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.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Expressions of Love

I, like most moms always want my kids to know that I love them. As my kids have gotten older and some are approaching their teen years, they have decided that mom needs to be more discreet about uttering those three words.... "I love you!" Especially when their friends are around. After all, it is very embarrassing for your friends to know that your mom actually loves you.

I do have to admit that I sometimes find some enjoyment in my children's embarrassment over hearing their mom utter the four letter word, L-O-V-E. I've gotten a good laugh on more than one occasion as I have dropped my twelve year old daughter off at dance class, unrolled the car window and as she was walking away, very non-discreetly called out, "Bye! I love you!"

I love to see her reaction. She turns around and looks at me with a half grin and half teenage scowl, and then runs into the building as fast as she can. Although it is so embarrassing for her, I know down deep that she really loves to know how much her mom loves her.

I have also made it a habit to tell my kids that I love them before I end a phone call with them. My ten year old son especially loves this ritual when he makes a phone call from a friends house.

Before he hangs up the phone I say to him, "I love you." His typical response to this is a moment of silence, followed by the simply said phrase... "Bye!" There is no acknowledgement on his part that I even uttered the words "I love you!" However, a couple of weeks ago an amazing transformation occurred. My son made a phone call from his friend's home and I like usual said "I love you," before the phone call ended. There was the typical moment of silence, and then out of his mouth came the word..."PEACE!" I gave a good little laugh and then in return to my sons sentiment I uttered, "PEACE!"

I hung up the phone with a huge grin on my face. This was a monumental occasion. Although my son did not actually respond back with the three words... "I love you," He did respond nonetheless. The word "PEACE" does not typically replace the words "I love you," however I knew that from my 10 year old son, his expression of "PEACE" was in fact his expression of love.

There are many ways that love can be expressed. Sometimes it's through words, sometimes it's through actions, sometimes it's through a simple smile or touch. One of my favorite quotes is by Leo Buscaglia. It says:

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile,a kind word, a listening ear,an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

Love can be shared and felt in many ways as my son showed me through his utterance of the word "PEACE." The important matter is usually not how we express love, but rather that we do express love.

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. It was a good reminder of my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety. But oh how grateful I was for the small expressions of love that I received that helped to buoy me up and to make it through the day.

Two friends whom I hadn't heard from in a while sent me a text message just to say "Hi," and to ask how I was doing. Another friend invited me to go to one of our favorite places to get some yummy Italian ice with her. I was not able to go, but she told me she loved me and offered the invitation for another day. To end the day one of the sweet young women that I work with sent me a text message telling me that she heard a song that she thought I would like. It just so happened that this particular song is one of my favorites and was one that I needed to be reminded of yesterday.

President Thomas S. Monson said:

"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” 3 We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”

As one who battles with depression, a simple expression of love from another, can help sustain me even if it's just to the next hour. I have recognized the importance of that in my life and have gained an even greater desire to ensure that I make sharing my love with others a constant part of my personal journey.

I know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, you, and all of us, in a very pure and unconditional way. Yesterday I was reminded of this once again as I came across a song referenced on the blog of this good lady ( The message of this song touched me deeply and reminded me that God's love is sometimes shown in unexpected ways and through unexpected circumstances.

"We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?"
-Laura Story

Love is the key to helping each one of us make it through the storms and trials of this life. In Matthew 22:36-40 it says:

"Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Love is a vital part of our journey here on Earth. I hope that I will continue whether by words or actions, to make sharing my love a constant part of my personal journey. And I hope that each one of us will feel and recognize the love of God in our lives even when our blessings come through raindrops, our healing comes through tears, and our many sleepless nights are what it takes to know that God is near and that He loves us.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Glimpse of Who We Are

I have made significant improvements over the past two years in overcoming my battle with depression. I've spent many hours studying, pondering, and applying concepts and information that I've learned in my quest to overcome this trial.

The journey has been long. I still wake up each day struggling to have enough energy and willpower to face sometimes even simple day to day events. I have to continue to remind myself that progression and healing takes time. Sometimes we have setbacks and sometimes we just need the reassurance that things will continue to improve.

I've found that I do much better when I have a clearer vision of who I truly am. So how do we obtain that?

As I sat in church yesterday with the wonderful young women whom I have the blessing of working with, I was touched by what I was taught by the teacher. She shared with us a time when she prayed for Heavenly Father to allow her to see and understand who she is. She was given just a glimpse of the person that Heavenly Father knows she is. As I've pondered upon that, I've wondered how our lives and perspective would be changed if we could truly see ourselves as our Father in Heaven sees us.

Would we make better use of our time?
Would we make different decisions?
Would we have different priorities?
What type of person would we be?

As mortal beings our perspective and our understanding is limited. We don't have the ability and understanding to comprehend things in the same way as a perfected being. However, we are all given opportunities throughout our lives in which we can gain a greater comprehension of God's perspective.

It's interesting to see how often our understanding of who we are increases only after we've experienced some of the hardships and trials of life. Why is that?

We all enjoy life when it doesn't feel like we're on a roller coaster of trials. We relish the moments when we can take in a deep breath and feel calm before we start our next uphill climb. However, sometimes during these calm periods, we may become a little too relaxed and fall into the trap of complacency. When that happens we tend to rely more on our natural human tendencies and desires instead of turning our hearts to the Lord.

Trials have a way, when we allow them to, of refining us. In times of hardship we are given a glimpse of our personal strength, of our capacity to endure, of our increased ability to have compassion on others, and of our willingness to submit our will to the Lord's. It is through trials that we become more pure, more Christ-like, and more like the person that Heavenly Father sees in us.

Consider these words by,Orson F. Whitney, a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He said:

"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God… and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven."

My struggle with depression and anxiety has taken me to depths of despair that at times have been indescribable. It has tested my willpower and strength beyond what I believed I was capable of enduring. However, even through the difficulties that at times have seemed to consume my life, I've been blessed to see the growth that has taken place in me. This experience is definitely one that I did not wish for, but I know that it has not been a wasted experience. It has taught me Christ-like attributes that only could be learned through my experience with hardships. It has taught me more about the person that I am and it has given me a glimpse of the person that God knows I can become. For that, I will be eternally grateful!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thank You Mormon and Your LDS

Today the Mormon Women website posted an article that I submitted to them about my experience in dealing with depression. I have come to gain a great respect for the people that oversee their website. I have specifically worked with Michelle Linford, who is one of their editors. She has taught me a great deal about the influence that writing can have, not only on the readers, but on the author as well. She is a very talented, kind, and insightful lady.

