Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You're Still You

My favorite music videos are the ones that tell a story. Many times that story will make me view the song in a new way. It will bring the words to life and help me to relate to it on a personal level. I don't really like watching music videos where the artist is just singing. He or she may change clothes or locations, but I find them to be boring. I might as well just listen to the song on its own.

There is one song that I've loved for many years. Its music video falls under the later and so every time that I hear the song I see a music video in my mind. The song is "You're Still You" sung by Josh Groban. Every single time I hear the song the same story comes to mind.

Josh is entering a hospital room where his wife is laying in a hospital bed looking pale, very weak, thin and she is bald. You can tell that she is in pain. She has been fighting a hard battle with cancer.

When she sees Josh enter the room we zoom to her face and see her eyes light up and a winning smile replace the tired one.

We zoom out to see Josh stand next to her hospital bed on the left side. The window is at Josh's back and light is streaming into the room. Josh slowly bends over to kiss his wife on her forehead. Her eyes shut for a moment in peace. Josh then reaches for the chair behind him and draws it up beside her bed and holds her right hand in both of his.

It is quiet except for the humming of the machines. Josh looks intently at his wife as she smiles through the pain. Josh begins to sing the song.

We are then taken back to a crowded college campus. Josh is walking swiftly to his next class and happens to glance to his left to see a beautiful young lady leaning against a tree studying some papers in her hands. She happens to look up and their eyes connect. Her eyes light up as she smiles.

We are then taken to a small chapel where Josh is wearing a tux and the beautiful young lady is wearing a simple but exquisite wedding gown. They are facing one another in front of the preacher. Josh lifts the veil up and over head and looks into her eyes. We get a close up of her eyes shining with joy as a tear slips down her cheek and meets her soft peaceful smile.

We are then brought back into a hospital. But this time we see Josh and his wife sitting together on a hospital bed looking down at a newborn wrapped in a blanket. For a moment their eyes meet and her eyes are once again filled with unspeakable joy as she holds her first child in her arms. She can't stop smiling.

We are then taken to a cozy dinning room with a long wooden table and chairs. Food is spread across the center and and there are many people of all different ages sitting together chattering as they eat a delicious meal. It becomes apparent that three generations are represented in the room. Through all the noise and passing of food Josh's wife looks once again at him with eyes bright and filled with thankfulness as she grabs his hand and gives it a squeeze.

We are now taken into a doctor's office where the doctor says a few words and Josh's wife's head drops as tears pour down her cheeks. Josh is holding her left hand and is speechless. He helps her stand and gathers her into his arms. Her eyes squeeze shut as she continues to shake leaning into Josh.

We are then taken to a master bathroom. Josh's wife is standing at the mirror in shock as she sees her brush full of hair. She is too scared to look in the mirror for fear of what will be looking back at her. Josh pops in to tell her something and notices that she is frozen in place. He quickly realizes the situation and pulls his wife from the bathroom to sit on the bed beside him. She stares blankly ahead.

We are then brought back to the present. Josh's cheeks are wet with tears but he is smiling as he realizes that even through the pain his wife is still a light in his life. Their eyes meet and they both smile and her eyes light up once again as they did the first time their eyes met oh so many years ago. Even through all the pain she is still herself. A light in his life. A light that will never die.

This song has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. There have been many times where I find myself staring at myself in the mirror. Looking into my own eyes wondering where I have gone. I think back on the horrific moments that most people can't imagine the actions I have taken. In those moments I am not myself. But even after those moments have passed I still stare blankly at myself in the mirror.

Trials of faith bring changes. These trials can strengthen or weaken our faith. Elder Andersen in this last General Conference says, "These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him." There have been times that I have felt weak. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I feel as though I can't take on one more thing without breaking. Lately I have been more depressed and anxious and have said countless times that I just want to give up. And it is hard for me not to get angry at God. For all that is on my plate and now the added physical issues that I now face as well. It seems to be my year to experience it all.

But my faith in God and His plan for me is what has kept me going. Taking one day at a time. I often ask God why are you asking so much of me. Especially in my weakened state. In the scriptures the Lord says: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways...

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." I can't see the big picture. I can barely see to the end of the week. I sometimes feel that I am weak but I am told that I am actually becoming stronger. I can't see it or feel it. Elder Andersen says, "By definition trials will be trying. There may be anguish, confusion, sleepless nights, and pillows wet with tears. But our trials need not be spiritually fatal. They need not take us from our covenants or from the household of God."

As I now look into my own eyes I try to remind myself that I am a daughter of God. He has made certain promises to me. Promises that He will keep. That though I may be changing, learning more about my weaknesses and strengths I am still me at the core. How much more time before I feel like myself? I don't know. Saturday I took the wrong drugs in the morning and I broke down wondering if some of these changes were permanent. My short term memory is horrible. My patience has worn thin. My desire to do the things that I used to is in many ways still buried deep. As time goes on I forget what I feel like when I am my "normal" self. Elder Andersen says, "Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened."

My hope is that I am being refined and strengthened. That I'm learning the lessons that I need to. I know that my trust in God has been strengthened. And even though I may feel so far away somewhere deep inside I'm still me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Pavilion

The definition of pavilion in the dictionary is "a light, usually open building used for shelter, concerts, exhibits, etc., as in a park or fair." When I first think of the word pavilion I think of Lewisville Park, which is close to where my parents live. It has quite a few pavilions. I reflect on 4th of July breakfasts, birthday parties, barbecues, the start of summer parties, water fights and many other wonderful memories when I think of those pavilions in that park. And being located in the Pacific Northwest they were most definitely used to shelter us from the rain at times. They were a safe haven that protected us from the elements.

It wasn't until hearing President Eyring's talk this last October General Conference that I began to give further thought to the word pavilion. I think many of us think of a pavilion as a sort of protection. Something good that helps us enjoy the outdoors. How could the word pavilion have a negative connotation?

In the past when I have told others that I'm struggling with depression I'm asked if I'm praying, reading my scriptures, going to church or going to the temple. As though those actions can chase the depression away. Now for those that are having a depressive day they most certainly can help. They can even help me, but no; they cannot chase the depression and anxiety away as much as I wish they could. The past year has been a roller coaster. I at times feel that I'm getting close to the top of my mountain to only slip down a few feet. Since this particular trial has now lasted more than a year it is hard for me to imagine actually making it to the top of the mountain. To even imagine what that will feel like. It has been so long in so many ways.

A couple of weeks ago I felt the gray that surrounds me develop into a deep dark fog. I couldn't mentally process much. I couldn't handle being around people for very long. The simplest acts would drain me. When I have always envisioned depression I picture in my mind a black fog surrounding me. Blocking all good things and all good thoughts. I feel as though I'm clawing out for something to grab onto. Anything. At these times I know mentally that Heavenly Father is there and is aware of my needs, but I cannot feel Him. I can't feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I can't feel of His love. It is like the conduit between me and heaven is blocked.

And this is my pavilion. It isn't one that I have chosen through my actions or the intentions of my heart. But it describes exactly how I feel. It is not a protection. It is something standing in the way between me and God. President Eyring says, "The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are." And it is during these moments that I feel so alone. It is often during these times that I feel frustration. I ask God "why do I have to go through this again? Don't I have enough on my plate as it is?" I find myself kneeling, sobbing my heart out to God for something to hold onto. For His hand to reach out for me to grab. But a pavilion stands in the way.

It is during these times that I rely heavily on those around me. Elder Ballard shares President Monson's thoughts on the matter. "President Thomas S. Monson has taught that in many instances Heavenly Father answers another person's prayers through us - through you and me - through our kind words and deeds, through our simple acts of service and love." Elder Ballard goes on to say, "And President Spencer W. Kimball said: God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other." I'm not sure where I would be were it not for the simple acts of service and love that have been sent my way. Things as simple as a loving text, being given more eggs to throw against the shower wall, having good health insurance, having a home to go to when I need a safe haven, care packages left in front of my door, quotes, scriptures and music shared, comments left here on my blog or on facebook and the love and prayers sent from those near and far.

