Thursday, November 10, 2016

Returning to Him

For a couple years, Michael and I have fallen away from the church. There had been a lot of reasons for this: we felt slighted by some members of our ward and because of that we had planted the seeds of bitterness and harvested them. We felt that Heavenly Father simply wasn't aware of us and was giving us too much. I can't speak for Michael, but I know I was having thoughts of questioning whether I really believed what I had been taught by the missionaries in 20006. 

Life kept hitting us during this time and instead of allowing them to draw us closer to Heavenly Father, as trials are meant to do, we became even more bitter and enraged with Him. Who did He think He was? Why had He abandoned us during this difficult time? Where was His mercy and love when we needed it the most? I can't count the times I only turned to prayer to scream at Heavenly Father that I was done. That I was becoming disenchanted to not only Heavenly Father and His desires, but also to Christ. 
After a while, I had attempted to attend church again while the kids attended church with my in-laws. I felt out of place and lonely. I still felt bitter and angry toward members and because of that I did not feel that I belonged in the church building, let alone praying or reading my scriptures. Obviously, I was right to stay away. After a couple months of trying to solo coming back to my Heavenly Father, I do not know Michael's thoughts during this time and cannot speak for him, I stopped again. Only this time I seemed to really be done with the gospel. 

During that time I felt alone in a chaotic world and mine and Michael's relationship deteriorated. Horribly. We both just stopped putting in the effort of being married, started being overly passive aggressive, and not communicating. Sadly, this led to us separating for a month in 2015 (this is a post I'm not sure will be written. It sucked and was terrible. Awful and horrible.) and making me feel more alone and vulnerable. I didn't think I could turn to Heavenly Father, to be honest I don't think I considered it. He didn't care anyway.
 After Michael and I came back together, things were looking up. We have been working on improving ourselves continually and we have found that joy in being married again. We do the little things again. But something was still missing for awhile. I could never put my finger on what seemed to be off, but I was happy that Michael and I were doing well so I didn't really question it. I mean, I still had the questions rolling around in the back of my mind. Did I still believe in Heavenly Father? What would I be willing to do if I did still believe? Whenever they'd come to the front of my thoughts, I'd simply push them away for another time.
See, during all the time we were away, Heavenly Father didn't give up on either of us. We had more people praying for us than I ever thought possible. And you want to know something amazing? He heard them. And He answered them. It was not an overnight thing, but rather one of those things that builds up.
 May of this year (2016) Michael and I celebrated our six-year anniversary by going up to Brigham City, just the two of us. It was incredible! And where we were staying, was just blocks away from the Brigham City Temple. Of course we walked around and admired the beauty of it. My heart started aching though. I wanted to go in. I wanted that comfort. I wanted to walk those sacred halls once again. I was gobsmacked by this. Where were these feelings coming from? I thought I was done? Disenchanted? I kept silent about these promptings. I didn't know what Michael would think. Heck, I didn't know if I was willing to do the work to get back there or if I even still had the faith to believe. 
Well, about a week to two weeks after this I was on a "Yannie-Date" and was browsing Facebook on my phone. I came across an acquaintance's page that had a bunch of anti-LDS things on there including some videos that tore my heart to pieces. So, somewhere I still believed. What to do with that? I decided to ask one of my former young women leaders if her husband could give me a priesthood blessing. He said yes. I went to their home and Brian and I spent four hours talking about the Gospel and bearing testimonies, ending with a priesthood blessing.
 
The next day I asked Michael if we could go back to church-together- as well as read our scriptures, and a couple others things. He agreed and we attended church that Sunday. I felt safe and secure being there. I didn't feel excluded. I felt loved. 
We met with our bishop soon after returning to check in with him and work with him to get back to the temple. On Oct 8, 2016 we met with our bishop and had our interview with him and the Stake President interview followed the next Sunday. Oct 18, 2016, I had gone back to the temple for the first time in YEARS!! It was so simply wonderful. I felt that I had returned home. On the 21st of Oct, Michael and I returned together. 
I've had quite a few people ask me what made the difference, or comment how much I did to get back to church and to have the relationship with my Savior that I now have. Usually when these comments come up, I share the above experiences and kind of leave it at that but none of it would have been possible without 1) my Heavenly Father's love for me and my family, 2) my Redeemer and his atonement, 3) my willingness to work to apply Christ's atonement to not only cause me to heal from my sins but also all hurt I was feeling, and 4) Christ and Heavenly Father not caring where I was only wanting me to return. It is through Christ my heart has been turned. It is through Christ that I have found joy and fulfillment in life again. It is through Christ that I have been able to move forward. He has never abandoned me nor have I ever been alone and I never will be. 


