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.