Anxiety and Depression

Wow! Hot topic today, huh? You’re all excited with this one, I bet. All five of you. Although, I’ve had an average of 11.5 viewers the last two days. (My sister Apryl can tell you how many each day had if you really can’t do the math.)

Anyway, this is a somewhat serious topic and is counting as my memory day for the week.

I’ve got a good friend whose name will not be said that is dealing with a lot of anxiety right now.

So, in trying to help this person deal with his/her anxiety, I’ve looked back into my own life when I was dealing with a lot of anxiety/depression. That time would be known as September 19, 2001-October 11, 2002, also known as my mission. Now, during my mission a lot of people know that I dealt with depression. Some people may not know. And in all honesty, if it makes you think worse about me, then that’s your judging problem. In other words, I don’t care. Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

Anyway, I dealt with depression starting in the MTC in Provo. Those nine weeks were almost my own personal hell. I say almost because it didn’t end there. What was my problem? Well, during my life I’ve been lazy, selfish, but most importantly, free to do whatever I darn well-pleased. I never had a real bedtime. I chose when I went to bed. My parents would ask me where I was going and when I’d be home. But I never really had a curfew. If I wanted something bad enough, I found a way to get it (my dad will not deny that). While in the MTC, I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything by myself. I really understood how much I need me time or alone time. I just couldn’t get away from anything. And then going into the mission field, I loved Belgium and France. I could point out every problem in Mons, Brussels, Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Arras, and Lens, but I still love them all very much. (Nothing wrong with Liege, they’ve got Galler chocolate, and I never served there as a missionary.) But, at the same time, I dealt with depression. My poor missionary companions.

Now, to be honest, some of them I had a difficult time getting along with. But today, I hold a lot of respect and admiration for those. I really didn’t get along with enough of them, and humbly looking back, it was my fault. I expected people to adapt to me and my ways instead of vice-versa. And really, I didn’t need to adjust to their ways either. I just needed to adjust to people being different. But my depression was so bad that President and Sister Harrison had me read a book, listen to a tape series, and go on medication. Do I blame them? Absolutely not. I hated the tapes. I was more and more demotivated by them. The book, however, was a great read. It’s called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It’s by Dale Carnegie and I highly recommend it to anyone who deals with depression or anxiety. It may help, it may not. I read this book twice while on the mission and have begun it a couple of times since returning home. It was one of the first things I bought when I got home.

The one thing, however, that motivated me on my mission should’ve been the one thing that depressed me the most. For those that don’t know, my mom passed away on July 31, 2002 while I was in Brussels. From that day on, I was very motivated to do my best until I woke up one day and felt like ‘it’s time to go home.’ But that’s a different story. These two emotion-sucking, mental-draining problems are very real. I hated it when someone would say to me “Sing a happy song” or “Think a happy thought.” I’m not Cinderella or Peter Pan! Those don’t work when what your dealing with is constant negativity. They can work at other points in your life.

So, what helped, you may wonder? Finding ways to relax. Remembering to breathe was a big thing. I like the quote from the movie Sleepless in Seattle that Tom Hanks’ character Sam Baldwin gives in response to the radio host’s question. He says, “Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out… ” Sometimes, you need to take baby steps, especially when you immerse yourself in a completely unfamiliar world.

And somehow, I’ve made it through. Life didn’t stop just because I wasn’t at home playing Nintendo 64 anymore. Life didn’t end because I was in Belgium. While I was gone, I missed my mom’s death, I missed my sister getting married (which I didn’t find out until two months later when I got home, but it didn’t matter ’cause no one was there). I missed the Rams losing to the Pats in the Super Bowl. I missed 2 seasons of Survivor, 2 seasons of the Amazing Race, and 1 Big Brother season + 1 episode. But, I made some great memories being in the MTC, Belgium, and France. I met Eli, who I named my main character for in Eli and the Amethyst. I met Ben, who I named a great wizard in the same book for. I got to see the dedication of The Hague temple (although I slept through President Harrison’s talk). I met my twin, Brad (only because we share a birthday and year). I was able to learn about hard work and self-discipline through awesome people, one most important was Mike S.

In all honesty, if I went back to September 19th knowing that I wouldn’t see my mom again and would be dealing with this awesome anxiety and depression again, I’d do it all again. Why? Because there would be too much that I would’ve missed if I didn’t go, things that were just as important, if not more.

So, in the end, if you can stick through a tough situation, you’ll be rewarded for it. I know that I have been blessed in my life for those choices made back then. May you stick through whatever it is you’ve got going on so you can snag that treasure at the back of the Dragon’s cave.

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