Now I'm far from perfect, and there is something that I occasionally do that most definitely keeps the pavilion in place. That is when I get angry at God. That He doesn't answer my prayers the way that I would like Him to. That He doesn't follow my own timetable. President Eyring talks about this pavilion, "...another way we can create a barrier to knowing God's will or feeling His love for us: we can't insist on our time table when the Lord has his own." There are other trials where I completely trust His timing. His timing is perfect and he sees the big picture. He knows when Tom and I are ready to be parents or when those souls are ready to join mortality. He knows when to heal. Having trust and faith in His timing makes these burdens so light to bear. President Eyring says, "His time should be soon enough for us since we know that He wants only what is best."

I don't know when this pavilion will be lifted. How much longer I will have to struggle taking one day at a time. How long it will be till I feel of God's love or feel His guiding hand in my life. I can see it, but I can't feel it. I don't have all the answers to my questions, but I do know that He cares, and just because I can't feel doesn't mean He has forgotten me. President Eyring shares, "God is close to us and aware of us and never hides from His faithful children." He is there. He loves me. He has helped me to get to where I am today by answering my prayers through other faithful sons and daughters. I am thankful that even with this pavilion over my head I am not alone. Never alone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


This past Sunday one of the high counselor speakers spoke on gratitude. Something that I really needed to hear. I had planned on visiting another ward but as I started driving I felt that I needed to attend my own ward and I am so grateful that I did. Gratitude to my Heavenly Father has been especially hard for me this year.

Every year in primary we teach the children the importance of praying to our Heavenly Father. That he cares so much about us and wants to hear from us. He cares about what we care about. We teach them the order of prayer. How we greet our Heavenly Father and then go on to thank him for the many blessings that he has given us. As adults I think we sometimes get stuck saying the same things, which is OK if it is truly coming from our hearts instead of being spoken with little thought.

I shared a room with my youngest sister growing up. We are seven years apart in age. Because we shared a room I got to hear the prayers she gave with my mother kneeling by her side. She was quite creative and thoughtful when it came to thanking Heavenly Father. I don't remember all the cute things she said, but one that comes to mind was that she was thankful for Benjamin Franklin. Why? Because he came up with the bifocals which my mother needed to use to read. She was very specific when she gave thanks.

This past year I have had a hard time being grateful. When I first met with my therapist she had me write down three things that had happened that day that I was grateful for and then one negative thing. But that was not all. I needed to come up with a reason how that negative experience brought something into my life that I was grateful for. It wasn't always easy. Sometimes I would just write "I am alive." I kept writing in my thankful journal until a little after my JU experience and then I stopped. I'm not really sure why. My memory is seriously horrible.

But even now when I pray I struggle. Many times I say "I am trying my best to be grateful for this day." And that would be it. It is true that when we are amidst our struggles and trials it is hard to find the motivation to be grateful. I had plenty of things to be grateful for, but they seemed insignificant compared to my struggles. My struggle to find the desire to live. The desire to take one step at a time. The desire to see my therapist or psych nurse. Everything else felt inconsequential.

But one thing the high counselor pointed out is that by not thanking our Heavenly Father we miss out on blessings. And boy do we need some extra blessings when we are going through a difficult time. The Doctrine & Covenants touches upon this topic.

D&C 78: 17-19

17 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;"

18 "And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours."

19 "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more."

Wow! What a promise we have been given. Heavenly Father has so much he wants to bless us with. He gives us blessings just because He loves us so much, but if we receive our blessings and express gratitude for them then Heavenly Father blesses us even more! It sounds so easy, and it is a win-win situation, but many times we get caught up in the things of the world, or we become to busy, or we don't even take the time to truly see all the blessings we have been given. Or in my case I get caught up in asking for things like understanding, strength, and peace to just name a few.

These last couple of weeks my depression and anxiety have deepened for many reasons: diet, lack of sleep (needing to rest a lot), situations I have been dealing with, lack of energy, adjusting to a higher does of a med, and the lack of exercise (because I am so weak). I have asked myself many times why am I still fighting? Maybe to return to live with my Heavenly Father, but what if that isn't what I want? What do I truly have to live for? I let Satan in when I am weak. Everyone that I have asked these questions to give similar answers: for your family, for Tom, for all those that love you, the world would be a different place without you, Heavenly Father has plans for you, Just hold on a little longer, these experiences will make you stronger.

I had a close friend advise me to make a list of all the things that I am grateful for. It is a proven fact that gratitude can bring peace, happiness, and a longer life. But I haven't wanted to acknowledge all the blessings I have been given. Especially since I haven't gotten what I expected on my own time table. I often have to remind myself that God's timing is perfect and to be patient. But that can be so hard when the thought of going to bed depresses you because it means another day is coming. A day where I will struggle with the same emotions. A day where I will have the same questions. A day where I am too weak to do too much, and the things I do get done have to be broken up throughout the day. I have been stubborn. I have not wanted to write a list of things that I am thankful for. But being thankful is a commandment, and it will bring us more blessings. I feel that I can use all the blessings that Heavenly Father is willing to give me. And so here I go. I am going to count my many blessings. Well at least a few, and these are not premeditated.

1. I am thankful for Tom. I don't know very many men who would be so patient and loving when their wives fight them, or tell them that maybe they don't want to be married to them or tell them that they hate them. Tom honestly has been one of my biggest blessings ever! He really only has a couple of regrets over the last year, and one of them is that he rolled his eyes. I don't remember the situation at all, but in my thankful journal for one of the days that is my one negative thing. I really can't complain about the rolling of eyes. :o)

2. I am thankful that my sister Brittany flew out to spend a week with me shortly after my stay in the JU. Brittany is the sister that is seven years younger. We are close. People ask me how we became so close, and I tell them it must be because we shared a room together for seven years. But honestly I don't think that is the reason. We don't have deep conversations, and we don't talk on the phone much, but we do hand-write letters. We have a connection that I can't explain. Brittany was my angel the last time I struggled with depression. She supports me without asking for anything in return. Many times you will find us in the same room doing our own thing. I know that she will love me no matter what. Now the fact that she flew out to see me is BIG to me. She spent most Summers at home and never really wanted to come down to Eugene. I always went up to see her. So the fact that she spent a week with me in my home means a lot to me.

3. I am thankful that my sister Christina let me borrow her bike for a year. It works much better than my old one. It is true that I haven't biked much at all lately, but I have put over 700 miles on it. It sits on my deck, and I see it everyday. It looks a little different now because of all the bike stuff I've added to it, but it is a reminder of how much I truly do love to bike and that one day I will be biking again. It really helped me to cope with the Summer months.

4. I am thankful that Heavenly Father has blessed us financially and I don't mean with money. This year has brought some big expenditures. Unplanned ones for sure. Tom and I have always tried to build our savings which sometimes is difficult because when we hit a certain amount we end up needing it to repair the car. But those stresses do not occur until we have the money for it. Our car broke down twice this year. Both times seemed to happen at the most inopportune times. The second time it broke down it really seemed that all odds were against us. Tom's mom was flying into Portland in just a couple of hours. But luckily for us the car broke down just as Tom reached the Battle Ground exit (he was heading to my parent's house where I had been staying). Luckily for us Tom had the cell phone (we only have one). Luckily for us my mom had left the day before for Arizona. That meant that we could borrow the car for a week. My dad would just have to drive his truck around (it is manual and my mom can only drive automatic). And the fact that our car went to car heaven when Tom's mom came out was the biggest blessing of all. Because she helped us look for a new car or think of ways we could maybe ship out one of theirs. Tom's stress levels were already high and I don't want to even begin to imagine what they would have been like if his mom wasn't here giving her support and love. And also that he was able to talk to his dad who gave his support and love. We did not have money for a car. Our savings was already beginning to disappear because of medical expenses. Tom's parents bought us the car (we are going to pay them back).

5. I am thankful for how my in-laws have lived their lives in such a way that they would have money to help us out. Of course we hated asking for it, but as Tom and I struggle to make every little cent count. Now that our savings are completely gone it brings peace to know that they are there to support us. And not only with money. Tom's mom visited us twice this year. Her second trip was an answer to my prayer. Tom was struggling with being able to focus on his research and the school was starting to push a little. Tom and my therapist thought I should live with my parents for a month. I did not like that idea at all. I hadn't packed for such a long stay and that would also mean that I wouldn't be able to see my therapist or psych nurse. I would have to take a big pause in my healing process. And believe me a month feels more like a year. My going back to Eugene wouldn't solve any of the issues Tom was facing. I prayed mightly that there would be a third option and Heavenly Father answered my prayers. My mother-in-law came to stay with us for three weeks! She sacrificed time spent with her husband, bird, family and her first grandson that she loves so much. She was easy going, didn't push me, was encouraging, happy, and content to do her own thing when I needed space. She drove me to all my appointments. She made dinner every night. Just having her physically there was a huge blessing to me.

