I don’t remember the exact moment I realized I wasn’t happy. I just remember sitting in church one day and knowing that I couldn’t keep going on like this. I was beyond miserable. Nothing made me happy, I couldn’t care less about the things I used to love, I thought that everyone hated me and that I never did anything right, and I hated myself. I mean hated myself.
So, I made an appointment with my bishop (a religious leader over my congregation). I sat down and spilled my guts out about how I hadn’t been happy for a long time. I felt like I was a failure and a disappointment to everyone who met me and that I wasn’t good at anything, and so on and so on. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. I read my scriptures, I said my prayers, I went to the temple (a sacred place where we do proxy work) semi-regularly, I attended church every week, did my calling (an assignment in my congregation). I was doing everything that I was supposed to do, so why wasn’t I happy? My bishop listened patiently, though he expressed his surprise at my feelings, and told me some of my options. I really only remember one; talking with a therapist he recommended.
“You don’t have to go to therapy, but if you do, I recommend her. She’s great.”
He gave me a name and an address and encouraged me to think and pray about it. I remember thinking that therapy was not for me, but at this point I was willing to at least consider it and do as he asked.
About three weeks later, I found myself standing at the reception desk of that therapist’s office and making an appointment for my first therapy session. Especially surprising to me given that I had been on my way to the temple, not the therapists office.
I don’t remember much from my first session, but I do remember the diagnosis: depression and general anxiety disorder.
I’m not really the type of person to ask “Why me?” when things go wrong in my life.
That night, I did.
I sank to my knees in the middle of the kitchen, sobbing so hard I thought my heart would break, asking God over and over again why I had been given this trial, why He would ever give ANYONE this trial. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It was so dark, so empty, so hopeless. How could He let any of His children go through this horrible thing? That’s when a thought came to me, one I wouldn’t come to fully appreciate for a long time. “If He can pull me out of this, there is nothing He can not help me through.”
I decided to put all my faith and trust in that statement, and when the winds blew and the black clouds of despair hung over me, when I felt less than, when I wanted to do nothing but lay around and wallow in my misery, when I thought that everyone hated me and the world was against me, when I hated myself, that thought came to me. It sustained me until a new thought was able to take its place. “He can and will help me through this,” eventually leading to “He is helping me through this.”
Looking back, I can see the Savior’s presence in my life. He was there for me every step of the way, helping me, strengthening me, comforting me, and most importantly, loving me. Even when I felt unworthy of His love. ESPECIALLY when I felt unworthy of His love. It’s like the footprints in the sand poem. There have been many times in my life when I’ve given the wheel over to Him and He carried me through my trials until I could stand and walk with Him. Other times, He simply lent a hand. And there have even been a few times when he has had to practically drag me where I needed to be. But He has never, not even for a second, forsaken me. Not when I’ve been jealous, or angry, or had my doubts. He’s never given up on me. He is my truest friend, the best example, and He is my personal, every day Savior.
That’s not to say I don’t still have bad days. I do. In fact, I’ve been having a really hard week this past week. I’ve fallen back into some old habits that are not the best for my physical or mental health. I’ve felt jealousy, anger, annoyance, pride, sadness, and everything else under the sun. I still, occasionally, have an anxiety attack (though they have gotten much better). I’m not perfect. But He is. And with Him, I can repent every day and try again tomorrow. And if all I can do is be a little better today than I was yesterday, then that’s good enough for me, and surprisingly, good enough for Him, too. That’s the good thing about the gospel; “…We get credit for trying.” Jeffrey R. Holland.
So take it from me, a little Mormon girl. If He can help me through what I’ve always imagined Hell would feel like, if He can take someone who so utterly despised themselves they could barely stand to face themselves in the mirror everyday, who was so full of hurt and pain, He can and will help you. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen in a single day. You still have to work at it. But it does happen. I’m proud today of who I am and what I’ve been through. I believe it’s made me stronger and more sympathetic to others plights. It’s helped strengthen my testimony in my Savior’s healing power.
I bear this as my witness, that from the darkest night comes the sunniest day, that when you feel as if the entire universe is against you, when you wonder if anyone out there listens or cares, He does. And so do I.