I want to thank her for her willingness to work with me and tutor me as I have searched for opportunities to share with others what I have learned and experienced as I have dealt with the struggles of depression in my life. Thank you Michelle!

I also want to thank those who oversee the website, Your LDS They have featured in their weekly newsletter one of my recent posts, "We Don't Have to Do it Alone."

I so appreciate the ability I have been given through others to share my journey in dealing with depression. My purpose in creating this blog was to have a means by which I could reach out to those who are struggling with depression, in hopes to be able to bring a glimmer of hope and light as they strive to overcome this adversity.

It is through the blessing of websites such as Mormon, Your LDS, and Mormon, who have featured some of my posts, that I have had the capability to reach even more people. Thank you for providing for me this opportunity to share my journey!

Here's a link to Mormon and Your LDS website:

Mormon Women

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Don't Have To Do It Alone

As we approach Easter, my thoughts have been turned to the significance of the Easter Holiday. I have taken time to reflect upon the Savior and the vital importance of His life, His sacrifice, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. I feel so very blessed to have the understanding and the knowledge that I have of the Savior.

As I have fought my battle with depression, I have come to understand that it is in these moments of our extremities that we can come to know as never before, our strength and our capacity to endure, through and because of the very real and very personal Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Because our Savior paved the way for each one of us, we can have the reassurance that we don't have to travel along life's journey alone. There may be times when we may question and wonder why we have to bear such difficult adversity and burdens. We may wonder when and if our healing will come. It is in these times of our extremities that we will need the reassurance, strength, and understanding, that can only be found because of the eternal power of the Atonement and the healing blessings that accompany it. We can come to understand that healing through the Atonement does not always mean that our burden will be removed. The Atonement is a means for us to become better, more pure, and more Christ - like. In some instances it may be necessary for us to endure our afflictions for a time in order for us to become better acquainted with God.

“Healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best. Sometimes a "healing" cures our illness or lifts our burden. But sometimes we are "healed" by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us..... Brothers and sisters, the healing power of His Atonement is for you, for us, for all. The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them.... is available for every affliction in mortality." (Dallin H. Oaks, “He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 6–9)

Elder Holland of the quorum of the twelve apostles so elegantly teaches us of the sacredness of the EAster season. He said:

"Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: 'I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”20

"As we approach this Holy week.... may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ 'at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death, for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were with Him,” Ensign, May 2009, 86–88)

How grateful I am for a loving Savior. I add my testimony to that of Elder Holland's and humbly and reverently express gratitude for the celebration of this Holiday in which we commemorate the sacred gift of our Savior which has given to me the knowledge and understanding that I don't have to travel my journey alone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Divine Guidance

I love General Conference that comes around every six months, when the people of the LDS (Mormon) faith have the opportunity to hear inspired words from the prophets, apostles, and leaders of the church.  One theme that was really emphasized throughout the conference was that of caring for others.  This may be done through the Welfare program organized under the direction of the church leaders, or it may be done in a very personal way in which we have the sacred opportunity to serve as instruments in God's hands to become an answer to the very prayers that are being offered by those around us.

A couple of times throughout the conference we were reminded by Church leaders, that "God does hear our prayers, but it is often through another person that He meets our needs."

I have always had a deep gratitude for the knowledge that I have of understanding that the Lord can directly provide answers to our individual prayers, through other people just like myself.  In this setting, under these circumstances, these charitable individuals are no longer just mortal beings, instead they are for a time, mortal angels, carrying out the work of the Lord in a mortal state under divinely guided direction.

I have seen so many times in my own personal life and in the lives of those around me, people who have been blessed because of the willingness of others to reach out in the spirit of love and sacrifice to those around them.  These individuals are exemplifying the Christ-like attribute of charity. In doctrine and covenants 42:38 it says, "for inasmuch as ye do it unto one of the least of these, ye do it unto me."  If we understand that scripture, then we should also understand the importance of helping, loving, and serving those around us.

It is through my battle with depression that I have truly gained a deep gratitude for those who willingly listened to and obeyed those heavenly promptings received on my behalf.  I have come to recognize as never before, that my prayers are heard and they are answered, but many times those answers come through the divine guidance received by my family, friends, and neighbors.

"To the world we may be only one person, but to one person, we may be the world."  I love that!  How true that is!  I can attest to this because through my dark days of depression there have been individuals who literally have meant the world to me, because they made all the difference in the world, during times when I so desperately needed the reassurance that I was worth something.

I would like to reiterate a challenge given by Church leaders to carry out a day, or at least a deed of service. Think of how many lives could be touched, how many hearts mended, and how many prayers could be answered if we all made serving, caring, and loving a constant part of our daily actions.

I would also encourage you to take a few minutes to view this Mormon Message, "Cheering Each Other On."   My heart was touched as I saw the Christ-like love that these high school cheerleaders showed to their classmate.  To this sweet girl struggling with the paralyzing affects of muscular dystrophy, these cheerleaders made a world of difference.  These cheerleaders literally became mortal angels, carrying out a divinely guided and very personal mission on behalf of another who also in her own angelic way, has blessed the lives of countless others.

Here's the link:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Treatment for Depression

If receiving treatment for depression is so important, what options are available for treating this difficult mental disorder?

In my last post I mentioned the idea of not giving up on seeking out treatment for depression.  Having said that, I felt like I needed to follow up with my knowledge and understanding as to what's available for treatment.  I don't want to give the perception that I have all of the answers, because I don't - not even close.  However, I do hope to share what limited experience and understanding I have, in hopes of benefiting another.  Some may have a different perspective than I do, but the important part in all of this is to find a treatment that is beneficial for you in your own personal battle.

I come from a family with medical roots.  I have a brother who is nearing the end of  his residency in gastroenterology.  I have another brother who recently graduated and will soon begin his residency in neurology at the Mayo Clinic.  I have a brother in law who will soon be graduating and will be doing his residency in pediatrics.  I also have a brother in law who is a practicing chiropractor.  If you've ever dealt with doctors and chiropractors, you will understand that they have a different approach in how they handle treatment for various ailments or injuries.  I find merit in both of these strategies depending on the needs and circumstances of the individual person.

In the LDS (Mormon) church we are taught to abide by what is known as the "Word of Wisdom."  These teachings are essentially guidelines which are put into place in order to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle.  We are taught to refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco.  We are also given guidelines, comparable to what many know as the food pyramid, which enlightens our understanding of a proper and healthy balance of food intake.

