13 March 2013

Anxiety and faith.

Saved from my old Tumblr. I tried to find an original source, but couldn't.

I have a lot of thoughts about mental illness and faith, but I'm not sure if I should share them because 1) I'm writing this late at night and 2) They are my thoughts and feelings based on the experiences I've had and they probably don't apply to other people.
But I'm going to type them out and see how it goes.

At church we talk a lot about the Holy Ghost and how if you're living righteously you will feel good and if you're doing something wrong you'll feel bad.
But it's not that simple.
When I felt anxiety I assumed it was the Spirit. I assumed I was doing something wrong or that something bad was happening and I was being warned, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong.

Then I met Jeff and told him everything in my heart and he emphasized that the Spirit of God is not a spirit of confusion. This made sense to me. Then I was married in the temple to my best friend for time and all eternity. This was something I knew was right. But still when I was in the temple I felt bad. I felt heavy and flustered and nauseous and not good.

The fall after our wedding I felt like that a lot. And I felt sad. So sad. So heavy and so sad. Jeff told me I should talk to someone and that there is no shame in getting help. And then he told me again. And again. And again. And probably a few more times. So I scheduled an appointment at the counseling center and eventually (after trying exercise and meditation and vitamins and still needing help) I started taking medication. It was all very scary and very hard. Even though I was getting help it was still a basement of a year, and I was continuing bad habits like not eating because it made me feel less weighed down. I withdrew from God because I was ashamed and embarrassed of how I felt. Praying was awkward so I avoided it. I also have social anxiety, and going to church was terrifying. So I didn't. I stayed home and slept. Sleeping never came easy at night, but it was all I wanted to do during the day.

Line upon line, things got lighter. Right now I'm doing pretty well. And even though that year was hell, and it's very likely I'll have more times like that, I think I'm better prepared to handle them. Because now I know that there is something called anxiety. And just because you feel bad doesn't mean you're doing something bad, and more, doesn't mean you are bad.

I've come to hold onto the "I make weak things become strong" scripture like a toddler takes to a favorite blanket. I still have a lot to learn about it, though.
If there are two things I've always known it's that 1) There is a God and 2) He loves me with a love so perfect that I can't even comprehend it. I trust that He knows better than I do, and will only allow me to experience difficulties that He knows I can not just endure, but grow from. Knowing these things has brought so much clarity and understanding to everything, but especially the hard things. Onward and upward.

So where am I right now?
I'm still trying to become reacquainted with someone I used to know pretty well. I mean, when you don't talk to someone for months because you're embarrassed to do so, when you do finally talk to them it's awkward. I feel like He's saying, "Amy, I know it was hard for you to pray and read your scriptures and go to church because of your depression. I understand that. But you're doing better and I expect more from you now." So I'm working on rebuilding those bridges.
I'm not going to counseling because it's not free any more. I recently stopped taking my medication. I don't know why. I ran out and didn't get my prescription refilled.

Taking medication is so hard. The physical act of it isn't, but acknowledging that something is wrong with you and that it's something you can't fix is. And you're guaranteed to be reminded of that at least once a day. It takes a lot of humility to swallow that little white pill every morning.
I just read this blog post about a mom who started taking medication for the benefit of her family, and now I am rethinking everything because I think I might still need it. I mean, for me obviously, but also for Jeff and Ezra. I know it's hard to have a mental illness, but I realize it's probably just as hard to have a loved one with a mental illness.
So that's where I'm at right now with drugs. I don't know if I need them or not, and I don't like taking medication of any type unless I really need it. If Jeff thinks it would help, I will take antidepressants again. Because I trust him and he is usually better at knowing since he is outside of my brain. And because I don't want my pride to get in the way of my family's harmony.

The thing is, I kind of like feeling all the emotions. I feel like they've made me more human. More capable of empathy and love. More aware and tenderhearted. I feel like they've helped me in my relationships with others.
It's kind of a superpower and kryptonite at the same time.

And if men come unto me I will show 
unto them their weakness. I give unto 
men weakness that they may be humble;
and my grace is sufficient for all men
that humble themselves before me; for if 
they humble themselves before me, and 
have faith in me, then will I make weak 
things become strong unto them. 
--Ether 12:27 
EDIT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a page talking about the characteristics of mental illnesses, how you can help someone who has one, and links to talks and articles about mental illnesses. You can find it here.
As always, these are my thoughts that have come about through my experience. They are not official Truth or anything. I welcome all comments and discussion.
You might feel like this is another one of those overshare posts, and that is fine. I promise not to judge you for keeping things to yourself, so please don't judge me for being more open.


  1. Amy, I always appreciate your honesty and the courage it takes to share your thoughts so openly. Your words always inspire me and I know they are encouraging words to so many others as well.

    What you said about times where you assumed you were doing something wrong or that something bad was happening and Heavenly Father was trying to warn you through the Spirit is a very familiar feeling to me. It is good to be reminded that the Spirit is not a spirit of confusion. Thank you!

    Over the past few months I've been pondering a lot about not only how much I need to trust more in the Savior, but also how much trust He has in me. He believes in my ability to make good decisions and choices, so I should trust in myself as well!

    1. Leah, you are so sweet. I miss you so much.

  2. I always love and admire that you talk so freely about your anxiety and such. It makes me feel not so bad about having anxiety issues. I would never compare mine to yours, but even reading about your experiences is helpful. I love you!

    1. I love you. You are one of the greatest human beings.

  3. Amy, you are super amazing and so brave! I don't know if you know this but I am getting a PhD in counseling psychology right now and I believe that we need more people like you who are willing to talk about their experience of struggling with mental health. It is nothing to be ashamed of and if more people would talk about their experience like I have seen you do on this blog then I think it would help others see that its ok to seek help and for society in general to change its negative view toward mental illness. I imagine that many people would love to know that they are not alone in the feelings and struggles they are having. Keep expressing yourself and helping to create social change in such an important area! And know that I will be thinking of you and sending good vibes your way!

    1. Opal, I knew you were in school but I didn't know what for! That is awesome. I really want to get my masters in art therapy. There is still a pretty strong stigma about mental illness, but I feel like it's getting a lot better.

    2. I already have a masters in counseling and have worked a lot with kids and teens so I have incorporated a lot of art into my work with them. It is so helpful and really powerful! That would be awesome to get a degree in art therapy! Also, i agree that the stigma is getting better which is great. I hope you feel good that you are doing your part to help with that. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I wish we lived closer and could become in-person friends again. I love reading your blog and I think of you all the time now (in a good way :) )