Depressed Mormon

The last two weeks we’ve been in San Diego, then General Conference, then we all got sick. I’m still waiting for things to get back to normal and I seriously need to be working in my yard!!!!

Bah.

But we had a blast in San Diego. We went to the Zoo, to Disneyland, to Legoland and the San Diego Temple.

I wanted to talk about something that has been weighing on my mind for awhile. I’ve mentioned that I am a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also I wrote about being depressed during pregnancy.

I am a Depressed Mormon.

Yes that is possible. A lot of people in our faith who struggle with mental illness eventually leave because our faith is all about joy and happiness and feeling uplifted.

It is next to impossible to feel uplifted when you are depressed.

Recently my kids have been obsessed with the movie Inside Out. I LOVE that movie. Love, love, love, love.

What Riley felt when Joy and Sadness were lost, is kind of what it feels like to be depressed. Only Sadness is ever present. It is as if it is just Joy is gone. Permanently.

That is what depression is: the lack of Joy.

I love this post from the blog Hyperbole and a Half. She does an awesome post about her struggles with depression.

I have had people tell me that I just need to buck up, move on, and get over it (luckily never from anyone seriously close to me) but it isn’t something you just ‘get over’.

From personal experience:

Depression is a disease.

I have been depressed and I have successfully overcome it. There was a HUGE difference.

Depressed me:

exhausted all the time, couldn’t deal with social interaction (like calling someone on the phone), especially strangers but not excluding close friends, never smiled, never cracked jokes, couldn’t do more than one thing a day, obligations quickly overwhelmed me, multi-tasking was impossible, everything my kids did irritated me, only desire to get by with the bare minimum, and the list goes on.

Not Depressed me:

more energy, ability to talk to strangers, can complete a huge to-do list in a day, no problems calling people, fulfill obligations with ease, multi-task like a boss, smile more, joke more, play with my kids more, more desire to LIVE my life to the fullest.

The difference is stark. Most of my friends and family could tell a difference immediately.

It was my husband (my poor overworked, over burdened husband) who recommended a therapist. And I agreed, without hesitation.

I saw a Psychologist, who recommended medication and therapy, both of which I did. And I got better.

This talk by Elder Holland is amazing.

Even if you aren’t Mormon, this talk is incredibly uplifting, especially if you struggle with Depression or if you know someone who is.

Last Fall, while I was struggling through recovering from depression, I realized that Christ had felt what I had felt. He KNEW what I was going through. Suddenly, through study and pray, I developed faith. Faith that I wouldn’t be like this forever. I knew that eventually I would be better. Maybe not in this life, but in the next.

Please note:

I struggle to feel the presence of the Lord in my life when I am depressed.

To the point that I felt abandoned by God. But He was there, I just had so much chemical imbalances in my head, I couldn’t feel or see His influence in my life. Later, when I felt better I could see how much He was supporting me, but I couldn’t see it when I was depressed.

But even though I couldn’t feel the presence of the Lord, I didn’t stop practicing my religion. I couldn’t. I didn’t stop going to church, I didn’t stop saying my prayers or reading my scriptures. I knew, I KNEW that if I abandoned my religion I wouldn’t be able to recover. With help from family, friends, my church, doctors and therapists, I was able to get better.

I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to deal with it, to the point that I don’t need therapy and my doctor is talking about weening me off of my drugs.

But some have to be in therapy and continue drugs for the rest of their lives. That is just a treatment of a permanent illnesses, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

You are NOT your depression. Depression is a disease that can be treated and overcome much like an ear infection or a cold. As soon as I distanced myself from my disease, I was able to treat it what it really is, rather than letting it define me.

Am I completely healed? No. I still have my days. I’ve been struggling with anxiety lately again to the point that I might need to call my therapist again. And I think I will, because I can’t do this alone. I can’t. But with medical treatment, I can be me again.

And I truly love not-depressed me.

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