As members of the LDS church we believe that our bodies are sacred and that they are a blessing from God.  Therefore, we should care for our bodies as if they are a gift from God, and strive to do our part in maintaining a healthy balance.  To me, that summarizes what the purpose of the Word of Wisdom is -  to help us maintain healthy bodies.  

There are many approaches to treating depression and/or anxiety, but the most important part in it all is finding what works for your personal situation.  If I can, I would like to share with you my approach in treating different illnesses and disorders.

I have what is called hypothyroidism, which is an under active thyroid.  Hypothyroidism can create many different health problems, including depression.  To keep my thyroid regulated and prevent additional health concerns I take medication.

I also have a chronic kidney disease known as IGA nephropathy.  In addition to this, I have high blood pressure.  Kidney disease and high blood pressure play off of one another.  Kidney disease can cause high blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause, and also worsen kidney disease.  Therefore it's important to maintain normal levels of blood pressure - to do this I take medication.  Other than regulating  blood pressure, there is not much that can be done medically speaking at this stage of my kidney disease.  However, there have been studies done that have shown fish oil intake to be beneficial in helping to slow down the progression of this particular kidney disease, therefore fish oil has been included as well to my treatment regime.

My oldest son has ADHD, which brings with it another decision process in regards to treatment.  My husband and I have studied quite a bit of information on ADHD and methods of treating it and dealing with it.  My son has seen a professional counselor, he's taken natural remedies and most recently has been taking medication for it.  Our decision to put him on medication did not come easily, but it came as a result of recognizing that his symptoms of ADHD were beginning to affect his self esteem, which in turn can have a great impact on a child's actions and decisions, having a lasting affect on their lives.  When we weighed the pros and cons of each treatment option, we determined for the time being the most beneficial decision for our son was to put him on medication.  This is something that we hopefully avoid having to do long term.  Our hope is that through the use of medication our son will gain a better understanding of how it feels to function without ADHD symptoms.  With that understanding and additional guidance from us as his parents, hopefully our son will recognize how to make adjustments to be able to help himself without the use of medication.

My oldest daughter is currently struggling with what is called body dysmorphic disorder and possibly some mild depression and anxiety.  She currently is seeing a counselor who has been very beneficial for her.  However, we are open to putting my daughter on medication if we feel her situation worsens, becomes very detrimental, or life threatening.  Again this is a situation in which the positive results of each treatment option must be weighed against the negatives.

I experienced what I know to be my first bout of depression within a year after I had my fourth child.  My treatment during that time began with counseling.  Soon after I gained a focus and understanding of adrenal fatigue, which can also be a cause of depression.  As part of my treatment in addition to counseling, I added some vitamins specifically formulated for adrenal fatigue as well as a prescription for progesterone (a hormone). which I took maybe a couple of times.

With my most recent bout of depression, I had to approach treatment in a different way.  I was struggling so severely with depression and anxiety that it became life threatening for me.  This happened within what seemed to be a fairly short amount of time.  I needed to take immediate action to help myself get through this darkness.  I remember sitting in the doctors office and my mind was so clouded and I was so severely affected as a result of the depression and anxiety that it was difficult for me to even answer the doctors questions and make decisions.  I again began counseling with a professional counselor and I started on an antidepressant medication as well as some medication for anxiety.

I think an important thing to keep in mind with antidepressant medication is that sometimes the first medication that you try, may not be effective for you.  There is still a lot to learn about depression and each antidepressant works a little bit differently on how they affect the chemical balance within your brain.  It took me a couple different tries with my family doctor and a visit to a psychiatrist to finally find a good medication fit for me.  This has been a blessing in my life.  Not everyone feels comfortable taking medication.  However for my situation,  it was more beneficial for me to take the medication, than to not.  A reminder once again, that the benefit of pursuing a particular treatment has to outweigh the cost of not pursuing the treatment.

I've mentioned this before in previous posts that another crucial part of my treatment has been through professional counseling.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to find a wonderful counselor from the start.  To me this was a blessing from God.  My counselor has literally been an angel for me, who happened to come in the form of an LCSW.

Finding a knowledgeable, kind, and trustworthy counselor can play a major role in helping to overcome or at least find some relief from depression.  Don't ever be concerned about switching to another counselor if you are not benefiting from your current one.  It may take some time, but the effort in finding the right counselor is well worth it, especially when it can potentially be such a major source of restoring light and hope to your life.

I am also aware of additional options available, which others have found beneficial for treating depression.  Below is a list of resources that I know of, which can help in the battle against depression.

-Professional Counseling (Physcotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Dialectical Behavior    Therapy, Electroconvulsive Therapy)
-Fish Oil 
-Vitamins (especially vitamin D)
-St. John's Wart
-Essential Oils
-Guided Imagery
-Massage Therapy

Another resource that I have found very beneficial is the book "Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy," by David Burns.  This book can be used as an excellent companion to cognitive behavioral therapy.  In fact many who have used just the book alone, have found excellent results in depression treatment.

 I hope that this information may be helpful as you strive to find proper treatment for your individual situation. Please remember to keep in mind the potential serious affects of depression and seek treatment that will be most beneficial for you in preventing the possible devastating results of this mental disorder.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Depressed Moms and Their Children

I came across this article today on WebMD.  I took particular interest in it because of my circumstances.  As a mom of four children I have had to gain additional insight into the possible affects that depression can have on families, particularly children.  As I have worked on my own treatment in overcoming depression and anxiety, I also have had to work on understanding how to incorporate some of the knowledge and skills I've gained in order to benefit my children.  As I have worked on my personal battle to overcome these mental adversities, it has also become apparent that my children too are portraying symptoms of similar struggles.  I don't have the answer as to whether or not these are traits that have been passed on environmentally or biologically, but I do know that as a mom to my kids, I have the obligation to help them learn how to cope with these struggles.

As I read this article, I was reminded of the standard introduction that accompanies all commercial airlines before take off.  The flight attendants go through all of the safety instructions, including how to use the air mask.  As part of the general guidelines for the air masks, we are told to secure our own air mask before we help someone else. I think that general rule can apply in our personal and family lives as well.  It's important to recognize that our own well being can have an impact not only on ourselves, but on those around us as well.  It's vital that we remember to care for ourselves.

If you're still searching for effective treatment, don't give up.  The majority of people dealing with depression can find healing, or at least some relief from this disabling illness. 

The link to the article is listed below:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"A Significant Work to Perform"

Over the past couple of weeks my family could have really benefited from an extra large roll of bubble wrap - like the kind you find wrapped around fragile items in order to give them protection.  It started off with my eight year old daughter hitting her head on her window seat, resulting in a large goose egg on the back of her head.