Now I probably could go on and on, and when I find the energy I will try to think of more things and write them down in my journal. I think the reason I have been so stubborn is because I feel that finding the good during the hardest time of my life means that it really isn't that hard. But I need to change my perspective. Being thankful does not change our circumstances or make our trials disappear or become light as a feather. But being thankful does help us to remember how much Heavenly Father loves us and how He is there with guiding hands during the hard times. It may help us to change our attitude. It reminds us that there is good in this life on earth. It may be what helps us face a new day. It may bring us a little peace. A little respite from dealing with all the heavy things that mortality can bring us.

"When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end."
-Johnson Oatman, Jr.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Grieving is a process with how we deal with loss - big or small. There are five stages of grief. They don't have to be experienced in order. Sometimes you can experience two of the stages at the same time. Everyone experiences grieving in their own way.

1. Denial, disbelief, numbness
2. Anger, blaming others
3. Bargaining
4. Depressed mood, sadness, and crying
5. Acceptance, coming to terms

When Heavenly Father told me it was time to start the grieving process I started sobbing. I didn't want to. It felt like giving up. It felt like losing hope. I viewed it negatively. I kept asking God haven't I been through enough this year? Why this? Why now?

I believe I mentioned before that I haven't been sleeping well for almost three months now. I wake up a number of times throughout the night. Sometimes feeling more and more anxious as the morning begins to dawn. I am physically spent, so you would think that I would actually sleep. I am on a natural sleeping aid and a medication, so falling asleep isn't a problem. It is staying asleep. Well early this morning I was feeling overly anxious and sitting next to my bed. I had tried sleeping on the couch and in the chair. When 5:30 am hit I sat in my new corner waiting for 6 am to arrive. That is the earliest time I allow myself to take my morning medication which does contain an anti-anxiety medication. Tom came and sat down next to me on the floor and said something that really got me thinking. I was expressing how tired I was. How anxious I was feeling. Why do I have to grieve? He said so that all the emotion could be dealt with. So that I could cry in an environment where I felt comfortable doing so (I hate crying in front of people).

I have experienced a lot of loss this year of many types one after the other. I'm not sure I have grieved fully any of those losses because another one hits soon after. And I believe I have stuffed all that emotion deep inside. My therapist has tried to get me to bring it up on a number of occasions, but I always tell her that the minute I enter her front door I stuff it away. Usually. Lately I have found everything to be draining. Even good things. I have come to be dissatisfied with my calling which I love and I really wouldn't want a different one. I couldn't understand it. I have felt strongly that I do NOT want to teach sharing time.

This week I have been the Ultimate Hermit staying at home and keeping my phone on silent. Now I haven't been just twiddling my thumbs. I found myself one day cleaning all day. Scrubbing and painting walls. Doing laundry. Reorganizing spaces. Purging. Taking out the garbage. Doing the dishes (Tom usually does them). Yesterday I found myself working on Project Life for 2011. It is so close to being completed. I have even been reading a little bit. The TV has hardly been turned on. For some reason I haven't really wanted to watch movies for months.

It was early this morning that I came to the conclusion that I have been in many ways fighting the grieving process. Humans in general will run from negative emotion. But you know what? It is a part of life. Something that we shouldn't run from. Running just prolongs the agony and can actually make us physically sick. I have been experiencing Limbo Loss for three months, and I can tell you that it has taken its toll. Part of me just wants to skip over the next three months. I'm not in a mood to celebrate the holidays. I'm ready for this year to be over. I'm now viewing those months differently.

I think that for the next three months I need to focus on healing. I have given all that I have, and I am worn out. It is time to let the varying emotions lose. I have been feeling guilty for taking time to be alone. I keep telling myself that I should be focusing on other friendships now that this other one has come to an end. I keep telling myself that I should put forth effort to get to know certain people better. All good things. But emotionally, mentally, physically, and even on some level spiritually I am not at a place to put forth that effort. It feels selfish, but it is time to take care of myself. And if that means I need a couple of weeks without interacting with anyone but Tom that is OK. If I tell people 'no I can't do something' that is OK. My body needs a rest. And I'm still dealing with varying levels of depression and anxiety.

It is time to stop running and turn around and face what I have left behind. The loss of my grandparents. The loss of my uncle. The loss of Sketch Support. The loss of Josalyn & Bryce. The loss of Leslie. The loss of this new friendship. The loss of physical health. The loss of our savings. The loss of mental health. The loss of losing the desire to do the things that I used to love. The limbo loss of not knowing if this is our last year in Eugene or not. The limbo loss of whether or not Tom will have everything done in time for graduation. I could go on. And so these next three months I am going to allow myself to be sad. Allow myself to cry. Allow myself to get angry. Allow myself to not feel guilty for any of it. And I'm sure as I start letting go that I will slowly rejoin the world of the living.

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose
under heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace,
and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
And so I'm going to allow myself a time to weep, to mourn, to hate (get angry), to break down, a time to keep silent, etc. I believe as I allow these emotions to run free I will then find that slowly there will be a time to laugh, a time to build up, a time to heal, a time to get, and a time to love. For our Heavenly Father is wise and knows what we need most. I'm going to do my best to view these last three months as a gift of a time to heal. No deadlines. No hurry. Because I think we have all experienced that grieving takes time. And I am blessed that I really do have three months where I can take time to heal. Now of course it could take longer than that or less. But "to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven". 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blown Away

Saturday evening I found myself contemplating whether or not January 1, 2005 was the hardest day of my life or that day (Saturday). Many similarities but in many ways different. Another door has fully shut in my life. A door that Heavenly Father said was opening months ago. The evening of January 1st I got dumped by my boyfriend over the phone. I have shared a little of that experience in my blog post titled "Change". It took months for me to move on. I don't think I was fully over the experience even when I married Tom. Did I still love my ex-boyfriend? No. Love is an action word. It takes effort and time. It needs to be fed. Did I still care for my ex-boyfriend? Yes. But mainly I was still feeling hurt. I had to come to accept that this relationship would never have closure. A few years down the road he actually sent me a message and apologized for all the hurt he caused me and for the way that he broke up with me. It was nice but I had moved on and I didn't feel the need for closure anymore.

In this instance this was the only time that I was dumped. All my other relationships just fizzled over time. And the first guy that I really fell in love with still holds a special place in my heart. Loosing your boyfriend, best friend, potential mate is HARD. And it hurts. And it takes time to grieve over that loss. I was able to walk away from that relationship knowing that I had given it my all. I think some of those around me were surprised at how hard I took the loss. But they didn't know the full story. No one did but my parents up until we broke up.

Those who are close to me know that if they bring up the "Twilight" series to me that they are going to get an earful. But if I am asked which one is my favorite out of the four I would choose "New Moon." Many are surprised because that tends to be the one on the bottom of the list unless you are a die hard Jacob fan. I have heard people say that it is their least favorite because Edward is hardly in it. I've heard others say that Bella is being over dramatic with the loss of Edward in her life. Who would fall into a deep depression and fall apart over a guy? Come on she is just a teenager! "New Moon" is my favorite because I can relate to Bella. I know what it is like to want to die after a relationship ends. How much you wish you could just disappear because it hurts too much. How you almost wish they had died instead because then they didn't make the choice to leave you. How easy it is to slip into depression.

I was recently asked by a friend if  I could go back to when I made the decision to enter that relationship (one that no one supported and my mom came to Provo to talk me out of) would I still make the same decision. I quickly answered yes. Now if he had asked me that question the night of January 1st I may have said no. I learned so much over those nine months. I became less judgemental. I became more compassionate. Those nine months were anything but easy for me. But if I hadn't gone through them then I probably would have walked away from relationships I have made since then because I wouldn't even have a glimpse of understanding or empathy towards them.

