greatest, most glorious being in the universe.  He loves you with an infinite love.  He wants the best for you...
Our destiny is greater than we can imagine.  If only we understood who we are and what is in store for us, our hearts would overflow with such gratitude and happiness that it would enlighten even the darkest sorrows with the light and love of God, our Heavenly Father.  The next time you feel unhappy, remember where you came from and where you are going.  Rather than focus on things that dampen your thoughts with sorrow, choose to focus on those things that fill your soul with hope. You will realize that these things are always connected to serving God and our fellowmen.  Remember that the Lord has given you His word in the scriptures.  Pray earnestly to Him; talk with Him daily.  Learn of Him, and walk in His way.  Serve God and serve your fellowmen.
It is my earnest prayer that the knowledge of who your are and what you may become will fill your souls with the peaceable love of God and that this will ignite within you a happiness worthy of your true heritage, for in truth you are princes and princesses, kings and queens."
It too is my prayer that we all will recognize the divine and royal heritage that we each hold.  As we come to more fully understand and recognize this, we will know that,  "there is a place for us," and that "exactly who we are is just enough."

******USA national suicide hotline number is 1-800-448-3000******

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Finding the Light from Within

When I was a kid I went on a tour through Minnetonka cave.  The tour guide lead us diligently thorough the cave along the lighted pathway.  Scattered throughout the cave were these amazing stalactites and stalagmites.  As rain would fall upon the roof of the cave, drops of water would trickle down through cracks in the roof and form these fascinating formations.  

At one point along our tour, our guide gave us an unforgettable experience.  For a few seconds he turned off all of the light that had allowed us to safely navigate our way through the cave.  Without any natural or man made light, the darkness was overwhelming.  It was so dark that we could not even see our hand held out in front of our face.  The darkness completely engulfed us.

Much like this cave, clinical depression can turn what was once a lighted pathway into a blinding darkness.  I use the word blinding because in the depths of clinical depression the darkness that engulfs an individual can become blinding.  This blindness is not a physical impairment of the eyes, but rather an impairment of emotions and thought processes.  These impairments of the emotions and thoughts can be so severe that it leaves one without the ability to see the valuable and worthwhile individual that they are. Trapped in this  darkness a sufferer of clinical depression can soon forget that there even once existed a lighted pathway.  The blindness that consumes them can quickly cause its sufferer to loose hope that they will ever find their way out of the darkness of the cave, where they once again can find light.

A clinically depressed person is also much like the stalactites that I saw hanging in the cave. They can be very fragile.  They must cling "tite" to the ceiling of the cave to avoid the possibility of falling and breaking. When depressed, an individual too must cling "tite"; week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour.

There have been many times when I have felt so deeply inadequate and worthless that I truly believed there was something inherently wrong with me. I would try to pinpoint what exactly it was that caused me to feel so worthless.  Was I not nice enough or giving enough?  Was I too quiet or maybe just plain boring?  Or maybe I just had an unlikable personality.  These thoughts rang even more true to me, because I had what I believed to be valid reasons to prove their truthfulness.

I struggled so much with these negative beliefs, that even looking at others blogs or facebook pages became another reminder to me of my inadequacies and my worthlessness, which would constantly send me spiraling down.  I eventually had to make the decision to stop viewing blogs and to close out my facebook account for my own well being.

However, as I continued to cling tight as these stalactites do,  the darkness that surrounded me began to fade.The dark cave I was trapped in, did not suddenly become illuminated with light, but I began to find the light within myself.  This occurred over a process of finding proper medication, attending counseling appointments, and of course through the atonement of the Savior.  I once again have began to see my value and worth, allowing me the ability to work on rebuilding my self esteem and confidence.

One of my favorite scriptures that has become dear to my heart as I have battled to correct this blinding darkness, is found in Doctrine and Covenants 78: 17-18.  It reads:

"Verily, verily I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.  The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours."

I am as that little child who is working on understanding what great things Heavenly Father has prepared for me.  I cannot bear all things now, but I do have the knowledge that the Lord will lead me along, and that I will be blessed.

One of the blessings that I have been given is the knowledge I've gained through cognitive behavioral therapy.  The focus of this therapy is to learn how to challenge the negative and distorted thoughts that consume the mind of individuals suffering with clinical depression.  The key to successfully responding to this therapy is to find positive thoughts and reasons that prove the negative thoughts and perceptions to be untrue. Going through this process of challenging the negative thoughts allows an individual the ability to better see the positive proof, which in turn broadens their ability to not only challenge the negative, but to also more fully believe in the positive.  As I have worked on incorporating these principles as a part of my healing process,  believing in the positive, has been a vital part of rediscovering the light within myself.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
our deepest fear
is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people
won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And when we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson

This quote hung on my fridge for several months.  It served as a reminder to me to learn to love the person that I am, and to let my personal light shine.  We are all children of God and as we more fully come to recognize that, the light within each of us will radiate. We will be more fully capable of challenging the negative thoughts and perceptions and believing in the positive and valuable qualities that allow us to love and believe in the person that we are.