The next injury occurred when my four year old son was waiting for his bedtime story, which obviously did not come soon enough.  In frustration, he threw his book from the top of the stairs, thinking that his actions might get him his story sooner.  In the meantime my ten year old son happened to be right in the line of target as the bedtime story came to an abrupt stop when it collided with my sons face.  I never knew books could actually have the power to produce a cut worthy of an emergency visit to the doctor.  I discovered that night how powerful books can be; in more ways than one.

Our next incident came when our eleven year old (soon to be 12) daughter decided to have a hair flipping contest at school with her friends.  Sounds innocent enough.  If you lived in the 80's you'll likely remember back to the unforgettable fashion in girls hairstyles.  The previous evening my daughter had seen "Footloose" performed by the junior high school kids in our area.  The girls in this school production had the classic 80's hair do with their long curly hair and big puffy bangs.  To go along with the fabulous hair do they also did the dramatic hair flipping that was popular during that time for dancers, pop stars, and bands.  Flipping your hair down and quickly spinning your head in a 360 degree motion, will create this popular hair flipping move (for lack of a better term).  This actually can be quite entertaining to watch.  However, in my daughter's quest to win this hair flipping contest, she ended up giving herself a mild case of whiplash.  But please take note, that our daughter did win the hair flipping contest.  Oh, the sacrifice for the important things in life.

Our ten year old son within a couple days  of his first injury became the victim once again.  In the midst of a little sibling squabble, my son stepped back onto a lamp cord, which sent the lamp falling from the top of his chest of drawers onto the back of his head, leaving him with yet another cut.  While I examined his cut, my  four year old son slipped down the stairs, scratching his back, while my eight year old daughter stepped on a toothpick, causing the end of it to get lodged into the bottom of her foot.  My husband worked on consoling the boys while I worked on getting the toothpick out of the bottom of my daughter's foot.  We finally ended that evening of injuries having my son's head sealed with a stitch.

To add to our other previous injuries, my eight year daughter was playing on a slide with her friend, when the two of them collided.  We again ended up in the doctor's office to have x-rays done of her foot.  They sent her home with a splint, and she has had her share of time on crutches and hobbling along the best she could for the past week and a half.  But just to add to the excitement of it all, my four year old son has had a terrible cough causing him to actually vomit on a couple of occasions.

As I've thought about the physical injuries and ailments that have created so much commotion for our family recently, I have also reflected many times on the help that we all have to offer to one another.  My brother who is a doctor, and his sweet fiance, were able to come to our rescue on many occasions over the past couple of weeks.  During this same time I was throwing a wedding shower for my soon to be sister in law. She thanked me for still being willing to do the shower for her, after the many family injuries that had occurred.  But the only response that I could think to tell her was that she and my brother were there to help us through a good portion of our string of injuries, so I turn was just giving back what they had already given to me.  We were both there to help one another.  This experience got me pondering upon how each and everyone of us are here to help and to benefit from one another. 

I recalled many experience's that I have had in which another individual or family along with my own family and me, have both been able to benefit from each others love, compassion, and service.  I thought about the opportunity I had to visit with a friend who had recently lost her husband to cancer and how I gleaned from my visit with her, a deeper gratitude for the gift of life and for the knowledge that I have of eternal families.

I thought about a friend who has shown compassion and understanding to me as I have faced my struggles in overcoming depression.  I also thought about this same friend who's husband is currently unemployed and about the opportunity that my family had to purchase groceries for her family in their time of need.

I reflected on the recent times when I've been able to give back in a small way to my mom as she has been recovering from knee surgery.  And of course, I thought about the many times I've been ill and my mom has willingly done house work, laundry, child care, taxi driving, etc, in order to help me - not to mention the numberless acts of service she provided for me as a child.

I thought about the opportunity I had the other night to give a good friend a ride home and how she in turn blessed me by listening and caring as only a good friend can.

I recalled the recent opportunity I had to care for my sisters children while she was able to go on a weekend get away with her husband. At the same time I was reminded of the many times she has helped with my children and willingly listened to me cry, laugh, and vent.

I thought about two young ladies, both from an inner city who knocked on my door the other night.  Both girls were working on improving social skills and job skills by selling magazine subscriptions.  I took the opportunity to help these kind girls by ordering a childrens magazine subscription for my kids.  These girls in turn opened up an opportunity for me to share with them a "Book of Mormon," (a religious book that serves as a companion to the Bible).  This book is very dear to my heart and this young lady at my front door who had traveled from Arizona, had been yearning for a copy of the Book of Mormon so she could read it for herself.  The desire of these two girls to learn, allowed me the privlege of sharing what I consider to be one of my personal treasures.

I thought about the blessing of being able to serve in the Young Women's presidency in my ward where I get to work very closely with the 14-15 year old girls.  I love these girls and feel very blessed to be able to glean from their energy and spiritual strength. A couple of weeks ago I was able to teach them a lesson on having a personal purpose here on Earth.  As I completed the lesson, I left for home feeling like I didn't do justice to a topic that I feel so strongly about.  Not long after that, I received a text message from one of my young women that I taught.  She simply said "Thank you for the lesson.  I've been wondering about that a lot lately."  Once again an example to me of how we all are here to help and benefit one another.

I think what encapsulates the message that I've tried to portray is a statement that the radiologist made to my eight year old daughter as I was giving her a piggy back after her foot injury.  She said, "you sure have a nice mom, to be giving you a piggy back....but I guess one day you'll probably be doing the same thing for her."  How true that is.

In dealing with depression, sometimes I've felt as if I have nothing to offer.  We may wonder what our personal purpose is, or if we even have one.  In times of such questioning it helps me to remember the experiences that I have had which have allowed me to recognize that each and everyone of us has a purpose, a mission, and a reason that we are here on this earthly journey. Bishop H. Burke Peterson summarized this idea perfectly.  He said:

"Do you think for a moment that Heavenly Father would have sent one of His children to this earth by accident, without the possibility of a significant work to perform?...
"My dear friends, you are a royal generation.  You were preserved to come to the earth in this time for a special purpose.  Not just a few of you, but all of you.  There are things for each of you to do that no one else can do as well as you...If you will let Him, I testify that our Father in Heaven will walk with you through the journey of life and inspire you to know your special purpose here" ("Your Life Has a Purpose," New Era, May 1979, pp. 4-5; italics added).
Do we have a purpose?  We do. All of us do.  I may have the adversity of depression that may cause me to think otherwise at times, but as I recognize the role that we all play in the lives of those around us, I am reassured that you and I, and all of us have a very special and very personal purpose here on this journey.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lives Lost and Hearts Broken

I previously had written a blog entry concerning suicide.  I was nervous about how to approach the topic of suicide, so I shared more general information in the previous post.  However, since then I've felt the need to share some more information regarding suicide, in hopes that my message might convey my desire to help others 'choose life.'  This is not an easy subject to approach or to share personal insights on.  I have taken time to ponder and to write and rewrite the contents of this post.  I hope that the message I'm trying to convey will touch hearts and the Spirit of hope and love that this is written with will shine through.