But even having experienced all that I think that Saturday was the hardest day of my life. In my blog post titled "Change" and the one I wrote just before this one talks about a relationship that was in turmoil. For a little more than ten weeks I was experiencing limbo loss (just relearned that phrase from a book I'm reading). A friend demanded six weeks of space. She obviously had given it a lot of thought, but it side-swiped me. I have never experienced anyone needing that much space from me. I was hurt, and I didn't completely understand. But to the best of my ability I began to give her those six weeks of space (though I did have Tom talk to her mom two times in the beginning so that I could start the six weeks with a sense of peace). I loved her and was willing to give her what she needed. Well four weeks later I get a short and curt email that basically said that our friendship wasn't worth the cost. Basically I wasn't worth it. I lost it. I wanted to ingest every single pill that I had. Instead I threw them all over the living room. I was so angry and hurt. I collapsed to the ground sobbing and  asking "Why?" over and over again. I would do anything to salvage the relationship. She meant that much to me.

Now some of you may be thinking that it was time to let go and move on. And if someone had shared that experience with me I would tell them that they are better off without that friend. That maybe she was never truly a friend. That it was her loss. But she was a close friend. A friend that I trusted. A friend that knew more about what I had been experiencing than anyone else besides Tom and my therapist. She stood by me through it all. She received inspiration on my behalf. She in many ways saved my life. I admitted myself to the JU because of her understanding and the trust that I had in her. She sacrificed much for me. And I'm guessing that I don't even know all the sacrifices that she made. For a time I could only feel the emotion of love when wrapped in  her arms. Her hugs were magical, and I never wanted to let go. I couldn't imagine her never coming through my front door again or to never receive another hug or to hear her special nickname that only she called me.

Once I calmed down enough I sobbed a prayer to God telling him how I was feeling and that I didn't want to give up on her. That I loved her so much and that I felt that she was worth it. I then asked for a priesthood blessing. In it it stated exactly what I needed to email her. And one of those things was something that I had decided that if it came to that that I would end the relationship. But I put my trust in God and sent the email. I then waited (still going about doing things but didn't take anymore action towards that relationship). The last couple of weeks my patience began to wear thin. I hadn't had a decent night's sleep since it all began. I now can't stand sleeping in my bed because every time I do I wake up with panic attacks or I'm hyperventilating. So now I spend my nights on the couch. My memory has gone way downhill. My energy levels have dropped to where I don't even have the energy to ride my bike. I'm exhausted. I've been overly emotional. Simply put I've been a mess.

I poured my heart out to God telling Him I felt like I was getting weaker by the day. That I wasn't sure how much longer I could wait. I came close so many times to telling her that she was right, I wasn't worth it. Well I was told that she was given enough time and that it was to be a week of action. Little did I know that what He was going to ask me to do would be so difficult. In the previous post I share the first thing He asked of me that I considered a miracle because I was able to accomplish it. A couple of mornings ago I woke up with the need to write down a list of all the things I loved about this person. I felt that I was doing it for myself so that I would remember why I love her so much. But I felt strongly that I needed to give her the list. It was up to me on when and how I was going to do it. I wasn't sure what action to take. I felt that if I made one slight mistake that my second chance would be toast.

Saturday morning was hard for me. I really was coming to the end of my rope. I felt that I had no more left to give to anyone. Well God asked one more hard thing of me. I was to visit this person at work and give her the list of reasons why I loved her. I was terrified. Before the previous Sunday we hadn't communicated in weeks. I didn't know what she was thinking or feeling. But once again I put my trust in God and was hoping for the miracle that He promised me days before. That she would turn towards me with an open heart.

To say that our conversation went badly is an understatement. I have never ever been treated so coldly. I asked her for a minute of her time and I could tell right off she was not happy that I was there. We went into a back room and she glared at me waiting for me to start talking. I got so nervous that it took me awhile to gather back my thoughts. But I started to talk and express that I was doing my best to follow God's will. I handed her my list and she folded it up. I won't go into the whole conversation, but I ended up crying and I mean crying hard and she just stood there. Stone cold. She came to understand that I was not there to delve into the past but to pass her my list and tell her that I was confused about what I could have done that was so unforgivable and that would make us go from close friends to just simple acquaintances (I wasn't even sure what that meant). She understood that I wanted to resolve things. She said she would have to pray and think about that. I told her that I respected that and that I loved her. She opened the door and I stormed out.

My immediate reaction was why did I put myself through so much suffering for this? Was God playing with me? Had I said too much? Did I get too defensive towards the end? I went away more confused than ever and deeply hurt. I came to the realization that she had hardened her heart against me. My desire to meet with her to talk things out died, for I know that no matter what I say I would be wrong or it would fall on deaf ears. She had made her decision, and as I thought about it I realized that she had started to harden her heart towards me from the very beginning. My heart wasn't only broken; it was shattered.

Tom had to work that evening, so I prayed and played "When You Believe" over and over again. Trying to believe that a miracle was still possible. That God is a God of miracles and He could soften her heart. But we have been given the gift of agency and God respects that. I waited until Tom got home from work (almost 1 am) and we talked til 2 am. I then asked for a priesthood blessing. I was told that my friend had missed her opportunity and it was time to start grieving. I started sobbing. This was not how I pictured things ending. I didn't want my last memory to be having her look at me with cold uncaring eyes.

I have never experienced the end of a friendship in such a way. It is obvious that in her mind it ended weeks ago, but I held onto what God told me and inspired me to do. I find myself at a loss. She is everywhere in my apartment. I went home from talking to her and changed and ended up putting on a top she gave me. I ended up sleeping in a nightgown she gave me. As I went to put my wallet away I came to realize that she gave it to me. I have no idea what to keep, what to hide, and what to part with. What will make the loss of my trusted friend more easy? I don't know. I know that I'm still in shock. I was looking through a scrapbook from 2010 and came across a picture of her. I saw warmth in her smile and in her eyes. Where did she go and what caused her to harden her heart against me? What did I do that has made her so angry? I have no idea, and I'm not sure if I will ever know the answers. I still love her so much, but it is time to turn her over to God and move on.

I want to ask God, "How in the heck is this going to be a year of joy?" Because right where I'm standing right now it is still a year of Hell. I can't even begin to imagine what would make the next three months joyful ones. I started reading "How to Survive the Loss of a Love" yesterday and with all the different types of losses there are I have experienced ten this year. And they haven't been small ones.

Not that long ago I came across the song "Blown Away," sung by Carrie Underwood, and it really stuck with me. I wasn't sure why. Thankfully my mother is not an angel in the ground and my father is not an alcoholic. It is the chorus that really speaks to me. How do I blow away all the negative memories and hold onto the good ones? I don't want to harden my heart towards her. I don't want the past memories to be tainted by recent events. Relationships are so important to me so how do I let go because I don't want to. I want to believe that somewhere deep in her heart my friend can be found. That it isn't too late. I don't want her blown away from my life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

When You Believe

I am not a consistent journal writer by any means. Next to my bed you will find a few journals where half of them are blank. I always made goals to improve in that area but never really have. I know scrapbooking is a way of documenting my story. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but on my scrapbook pages my journaling is usually brief and really doesn't delve into my emotions. I also do Project Life which is a photo scrapbook with journaling. For the past three years I have used it to document my life using the 365 approach. As in I take a photo every single day. Only 2009 is fully completed. 2010 is in need of lots of journaling. 2011 is close to becoming completed.

At the beginning of this year I knew that taking a photo a day was unrealistic. I already had my album set up and ready to go. I decided to take the weekly approach (document my life week by week). I have picked up my camera a lot less this year. I started to collect memorabilia to fill in the gaps. I had one good week while my mom was down and we got an organizational system down. A folder for each week so I would know where all that stuff would go. I have been working on 2012. At times I have to set it aside because it hurts too much and I haven't even begun journaling yet! The last three albums only took one scrapbook album each. This year it is going to take three because of all the inserts I'm adding. I know this is the only way I'm going to really document this year photo-wise, and I feel that it is important to document my story. My struggle. My heartache. My time in the Johnson Unit. The cards that loved ones have sent. Care packages that have been sent my way. Loving texts. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

This year I have actually been keeping a journal since April, and it is nearly filled. I don't write in it everyday. Some days I feel the need to blog and on other days I feel the need to write in my journal. Some days it is hard to do either. Sometimes I don't want to relive what has recently occurred. As I have mentioned in a previous post I am tired. I am worn down. There are moments where I just want to give up. Moments where I feel that I can't take one more step. Last night as I was sitting next to my bed two journals caught my eye. They are from the last time that I kept a journal. They are from when I first came face to face with depression. I pulled them out and began to read. Tom joined me around the time that I was going through a breakup. I was asking myself what is my purpose in this life? Where am I headed? Where would Heavenly Father have me go? Where is Mr. Right and when will we meet? Little did I know that I had already met Mr. Right and that we were friends. I write about getting engaged and there are a few entries after I'm married, but then I stopped writing and haven't written until this year.