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Full breath

I have been drowning for eleven years. Eleven long years of not being able to breathe. Of being frightened out of my wits. Today, September 3, 2015, I was finally able to take a breath and breathe.

In 2004, I was raped by someone I did not know. I felt worthless and like trash. I was used garbage that no one would want. I was afraid that if anyone found out what had happened, they would ignore me, or worse blame me. That is exactly what happened-at first. I was treated the way I felt- like trash that needed to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. My friends that knew tried to support me to the best of their knowledge, but the damage was done. I was tainted. Even after marrying Michael I felt like I didn't deserve to live nor was I healthy enough to fully appreciate someone who truly believed that I was special and untainted.

The past two weeks I have been attending Intensive Outpatient Therapy through Provo Canyon Behavourial Hospital. The last couple days we have been talking about cognitive distortions-those thoughts we all have that are false-and how to challenge those thoughts by looking at the evidence both for the thought and against the thought. At first I thought that I would never be able to apply these principles to my thoughts, but I decided to try it.

I wrote down the situation, my initial thought and emotion, evidence for and against that initial thought, and then the realistic thought. So, what was that initial thought? I'm sure you can guess. It was "I'm worthless and it is all my fault." Do you how twisted that is? Someone took advantage of me, destroying themself in the process, and I thought it was my fault?! That was what I realized today.

It wasn't my fault.
It wasn't my fault.
It wasn't my fault. 

I finally knew the truth. I am a worthwhile person with a lot of people that love and care about me. It wasn't my fault that a man in his thirties raped a girl in her teens. It wasn't my fault that someone cared so little about themselves that they had to hurt a young girl to try to make themselves feel manly. It wasn't about me. It was about him. It was his decision. Yes it affected me, but he's the one that's going to have to answer for that.

Today I realized that I am no longer his victim. He no longer has control over me. Today I was able to get my head out of the water and breathe for the first time in eleven years, and it felt amazing. I suddenly felt like I could fly. I felt genuinely happy. I've let it go. I'll always remember that incident, but I can finally look back on it for what it is- a true learning experience.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Obsession

Like a cat with a hair band, I am fixated. My thoughts, my moods, my actions all revolve around this one thing. It has been like this for as long as I can remember. I have no control. I must have more. But then more isn't enough. My body is hyper focused on achieving this goal. I shake with anticipation when the possibility presents itself. I am obsessed.


Every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day I think about how to own more. Where to store them. I dream about them at night and what I want to build for them. I'll devour them whole. I need them. 


I can't let any time go by without touching or smelling them. I love the texture. I love the smell. I am addicted to their smell. 


Many people encourage this habit and aid in providing it for me. I love people for that. Especially Michael. He looks for ways I can feed my addiction. 

I refuse to give it up. In fact, I am passing my obsession on to my children. They too know the love of books. Real books. Books that take you into different worlds and introduce to different characters. Books that whisper their secrets to you with the rustling of pages, that grab and hold onto your memories. 


BOOKS!!!!!!! What did you think I was talking about? :D





Monday, July 28, 2014

Selfish

After reading one of these blog posts, I had someone inform me that I was being selfish for putting so much effort and time into becoming healthy. Their reasons were that I was taking time away from my children and husband and shouldn't be putting time into myself, that as a mom I need to put my children's needs above my own, and finally that mental illness is greatly exaggerated. I smiled when this person was relating their reasons why, in their mind, I am being selfish. When they finished I thanked them for their input and told them my reasons for being so serious about getting healthy.



