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Sunday, September 1, 2013

How Christ is Helping Me Overcome Depression: Christ Reminds Me There is a Purpose

When you don't feel joy in life, it is hard to see the point in continuing. So much of why human beings find living in this life worthwhile is the sense of joy or fulfillment in their hobbies, their relationships, their life's experiences.

It is why we put effort into life. Because effort put into the right things leads to joy. We have faith, or hope, that by saving up and planning for this vacation to the Bahamas, that in the end, our trip to the Bahamas will give us happiness, enjoyment, joy.

We learn, by experience, what we do not enjoy: scrapped knees, broken bones, ruined relationships--and we do our best to avoid those things.

We also try to avoid expending more effort than necessary in certain areas of our lives. These areas are different for everyone, but as an example: why would I spend hours and hours baking and decorating a 3 tier cake for my 2 year old's birthday if I'm hating every single minute of it? Why not buy a cake and spend the time I would have used decorating to do something fun with her instead?

The point being, the reason we do anything or put any effort at all into this life is because we believe that the outcome will  justify the expenditure. The effort will make us happy, which makes the effort 'worth it.'

So what happens when slowly, over time, everything in your life leaves you feeling like the effort was a far greater expenditure than it was worth? What happens when no matter how hard you work to try and enjoy each moment, the moments are not enjoyable?

What if everything you ever did made you feel like you were wasting your time? And you 'knew', no matter what you did, that nothing would ever make you happy?

If there is no joy...what's the point? What is the point in going through all this exhaustive effort to feel 'joy', if there is none? And, ( now this is a jump, but it is not as far of a jump as you might think... not for those who feel this way) if you'll never feel joy and happiness again, what is the purpose in living?  You are just going to be miserable the whole time you're alive.

This is what depression does to your mind and your soul. It finds the 'off' switch on your joy mechanism and pulls it, and right with it, it rips the very purpose of your life out of your heart, mind, and soul.

So why didn't I believe those thoughts? And why was I so disturbed by them? Surely, they had developed  slowly enough, overtime, that I should have agreed with them. Wouldn't those thoughts, after all I had been feeling and going through, be the only logical conclusion?

So why did I so desperately search for help, rather than give in?

I know the answer to such questions may be different for everyone, but for me,  the answer was religion.

I was born to two wonderful, Christian parents who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. From my earliest childhood, to the time I left their home to venture out in the world as an adult, I was nurtured by the word of God.

When I was twelve years old, I decided I needed to find out for myself if the church I was being raised in was truly the restored gospel of Jesus Christ... or not. I needed to know for myself if there was a God in heaven. And likewise, I needed to have my own knowledge that there really was a Savior.

And if there really was a God in Heaven and a Savior of our souls, then I needed to know if the LDS Church really was led by them, through their servants, the modern day prophets.

These are the questions  that every member of the church, or persons investigating the church, must someday face.

And for me, the answers to these questions came slowly over time. I began my journey by committing to my Heavenly Father in prayer that I would read my scriptures everyday. That I would do my best to pray morning and night. And I prayed, that if I did this, I would be led to know the truth. That I might be able to receive some witness of the validity of the gospel.

In essence, I tried to follow the counsel of Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, who states:

  " Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge."
    "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." 
                                                                                                                                     (Alma 32:26-27)

For me, the witness that I was looking for came two years later, in the form of a special blessing called a Patriarchal Blessing.

The direct guidance and counsel I received that answered so many of my long repeated prayers, the answers to struggles that I hadn't prayed about and of which no one else was aware, and the overwhelming tangible feeling of a loving and warm embrace were all a powerful witness to my soul that I had a Father in Heaven who not only led The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but also who knew me personally, and who loved and cared about me.

It filled my soul with a testimony that I could/can not, even to this day, deny.  No more than I could honestly deny that the sky is blue, or that the grass is green. From that point on in my life, there was no other option. The Gospel was true. God was real. My Savior loved me. And I physically felt that love.

All that was left, after that, was to do my best, each day, to grow and progress to show my Father in Heaven that I loved him and had faith in him, and then leave the rest of my imperfections and weakness to the infinite grace of His Atonement.

So again, I ask...why did I not believe those thoughts? Why did I recognize that they were not based in reality?

Because I couldn't believe them. It was not even an option. I knew with all my heart that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was true.  And the Gospel taught me that there was a purpose to life and that purpose was called the Plan of Salvation.

It was The Plan of Salvation that taught me we are all children of God. That we lived with God before this life. That we left our Heavenly Father's presence and came to Earth to be tested, learn by experience, and gain a body. And that, if we chose to partake of the Savior's Atonement, after this life we could return to live with God again.

It was my firm faith in and knowledge of this plan that helped me recognize that the tormenting thoughts I was having were not based in reality. That, despite whatever my brain or my body was trying to tell me, there really was a reason for me being here. Even if I was having a hard time feeling it.  

And more than just a reason for being here, I was reminded by these teachings that there was a work for me to do. That I didn't come down here for life to be all frills and thrills, but that I came here to learn, to serve, and to grow.

In the October 2012 General Conference, Elder Jeffery R Holland shared that:

"...we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can't quit and we can't go back."

It was my faith in Christ that helped me take the first steps I needed toward getting help. And it was my faith in Christ that reminded me that the self destructive feelings were wrong. I did have a reason for being on this earth. I had a mission to fulfill while here. I had a place in mind I wanted to end up after this life. And I needed to go and get help, so I could go forward in life and accomplish those goals in peace.

Check out my other posts on this subject:



  1. DIL,
    Your deep heartfelt feelings dig deeply into my soul. A person that feels no self worth or gains no confidence that there is a reason to continue on is one of the many reasons the Savior stands with open arms and invites us lovingly, "Come unto me.... I give you my peace." He offers a better path to follow and offers His Atonement to take away the hurts of this life. One of the many blessings He offers us through the Atonement is not just to take away remorse from sin, but to take away the hurt from life and the sorrows we bear.
    I am proud of you for facing and sharing your "opportunities for growth" through the "thorn in your side".
    You are one of my heroes!

  2. I'm happy that you got that help! But first I am happy that you relied on your great faith and testimony in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to help you know that that other voice was incorrect and that you are an important part of this life, this gospel.

    As with all struggles sometimes they are given to us to help others since we can now see the struggles they are facing first hand. I'm sure your blog will help others.

    I gave a lesson in RS today that was taken from an Ensign Article in the July 2013 Ensign on page 34 entitled "A time For Faith, Not Fear." It is an excellent article that gives 10 different reminders and suggestions that can help us in times of difficulty.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Love, Ann


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