I felt a little disheartened after reading my journals. I then had Tom read my journal entry that I had just written hours before. And guess what? I am asking a lot of the same questions. What is my purpose in this life? Where is my life headed? Where would Heavenly Father have me go? I even took a week long class on finding your divine purpose at education week. It is something that has been my mind as I move forward in recovery. What comes next? I really have no idea. No desire burns within me towards anything. I'm still not really reading and I haven't scrapbooked in months (in the traditional way).

I have come to realize that Josalyn has left a void in my life that I'm not sure how to fill. I got a small taste of what it is like to love a child unconditionally. I would do anything for her. I picture in my mind when I walked into the White's home in August and saw Josalyn for the first time since she had moved. She came running and jumped into my arms. I dropped whatever I was holding and we giggled and laughed and hugged. It was a moment where I felt that we were truly connected. And then I think of the moment when it came time to say goodbye. Her crying and screaming with arms stretched out as her babysitter held her at the door. This isn't the first time she has done this, but this time it broke my heart. For as the door shut I didn't know when I would see her next. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I miss "my" little girl.

I have another relationship that is in turmoil that has caused my heart to ache every day for weeks now. I don't even know the whole story or see the big picture. I am lost and confused. I have prayed fervently and acted on all the inspiration I have received. Last Saturday was rough and I so wanted answers. I know He knows what is going on, and I find myself begging Him for even just a little light so that I will understand. Each time I'm promised that He will help me to be patient and wait. Not exactly what I want to hear. But last Saturday I was actually told through a priesthood blessing to take action. It was something that I never thought I would have to do, and I was terrified. My anxiety levels skyrocketed, and I honestly wasn't sure I could do it even though Heavenly Father told me He had faith in me and I would be inspired as to what to say. As the time drew near I sat frozen in place telling myself this is too hard. I can't do this. This might actually make things harder on myself. But before I knew it I was up and moving forward and I did what Heavenly Father asked of me. And I emotionally lost it afterwards.

I find myself asking why now? Especially considering my emotional and mental state. My therapist smiled and said, "Isn't it amazing how Heavenly Father knows how strong we are? Stronger than we realize." I can't say that I feel strong, but what I did took a lot of courage. I was promised at the beginning of this year that it would be a year of joy and that I would see many miracles. Sometimes I have worried that I'm not looking hard enough because I know miracles can be small tender mercies. What I accomplished on Sunday was a miracle. One I wouldn't have been able to complete if I did not believe Heavenly Father's promises.

I may have changed my one little word from 'Trust' to 'Light,' but Heavenly Father already knew what was in store for me this year. He knew that I would have the desire and energy to seek after Light. He also knew that I would have to come to trust Him to make it to the end of this very difficult year. I also took a class at education week about placing your will on God's altar. It is truly the only one thing we can turn over to Him. I have learned a lot about trusting God this year. As I have shown in other blog posts there are times that I have turned my back on Him but then find myself turning back to Him once again. My future looks empty right now. I sometimes wonder why I am even fighting. What is the purpose? I pray fervently for an answer and have yet to receive one.

One morning last week I woke up and the song "When You Believe" came to my mind. I had happened on a music video of it a few weeks back and hadn't thought of it since. I immediately got on the computer and watched it again and again. It says what is in my heart. Trusting God and His timing isn't always easy, but I always tell myself that His timing is perfect and why would I want to mess with that. I know that Heavenly Father is there with a listening ear, and I do believe in miracles. But being the human that I am I need the reminder especially during my darkest moments.

"They don't always happen when you ask
And it's easy to give in to your fear
But when you're blinded by your pain
Can't see your way safely through the rain
Thought of a still resilient voice
Says love is very near"
"There can be miracles
When you believe
Though hope is frail
It's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
Now you will
You will when you believe"
And the moments where my hope is frail Heavenly Father sends loving hands to help hold me up and move forward. And through the power of the grace of Jesus Christ I am able to find the power within. Even if it is just one small step at a time. Even if all I have strength for is standing still and resting before I take one more rugged step up this mountain I find myself climbing. There have been many miracles this year, and I have the hope and belief that miracles are achieved even through the pouring rain.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Taking Chances

Last December at the Anderson/Ririe Christmas party the Anderson's talked about how Ron was going to bike down the west coast in June and Lynette and Kari were going to drive down to pick him up but before heading home they were going to visit Disneyland. They are true Disney fans. They have a photo wall in their home that is just dedicated to photos from rides. They have been to Disneyland so many times as well as Disney World and Disneyland in Paris.

I have been wanting to visit Disneyland since my last visit (2007). I was invited to join Kari and Lynette on the ride down. I was so excited! I just had to make sure that I had money set aside for my ticket, meals and any souvenirs that I would want. At that time I really thought by June my struggles with depression and anxiety would be over.

On Easter Sunday I went to church at my parent's ward. Kari pulled me aside telling me their had been changes to our planed trip to Disneyland. I was thinking that maybe they weren't going or I was being uninvited for an important reason. I was way off. Kari let me know that my ticket to Disneyland and California Adventure was covered. I was confused and she just said there was enough in the budget to cover it. I was guessing that her parents realized that Tom and I probably had been dishing out the money for my medical issues and that we were on a tight budget. I was touched and also very thankful.

May arrived and I was still struggling with depression and anxiety. I wasn't sure how I would be doing at the end of June. I was worried that I would have to fake being happy or that I would ruin the fun. At this point Lynette wasn't making the trip, so Kari was counting on me to drive down with her though she did have a back up plan. I didn't know what to do. But I knew there was someone who knew how I would be doing at the end of June. So I sobbed my heart out to God. I told Him I needed to know what to do because I had no way of predicting the future. I then had Tom give me a Priesthood Blessing. I was told that if I went my relationship with Kari would be strengthened, that my anxiety levels would drop and that I would enjoy myself. I still felt scared, but I decided to hold God to His promises and texted Kari that I would be joining her. Did I stop worrying? No. I worried right up until we left, but I took the leap of faith and went.

I had a blast and God did keep his promises. I also had never been to California Adventure before, and that was exciting for me. Now I have a fear of heights, so I planned on skipping out on a few of the rides. But as I walked through the gate I wanted to prove to myself that I was alive. That if I could go through Hell then why couldn't I go on these rides that I had vowed never to ride? I wanted to feel brave. I wanted to feel free.

I not only went down Splash Mountain, but I raised up my arms on the way down. I went on the Hollywood Tower of Terror twice. The first time I did get caught off guard and grabbed Kari's arm and clawed Ron's arm. But when the ride was over my response was, "Is that it?" I only went a second time to get a better photo. Personally I can't see why people go on that ride over and over again because I find it boring compared to a lot of the other rides. Big surprise to me! Now I thought there is no way I could go on California Screamin'. I do not like roller coasters and especially ones where you go upside down. At least I didn't think I liked them because I had never been on one. Well I found myself in line. I found myself climbing on. I found myself screaming. I LOVED it! I also went on it twice.

I loved going on most of the rides with Kari and Ron, but I also loved that Kari and I got our pictures taken with a lot of characters. I finally got my photo taken with Belle, my favorite princess by far. As Kari and I were getting our photo taken with Princess Tiana she asked us what the highlight of our day was. I didn't stop and think but blurted out meeting Belle. Awkward silence. We hurried and had our photo taken and walked away quickly. But honestly, how could Princess Tiana even begin to compare with Belle. :o)

So thank you to Kari and Ron for a trip of a lifetime and also to Lynette for helping to make it possible for me to find some joy. For a trip where I could leave my problems behind me for a time. For the opportunity to take chances and to come out on top.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jesus, Take the Wheel

Next month marks the beginning of the road I have found myself traveling down. Last October I didn't realize what the future held or that I was already taking steps towards this Hellish path. The first sign of depression is a change in sleeping habits and to think that I laughed. I found it annoying that I was waking up earlier each morning no matter what time I went to bed but joked to my mom that I was finally becoming the morning person she always wanted me to be.

