This word. It can be so paralyzing and scary. Thrown around and confusing. It seems that it has climbed its way up in statistics and that many more are suffering from depression.
For me, I don’t consider myself to have depression, and I have never been clinically diagnosed. I have always known that depression runs in my family, but that is about it. I’ve always been your happy-go-lucky girl and have considered myself a positive person. Sure I have had moments of sadness and low times, but who hasn’t? …Well then the summer of 2015 came.
I was recently engaged, graduated from college, and I was so ready for the next chapter in my life. My fiancé and I had had the best year of dating, and we both felt at peace and incredibly excited about marriage. Then one day a dark cloud moved in over me… I still remember the day and the moment perfectly. I can’t really explain it, but it hit so fast. This cloud of sadness overcame me and I suddenly felt confused and alone. I thought it was maybe just cold feet about marriage, so I tried my best to move forward and brush it off…but the cloud didn’t go away. It got worse. I got worse. And soon getting out of bed seemed impossible. I was constantly in tears and I felt like my body was under constant stress. I couldn’t eat. I became a recluse and didn’t want to be around anyone. The thoughts that filled me were negative and spiraling out of control. I was embarrassed.
Being who I am, I tried everything I could to figure this out. How did this suddenly happen? What triggered it and how could I FIX it? My loved ones tried to reach out and help me. “Just think more positively.” “Go serve someone”. The advice came pouring in, but nothing I heard would stick. I truly had no idea what was happening to me and the spiral continued…. I didn’t want to be here anymore and be a burden on others.
My sweet fiancé tried everything he could to lift me up and carry me through this sudden blow. We would pray together, read the scriptures… (I felt like I was constantly doing this and trying to find understanding from God), he would go to the temple for me. I mean, they really don’t come any better. I know that this was hard for him too. That this sudden change in me was a little scary and that he just wanted his Sadie back.
Unfortunately it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that my parents realized I really needed help. No one had ever seen this in my immediate family, so all of us didn’t really know how to make sense of it or know what to do… I was angry. Angry at myself and my God. My fiancé and I put things on hold, I moved home, and my parents got me in touch with a psychiatrist. I remember our first phone call and the questions she was asking me. I immediately felt a sense of relief. Finally someone that understood! I could relate to all of the questions. Little did I know, this Dr. would be an answer to my prayers.
After that it was weekly psychiatry sessions and starting from square one. I think the hardest thing for me was acceptance. I was not a sad person…this sort of thing didn’t happen to me..but it did, and now it was time to accept and heal. The healing process was long and vigorous. At first, truly it was all about just keeping my head above water. Making small goals like: getting a job, getting out of bed within 10 minutes of my alarm going off..and giving my brain some relief. Taking a dance class, sprinting, dipping my head in cold water..whatever I could to find that sense of relief. “The same thought doesn’t last forever”, my doctor would tell me. “These thoughts don’t necessarily mean anything or define you”.
After a few months, I finally landed a job, a new place to live, and the treading of water didn’t seem quite as difficult. I had gotten on some medication, something I was completely against in the beginning, but it was helping and I was grateful. I was also seeing an energy specialist and the spiritual experiences I was having left me feeling uplifted after an hour session. I was starting to find God again and realize He was there and taking care of me. I wasn’t going through this as a form or punishment or because of something I had done wrong.
I honestly can’t tell you exactly why I went through this depression episode, but I do know there was purpose in it and incredible strength gained from it. My doctor was my saving grace and helped put me back together. A light started to form in my life again and this dark cloud that once ruled got smaller and smaller. My doctor helped me save my engagement and realize this wasn’t because of my fiancé or our upcoming marriage…this was just me, the overwhelming amount of change in my life, and something I needed to go through. A situation that maybe needed to happen before I got married so I could better understand myself. After gaining this understanding and better control of my thoughts, the decision to get married was stronger and even more peaceful than before. I knew without a doubt I wanted to marry this boy and I knew that God would take care of us. The strength we gained from this whole experience just made our story sweeter and prepared us even more for marriage. And luckily my sweet fiancé stood by my side the whole time.
To this day, I am still continuing to heal. I still go through down days and low moments, unexplainable thoughts, but the tools I have learned from my doctor help me push through. To be more at peace. To be okay with having those thoughts and just “ride the wave”… it’s not going to last forever, and “you know you are strong enough for this”. You have felt it. Mindfulness and the gospel have helped me so much! Sometimes I still want to know why. I want to understand it all and just FIX it. I get frustrated, confused, and still go through times where I want to give up…But there is always a light and a strength that somehow gets me through. Something’s simply don’t need fixing.. they need acceptance, perseverance, faith, and doing our own part to heal. A sense of control. I truly believe that through our Heavenly Father and the resources around us, we CAN overcome. That we can gain strength and control over those areas that trouble us and we can find peace. I’m still learning and trying to understand these concepts everyday…I know it is a daily, step by step process..but I am trying to be more gentle and patient with myself. To look at how far I have come & remember the things I KNOW to be true.
I hope that my story helps bring you a sense of comfort and peace. That if you have been through something like this before, or are currently going through it, that you know you are not alone! That you are not crazy and that there is light and help out there. Sometimes we are all about fighting on our own, but it’s okay to ask for help. Sure you might not have clinical depression, but we can all go through depression episodes.
**More than 16 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
Like I’ve said before, know that your thoughts don’t necessarily define you or mean anything. We all have our individual struggles and hardships..those unexplainable things..and I know for me, without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t be able to do it. He has been through and felt everything that I’ve felt. He knows my pain and my struggles. He understands. And He helps me find more joy than I ever thought possible amidst my trials. Sometimes He is the only person I can really talk to. He can do the same for you…as well as help from doctors, family, and in some cases medication. You are not alone.