Hi friends! I know a lot of people, myself included, are struggling right now in different degrees and for I’m sure many different reasons. Life is tough, but then add in a pandemic and everything else going on this season, and it can just feel like too much sometimes.
The biggest purpose I had in writing my book was to help others feel less alone. I thought it could be useful to share Chapter 2 of my book, all about my own deep depression, in a blog post for anyone to read. I share about one of the lowest points in my life that actually happened earlier this year. At the bottom of the blog post I have a couple resources for you.
If you want to read how I’m specifically managing my mental health during the pandemic, you can read my article on Medium about that: “I’ll Be Eating Frozen TV Dinners for Thanksgiving, and I’m Genuinely So Grateful.“
I hope this helps. And lastly, I’ll leave you with a thought I originally heard from Natalie Norton: Pain is a tunnel, not a cave. Just keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
“…we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land…” 2 Nephi 10:20
While I’m still very glad that I moved into my own place, moving to a city without knowing anyone prior—and living alone—was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I honestly thought I’d be okay. I had moved before. I moved to Provo, Utah when I was 19, and then served a mission in Kentucky and Tennessee when I was 22. But only later did I realize the one thing I still had during those big moves: community.
I still had extended family near Provo, roommates in Provo, and companions during my mission. When I moved to Cedar City, I knew absolutely no one. And try as I might, I just couldn’t find my community. I went to church and everyone was very friendly, but I knew it would take a while to click with anyone there—friendships often take a little while to develop. I met some great people through my job, but those meetings were brief, infrequent, and within a business setting. At the end of the day, I’d still walk into a quiet, empty house and be absolutely alone.
It was crushing.
It was so hard facing so many new things all at once: within a week, I moved into my new house, started my new job, and began the online MBA program. I moved in on January 8. I cried every day for at least a month.
As I entered February, the loneliness felt increasingly heavier. For the first time in my life, I began experiencing suicidal thoughts—though I don’t think I had any intention to act on them. But the thoughts were there, and they terrified me. I cried harder, wishing someone were there. Not just over the phone or video chat, but HERE, physically beside me.
I want to describe the pain, but I don’t know if I can. It felt like my whole soul was being crushed. I wanted to disappear. Each day felt so long, and I couldn’t imagine starting a new day all over again. I prayed that a loved one would come visit, but no one did. I asked perhaps three different people if they could come visit me, but I don’t think they realized the extent of my depression. I don’t think they realized how overwhelming the darkness was.
While relief didn’t come in the ways I asked for, I was grateful for the quiet reminders that God was still there. One afternoon, as I collapsed onto my bedroom floor in tears, I had the thought to look at my “Come, Follow Me” manual. That week the curriculum centered around 2 Nephi 6- 10 in the Book of Mormon. A particular heading in the manual stood out to me: Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I can “cheer up” my heart. It referenced 2 Nephi 10:20 in the section. I had the thought to look up that scripture.
At this point in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob is testifying to the people. He shares about the journey that his family had taken to the Promised Land, following revelation and not always knowing where they were headed—which suddenly felt very familiar to me. Jacob said:
And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land… (emphasis added)
I was not cast off. I had been led to a better land, even though I couldn’t see it at the time. Even though I was still in the deep end of depression and loneliness, this scripture reminded me that God had a purpose for me in Cedar City. Logically, I knew that.
Emotionally and mentally, though, I very quickly fell back into the deep end.
I still wanted to die. Honestly, the biggest reason I didn’t end my life was because of my student loan debt, as silly as that sounds. I had never had this kind of debt before—I’m so grateful that my parents paid for my undergraduate degree, but I was determined to do my graduate studies on my own. I didn’t want to put this debt on them. Also, what parent wants thousands of dollars of debt from an MBA program that their kid wasn’t even in for two weeks? Not to mention the stress of dealing with the house I had just signed a year lease on.
But really, the main thought in my mind was that student loan debt. And thank goodness for that.
I had met a handful of people in my neighborhood at that point, but no one I felt particularly close to. Still, on a very dark Monday night, I kept thinking that I should reach out to Linda, my new Relief Society President. Feeling like I had very little to lose at that point, I texted Linda, simply asking if she was there. It was all I could say.
Within minutes, she responded. I simply asked for a hug and she gladly and eagerly agreed.
A few minutes later, Linda and another neighbor, Heidi, appeared at my front door. As soon as they walked in, they hugged me. That was the first physical contact I had had with anyone in days. We sat in my living room and just talked—not necessarily about how sad I was, but just about life, and getting to know one another. I finally stopped crying.
Heidi’s husband came over a few minutes later to give me a priesthood blessing. The four of us continued to chat until everyone left.
Two days later, Linda doorbell-ditched treats at my door. A few days after that, she organized a group of women, most of whom I had just met briefly before, to take me out to lunch for my birthday. I had been trying for weeks to feel okay and couldn’t for the life of me find my footing in this new place. It turns out, all I needed to do was find the right person to reach out to.
If someone seems to be struggling and asks you to come visit, please do everything in your power to go be with them. Be that right person.
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