It is hard for me to comprehend that it has almost been a year...a whole year. In so many ways it has passed by quickly and in so many ways it has been the longest year of my life. A year of so many changes. A year of so many losses. A year of unkind words spoken. A year of making myself do things that I had no desire doing. A year of where I looked in the mirror and wondered where I had gone. A year of transition. A year of hardship. A year of Hell.

For the last few months I have been in recovery. Taking steps and moving forward. It didn't mean that I wasn't anxious. It didn't mean that I wasn't depressed. It did mean that I had no desire to take my own life. There were moments where I wished I could die because the emotional pain felt like too much to bear but somehow I pulled through. I truly believed that I had seen the end of suicidal thoughts or suicidal rampages. That I was fine being left alone and didn't need to be under suicide watch. But I was wrong.

Last week I celebrated my 31st birthday with family and friends. Towards the end of the celebrations I caught a nasty cold. I became physically, emotionally and mentally drained. I began to notice that I felt sick inside and I wasn't sure why. I also noticed that I was having a problem pronouncing words that never before had given me any trouble. I repeated to Tom many times that I was losing it. Tears were constantly below the surface and many did fall. I ran out of my antianxiety medication on Sunday and my anxiety went through the roof and I found myself going through withdrawals (it is truly addictive). Even after getting the medication on Monday I still felt out of control and that I was on slippery ground.

Yesterday I felt like hiding in my little corner but I pulled out my scriptures and read. I worked on Project Life (photo scrapbook). I still found myself crying. I also found myself worried that I might be pregnant. We really didn't think I was but the last two months have been so abnormal that I wasn't 100% sure. I kept telling myself that my psych nurse is going to kill me if I am. The natural sleeping aid I'm taking can do a wicked number on a baby and I had given her my word that there was no chance that I would become pregnant. Tom finally went out and bought a test so my fears could be put to rest. It was negative. I didn't feel happy or sad. I just felt dead and did go hibernate in my corner.

Not more than an hour later a friend texted me that she was expecting. I lost it. I fell to the ground sobbing. Do I wish I was pregnant? No. But I felt it was another example of someone getting what they wanted when all I could do was hold on for dear life. Tom being the good husband that he is tried his best to comfort me. The more he went on the angrier I got. I went into what was probably my worst suicidal rampage. Tom had to fight me once again and do his best to keep me pinned to the ground. Eventually I calmed down enough that he could clear the bathroom of everything and I got my space. How long was I in there? Oh for a few hours and then I moved to the couch. Tom went to bed with his clothes on because I've been known to bolt from the apartment in the past.

Now in the past I have blogged usually after the fact once I had my emotions somewhat in check. Today I am blogging amidst those emotions. I am tired. I am drained. I feel as though I have no more fight in me. I don't want to hear for the thousandth time that everything is going to be okay. I have been hearing that for almost a year and you know what? Everything is not okay. Today is a day that I cannot fake it. I have fought hard and I want to be done. My faith? On the shaky side. Some days it is just hard to hang on. I'm sure most of you can relate.

And so for now I look heavenward and throw up my arms and say, "Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hands because I can't do this on my own. I'm letting go so give me one more chance to save me from this road I'm on. Jesus, take the wheel."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Medical Roller Coaster

I will admit that I was naive when it came to antidepressants. My first therapist said that I could make it through without them and I believed him. My next winter semester at BYU I found myself struggling. Old habits die hard. I started seeing a counselor at the counseling center but didn't really find her helpful. I decided to go see my doctor and tell her how I was feeling, and she put me on Lexapro. I'm not a very good pill popper, so slowly over time I stopped taking it. Did my doctor ever follow up on me? No. I ended up withdrawing from all of my classes that semester even though I only had about a month to go. All of my professors were understanding. Many of them told me that BYU wasn't going anywhere and it was more important that I take care of myself. That was my only experience with an antidepressant until this January.

A close friend that is also a counselor advised Tom and I that I should seek the help of both a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a therapist once I got back from Utah for Christmas. Tom and I carefully and prayerfully considered this and felt strongly that this is what I needed to do. Once we got back to Eugene we soon discovered how hard it is to get an appointment with a psych nurse. The closest appointment I could get was a little more than a month out. That appointment gave me a lot of hope and a date to reach for.

In January I began to find the anxiety unbearable. I found myself walking outside for hours because it was the only way I could cope with it. I didn't want to stop, but eventually my energy gave out and I would have to return home. I knew I needed help and as we talked with family and friends and were prayerful Tom and I decided to visit the ER. It was a big step for me. Up to that point I had only been to the ER when my mom was in a car accident. I didn't know what to expect or what to say. At this point in time I was not suicidal but was worried that if the anxiety persisted that I might find myself there. I expressed this and quickly found myself in what I call the "crazy" room in the ER. It is a weird shaped room with two benches that are covered in black fake leather. There are windows in one corner where the security guard can keep an eye on you. They take all of your possessions and lock them up. They then have you change into some thin scrubs. They bring you warm blankets and then different people come in to see you. Someone to fill out the paper work, a nurse, a doctor, and then finally a social worker. They all ask you the same questions.

I was given three options. I could admit myself to the hospital (Tom was against it), check out the Royal House (where you can come and go), or make a plan of what we would do once we returned home. We went with the plan of safety. I was also given four pills of Ativan to help with the anxiety. I was told to make an appt. with my doctor quickly for a follow up. Well it was a holiday weekend and the soonest we could get in to see my doctor was the following Tuesday. I would run out of Ativan by then. So we went to Urgent Care that Saturday. The doctor was very sympathetic and understanding. She gave me a prescription that would last me beyond my doctor's appt. Well we didn't want our pharmacy to think we were going around trying to store up Ativan so we cancelled my doctors appt. and made one closer to the time that my prescription of Ativan would run out.

I will admit that I loved Ativan. The first time I took it I was able to relax enough to take a nap and Tom finally got some time to himself. We were warned by a number of people that it is addictive so try to stay on a low dose. We also found out that it is one prescription that is very marketable and abused. I started on a low dose but eventually went a little higher. It took about a half hour to kick in and I could tell when it started to wear off. Those who saw me soon after I took it could tell that I was different. I felt a little groggy and so much more relaxed.

Well the time came to meet with my doctor. We tried to explain to her that we had an appt. with a psych nurse but she either didn't know what that was or thought she could do better. She gave me a prescription for Xanax and a low dose of Zoloft. Xanax is very similar to Ativan and is an antianxiety medication. I'm not sure why she made the switch. Zoloft of course is an antidepressant in the SSRI class. When I went to pick up my prescription the pharmacist warned me that the first ten days or so I would actually feel worse. I call those ten days my Ten Days of Hell. They were terrible. I even taught Sharing Time during that time. I have no idea how I pulled that off, but I pulled through. The hard thing about antidepressants is that they usually take around six weeks to kick in and for you to notice a difference. Lots of waiting, but I was still hopeful.

The day I had been holding out for finally came: My first appointment with my psych nurse. I have a friend that sees a psychiatrist, and she gave me some information about how it all works so I felt prepared. We were just about to walk out the door when we noticed we had missed a call and had a voice mail. Well it was the office of the psych nurse letting us know that she was sick and wouldn't be in that day. Tom called them and found out that the next time they could fit me in was more than a month away. I was devastated to say the least. Tom started calling other offices to see if we somehow couldn't get a closer appointment. Well one office was just getting a new psych nurse, so I was able to get an appt. a week later. A HUGE blessing and miracle.

But in the meantime my mood decreased dramatically. I snapped and had my first episode. Tom stayed in close touch with my therapist who talked to her husband about the situation. As I have mentioned before he works at the Johnson Unit. He isn't a psychiatrist but is very well versed in all of the medication. He immediately advised that I go off the Zoloft. He believed I was having a bad reaction. As it turns out I was on a ridiculously low dose for someone my age, and the fact that I had such an adverse reaction to it rang some bells.

