This is Part 2 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, faith crisis, and divorce. If these topics affect you in any way please stop reading, talk with a someone you trust, or contact a mental health professional immediately. You may also call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
What methods have you found are beneficial for your treatment and healing?
Going home to be with family was the best decision I could have made. With their love and support, I began to make the steps that would allow me to heal. I put together a plan for what to do when I got back home with my husband. Every night, my husband and I would talk on the phone – telling each other about our day and what we were experiencing and feeling.
The day before I was supposed to leave to come home, my anxiety was triggered by a text message and I didn’t know if I could return home. There were still so many unanswered questions, so many raw emotions. I didn’t know if I could do it. My mother encouraged me to read my patriarchal blessing and pray, so I did. I was comforted and encouraged to return home. So, the next day, I did.
What keeps you from receiving or accepting treatment and healing?
I have only shared this story with a handful of people because I am afraid being judged by others for the choices I made, and I don’t want my husband to receive blame or judgement either. There are, also, things I haven’t worked through that I know won’t be pleasant, and I am afraid of facing them. I don’t want to have to face the painful emotions of this experience, but I know that in order to heal, I’m going to have to. I’m just not ready yet.
What symptoms or behaviors of your mental/emotional health experience are the most difficult for you to handle? For example: self harm, disordered eating and sleeping, suicidal thoughts, loss of motivation.
There are three major ones that cause the most difficulty.
First – Disordered Eating.
When I am deep in the clutches of anxiety or have fallen down the rabbit hole of depression, I stop eating. Food and eating becomes a burden. My stomach churns and tightens even at the thought of food, and I have to force myself to eat just a bite or two. If I am consciously aware of the situation, I can warn someone of what I am experiencing, so they can encourage me to eat. But often, when I stop eating, I am desperately trying to maintain any sense of control. And what easier thing to control than when and if I eat.
Second – Self Harm.
Ever since high school, I thought the easiest way for me to handle my emotions and feelings was to bottle them up and numb them out. In theory, this works really well. But eventually, all the pressure from the unexpressed emotions has to go somewhere, and because I refuse to let me emotions out in a healthy way, I turn to self harm.
Third – Suffocating My Emotions and Feelings.
Self Harm is an addictive and dangerous aspect of the mental health game, and it is very limiting. So, when I actively work to NOT self harm, the emotions stay suffocated in the bottom of my soul. And all of the suffocation suffocates me. I stop communicating. I keep all of my thoughts and feelings to myself. And if I have learned anything about relationships, communication is vitally important, so when I stop communicating, my relationships with my husband and with others are also unnecessarily strained.
Have you shared your struggles with family and friends? If yes, what have their reactions been? Are they supportive, or do they wish to keep your struggles hidden?
Anyone I have ever shared this experience with, outside of my family, don’t fully understand what we went through, but they are still supportive and encouraging with phrases like, “You’re so strong.” and “It will be okay.”
My family, though, has been my rock. When I have a hard time, they are there to encourage me. They remind me often that my husband is a good man and that he loves me. They encourage me to be hopeful. And they do their best to listen to my thoughts and feelings when I let them out.
My husband and I lived through the experience, so we know better than anyone else how to help one another. We do our best to support, encourage, love, and work through everything the best way we know how, and we are constantly developing and refining our communication skills so something like this never happens again.
What inspires you to stay hopeful through this experience? Or how do you find hope during this experience?
In the beginning my biggest inspiration to remain hopeful was God. I needed Him to carry me through this experience. He could do things that no one in my family could. He still does. I spent a lot of time focusing on my scripture studies and praying, and I went to the temple once a week. Then life got busy, and my hope waned. Just like the moon travels around the earth, I can’t expect my hope to be full all the time.
We are in the middle of the 2nd year since this experience. My husband and I are still together. Our marriage is happy and fun and far from perfect. I still pray every night for my husband not knowing what is in store for our learning and growth.
But if I know anything, I know that God is in charge. He is the only person who loves my husband as much as I do. He is the only person who knows every thought and feeling that we have. And God is the only one who can heal broken hearts and help us to create a healthy, happy, and successful marriage relationship.
If you could travel back in time and visit yourself just before or just after recognizing there was something amiss, what would you tell yourself?
Be patient. Don’t give up. Trust in the Lord and focus on loving your husband perfectly. You are not alone and everything will be okay. Do all you can to be spiritually strong and immovable.
If you met someone else going through a similar experience as yourself, what advice and words of courage would you give them?
This is not the end. If your spouse is a good person, can you make you marriage work?
I know how difficult this experience is. I have felt and still feel the heartache. You are not alone. You can always talk with me about it. I don’t have all the answers, but I can offer words of encouragement and love and a listening ear if you need it.
Don’t give up on your spouse. Don’t give up on yourself. You are stronger than you think; you are brave, and you can do it as long as you stay close to God.
Is there any final part of your story or thoughts of encouragement you wish to share with the readers?
I have been incredibly blessed that my husband is very supportive of my religious beliefs and choices. He still doesn’t agree with some of them; he doesn’t understand them, and he doesn’t have any desire to practice them himself, but he still supports me. He goes to church with me on Sundays, so I don’t have to go alone. He lets me read scriptures with him each night. He prays over the meals we eat together, and he lets me pray with him before we go to bed. He encourages me to go to the temple even when it’s hard. And if I’m lucky, sometimes we go walk or drive around the temple together. I know this won’t be everyone’s experience, but I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my husband’s support and love.
Thank you for allowing me to share this story.
Continuing The Conversation
Though this is the final story in the Your Story Blog Series please feel free to continue the conversation on mental and emotional health in the comments below. But be aware that your comments are being moderated and will be deleted if they are hurtful, hateful, or inappropriate in any way. This is a safe space to share your story about mental and emotional health and disabilities. Please do what you can to keep it as such.
A Note For Readers
If this story has inspired you to share your own story, please click here to be taken to the introductory post where you will learn where the inspiration for this blog series came from as well as how to participate. And stay tuned for the closing post for this project which will shine a light into everything I have learned and experienced as well as shed some light on what to expect in the future.