Monday, July 9, 2012

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Starting in December my family and friends have done their best to filter what I would watch, read, or hear. I really haven't watched much of anything for the past seven months and I have only read three books so that wasn't really hard for them to do. Now filtering what I would hear was a little hard. Tom has been filtering the news for a few years for me now so that wasn't anything new. I can have horrible nightmares so I decided it was just best to not hear the negative things going on in the world. Sometimes Tom would wait a certain amount of time until he shared something he felt that was important. But as we have all learned you can't filter out everything in this age of technology.

Now what were they trying to filter? Anything to do with death or committing suicide. In the beginning I was so deep in over my head that I'm not sure I would have really taken in what was being said. But they also didn't want to give me any ideas for future episodes. As I became more mentally aware of my surroundings I would find myself also trying my best to filter. For example I went to the library to pick up a book that I had put on hold (one that I never read) and decided to check out the movies. I noticed "The Secret Life of Bees" and picked it up. I have seen it before and it didn't take long for me to remember that one of the characters commits suicide. Back on the shelf it went. Or the day I heard Whitney Houston died. I did hear that she was found face down in the bathtub. I would be lying if I said it didn't get me thinking. In the past when I was struggling with depression I did have thoughts of drowning in the bathtub. But honestly I knew I wouldn't be able to pull it off. But, let's say, if I got drunk (which wouldn't be hard to do since I've never tasted alcohol) maybe it would be possible. Don't worry; I never tried. Now when anyone would start to bring up how Whitney Houston died I would shut them down. It just wasn't something I needed to dwell on.

It has been weeks since I have had an episode. Maybe even longer than that. When I think back to the harder times I can sometimes separate that person and myself. I have come a long ways. One thing I learned quickly from the beginning is that you get asked a lot what is your number. I was asked it in the ER, in the Johnson Unit everyday, by my psych nurse, and by my therapist. What number would that be? On a scale from one to ten how focused was I on committing suicide. If it reached to seven I was to call my therapist. It fluctuated over the months. It definitely passed seven a number of times. But I haven't been asked that question in sometime. I was recently asked by my psych nurse if I was having suicidal thoughts. My answer was a big fat no!

But I have quickly learned that even though I have come so far that the subject of committing suicide is an emotional one. Not that it comes up often. But I have come face to face with it out of the blue, and it is like a kick in the gut. A reminder of what was that seems so foreign to me now. My first time actually took place in Primary of all places. I am the 1st Counselor in the Primary Presidency (though for about seven months I only taught Sharing Time three times and pretty much was absentee). My second time teaching Sharing Time was about repentance and forgiveness. Now I tend to get a little carried away when it comes to teaching. I try my best to make it fun and use lots of object lessons. I figure if I'm bored preparing it the kids are going to be bored hearing it. I asked the kids the simple question of what are some sins that we may commit that makes Heavenly Father sad. Well at least I thought it would be simple. I was teaching the older children and they came up with some good answers. I noticed that a visitor was raising her hand, and since I try my best to make everyone feel welcome I called on her. She said two words. Two words that caused me to freeze in place. Two words that many of the other kids didn't even understand what it meant. I saw many kids turning to their teachers with questioning eyes. Now there weren't any adults in the room that I'm aware of that were aware of what I had been struggling with. But those two words was like getting a kick in the gut. Yes those two words were committing suicide. What did I do? I said yes committing suicide makes our Heavenly Father very sad and also our families. I then moved on, but it continued to be on my mind the rest of the day.

I have already shared the example of where a guy on Glee tries to commit suicide and my reaction to that. It was like another kick in the gut. And as I wrote before, the hardest part of that episode for me was at the end when the Glee Club was discussing how they could never imagine getting to a place where they would want to commit suicide. Of course I hope people don't reach that place because it isn't a fun place to be and can be quite terrifying. There have been times when I have been so close, and as I stared at what could end my anguish in this life I would crumple to the floor sobbing. The subject of suicide has been forever changed for me. I have a feeling that no matter how much time goes by it will always be a subject that may sting a little or remind me of where I've been.

The most recent experience that has made me think of my past of not so long ago took place this past Saturday. It seemed like a normal Saturday with Tom being home. We had planned to go on a bike ride with a friend and were planning on meeting up with him at the Autzen Bridge. Tom and I hadn't been biking for very long when up ahead the biking path was blocked with an ambulance. I just thought someone had gotten hurt, and I told Tom we would probably have to walk our bikes past to get through, so we dismounted. As we got closer it became apparent that other bikers and walkers were gathered staring in the direction of the river. There was a search and rescue boat in the river holding two men. One was driving the boat while the other took a cone shaped object and looked through it into the water. I'm told that snorkelers who don't like to put their head under water use something similar and that it makes it very easy to see what is under the water.

I found myself frozen in place. Tom kept trying to pull me away. Were they looking for a body? We didn't know. There was a group of girls gathered at the edge of the river, but no one was crying. Tom kept saying how he didn't want me to be there if they did happen to pull a body out of the river. A biker that had been down at the edge of the river came up and told us what was going on. The group of girls were swimming in that area and thought they had seen a skeleton or body in the river. People let out a sigh of relief. Did they ever find anything? I'm not sure. At that point Tom and I continued to bike towards the Autzen bridge, but we did see the boat speed by not much later. We also had to pull our bikes off the bike path to let a cop car drive by.

Now you may be wondering why such an experience would have such a profound hold on me. During the summer months it is not uncommon for people to not realize how deep or swift a river is until it is too late. I'm sure we have all heard sad stories of people drowning or those trying to rescue the one in need drowning too. Lives that are cut short but not by their own choosing. So what was going through my mind? As I stood there watching the two men search the water and seeing those girls stand at the edge of the river painted a different picture in my mind. A picture that included Tom standing at the edge of the water with tears of anguish falling down his cheeks. Maybe even a few choked sobs as those two men were searching for my body. Tom standing there knowing that it was too late. I'm not sure what would be going through his mind, but I can imagine him hoping that they do find my body but at the same time hoping that they don't because maybe just maybe I'm alive somewhere. I know he would be praying with his whole heart that this nightmare wasn't true.

You may be wondering why I would even let such sordid thoughts run through my mind. We got quite a bit of rain this winter, and the river was high. Part of the bike path was flooded and closed. I sometimes felt that the river was calling my name. I am an okay swimmer, but knew I would be no match for such a current. I was frank with the first psych nurse I met with, and just from the few things I said she let Tom and my mother-in-law know that under no circumstances was I allowed near the river alone. Even taking walks with a friend as the river was high I felt that the river was calling my name. You can be rest assured that I never once even touched the water.

As I was biking away from the scene the words 'you can run, but you can't hide' came to mind. My past is my past. I can't change it. In the very beginning of my ordeal Tom gave me a Priesthood Blessing that stated that I would come through this difficult time in my life and that this year would be a year of joy. That I would be healed without a scar. The thought of feeling joy seemed foreign and impossible at the time. And how would I come through all of this without a scar? It is now July and I wouldn't say that this year has been a year of of yet. Have I had my moments of joy? Yes. I would say that my recent trip to California brought me much joy. I was with a beloved friend and a man that I view as a friend and very much like a second father. Hearing Josalyn say my name for the first time. Having a child's eyes light up as I walked into the Primary room for the first time in awhile. Having my youngest sister fly out to spend a week with me. Just me and her. Seeing my nephew love his Grandpa so much. Having a friend hold me and love me and remind me that even though I found myself in Hell that I was still a Daughter of God. The time Tom missed his bus and then when he caught the next one he fell asleep. He woke up when the bus reached near Walmart. He had to jump on a different bus to head back home. Because of those two instances he was where he needed to be as he walked home. He found an Autistic boy crying as he neared our apartment. This young boy had walked all the way from Springfield, and it was cold and dark. Tom brought him home, and we were able to get him back to his family. It was a reminder that Heavenly Father is aware of each and everyone of us including me.

Now my journey is far from over. I do believe that in time that I will be healed without a scar. It doesn't mean that I won't remember what I went through or that it won't change who I am today or tomorrow. So how is that even possible? I have learned a lot about grace this year. I have learned that Jesus Christ's grace is sufficient - "sufficient to cover us, sufficient to transform us and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes" (Brad R. Wilcox). My scars won't be healed overnight. There is a song that Amy Grant and her daughter sing called "Overnight." It talks about how if everything happened overnight we wouldn't know how much it meant. We would never learn to believe those things that we cannot see. We wouldn't learn to trust our Heavenly Father or have faith in Him and His plan for our lives.

I honestly don't know why I find myself heading down this road. I don't know if years from now I will look back and understand. I may not find understanding in this life. It is scary to think that I could find myself on a similar road in the future. But as Brad R. Wilcox wrote, "Grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the finisher's touch." That has brought me much comfort over the past few months. I can access Jesus Christ's grace right now. I don't have to wait until I'm perfect or making the right choice every single time.

Elder David A. Bednar writes, "The Savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distress that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, 'No one understands. No one knows.' No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor-literally run to us-and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying only upon our own power."

And so I take each day at a time and hold on to the hope and faith that Heavenly Father has a plan for me. And if all I can do one day is just breathe that is ok. If all I can do is get on my bike and ride hard that is ok. Even if I can't feel Jesus Christ's presence because the depression has me wrapped in a dark cloud, He is still there and through Him I can step out and hold onto that promise of joy and of healing.


paige said...

Melissa, I think I have read that talk by wilcox and Bednar 4 or 5 times since march. I miss you guys.
Love paige

Anonymous said...


This is a very beautiful post. It reminded me of my hard and dark times, and the blessings I received from Nate.

I can tell you right here and now that promised blessings are real. I was promised I would walk, run, and play again, something I thought impossible. Now I can chase my son, exercise, and recreate. Even more important, I was emotionally healed and lifted out of my discouragement. Healing IS possible. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you. They will heal you if you let them.



Thomas said...

No, you can't hide. I think memories of the past are important to us understanding who we are and how we can learn, not only from our past mistakes but also from our past successes. I know little reminders will continue to pop up throughout your life of these hard times. But little reminders will also pop up of many good memories - BYU, Josalyn, our wedding, etc. Yay for remembering the past!