Well I finally had my appt. with my psych nurse. She shot question after question at me. I could tell that some of them were the same question but phrased differently. I was open and she took what I said seriously. She had my mother-in-law and I remove certain items from my apartment and that is when she told Tom and his mom that under no circumstances was I allowed near the river alone. I found it a little scary that she took what I said so seriously but at the same time I began to feel heard and more safe. Since I had such a bad reaction to a medication in the SSRI class I was given a prescription for Wellbutrin that is in another class (aminoketone class). I was told that it would make me a little antsy but would get me doing things. I was also given a prescription for Ativan once again. This time my psych nurse was switching up when I would take it. She wanted me to be able to get the sleep that I needed. I wasn't exactly happy about this. I wanted to be able to cope when I was awake. The morning after my appt. my psych nurse did a follow up call and Tom voiced my concerns to her. She decided to put my on an antipsychotic drug that would keep me from impetuous behaviors. I was put on Abilify.

Well the next day we got a call from the office saying that my psych nurse had decided to retire instead of move to a new office. Once again I was devastated and wondering if anything was going to work out right. Luckily since I had met with her I had my foot in the door and was able to get an appt. with a different psych nurse who I love. So in many ways it was still a HUGE blessing and miracle.

From that point on it is a blur as to when I was taken off or put on a new medication. It became apparent that I am quite sensitive to medications. The three antipyschotic drugs I was put on all had side effects that I wasn't willing to take the risk of them lasting even beyond the time I stopped taking the drug. Haldol and Abilify caused restless legs. I could not hold them still. I attribute to that fact that I actually got up to bear my testimony the fast Sunday after I got out of the Johnson Unit. :o) Needless to say I was taken off those two (was not on them at the same time). Seroquel was an antipsychotic that would help me sleep. I was put on a low dose (every time you start a new drug you are put on a low dose that won't really do anything but help your body get used to it). I was in the middle of writing an email when all of a sudden I knew I needed to make it to my bed. Tom actually had to carry me to bed and take off my shoes. I was out. Sometime in the night I got too hot and had a sweatshirt on. My body felt like a ton of led bricks and so it took me forever to wriggle out of it without being able to lift any part of my body. My psych nurse called the next morning and freaked out when she heard what happened. She suggested that I take an even lower dose. Well there isn't a generic of Seroquel and so we had to pay $55 for it even after a large insurance discount. We weren't willing to pay that again for a lower dose when we had a full bottle, so Tom carefully cut a pill into fourths. For the next two nights that is what I took. I didn't have the same extreme reaction, but I felt groggy and horrible. I spent both days in bed. I decided myself that I wasn't going to take it anymore. It just wasn't worth it. I haven't been put on an antipsychotic since.

I took all of my medications with me the second time I visited the ER with the intention of being admitted. Of course all my possessions were taken away and not given back until the end of my stay. I went off Ativan cold turkey. My first full day in the JU was difficult. I wanted to break through the window and run. I was going through withdrawals. My therapist's husband came to my room and visited with me for a bit. I asked him all the questions I had about medications. I was put on another antianxiety medication but wasn't feeling a difference. He said I didn't notice it because it doesn't give you that initial high but that its effects actually last longer. I told him that I wouldn't call it a high, but as I've thought about it he is right. Ativan makes you feel like you don't have a care in the world. It relaxes you, and when my friend saw me for the first time after I had been taken off of it she noticed that my eyes weren't glazed over and I seemed to be more present. The antianxiety medication I am presently on is still addictive and I have lowered the dosage a little, but to me it doesn't feel addictive. When I left the JU they gave me back my bag of medication which was sealed off in two bags with strong tape. I had a nurse help me open it, and I gave her the bottle of Ativan. She asked me if I was sure and I told her that if she didn't take it I would. I sometimes still find myself craving that "high."

I came out of the JU weak physically. My psych nurse was concerned, so she put me on Remeron. The goal is that it would help me sleep while also increase my appetite. The interesting thing about this drug is that the lower dosage makes its side-effects stronger. The higher you go those effects lessen. I have been on Remeron for months. When I got back from California and started having trouble staying asleep my psych nurse started to decrease my dosage. She was concerned because I was doing things at night that I have never done before like sleep walk and talk in my sleep. I haven't had a normal night's sleep since California with the exception of my time in Utah. We dropped the Remeron to its lowest dosage and it made no difference to my sleep habits, but I did find myself eating in the middle of the night because I was so hungry. We are now in the process of upping the dosage since it isn't helping me sleep and eating in the middle of the night isn't helpful either. :o) I also have noticed a dip in my mood.

A couple of weeks after my time in the JU I felt the brunt of the depression. All of a sudden it was hard to get out of bed each morning. I had no desire to do anything. I kept asking myself if I had a choice would I rather feel anxious or depressed. I was told over and over again that I needed to "fake it til I make it". I did not want to fake it. For some reason I fought it for a few weeks. During this time my psych nurse put me on another antidepressant that works well with Remeron. It is called Effexor. I have to eat before I take it in the morning or else I get a horrible stomach ache. I've noticed that even then I sometimes will feel nauseous afterwards. Now each time you add a new drug or adjust a dosage you take the chance of having the opposite side effect than you want. I feel blessed that I haven't had that problem since I stopped trying antipsychotics.

A couple of weeks after being on Effexor my therapist began to notice a change. She literally became giddy. I was cautious. I have shown great improvement over the last couple of months. Things that in the past would have caused me to spiral downward I am able to slowly take in stride with the help of my therapist. Every time I see her she always tells me how good I'm doing. I don't always feel that way, but I'm sure she observes more than I do. Am I not anxious or depressed anymore? No. Recovery takes time. Lots of time. Especially as you begin to enter the world again and take on more responsibility. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to be patient with myself. There is no rush. I just need to do what I can handle and say no to everything else. Easier said than done.

So for right now I am on three antidepressants, one antianxiety medication and a natural sleep aid. My psych nurse hopes that I can be weaned off the antianxiety medication and that I won't stay on all three antidepressants. So there is still more change in my future. Once we get the medication stabilized I then stay on it for a year. After that time I guess I meet with my psych nurse and see where we want to go from there. I may slowly start weaning myself off the medication, but if I take a dip in mood then I will most likely need to be on medication the rest of my life.

For years I have watched the commercials about different drugs. Some seem to be the answer to everything, but then they go and list the side effects and I wonder who in their right mind would take that risk. And now I find that I am taking that risk. It really has been a medical roller coaster! I never knew how complicated it could be. How horrible it can be. I am always tired and often have a metallic taste in my mouth. Minor compared to what side effects I could be dealing with. I have a friend that has become diabetic because of the medication she is on. Every so often I probably will have my blood tested to make sure that the medication isn't affecting anything else in my body. But I have learned when Heavenly Father tells you to do something, you do it. Even if it is an adventure you would rather not live.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For Good

Recent events have caused me to look back and appreciate all the friendships that I have formed over the years. Making friends has never seemed to be a challenge for me. Sure I would have classes in high school that I didn't have any friends in, and I would feel awkward at first. But those classes provided me the chance to get to know a lot of the foreign exchange students or other people that I normally wouldn't get to know. They were also opportunities that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have been truly blessed with wonderful friends - so many that have touched my life and have helped me to become a better person.

Moving to Eugene was stepping into the unknown. It was our top choice of the three schools Tom applied to, but neither of us had ever visited before. We knew no one. Tom moved here before me and said that he felt very welcome in our new ward. My first Sunday I was greeted by many people, and I am still greeted each Sunday by those same individuals. I felt welcome, but it took a couple of years for it to really feel like my home ward. Even though I'm hidden away in Primary I love getting to know the teachers and children. I've enjoyed watching the children grow up. I have enjoyed getting to know the Primary Presidency as well. They are amazing women. All that have served since I began teaching what seems like forever ago.

But I quickly realized that I was in my own little group. Many times the singles in the church either feel over looked or too focused on. Being married without children in the church is also an awkward place to be. I have found it harder to make friends because my world doesn't overlap with those that do have children. It was a new experience for me and a little on the hard side. My time is my own where as many of the women in my ward are running around taking care of their children. I was not part of the "Mommy" group.

A couple of years ago I found out that one of the counselors in the Primary Presidency actually lived close by. We talked at a Primary activity at the beginning of the year and discovered that we both were on the crafty side. This counselor also liked to get outside and go walking. She said she would invite me the next time she went out.

She did give me a call and asked if I would mind biking instead. I hadn't been on a bike in years and was a little nervous about it. She said I could ride her bike while she rode her husband's bike. I took the plunge. I was a little shaky at first, but the saying is true. :o) It is just like riding a bike. Once you learn you never forget how.