As members of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we are taught of the importance of caring for our bodies.  We understand that obtaining a physical body as we enter into mortal life, is an important and essential part of our learning here on Earth and our progression towards eternal life.

In Moses 1:39  it reads:
"For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
We are taught in this scripture that the Savior's work is to provide for us the pathway to resurrection in which our bodies and spirits will be reunited after the separation of physical death in our mortal state.  As mortal beings we are imperfect and therefore require the atonement to aid us in overcoming our imperfections and to provide us with the strength necessary to be able to bear the burden of our individual adversities and trials.  It is only through the atonement that we are capable of becoming more like our Father in Heaven and obtaining the gift of eternal life.  Having a physical body is a precursor that is necessary for us to obtain in order for our eternal progression to continue.

Understanding that the gift of a physical 00body is vital to Heavenly Father's plan, can help us to recognize the importance of caring for our bodies.  God gave us life when He provided for us a physical body to house our spirits. Because our lives are essentially a gift from God, it is not our right to decide when life should end.  We understand the grave consequences of ending an other person's life, but what about those who choose to end their own life?  What happens to them?

There are still many things about suicide that we don't have answers to.  Knowing that we don't understand and comprehend all things, can help us to find a deeper gratitude for the one who is all knowing.  We can count our blessings that us, with our limited knowledge and understanding are not responsible for judging the acts and choices of others.  There are some things that we have been taught by prophets  that I feel are important for us to understand, concerning suicide. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard provided for us some insights into answers pertaining to suicide.  He said:
"The act of taking one’s life is truly a tragedy because this single act leaves so many victims: first the one who dies, then the dozens of others—family and friends—who are left behind, some to face years of deep pain and confusion. The living victims struggle, often desperately, with difficult emotions. In addition to the feelings of grief, anger, guilt, and rejection which the victims of such a family feel, Latter-day Saints carry an additional burden. The purpose of our mortal lives, we know, is to prove ourselves, to eventually return to live in the celestial kingdom. One who commits suicide closes the door on all that, some have thought, consigning himself to the telestial kingdom.  Or does he? What is the truth regarding suicide
I feel that judgement for sin is not always as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. The Lord said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Does that mean that every person who kills will be condemned, no matter the circumstances? I feel the Lord recognized differences in intent and circumstances: Was the person who took his life mentally ill? Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed? Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended? Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act? Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance in their system that led to despair and a loss of self-control?
Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth.When he does judge us, I feel he will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth.
Thankfully, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught this enlightening doctrine:
'While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard. … He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, "according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil," or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. … We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgement or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 218.)

I draw an important conclusion from the words of the Prophet: Suicide is a sin—a very grievous one, yet the Lord will not judge the person who commits that sin strictly by the act itself. The Lord will look at that person’s circumstances and the degree of his accountability at the time of the act. Of course, this gives us no reason to excuse ourselves in committing sins, nor will the Lord excuse us, if I understand correctly. We must constantly strive to do our best in following the example of the Savior in every aspect of our lives. At the same time, however, let us remember that spiritual growth comes “line upon line,” that the key—in the spirit world as well as in mortality—is to keep progressing along the right path."  (M. Russell Ballard, “Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not,” Tambuli, Mar 1988, 16)
Because suicide is such a difficult and sensitive subject to know how to properly approach, I felt it important to refer to the teachings and insights of the church leaders in order to establish a more accurate perception and understanding concerning suicide. was hesitant to expound too much on this topic. As was stated previously, I have felt the need to bring additional enlightenment to the reality of suicide associated with mental illness, and hopefully take on at least a small role in contributing to some prevention of this terrible tragedy.  Although suicide is not a comfortable topic to discuss, it can have such a devastating impact on individuals, families, friends, and communities, that I recognize it as a necessity when addressing the concerns and risks of mental illness.  

Listed below I have included some facts and information concerning depression:
Clinical depression affects more than 15% of the population to an extent that they should seek treatment. People often don't seek treatment however and choose to believe that it is simply a bad mood that will pass. Indeed depression is known as the "common cold" of mental disorders and nearly a quarter of a million people are hospitalized with clinical depression every year. People get depressed over many things such as work, financial troubles, married people are more likely to get depressed than single people and the physical and emotional consequences of substance abuse can often resemble clinical depression.

Clinical depression is much more than being sad over high credit card bills, a missed promotion or loneliness, clinical depression is a serious, disabling condition that can consume life and can lead to thoughts suicide. Like many diseases such as cancer, clinical depression is progressive and will get worse if not treated. Fortunately clinical depression can be a temporary problem, unfortunately some people solve this temporary problem with a permanent action of suicide. It is important to seek treatment now before it gets worse.
National Referral has directed thousands of individuals to the resources they need to find a solution to their problem. Whether it is clinical depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, or co-dependency involving any of these disorders, National Referral can help.
If you or a loved one is having trouble concentrating, is often agitated or non-responsive and is suffering from a disruption of normal activities, we encourage you to call National Referral today. Clinical depression should be taken very seriously and action is required sooner than later.

The call is confidential and free so do call today.

Intervention and Treatment Referral  ("Clinical Depression", National Treatment Referral,

Knowing the potential serious consequences of untreated clinical depression, I want to share with you a personal experience that brought to my memory many vivid and heart wrenching reminders of my personal confrontation with suicide.  I recognize that I am opening up to share some very personal experiences, that are not easy to express.  However, I have been touched by others who have willingly shared with me their personal struggles with depression and contemplations/and or attempts of suicide.  As a result of the courage and the faith I have seen others display in choosing to continue to fight their battle in the midst of great turmoil, I too have felt the need to express the vital importance of continuing to find faith and hope, even, and most importantly, when we feel as if we are hopeless.

