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.

Hot Cocoa Mix – For Dummies

 

My hubby can’t cook. No really. He says that it is a lot of work for 7 seconds of eating. He doesn’t love food as much as I do. That 7 seconds of eating, especially if it is perfection is TOTALLY worth it.

It surprised me when he found out we were out of hot chocolate mix that he hopped on the internet and found a recipe. I am the one who usually does that around here (please see my ridiculous Pintrest board for evidence)

I, of course, put in my two cents while he was making it and we came up with this recipe.

Hot Cocoa Mix for Dummies

Adapted from: http://www.amykayskitchen.com/diy-hot-chocolate-mix-without-dry-milk-powder/

1 Cup Cocoa Powder (We like Hershey’s Special Dark for this, or anything Dutch Processed)

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

2 TBS cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of cayenne pepper

Method

Add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the chocolate chips are finely chopped and everything is mixed.

Store in an air tight container.

To make hot chocolate: warm up 1 cup of milk. Add 2 1/2 TBSP of mix and a few drops of vanilla (if desired) and mix well.

We like DARK hot chocolate. If there is more sugar than chocolate, we don’t want it. So if you want it sweeter, please feel free to up the sugar. In my opinion milk chocolate is just wimpy chocolate. Bring on the DARK.

If my Hubby can do it, anyone can. Enjoy your hot chocolate.

 

PS. My Hubby is a wonderful father, husband and provider. He has many talents, fixes just about anything for me, but he just isn’t interested in cooking. Hence the reason I do most of it. I love food. A lot. A LOT. I think if I didn’t like cooking so much, he would do more. The end.

The Thanksgiving where EVERYTHING went wrong. Except the amazingness of Family.

Actually it wasn’t that bad, but it is part of the reason that I haven’t blogged lately.

 

Two days before Thanksgiving: family here, check! food bought, check! children excited, check!! (the 4 yr old wouldn’t stop asking me what presents he got for Thanksgiving. I had to keep explaining that we just eat a ton of food on Thanksgiving and Grandma and Pa were coming to visit. Many much excitement.)

It started snowing that day, and it was right on the cusp of freezing, so I didn’t think the snow would hang around for long. I figured it would melt right off no problems. Instead it caused a problem. A BIG problem.

We got about 3-4 inches of wet, WET snow piled up that afternoon. We all went to bed and planned on having another fun day getting ready for the festivities. Then disaster struck. Around 1 am, Hubby was still awake when the movie he was watching suddenly blipped out on him. I woke up when the humidifier in my room turned off, and got up when I smelled plastic burning. A tree branch, weighed down by the heavy snow had fallen on our power and phone line. It bounced a couple of times surging the power, that ultimately fried a couple of appliances.

The plastic I smelled burning was our bathroom fan in the master bath. The engine completely overloaded and a hole melted its way through both the engine and the plastic cover on the fan. I walked in to find a blob of melted plastic on our fake tile floor.

I could hear Hubby on the phone with the power company, letting them know what had happened. They called the fire department to check that we didn’t have a fire in our attic sparked by the power being out. In all the hub-bub, 4 yr old got up, scared because his light wasn’t working. He was rather excited about the fire truck outside our house, though…

Luckily no fires had been started and the firefighters entertained themselves by shaking snow off the tree in the front yard. Actually I think they did us a favor, because those branches would have fallen and landed in the street. Apparently it was the third or fourth call of the night (they are voluntary) that they didn’t have to do anything. I think they were a little bored.

For the next 24 hours, we had absolutely no power. Luckily we have a gas cook top and (THANK HEAVENS) a wood burning stove that we had just installed. I really think that wood stove was a blessing from God, because we would have been very VERY cold without it. We had also just purchased a cord of wood from a Church friend.

Our neighbors lent us some kerosene oil lamps and we did all right. Because no body had a charger, we ended up playing Monopoly and Progressive Rummy (think Phase 10, but with face cards) all evening. During the day, Hubby and Father-in-Law kindly split a bunch of wood for us to use. 2 year old didn’t notice much difference in his day and 4 year old was just thrilled that he got an excuse to use a flashlight all day. (that kid LOVES flashlights. But he has a horrible tract record. They are broken almost immediately once he gets his grubby little hands on them….)

Actually that day was a lot of fun. We were worried about the food in the fridge, but it was stuffed full of food, so nothing was spoiled. Actually as soon as I thought it might be getting a little warm in their, I put a frozen gallon of milk in the fridge to keep things cold. Worked like a charm.

Finally, at about midnight or one in the morning Thursday morning, the Energy guys made it to our house (there had been a huge power outage that had caused them a lot of grief, and they had to deal with that first). They strung a new wire on our house, left the branch hanging in the old one and left.

We had power again! Then we discovered that the following things no longer worked:

The oven (not the stove top, just the oven part)

The furnace

The computer

The router

the Wii (tragic, right?)

the kids noise maker (this made the 4 year old very unhappy)

The bathroom fan.

Well, crap. How on EARTH are we going to cook Thanksgiving dinner??? No oven???

Luckily I did Crockpot recipes for the stuffing, potatoes could be done in the pressure cooker, but what about the green bean casserole? The sweet potato casserole?? And, most importantly, THE TURKEY?????

Hubby had a premonition that we were going to have trouble, so the night before he had run up to the nearby grocery store and replaced our propane tank. So we had our grill working. I busily got on Pintrest, using our limited data plan to hunt for recipes on HOW TO GRILL A TURKEY.

We had brined the turkey the night before, so the important thing was just to cook it. We didn’t need to baste it or anything. None of the recipes were extremely helpful, because they wanted you to bar-b-que the turkey or use a coal grill or cut it in half. I ended up (with my Father-in-law’s help) putting the turkey in a disposable aluminum pan, and just setting my gas grill to the lowest possible setting for about 3-4 hours and keep a really close eye on it. I checked the temperature, before I declared it done (as I recall it needed to be 160 F, but double check if you are going to do this…) It actually could have been on a slightly higher setting, but the skin seemed to crisp more quickly when I turned it up. It was a 16 lb turkey, and took about half an hour longer than we expected. (Mind you, the brine takes off a bit of time too).

I took a beautiful picture of my turkey to post to my Facebook page that Facebook did not save. Boo. So I don’t have any pictures of the turkey. It was beautiful. And delicious.

After I pulled the turkey out, I put the green bean casserole and the sweet potato casserole in the grill for about 45 minutes on low. I had to rotate them, but honestly I was just trying to make sure they were heated through. Everything had been pre-cooked, so nothing had to be fully cooked (yay).

We had bought the rolls and pies ahead of time, so we didn’t need to worry about those and we had a LOVELY dinner. We invited the missionaries from our church over to share dinner with us, so that was fun. They serve away from their families for 18 months to 2 years, so we like to make sure they have a place to go for the holidays.

In the end, everything worked out fine. Hubby and Father-in-law managed to cut the tree branch down. They also split enough wood for us to use until we could get the furnace fixed (we were waiting on the homeowners insurance, turns out we didn’t meet the deductible, so it didn’t matter). After all the company left (sad day) Hubby had to leave town, leaving me to get everything FIXED.

It took us another couple of weeks to get everything working, but we were able to get the phone line back up, the router replaced, the furnace fixed, and the oven fixed. Then Hubby replaced the bathroom fan (we upgraded a bit, because the old fan was LOUD and didn’t work very well. Hubby wanted the one that had a digital speaker on it, but it was really expensive), we just had to replace the power cord on the Wii and the power supply on the computer (thank heavens the hard drive was fine. We back up our computer, but not very often).

The thing that took the longest was the oven, because our appliance repair guy (we are starting to be good friends, him and me….he has come a LOT lately…stupid cheap washer and dryer) had to order a part from California. Once he got it, it only took 15 minutes to install. We didn’t have an oven for about 2, almost 2 1/2 weeks. Not very many Christmas cookies at our house….boo.

I was also relieved when the furnace was fixed because then I didn’t have to keep stoking our wood stove. The stove is a good one, but small so even if you fill it up with tons of wood it will still only burn for about 5 hours, and that is usually things smoldering so the heat output isn’t enough to heat the whole house. Well, it was never meant to heat the entire house. It is simply too small and in an out of the way place, but it did keep us warm enough to get by. Mornings were the coldest!

In the end we were able to get everything fixed for a minimal price. At first we thought that we were going to have to replace everything that broke, but luckily we that wasn’t the case. The Lord really blessed us! It was pretty stressful for me, because Hubby was out of town for two weeks right after Thanksgiving for work, so I had to deal with the mess the longest. I think the greatest blessing for me was the strength to deal with everything. It was a MESS.