That was the beginning of many bike rides to the Rose Garden and many walks around our neighboorhood. A friendship was formed that I came to really cherish. We talked on the phone almost everyday and saw each other almost everyday. I finally had found a friend in Eugene. A true friend. One that has blessed my life immensely.

I will never forget when Leslie called me to tell me the news that she was moving. She was moving outside our ward boundaries and wouldn't be within walking distance anymore. When we hung up I started to cry. I was already having an emotional day, and I was worried that the move would change our friendship. I acted like she was moving to another state when really she wasn't moving that far away. Tom & I helped with the move, and I loved the new place that she was moving into.

The move didn't change our friendship. We now had a new neighboorhood to walk around. I would find myself stopping by her place a couple of times a week and sometimes she would drive or bike over here. We still saw each other often. We would share our creative endeavours with each other and enjoy shopping trips to Michaels or Ben Franklin's. I spent time with her on her birthdays while her husband was at work. He always insisted that she treat me out for lunch. :o)

A year later she moved back into our ward and within walking distance again. It was good to have her closer again. Especially as I came to the relization that I was struggling with depression. There were times I would spend at her place until my mom or Tom got home so that I was safe. If I was scared to be alone I just had to text her (she got a new phone and we became texting buddies) and walk over. She kept me in her prayers and baked me delicious goodies.

The beginning of this year has been difficult for us for different reasons. Me with my struggle with anxiety and depression and Leslie with her health issues. We haven't seen each other as much though we have stayed in touch via texting, and anytime we both made it to church I always enjoyed sitting next to her and getting a hug.

A couple of months ago she announced once again that she was moving. This time out of state. I was devestated. She was teary eyed when she told me and she said that we would stay in touch via texting and facebook. She was going to be moving shortly after Josalyn and Bryce moved. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it emotionally. I had already lost two grandparents, my uncle was dying and the kids were going to be moving. And now I was going to lose a dear friend.

Well it turns out that with her health issues she and her husband decided that she wouldn't be moving. I was happy. I felt that I was losing too much in my life already, and I couldn't picture my life in Eugene without her. My uncle passed away and the kids moved and somehow I survived it all even though I found it hard and heart breaking. But at least Leslie wasn't moving.

It is funny how God works in our lives. Leslie wasn't ready to move at that time and I wasn't at a very safe place to handle her leaving. When I found out she had signed a year lease I let out a sigh of relief and really began to believe that she was here to stay at least for another year. But I was wrong. Next month my dear friend is moving to Arizona. I believe that we will stay in touch, but it won't be the same as having her within walking distance or sitting next to her at church. It will be another change that I will have to deal with. But I am thankful for the timing. I feel that I'm at a better place to face this new change. Yes it will still be hard and I will miss her much. But God is aware of both of our needs, and I am putting my trust in Him.

"I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them and we help them in return...I do believe I have been changed for the better. And because I knew you I have been changed for good." -Wicked

You have changed my life for the better Leslie. You have helped make Eugene feel like home. It won't be the same without you, but I am thankful for your friendship. I am thankful for you. I am thankful for all the memories we share, and I hope there will be more to be made in the future. I love you.






Monday, August 6, 2012

Here's to Us


I had heard tales of how hard a first year of marriage could be. Two separate people coming together and trying to merge two different lifestyles. I have personally watched those I love struggle through their first couple of years of marriage. It wasn't enjoyable to observe, so I imagine it must have been hard to work through. When Tom and I had been married a couple of months an unmarried cousin asked if it was as hard as we are led to believe. My answer? Being married for me was easy. It is true that Tom and I became engaged on May 17th and married August 6th of that same year. With such a short engagement how could I find marriage easy?

Tom brought stability to my life. Someone who was always there with a listening ear and encouragement. Even though he had quit working at the Malt Shoppe he still came most nights to help me close. The dreaded class of Statistics that I had put off until the end of my college career Tom helped me with. I had my own personal tutor. My grades went up to where they originally had been for so long before college. But I wasn't doing it because I felt I had to or needed to. I just worked hard with Tom's support and was able to do it (even with skipping a few classes here and there which you now know is breaking one of Tom's rules).

Now all the reasons I listed above are good reasons, but they are not why I found it easy being married to Tom. Tom and I were in the same ward for a school year. I knew of him but hadn't personally met him or exchanged words with him. He was nicknamed the 'Tall One' in my apartment. I didn't meet Tom until I started to work at the Malt Shoppe. It quickly became obvious that he was friendly and fun to work with. It also became obvious that everyone flirted with him because he was "safe." I admit that I flirted with him too though at the time I was in a serious relationship. The month of August of 2004 my boyfriend and I agreed that we could date other people. Did we really want to? No, but I wasn't going to let him show me up so I got the manager of the Malt Shoppe to get Tom to ask me out on a date. He treated me to a movie and to lunch. Then we spent the evening working together. Neither of us had feelings of a romantic nature for the other. We were friends. Good friends. But I thought he was too tall for me, a little too nerdy and a little too naive. But we spent many hours working and talking together and continued to be in the same ward. We were friends first.

It took time for me view Tom as someone more than just a friend. With the help of roommates and friends I gave Tom a chance. It was then like God hit me over the head and said he has been here all along. He is the one for you. One Sunday after we were engaged and sitting together in church together all of a sudden a warmth spread from my head to my feet. I looked at Tom and saw him how God viewed him. A son of God with much potential and that God had plans for him. It is a moment that I will never forget.

After we were married I would still have what I would call my "weird" moments. Moments where all of a sudden I would see Tom the way I saw him before I fell in love with him. But those moments slowly slipped away. Now my "weird" moments are when I look at Tom and wonder how did I get to be so blessed to have him as my husband. In the beginning I worried that he would die young so that I would truly understand how blessed I was.

Now looking at our first year of marriage I view it differently. We had our struggles. There are things we had to learn about the other person. I learned what Tom's rules were and how disappointed he would be when I would break them (that still occasionally happens). If you were to ask me a year ago which year had been the most difficult for us I would have told you our first year of marriage. Why? Because with each passing year things have gotten better. We know each other better. We love each other more.

If you were to ask me that same question today my answer would be different. This year has been the hardest one for the both of us. Most undoubtedly the hardest year of our lives. Those of you that have kept up on my blog know why. My struggle with depression and anxiety didn't just affect me, it affected Tom too. There was even a time where I wasn't sure I would come through this trial and still want to be married. When I first voiced this to Tom it broke his heart. I'm not sure why I felt that way. Maybe it was because I was unsure of everything. Luckily I had the sense to not make such a life changing decision while being down in the depths of despair. I also knew that those who loved me would think I was an idiot and would be making the worst decision of my life. And yet Tom continued to stand by me. Through it all he was my friend. The one that I would turn to and for most of my struggle he was my safe place. Many times he would just hold me and repeatedly tell me that it was going to be OK.

Tom had to put up with a lot. More than just breaking his rules and putting me first. I know he had moments where he truly believed that he was going to lose his wife. Either by divorce or death. Sometimes he left for school not knowing what would be waiting for him when he returned home. He felt pulled in many directions. Since I know Tom so well I would manipulate him to where I knew what decision he would make before he actually did make it. I walked all over him.

My time in the Johnson Unit wasn't only good for me, but it was good for Tom as well. He knew I was in a safe environment getting the safe space that I needed. It was there that I came to understand that both Tom and I were seeking a different marriage environment. You would think after 6+ years I would have figured that out. I knew that I didn't want to have a marriage like my parent's, and Tom did want a marriage like his parent's. Those two marriages are like night and day. I wanted to land somewhere in the middle. Tom came to accept that or at least is trying to. :o)

As it became apparent that this present struggle of depression and anxiety developed into something that both of us never dreamed of experiencing, that it would either bring Tom and I closer together or tear us apart. I believe that it is bringing us closer together. Tom has been a trooper. I never realized how patient he could be or how devoted he is. He has never given up on me. He has held me as I have sobbed my heart out to God. He has held me to keep me safe. He has held me as I cried in anguish wishing that I was dead. He has held me and loved me through it all and continues to do so.

I am so blessed that a little over seven years ago God opened my eyes to what he knew I would need. Not only through this trial but the ones to come. So here's to us. For continuing the fight and sticking together. And here's to Tom for loving me even at my worst. Love you. Always.