One evening not long ago, my ten year old son approached me wanting to show me two animated video clips that he had explained to me as being very sad.  As he proceeded to show me these video clips I discovered that they were displaying experiences of two different children who both had lost a parent. Integrated into these videos was also a portrayal of the troubling emotions and the extreme sorrow that these children were experiencing over their loss.  I initially didn't realize the depth of impact that these two videos had on my son, until shortly thereafter when I found him sitting on the couch with his Nintendo DS.  I approached him to attempt to reinforce with him the understanding that he can come to his dad and me at anytime to talk with us about anything he may not understand, or that makes him feel uncomfortable, or sad.  However, instead of finding him happily entertained by his hand held game, I found him on the couch sobbing uncontrollably.  He was so distraught that he stumbled over his words and he had difficulty in attempting to express his thoughts.  I motioned for my husband to come over, and through a series of questions we discovered his source of anguish.  Having seen these two videos of children who had lost a parent, conjured up a vision in my son's mind of him being in the position of losing a parent.  As he tried to assimilate this scenario, he was overcome with sadness and sorrow at the thought of this possibility.

Seeing my son so emotionally distraught in this situation, caused a recognition in me of how truly devastated my children would be if they lost their mom.  The grim reality and the heart wrenching reminder of my personal experiences set in.  I too was overcome with emotion.  I excused myself to my room where I began sobbing.  I experienced a gamut of emotions as I recalled a night when I was in the midst of one of my very lowest points in my battle with clinical depression.  I was completely engulfed with the overwhelming symptoms that accompany depression.  I felt indescribably hopeless and worthless. It was during this very dark time that I literally was brought face to face in a personal battle between life and death. 

I had never experienced some terrible life tragedy that brought me to this point of contemplation.  However, that is one of the ironic things about depression.  A person does not have to be the victim of a tragic event to become a sufferer of clinical depression.  This belief that is still so predominant creates the idea that if you are a victim of depression and you haven't experienced  a  terrible life tragedy that at least seems to somewhat explain why you would feel the way you do, then it must mean that you are just plain weak.

The belief that depression is only for the weak, has created a barrier that prevents people from being open with the idea of discussing depression.  Although there has been a trend amongst some to more freely discuss depression, the general population still considers it a taboo topic.

The victims of depression can come from any background, race, gender, income level, etc.  However, no matter the varying background of depressed individuals, each will suffer with distorted thoughts and emotions.  The distortions among depressed people are the very things that conjure up suicidal thoughts and wishes.  This is exactly why some individuals can have what is perceived to be a seemingly simple, trial free life, and yet they struggle with depression and suicidal tendencies.  While others deal with tragic losses and events and still remain hopeful and free from the grasp of depression.  It's not necessarily about whatever seemed to be the cause of depression, but it's more about the distorted thoughts and emotions that accompany depression,  which  then leads to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and  in some cases, consideration of suicide. 

"Research studies have shown that your unrealistic sense of hopelessness is one of the most crucial factors in the development of a serious suicidal wish.  Because of your twisted thinking, you see yourself in a trap from which there seems to be no escape.  You jump to the conclusion that your problems are insoluble.  Because your suffering feels unbearable and appears unending, you may erroneously conclude that suicide is your only way of escape.  If you have had such thoughts in the past, or if you are seriously thinking this way at present, let me state the message of this chapter loud and clear: You are Wrong in Your Belief That Suicide Is the Only Solution or the Best Solution to Your Problem.  Let me repeat that.  You are Wrong!  When you think that you are trapped and hopeless, your thinking is illogical, distorted, and skewed.  No matter how thoroughly you have convinced yourself, and even if you get other people to agree with you, you are just plain mistaken in your belief that it sis ever advisable to commit suicide because of depressive illness." (Burns, H. David "Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy, p. 385).

I too want to echo the words of Dr. David Burns in his bold proclamation that suicide is not the answer!  I have personally experienced both ends of the spectrum and I too can tell you that suicide is not the answer.  As I sat in my bedroom sobbing after my encounter with my emotionally distraught son, I recalled that dark and forlorn night when I almost completely gave up hope. My personal struggle in my fight for life became a very poignant reminder for me as I thought about what might have been if I had made a different choice that night.  I had never really gained such a meaningful sense of gratitude for my choice to live, and to continue to fight my battle, until I saw how profoundly my son would have been affected, had I given up hope. I suddenly was overwhelmed with gratitude for the small glimmer of light that I had left within me that night which allowed me to choose LIFE!  How grateful I am for my knowledge of a Savior who knows and understands my personal trials.  I'm grateful for the blessing that I have had in finding treatment that has been working for me.  I am grateful that my kids still have their mom and that my husband still has his wife.

In Mosiah 18:8-9 we are taught that we should be willing to bear one another's burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort  and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.

It seems to me that many times when we obtain even a glimpse of commonality with other's in life's adversities, that we are better able and more compelled to do what we are taught in Mosiah - bear one another burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those in need of comfort and stand as a witnesses of God.

This was my experience when I saw just a glimpse of the devastating affects that suicide can have on those left to mourn.  I felt even more of a fervent desire to reach out to those whom are struggling with depression.  I know and I understand the depth of anguish that wreaks havoc on depression sufferer's.  I know the extreme hopelessness that can drive depressed individuals to believe that suicide is a possible solution to end their suffering.  I made my decision that suicide is not the answer, but it wasn't until I saw my son's deep emotional reaction to the thought of losing one of his parents, that I gained a better understanding of the immense impact suicide can have on family and loved ones.

I sat contemplating my new found gratitude for life and for the blessings that crossed my path which allowed for me a greater capability to choose to continue my mortal journey.  As I absorbed this new personal realization I also considered other individuals and families who had been in similar circumstances, but yet their outcome was one of tragedy.  I yearned to make a difference however small it may be, in preventing suicide.  My heart ached as I thought of individuals who became so hopeless that suicide became their reality.  I was filled with extreme sorrow as I thought of those husbands, wives, children, parents, and siblings who are left to cope with the indescribable emotional anguish as they mourn over their loss, and attempt to find understanding in the tragedy.  I longed to be able to find a way to make a difference in the lives of those dealing with mental disorders, in order to help prevent suicide.

Many questions ran through my mind as I attempted to sort through my thoughts and emotions.  I analyzed many aspects of dealing with and treating depression.  Could these suicide victims may not have been financially able to receive treatment?  Was their treatment not working effectively?  Were they too embarrassed to seek treatment?  Were they worried about appearing weak, or maybe they didn't know what exactly was causing them to feel this way, so their world seemed like never ending hopelessness and despair?  Many times we don't know the answers to these questions.  So how can I help?

