This is Part 1 in the final story in the blog series, “Your Story: a conversation on mental and emotional health and disabilities.” Please read with a heart open and understanding – free of judgement.
Please be aware that this story covers the topics of: anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, sleep disturbances, disordered eating, self harm, a faith crisis, and divorce. If these topics affect you in any way please stop reading, talk with someone you trust, or contact a mental health professional immediately. You may also call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
A Note On Editing
Minor changes were made to help make the interview easier to read. When this story was submitted to me, it was 7 pages long – much too long to share in one post. I edited it as best I know how while still trying to maintain its integrity. That being said, it is still quite long, so I have broken it into 2 separate posts. The first post tells the bulk of the story while the second post tells more of the authors journey of healing and recovery.
Allow me to introduce our final story…
This is the last story in the Your Story Blog Series that I will publish for Mental Health Awareness Month. This story hits home in so many ways, and I am so grateful for the words this individual shared. Out of respect to the other individuals who play an active role in this story, our author has requested that her story be published anonymously.
When the author sent me her story, she expressed concern that she was afraid of the judgments and criticisms from readers about herself, the circumstances of her story, and the individuals involved. So I will remind those who read, share, and participate in conversations that stem from this story to do so with feelings of understanding and love. Everyone’s mental health experiences and journeys are different, and they need all the support and encouragement they can receive to help them push through and come out stronger and better.
When did you realize there was something mentally or emotionally wrong? And what did you do about it?
Most of the time, my mental and emotional health is triggered, for the most part, by the major changes that affect my life in some way. It also tends to follow the seasons.
Are there/were there moments in your life where this mental/emotional struggle becomes more present and you’re more aware of its existence?
September 22nd, 2018 is a day that I will never forget. It is a day that I was affected mentally/emotionally, physically, and spiritually by a massive change. And, it is a day that my mental and emotional world was rocked out of balance and thrown into chaos.
This information is important to know to understand the story, so please don’t skip this section.
My husband and I were married in one of the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In order to be married there, one must qualify for a temple recommend. But, when my husband and I met a year before we got married, he didn’t have a temple recommend.
Soon after we started dating, I made it very clear that I only wanted to be married in the temple. Anything less, and it wasn’t worth it. Apparently, it was worth it to him because during the year that we dated, he worked with his Bishop and the missionaries so he would be ready.
Even though he was working on himself and making progress, I still had underlying fears that he wasn’t doing “the church thing” for the right reasons. But each time I would bring it up, he would calm my fears and tell me he was doing it because he wanted it, and I would believe him with faith, hope, and trust that he was telling me the truth.
Eventually, he was ready, and we were married in the temple. It was one of the happiest days of my life. My dream of being married in the temple to a worthy priesthood holder had finally come true.
Like I said, this information is important to know to understand the following story.
* * * * *
Late in the evening of the 22nd of September, my husband told me the words I feared the most. He never was interested in the church. He had done it all for me. And he didn’t want to be a part of the church anymore.
I was DEVASTATED! Everything I had ever dreamed of having, vanished in an instant. My heart broke and my emotions were despondent. Eventually, I told him to leave our home. I was hurt, angry, and afraid. I called my mother seeking for comfort and counsel. I questioned everything I knew about my husband, every experience we shared. Does he even really love me I wondered. Finally, because I was concerned about him, I called/texted (honestly I don’t remember) and asked him to come home.
We talked briefly when he came home, and I left him to sleep in our room while I retired to the couch. I didn’t sleep that night. My emotions were an uncontrollable roller coaster. I read from the Book of Mormon trying to gain comfort and understanding. I fell to my knees in desperate prayer pleading and begging God to not let this be so. Yet, even in my desperate heartache, every other word out of my mouth expressed how much I loved my husband and didn’t want to live in a world without him. But I didn’t know if I could stay married.
The next morning, I began experiencing anxiety attacks. They were fueled by every deep heart wrenching emotion I had felt over the last 24 hours. And they were also fueled by intense fear, shame, and guilt.
I remember feeling so much shame and guilt believing that everything was my fault. I was angry at my husband for lying to me and betraying the trust that I had in him. And I was disappointed and angry that God would allow this to happen to me.
All of this caused me to spiral into a deep depression fueled by anxiety. I stopped eating and even the few bites of food that I would force down were repulsive. I remember taking Benadryl that Sunday to sleep because I didn’t know if I would be able sleep otherwise.
How has this experience affected your relationships with others?
Our relationship was in shambles, and I worried greatly that it was beyond repair.
Over the next few days, we discussed what we wanted, and what we would need to fix to make our relationship work. It was extremely difficult. We were complete strangers to one another and all of the trust we had was in shattered pieces. I still wasn’t eating. And each day, I would experience a new aftershock of emotions and heartache.
On Tuesday morning, one of these waves hit me stronger than ever, and I confronted him, and asked him if he really did want to save our marriage and make things work. He didn’t say anything for a long time. He just looked at me studying my face. Eventually, with sad eyes he spoke the words I had been dreading. “I don’t know if I can do this, and I think it would be better for you to go.” That was it. I called my mother again, and we began making arrangements for me to move home, and I called my brother and asked him to drive the 4 hours to come get me, so I could stay with him until I left. But my husband….he just got in his car and drove away.
I had no idea what to do. I had pleaded with God as I had every day since my husband’s declaration of his religious retreat – his crisis of faith…(I still don’t have the right words to describe it). And, I begged God to help me know what to do. I still loved my husband, and even though I was hurt, I didn’t want our marriage to end. It didn’t feel right.
My relationships with God and with my family became stronger; I had to depend on them for support. I knew I couldn’t make it through this alone. I explained to my mother what I was feeling and then called my husband to have him come home. We had things to discuss.
I told him that it didn’t feel right to end our marriage.
That day we made arrangements so I could spend two weeks at home with my family. I saw a doctor and was put on antidepressants, and I began my journey towards healing. My brother still drove the 4 hours and stayed the night with us, so he could take me to the airport the next day. I remember that night being the best night my husband and I had together since everything began on the 22nd.
To Be Continued…