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February 25, 2010

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1.

Thanks for posting this. I spent the entire day Monday in bed. It bothers me that those with more "outward" illnesses and outwardly hard situations are given so much help in so many ways while the suggestions of "just think happy thoughts...get out of the house...it's all your frame of mind...go to the temple" is the most help given to those who struggle to make it out of the house, let alone out of bed. How do you cope when you see someone fully functional given so much help because they know how to work the system, while you're struggling to make it out of bed everyday knowing that help is just a quick visit or a phone call? And you continue to pull yourself out of bed only because you know the help would be minimal at best anyway and your depression is scrutinized and downplayed to it being a condition of just thinking differently. Sorry to go on a rant, but living through it sucks. And watching people milk it from others when they are fully functional sucks even more.

2.

My gut reaction to your comment is to say I'm sorry, I know what you mean. I think deep down the reason I never asked for help in the ways you're talking about is because I knew it wouldn't do any good. If someone brought us a meal or babysat I'd still feel horrible and afterwards I'd pile on the guilt because I asked for help.

Another reason I didn't ask for that type of help was embarrassment. It's one thing to say "I have depression" it's another for someone to see you in your PJs at 4 pm with your house a disaster when they bring you a meal. Not to mention the fact that they want to make small talk, on really bad days that's almost worse than going hungry.

Not everyone in the church is that way though. My amazing friend Traci was a RS president who was a daily force in the life of a depressed woman in her ward. She called her frequently and helped her set small daily goals that eventually helped the sister into a more functional and (I think) happy state. I appreciated Traci's example of lovingly, patiently, serving someone with depression even when she didn't completely understand it.

3.

Hello Lajendi
You're a beautiful woman nice to meet you and thanks for stopping in at my place,I also fought that "dark monster" and it was a terrifying experience for me as well,and you are so right in religion there is not much known and that's sad for a fact.But God has brought us through and we can offer others help that's wonderful! I look forward to hearing from you soon I'll bookmark your place and I'll be back to visit Lajendi and if that's not your name I'm sorry I used it because it's there :D

4.

Thanks for the beautiful post. I have fought the "black monster" and have discovered that antidepressants are a critical component of my recovery. I have studied Buddhism lately, and learning to be mindful, to meditate, and to focus my thinking on peaceful thoughts has been enormously helpful as well. I wish depression were not stigmatized so much in the LDS culture. It is no different than having diabetes and taking insulin than to have depression and take anti-depressants, although some seem to feel that taking medications makes one less than worthy or whole.

5.

Tomorrow I teach Relief Society. The lesson is based on the conference talk by Elder Scott, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance". I typed it in Google to see what other people might have thought or written about the talk and found your blog. I really enjoyed reading your comments throughout the talk. I poked around on your site and read other postings and found myself relating to so many things you've said. And then when I found this post....tears began to flow. I know I struggle with depression, but haven't done anything about it. I just keep depending on myself to get through each day. I tell myself I just have to be positive. I regularly look at "The Week in Pictures" on MSN.com to remind myself of how blessed I am and that I don't have it so bad - just look at all those people around the world with REAL struggles. I've "lost myself in the service of others" as a way to cope, but I still feel really blue. What's with that? But what's ironic about reading your blog, is that I think my teaching this lesson tomorrow about acquiring spiritual guidance, is turning out to be helpful in finding a solution to my depression. Thank you for being so open and to share your thoughts publicly. I think it's time to sit down with someone professional and get to work on feeling happy. I wish you all the best. Warmly, Jen from sunny, Southern California

6.

Jen, There are so many things I want to say to support you but I know that God will help you find those truths that are timely for you. I don't really know you well enough to tell you what to do next besides talk to a professional, a good one. It was very helpful for me to talk to someone who understands the church, because I misapplied so much gospel knowledge. It wasn't the gospel that was wrong, it was my misunderstanding and misapplication of it.

Honestly, I felt I had to do everything right, to save myself, but that leaves the Savior out. We cannot do it without him, and that includes overcoming depression with professional help. It's similar to how we treat serious medical issues- we get a doctor and we pray and get a blessing.

My heart goes out to all of you who are struggling with depression. The world misses what we have to give when that monster sits on our hearts and we miss the light and happiness life has to offer. I hope we can all shove that monster out the door!

7.

For years I refused to admit I suffered from depression. I have a great life. A wonderful husband, beautiful healthy children, enjoyable work to do. A perfect life, so how could I be depressed? I read in scripture that despair comes from sin, so I figured I must have some horrible unresolved sin that I must repent of and then I would feel better. Only I didn't know what it was.
I began to have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. It would take a good 30 minutes of helpless weeping to pull myself together enough to face my wonderful life. I considered planting my beloved garden in lawn, I no longer felt like caring for it. I took long walks with my dog, which helped a little but one can not walk 24/7. I no longer took delight in the beauty of nature, in cooking for my family. I slept too much, ate too much. For two years I lived in 'the pit.' That's what I call it now. Finally my good husband went with me to the doctor. I feared to hear him say that it was all in my head, but to my complete and utter relief he only chided me for not coming in sooner.
I started on antidepressants and miraculously began to get my life back. It was wonderful. For three years I had relief from the pit. I lived in the sunshine. I lost weight and felt energy again.
Then things began to get bad again. For years I struggled daily for my very life. No medication I took helped. Despair dulled my vision. I hung on knowing that my death would injure my family, and that it was not mine to decide when I left this life. Only my faith and my love (even though I could not feel it) for my family kept me alive.
I am hanging on again. I no longer long for death on a daily basis. I credit my religion for saving my life. In the very blackness of the deepest pit I knew that although I could not feel it, that God was aware of me. That He cared for me and if I could win my way through this trial that life could be good again.
I am still on antidepressants. One was found that takes the edge off the despair. I still have to force myself to do things, serve in church, go to work, make dinner, but the antidepressant makes it possible for me to function. I know I am ultimately responsible to make my life work, but that I must have patience with myself and others. It is my faith that gave me the strength to hang on, my faith that makes it possible to deal with the days that are black.
It is not sin, or laziness that caused this illness. Depression is a disease, it can steal your soul, tell you that you are without worth, that life is too painful to live. I learned that I must deal with it, just as anyone with a life altering illness must. I read once that when you are healed from an illness it strengthens your faith, but when you aren't healed, but go on with it in faith, then your faith is perfected. I pray that my faith is being perfected.

Ann

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