I've decided that for now the best way that I can help is by sharing my experience with others.  Although it's not easy, I want to let people know what I've learned and gained from my personal struggle with clinical depression.  I hope to help others understand that it's okay to talk about depression, and for those suffering with clinical depression, it's important to receive proper treatment.  For the family members and loved ones who are dealing with the affects and devastation of suicide, please know that my heart goes out to you and I pray that you will find a measure of peace and comfort as you search for emotional healing and understanding. If you are currently struggling with feelings of hopelessness, please hang on, seek out treatment, and know that you are not alone in your journey.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A New Beginning

We recently moved into our new home that we have been building for the past seven months.  We have loved it!  One especially unique blessing that this new house has presented to us is the opportunity for a new beginning - a fresh start.  Of course we are starting new with our physical surroundings, but with this move I also wanted a new beginning and fresh start in both my individual and family life.  Over the past year and a half the debilitating affects that depression has brought about in my life have created such upheaval that I feel as if my family is having to literally rebuild a foundation.  My children, particularly my oldest child, has most directly felt the ramifications of a mother who has been ill for an extended period of time.  It's difficult to assimilate the realization that my family has been so greatly affected by an illness that I was suffering from.  I've had to remind myself on many occasions that the best I could do in my situation, was to not give up.  I  had to continue to implement different methods of treatment to find a good combination that worked for me. And I've had to continue to practice and apply the principles that I've learned in working with a professional counselor.  But most importantly, I couldn't give up.

In a study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences they found some very interesting information in relation to depression.
"The WHO-funded study looked at the ‘disabling effects of depression’ on 200 patients who were attending the Out Patient Department (OPD) at the Department of Psychiatry at AIIMS. For over two years, the patients were monitored and assessed thrice before coming to the conclusion that depression can affect the productivity of a person much more severely than physical disability.  
Depression is highly common and according to WHO by 2020, it would be the second-most prevalent condition worldwide. Depression affects more people than HIV or road accidents. The disease usually brings with it a high level of disability,” said Dr Rajesh Sagar, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS who conducted the study.
The chief objective was look at the ‘disabling’ factors that come with various mental illnesses. Besides depression, patients with five other mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, dementia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), were part of the study.
Among all six illnesses, the disability levels of patients suffering from depression and schizophrenia were found to be the highest. 
Among patients who were monitored during trial, 43 were suffering from depression. The promising find was that almost all patients improved after one year of treatment.When the bouts of depression were severe, the disability too, was severe. But as they continued with treatment, their depression scores reduced. Small things like refusing to socialise, not going to work, no concentration or inefficiency are all factors that count as disability and put the patient out of action,” added Dr Sagar. 
According to experts, the study is significant as it establishes the severity of mental illnesses in comparison to physical illnesses. “People usually do not consider mental illnesses, especially depression, as a handicap. While someone without vision or with a physical handicap can be happy and efficient, depressed people cannot perform their duties and hence their condition is worse than a physical disability,” added Dr Sagar." (Krishnan, Vidya  "Depression more debilitating than physical disability: AIIMS study, Indian
I am not qualified to claim an accurate opinion comparing physical and mental ailments.  I personally have not walked in the footsteps of a blind person or a physically handicap person.  I believe that each of life's adversities bring with it different challenges that only the Savior can truly understand.   I have a great admiration for the individuals who carry the burden of any one of these physical ailments and I would love to emulate the courageous traits of so many of these faithful people.  I in no way want to minimize the challenges that physical ailments present to so many people, however I believe this study is applicable for the sake of promoting a better understanding of depression, and shedding additional light on how this mental disorder truly affects it's sufferers.

As I have fought my personal battle with depression, I have dealt with the debilitating affects that accompany it..  I have awoken to many days of struggling just to get myself out of bed.  I have felt the overwhelming heartache and despair of a mother and wife who could barely maintain and care for the basic needs and necessities of her family because of  the crippling affects of depression.

I have had times of such an extreme lack of energy and motivation mingled with such deep feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that many of my day time hours were spent much like a physically ill person.  Many of the simplest tasks felt like insurmountable mountains to climb.  For me to even get my kids a bowl of cereal or to put dishes in the dishwasher, at times was an overwhelming obstacle.

I had a difficult time talking with and connecting to others.  I didn't feel capable of relating to elements outside of my world of darkness and despair.  Concentration and decision making became very arduous.  I couldn't think clearly.  I felt as if fog had encircled my mind, creating a barrier to navigate my way to added mental clarity and understanding.

As a result of these debilitating affects of depression, I've had to really work on adjusting my way of thinking and doing things.  Two predominant concepts that I consider to be important in coping with the debilitation of depression are first, the idea known as "do nothingism."  And second, grasping the concept of properly prioritizing.

David Burns in his book "Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy," discusses the components of the "do- nothingism" concept.  He said:

"One of the most destructive aspects of depression is the way it paralyzes your willpower.  In its mildest form you may simply procrastinate about doing a few odious chores.  As your lack of motivation intensifies, virtually any activity appears so difficult that you become overwhelmed by the urge to do nothing.  Because you accomplish very little, you feel worse and worse.  Not only do you cut yourself off from your normal sources of stimulation and pleasure, but your lack of productivity aggravates your self-hatred, resulting in further isolation and incapacitation.
If you don't recognize the emotional prison in which you are trapped, this situation can go on for weeks, months, or even years.  Your inactivity will be all the more frustrating if you once took pride in the energy you had for life.  Your do-nothingism can also affect your family and friends, who, like yourself, cannot understand your behavior.  They may say that you must want to be depressed or else you'd  'get off your behind.'  Such a comment only worsens your anguish and paralysis.
Do-nothingism represents one of the great paradoxes of human nature.  Some people naturally throw themselves into life with great zest, while others always hang back, defeating themselves at every turn as if they were involved in a plot against themselves.  Do you ever wonder why?
If a person were condemned to spend months in isolation, cut off from all normal activities and interpersonal relationships, a substantial depression would result.  Even young monkeys slip into a retarded, withdrawn state if they are separated from their peers and confined to a small cage.  Why do you voluntarily impose a similar punishment on yourself?  Do you want to suffer?  Using cognitive techniques, you can discover the precise reasons for your difficulties in motivating yourself.
In my practice I find that the great majority of the depressed patients referred to me improve substantially if they try to help themselves.  sometimes it hardly seems to matter what you do as long as you do something with the attitude for self-help." (Burns D. David, Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy, p.81-82)

I came to recognize the benefit of abiding by the "do-nothingism" concept.  If i could get myself up and doing something I could usually find greater satisfaction in the act of "doing," than I originally thought I would or could.  The key to this, is finding the strength to get up.  Even if what is accomplished is perceived to be very simple and insignificant, it's at least a step in finding some satisfaction and sense of accomplishment in the act of doing.  I found for me personally that I typically struggled more with negative thoughts and I felt more emotionally insecure on days that I couldn't find the strength and willpower to get up and do something.

