Any of you who're really close to me (so pretty much everyone who reads this blog) knows that a year ago, I was in a very dark place. I had been so depressed for months and it seemed like there was no way out. Jon and I had been seeing a therapist together, and it was disheartening that I wasn't "fixed" as soon as I'd thought I would be. I particularly remember one evening, driving home from our therapy appointment. It'd been a hard appointment, and it was already dark at 6 pm. I was driving and thought, "Ugh - winter winter winter. Darkness. Cold. I feel like this is never going to end. But I suppose spring will come eventually...not only in weather, but for me emotionally."
During Thanksgiving, I thought again and again about the spiritual change that has taken place in the last year for me. I have learned that the Atonement isn't some inactive theoretical chasm, but that it can have power in my life. I have been so blessed to be given more understanding, tools, resources and knowledge so I feel like I can actually access the Atonement. Jon and I were talking last night and just realized that we have come so far in the last two years - we aren't as judgmental on others or on ourselves. We have space to make mistakes and we feel connected (most) of the time.
I feel a new power in my life. I feel a new understanding of who I am and of what I want. I like getting excited about ideas and trying things that are important to me. I'm so grateful that I get to stay home and be a mother - I love the unstructured days I get to have at home with my kids. I know its a phase that will pass, but I love it (ten minute screaming tantrums excluded). I'm grateful for the courage to start an Etsy business that didn't really work, but then have that lead to being able to make quilts for children fighting illness. Its still at the beginning, but my first quilt is almost done and I love doing it. I'm going to try to start teaching Zumba at our church building and I've applied to be featured on a big quilting blog (and my post should show up in March, I'll put it here once that happens). Its like there is something in me that has shifted so that I'm able to take risks again. I'm scared by it - I still feel nervous when I think about the Zumba class I haven't taught yet. But I'm making up routines for my personal exercise and I feel good about trying.
With all of this, I just feel so grateful that God put me in a place so that I could receive this new understanding. I'm so grateful for Jon. He has walked through the dark days with me, and stayed with me. He has sat on the bed and held me while I've cried. He has helped me learn to love myself again. I remember seeing the phrase, "To thine own self be true." I thought it sounded nice, but I didn't really understand what it meant. It resonates with me at this phase of my life. I'm grateful for my parents, who gave me their whole selves, who let me see them as they are and have taught me how to really live the gospel. I love them so much. I'm grateful for Jon's parents who love our little family and have supported us. I'm grateful for the official and unofficial therapists (shout out to my sisters) who have talked with me.
One big thing that has helped me has been the work of Brene Brown. Listening to her Ted Talks (here) and (here) helped me get started (Thanks Anna - for showing them to me). I also love her definition of the difference between shame and guilt. Shame is: "I am bad." Guilt is when you think: "I did something bad." As a recovering perfectionist - it has meant a lot.
I also like this quote from Elder Bednar on Guilt from this talk:
All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound. When we are in pain, we typically seek relief and are grateful for the medication and treatments that help to alleviate our suffering. Consider sin as a spiritual wound that causes guilt or, as described by Alma to his son Corianton, “remorse of conscience” (Alma 42:18). Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage. From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt. However, this salve can only be applied through the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and consistent obedience. The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal.
My last thought is this - for a long time I thought that the depression I was experiencing was just post-partum depression. I told myself that it would never get that bad again and that I wouldn't have to go through that until the next baby comes. But then, I started to feel the depression coming on as winter was setting in. They started to harvest the fields of corn by our house and there was a pit in my stomach. As I prayed for the depression to go away, or to know how to make it go away, I didn't feel peace. People who wanted to help me so badly would sometimes tell me things that I could do to make it go away. But the answer that has come up and that has really freed me is this:
Instead of trying to cure your depression - focus on enduring it well.
That ability to let myself have some depressed days and not feel like a failure...huge difference. I just feel so grateful for the place I'm in and for the places I've been. I know that the Lord has helped me.