Saturday, March 17, 2012



In the dictionary, courage is defined as the ability to conquer fear or despair. I know many of you thought I displayed courage by sharing my feelings in my last blog post, but honestly that was not hard. (It was harder to find the words to express myself). I have never ever considered myself to be a courageous person. I fear many things. I have a fear of heights. I have a fear of failure. I have a fear of big unfamiliar spiders. I fear not making the right (perfect) choices. I have a HUGE fear of giving talks in church. I fear scary movies. I fear having terrifying nightmares. I even fear going on Splash Mountain. I could go on and on with my list as I'm sure many of you could as well.

In many ways I have let fear rule my life. There are many choices that I let pass by because I let fear get in the way. I have many regrets. Has that stopped me from letting fear take charge many times? No. I'm sure there are many of you that can relate. Many times fear leads to anxiety for me, and that is difficult. I live with a low level of anxiety most of the time. I have learned to cope with it over the years. The problem is when the anxiety spikes to a higher level.

A very dear friend of mine told me closer to the beginning of my most recent battle with depression that my only job was to breathe. At the time that was the most profound statement anyone had said to me. She gave me the permission to just focus on breathing. How simple is that? Especially when the anxiety would increase. There have been many times over almost the last four months that I have just curled up into a ball and focused on just breathing. Many times I felt pathetic that that was all I could focus on.

This same friend sent me the book "Courage" written by Bernard Waber as a Valentine's Day gift. What meant the most to me is that my friend had included a post-it note inside that says "Courage is choosing to breathe!!" I was hit again by the simiplicity of this statement, and it touched my heart once again in a profound way. Courage is choosing to breathe. It sounds so simple but honestly there have been two times over the past months that I have let go of that courage to breath.

Another kindred spirit, to whom I will forever be in debt, helped me find the courage within along with Heavenly Father's help to seek the help that I really needed. I am still surprised that somewhere inside I was able to find the courage to go to the ER with my kindred spirit and admit myself. For the past 10 days I have spent my time in the Johnson Unit which is a psychiatric unit. I was just released  yesterday.

Am I healed? Has my journey come to an end? Of course not. In some ways it is just beginning. In President Monson's First Presidency Message in the January Ensign 2012 titiled "Living the Abundant Life" he says,

"There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel liked David trying to fight Goliath. But remember- David did win!"

Since coming home from the Johnson Unit I have found that courage is something that I still need to strive towards. In some ways even more than before. Courage is putting one foot in front of the other knowing your friends and Heavenly Father are right there behind you and even sometimes right beside you. Remember sometimes "Courage is choosing to breath."


Ariane said...

I am so moved by your writing and am so grateful you are giving voice to feelings that many people feel. Always remember you have people near and far praying for you. Sometimes the Shurtliff family can be too nosy and you wish they would just stay out, but other times you can be grateful for a large family that is behind you and praying for you. I know I felt that way during my infertility years.

Rhonda said...

May you always choose COURAGE! You know you have a lot of supportive people who love you!

Kathy said...

Thank you for having the COURAGE to write about this. You have a talent for writing and expressing feelings so well. Thank you. I can relate to many of your feelings, and really admire your COURAGE in seeking the help you need and in choosing to breathe! You are much stronger than you know. You are more loved than you know. You have more to give than you know. I would encourage you to take it one day, maybe one moment at a time and choose to choose breathing. Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

I know you will have the courage to overcome this...not necessarily have it go away but to be able to fight against it. I love you! Know that I will always be there for you if not physically than in spirit.
Love Kari

Sandy said...

I read a book in high school that had a lasting impression on me. The name of the book was The Red Badge of Courage. From that book I learned that having courage does not mean we are not afraid; it means we choose to look our fear in the face, and with heart pounding move forward even if it is only an inch. I think because you have anxiety, you might hear your heart pounding in your ears. I do know from experience as I have moved forward with even the tiniest morsel of faith, a tiny morsel of courage came into my heart and I could sense my Savior near me loving me forward toward my goal. This process has taken me a lifetime, but I am still moving inspite of my fears. I have heard the Savior whisper words of comfort, I will ease your burdens. As I sat in the Johnson Unit this last Thursday for the first time, I felt love and knew it was a sacred place. I knew that because you had personally felt the despair and hopelessness those that come there often feel, you in the future will have understanding, you will have empathy,and you will be able to lift people in a way that would not have been possible without personal experience. I love you so much Melissa and have wished over the past few months that I could somehow spare you from this ordeal. But a wiser Father knows what is best and I too must have courage and trust in his love and caring for you.

love your Mom

Christina said...

I related so much to your blog post. There have been many times in my life where my heart was pounding and I couldn't make it stop. And at times I was afraid of things I felt stupid for being afraid of them.
I also experience a low grade anxiety most of the time. What has really helped me is exercise and yoga. As I workout I am able to rid my body of the harmful cortisol, and release the stress from my body. The yoga/breathing helps me to still my heart and find the courage to go on that you are speaking about.
The most important part of yoga is the ten minute pranayama...where I sit cross legged with my eyes closed and just breathe without moving. During these times I am able to realize that I am enough, that I am worthwhile even while I am just sitting and breathing. I can forget all of my troubles and go to a place where ultimate peace exists. It puts the whole world in a new perspective. When I am done breathing, I can be a whole person again. I hope you can find this place yourself.

I love you and hate to see you suffer. I hope you can continue breathing deeply daily to find your inner courage.


Your sister

Brittany said...

You can win as David did! Remember Dory, "Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming." Maybe we should change that to "Just keep Breathing!". Love you and hang in there.

Thomas said...

I know that you will be able to do this. In the last couple of days it seems like I have seen your courage increase, along with your energy (and anxiety). I hope and pray for you constantly. I know this isn't easy, but I know that your courage will help you through this, even when you don't think you do have courage.



Jennifer Larson said...

So glad to see your words again. Many people love and care for you, and I wish you the best in your recovery.