Knowing that I had limited strength and energy, I learned to recognize the importance of properly prioritizing.  I use the word properly because depending on our various individual circumstances our priorities shift.  As we go through different seasons and experiences in life are priorities tend to fall into different levels of importance.  It is up to each of us individually to determine the proper place of our priorities based upon our circumstances.

I personally believe there are certain principles that should always be top priorities.  These consist of our relationship with God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our relationship with our families and ourselves.  Beyond that I believe each of us according to our personal situations may vary in the way in which we choose to prioritize.

To take this idea even a step further, we can learn to properly allot time and energy spent in any given area by becoming more familiar with and aware of our personal perspective in relation to our changing circumstances. 

For example, you may be used to reading a chapter in the scriptures everyday.  But perhaps in your individual circumstances it is more proper for you to read only one page in your scriptures and spend more time on your knees praying.

Consider a situation in which you have a previous extended family commitment.  However,you also have a child who is struggling and is in need of the listening ear of a loving parent.  Instead of rushing out the door to get to your extended family commitment, you decide to take the opportunity to sit down and talk with your child who is longing for the love and understanding that only a mom or dad can offer.

Envision yourself as a dutiful relief society teacher.  You love to prepare lessons with hand outs and you must have a decorated table to set the tone for the lesson.  However, if you also acknowledge the difficult and time consuming personal situations that have overtaken your time, the importance of finding the additional hours for hand outs and table decorations diminishes.  In this situation you've recognized that if your lesson is prepared with love and prayer under the direction of the Spirit, it won't make any difference whether your table was adorned with beautiful decorations, or you crafted the most creative hand outs.

I am a person who loves to be of service to others.  However, I have found myself in situations when I have placed so much effort and time into serving, that I found myself drained and depleted.  I left little time to nourish and care for myself, leaving me all too often unable to accomplish other things that were of high importance to me.

I am a great advocate of self care.  I haven't always been.  I admittedly clung to the wrong perception of what caring for myself truly meant.  I think many times we, including myself, envision caring for ourselves as being selfish.  We think that taking time to nourish our own mind, spirit, and body demonstrates an unwise use of our time.  That of course can be true if we spend so much of our time doing things for ourselves that other areas of our life become neglected. The ideal is to always strive to maintain balance. With that being said,  I also think it's important to understand that there will likely be circumstances in our life when it may be necessary to spend more time caring for ourselves than we otherwise would.  During these times it's imperative to remember that selfishness involves a disregard for others; it's purpose is to satisfy or meet one's personal needs without concern for the welfare of others.  It involves an "all about me" attitude.   That is not the purpose behind or the reason for nourishing and caring for ourselves.  We care for ourselves not because we are selfish, but because it is healthy for us - mentally, spiritually, and physically.  We won't be able to fully appreciate the benefits and blessings of service if we are neglecting to care for our own selves.

President Harold B. Lee once said, “You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is” (“Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, Oct. 2008, 47).  In order for us to be able to stand on higher ground, we must take the time and the initiative to nurture our mind, spirit, and body.  As we do this we will find that our capacity to help lift others to higher ground will dramatically increase.

I've learned to recognize that for the sake of my health, I can't live a fast paced life.  I have to be content with a medium paced lifestyle.  I've learned that I have to take care of me and that's okay - and even healthy for me.  I've recognized that I can't allow undue stress to consume me, or else I will soon feel the aftermath in the form of depressive symptoms.  This may be a life long pursuit for me to continue to discover and rediscover how to cope with clinical depression.  In the eyes of the world and their perception of my outward struggles with this illness, I could very likely be classified as one who has digressed.  However, if you ask me, I would suggest just the opposite.  I have had to adjust my priorities in a new and different way that might not appear appealing to others around me, but they work better for me in my situation.  The understanding and knowledge I've gained through my experiences have given to me a deeper testimony of eternal principles that are irreplaceable.  This has been the component that has allowed for me to gain a greater capacity to love, forgive, serve others, and to more fully emulate our Savior.  To me, that is progression!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank you Mormon Women and Mormon Times!

I want to express a heartfelt thanks to Michelle Linford, the editor of and to Emily Jensen from for featuring a post from my blog on January 3&4, 2011.

In my battle with clinical depression, I have come to recognize what a lonely tribulation it can be.  There are those who through lack of understanding, still cling to the stigmas associated with depression, and believe in the many myths that continue to plague this illness.  And yet there are still many others who want to help and understand, but they aren't quite sure what to do or say, so silence prevails.

Because depression can cause such devastating feelings of worthlessness and overwhelming hopelessness, depression sufferers may feel like they are alone in their struggles, which then can continue to validate their feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.  Depression is a serious illness and can even be life threatening.  Therefore, I believe it becomes even more important and vital to it's sufferers to feel understood and to recognize that they are not alone in their struggle.

As I began to find some relief in my personal battle with clinical depression through proper treatment, I felt a strong desire to share with others my journey.  I was reluctant in the beginning to have my name associated with my blog.  I didn't know if I was capable of allowing just anyone to know that I had been fighting a very difficult battle with clinical depression.  However, as I began to have more confidence in myself and my purpose for creating this blog, I soon became more comfortable with the idea, and just recently included both my name and picture on my blog.

The spark that created the desire in me to share with others my journey came about for several reasons.  First, as a way to express my gratitude for the "angels" that have helped carry me through this trial.  Second, to create and promote a better understanding and perspective of those who struggle with clinical depression (as well as anxiety).  Lastly, I felt a strong desire for the need to be open with my experiences through this trial, in order to help others carrying the same burden to recognize that they are not alone in their battle.  I believe that sometimes the Lord expects us to share our own personal experiences in order to bring some light and hope to other of God's children.

Thank you again to the good ladies at Mormon Women and Mormon Times for their kindness and the opportunity they created for my blog post to reach many others who are sharing my same struggles.  I have found additional strength and  peace as individuals have in turn shared with me their experiences with clinical depression.  I've heard the accounts of several faithful people who continue to press forward in their personal battle.  Thank you for sharing with this daughter of God your faith in Christ.


You can find the link to both of these websites listed below:

Mormon Women:

Mormon Times: