I hope we are all well and pressing forward. Because sometimes this isn’t easy.
I’ve thought about this post, and discussing this openly for a while. But unsure on if it will sit well with people. I want to discuss the daily effects of living with mental illness.
we will often hear about the crippling stages of depression or the all consuming effects of severe anxiety. But often I haven’t seen much aimed at those who have maybe fought their way out of those depths. Those who think they have mastered the illness and learnt how to be well healthy. But in reality they still suffer from the effects of it in their daily life.
I would in reflection of my own personal experiences joyfully say I have come leaps and bounds in happiness and recovery compared to where i was 3 years ago. But am I truly 100% ? well to be honest I may have never been. not until the Resurrection. Clinical mental illness can be things we may struggle with for a life time. Just as any other disease. Some may be born with diabetes, some develop it later in life, others may eventually beat the diabetes to be fine, others may not. So it is with Mental illness. No matter when, where, or why we struggle. It is real, it is hard and we cannot do it alone.
So although I was diagnosed with such illnesses at the age of 15, I had very clearly been seriously ill for at least 2-3 years already and with in hindsight years before. First clear signs probably before the age of 10, specially as i go back and review the things i used to write in journals or just the way i felt. Now in my early 20s I see what has changed and what hasn’t. Having spent time with counselors and psychologists, having been on medication. I’ve made massive progress, I am a completely different person compared to whom I once was. However this illness it still remains.
I want to focus specifically on two things I have personally struggled with, ones that are more common than we often want to Admit. Both depression and Anxiety.
I remember the moments when I was almost crippled and held down by the dense mist, unable to make connections mentally at the speed I had used to, the empty weight in my chest that slowly felt as though it was consuming me. To randomly be replaced with such intense panic as though my pulse swirled in my own head. where my Body would literally forget how to function for periods of time. Through much assistance, of medical professionals and the Lord I have overcome the severeness of the illness. For those who are still in this place it is possible. It may seem like it is not. But as it reads in Ether 12:27 :
“ And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
We cannot do this alone, this is where humility comes in. We need to accept the help we need, medical and spiritual. We can however follow the counsel in Alma 37: 35-37:
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
Give it to the Lord, pray unto Him for everything. Put your trust in Him, there is strength here. As we do so, we can make it through.
However we may wonder why sometimes when we do all that we can, we try our hardest and keep the commandments. That we may not feel the Joy or Happiness we have often been promised. We may question why, or what we did wrong to cause us to become that exception to the rule. we may ask ourselves if this promise was for everyone else but us. That maybe we have failed God and He doesn’t love us like he Loves others. This however is false Doctrine. He loves you and He want’s you to be happy. With mental illness, our brains do not let the correct messages to be passed, making it hard for us to feel these things. Or maybe they do pass through but not as completely as a healthy person. This is not your fault!
This is something we need to Pray and find ways to push through, learn to express these emotions with those around us so they can support us. It worries them. You are not being a burden on them. No they may not understand perfectly. But Jesus Christ does.
As is reads in Isaiah 53: 3-4 :
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
He has gone through every heartache and pain we have, He knows how to understand, He does. He went though all of this so that we Hopefully will turn to Him and draw strength from Him. As we apply his Gospel, all of those beautiful teachings into our lives.
There is a beautiful Promise in the 38th chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon, found in verse 5:
“And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
This promise is for us also. He never said “as soon as you do this, things will be easy”
The key thing is it will happen, in this we have an essential principle; HOPE. we can try look forward, no it isn’t easy. But this promise is sure;
In the Last day we will be free! and we shall be lifted up among the righteous to meet our beloved Saviour and Redeemer!
But even if we aren’t in the deepest depths of despair we still live a life different to that of others. Sometimes I feel as though because I was no longer where I once was that I have no reason to feel as though things are hard. I would be hard on myself and try push myself.
However through attendance to the Temple I have discovered a crucial thing about myself.
although I thought I was free, that the illness had left. The moment I step through those beautiful doors I experience something. This may not be the same for others this is a wonderful tender mercy I receive and I live for.
I walk through those doors, and those things that I have been bound by on earth cannot have any hold. I feel the mist lift and my spirit lighten and I experience for the time i am within those walls a glimpse of is to come. The freedom that I long for, and thanks to the goodness of God will receive.
However I realize upon leaving those sacred walls That I am not yet free. That I still rely daily upon Grace (the Enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ) to strengthen me through this. I don’t have the same energy levels as others because I am daily fighting against this to Just live a normal life. It’s like walking through water compared to walking on a track course.
Each day is a new day and every hour can sometimes be a small step to focus on in itself.
People often forget that Just because we may not show that it is hard because we manage to live normal or to hold a Job, or even get out of bed, that maybe, Just maybe it took us a world of effort. Some days it may seem absolutely impossible to even fathom moving out of Bed.
But there is Hope, it is possible, even if at the current time it may seem like it isn’t. You can do this. One of my favourite scriptures is Doctrine and covenants section 24:8 it contains one of my all time favourite promises from the Lord:
“Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.”
we are not in this alone, take each day, each hour, and each minute as it comes.
One day dawn will break and we will be free, until this time we must hold onto hope and do all we can and seek the Help of those around us!
I can promise you the Lord will strengthen you!
I love you! But more Importantly the Lord loves you!
Sister Priston-Turner xx