Tuesday, August 30, 2016

You. Are. So Strong.

I’ve personally made several trips to the temple and performed baptisms for the dead over the past couple years. That’s one of the precious blessings of living around the BYU-I campus; the temple is so close. It’s always been a place where I go to feel peace, to think of my ancestors, and focus on helping them obtain their own salvation, while helping myself obtain mine as well.

It was a different feeling to go one day, step into the warm and comfortable water of the baptismal font, offer my wrist for the Brother waiting in the center, and have him hesitate before taking it. I could see the way his eyes focused on my wrist, the way his gaze changed, and the tense grip of his hand when he did take hold of it. I knew almost instantaneously as it all happened. He had noticed the scars.

My neck and face were suddenly ten degrees hotter than the water I was standing in, and I wanted to pull my arm back. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and even a bit frustrated towards the man. Why does he have to look at me like that? He doesn’t know my situation, or who I am.

But I was in the House of the Lord, and I knew that God loved me.

So as he took my wrist, and I held his for support during the dunking, I took an inner deep breath and reminded myself, “I know, and I know that God knows, that I’m worthy to be here.”

One of the hardest things about Depression, is the way it makes you feel so worthless, so guilty, so ashamed, so insecure. It’s been a year and a half since I was diagnosed with Depression. I’ve overcome the darkest part of it. But I’m reminded of it when I see the scars on my wrist on a daily basis. No, it’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s there, and it happened.

When I think about that moment in the temple, I like to remind myself that that experience was, in reality, beautiful. How amazing is it to have my imperfections, whether visible or not, and still be permitted to enter as a guest into the Lord’s house? I like to think that it’s something special. For me, it’s a literal, physical testimony of the Atonement of Christ in my own life. A testimony of His love and acceptance towards even those who think they are broken beyond repair. It’s a testimony of His grace that can be unlocked when we reach out to Him and ask for the strength to overcome our hardest weaknesses.

If my experience with Depression has taught me anything, it’s taught me that acknowledging how weak we are is actually evidence of how strong we really are. Humility means everything in this life. For everybody. Because we’re all weak. We’re all imperfect. We all need help. A person without the ability to admit they’re wrong, they struggle, they made a mistake, etc., is a person who is damned.

If you are a Latter-day Saint who struggles with depression, has mental, emotional, and even physical scars, be humble. Please, go to the Lord and talk with Him. Don’t ask Him to take the pain and the darkness away, because if it doesn’t leave, you will only feel worse. Instead, ask Him to give you just enough strength to find the help you need, and be willing to accept having the pain for now, so that you can be better for it in the end. Just grit your teeth and force a smile. Right now. Do it!

And please, don’t give up. It's exhausting to think about surviving for just five more minutes, I know.  But please don’t give into the darkness. Trust in the Lord with all you have, have faith, and reach out as soon as you can for help. Call 911. Be humble enough to do that if needed. Let them come and help you. Let them take care of you. I swallowed a few pills before reaching out for help. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Ever.

Believe me, sitting in a doctor’s office where they can watch you isn’t as bad as the world has made it sound. For me, it was an amazing blessing. I was able to let them take care of me for almost an entire day, and the pressure of living and taking care of myself wasn’t as suffocating. It was surprisingly restful. It gave me a chance to breathe, with the security that I wouldn’t be able to act irrationally. I didn’t have to be afraid of what I would do to myself when I was with them. It did not make me crazy. It made me human.

If you’ve been reading this, I hope you’ve never experienced the darkness like I have. I hope you’ve never reached that point where killing yourself is the only option. But if you have, or you are:

You. Are. So. Strong.

I have to remind myself every day, even when I don’t believe it. Those words may seem to dissolve before they reach your ears, Depression will do that to anything positive. Go see someone. Don’t allow yourself to feel ashamed, guilty, or embarrassed. Remember, God loves you, even though you can’t feel it. He does. I promise.

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