1. I'm not taking time away from the family as much as I was when I was really ill. I couldn't take care of the kids, my husband, or myself and I wanted to leave them on a more permanent basis. That was taking time away from my family and their needs. With me getting better my children have their fun, energetic mom back and my husband has his wife back. Because I'm feeling like me again I am able to spend more time with my dear family and grow closer to them. We are able to play different games and I am coming up with creative ideas of how to bond with my family, and others. Yes, becoming healthy takes time but not as much time as being ill.



2. I am a worth while person and I deserve to have time put into myself. I have a lot to offer those around me and I'm not going to shrink away from shining anymore. I am valuable. I am priceless. I am special. I have a right to put some time into myself.



3. I agree that as a mom I should be putting my children's needs above most of my wants, but there is a line there. If I am constantly addressing the needs of my wonderful children, and never acknowledging mine, I become an empty shell again. If I were to have a good day would depend on the behaviour of the children. Were they good? Were they happy? I would be thrown into a pit of despondency whenever they were to throw a temper tantrum. I do know they have needs and I meet those needs, but I cannot place them on a pedestal above me. It's like when you're on a plane and you are told to put the oxygen mask on yourself before your children. Is it because as parents we're more important than our children? No. It's because we will not be able to help them if we are unconscious ourselves. I can't help my family if I don't help me.



4. I believe that a lot of people have a set standard of mental illness. "It's something that can't ever go away. If you are mentally ill you need to be institutionalized. If you have a mental illness you're less of a person. I don't know how to interact with someone who says they have a mental illness. Etc..." In other words, there are stigmatizations with regards to illnesses. And yes, some may be true...to an extent, but overall you can't usually tell that someone is suffering with depression, anxiety, or other sicknesses unless they tell you. I've posted before about how mental illness is a real thing and needs to be treated like a real thing, but the people that have them are real people and need to be treated as such. They are not able to "just get over it," nor can they simply decide to "not have it [mental illnesses] anymore because it's not working for them," and they are not being lazy.



After speaking with this person, they still did not agree with me and you know what? That's okay. I know my worth and my strength from having a mental illness and I know that I do not need to dignify the stigmatization of having depression and anxiety. This person was floored that I am taking such a positive position on becoming well and insisted that because I'm doing so well I "obviously never had a mental illness in the first place." Ok. This person has their opinions and that's ok. At least now they understand my position a bit better.



I have depression but I am not depressed. It is not who I am. My illness does not define me.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Fight with A Mental Illness

 Ten years ago, when I was thirteen, I was officially diagnosed with depression and was put on anti-depressants but still didn't know anything about the illness. My family didn't believe in sicknesses of this sort and as I result I discontinued the medications before even a month was over. I felt stigmatized within my own familial unit and that led to being feeling left out in the outside world. Would I ever feel normal and stop wanting to hurt myself? I had no support from those that were supposed to really care about me and minimal support from others because they didn't know how to help. I had numerous people tell me to just get over it and move on.

Almost every day was a battle. I dragged myself no matter what I did and I couldn't shake the feeling of not being good enough. I didn't know at the time that depression is a real illness and needs to be treated just like a broken leg. How could I have a mental illness? I must just be lazy and unmotivated. I made myself push harder and harder and kept sinking into the black. It seemed I had no interests, pep, or love for life. My memory was shot and I would go days without sleep or speaking to anyone. My mind was a minefield of dangerous thoughts and that's where I spent most of my time. With the frightening ideas swarming my mind.

As I got older, my depression grew even more dense. I couldn't hold a job. I was sleeping for upwards of 18 hours a day, and when people did see me they were looking at merely the body of Yannie. I had no spirit. Finally, when I was eighteen years-old I met Michael and it seemed that for a while my depression had subsided. At least a little. I was going on dates with this amazing man and was able to talk to him for hours. We became married and I turned into a monster. I forced this dear man to conform to my ideas of how life had to be, even down to how he hung up his clothes. I then became pregnant with my gorgeous daughter and became an even worse monster. (Yay hormones!)

When Emily was born, I had postpartum depression before we left the hospital. Taking care of a new child, cleaning, and being a wife was too much for me. I would often make Michael do more than his fair share simply because I couldn't do much. I felt like I was a horrible person and Michael would have been better marrying someone else, although I didn't do anything about those feelings until May of 2012.

May of 2012. I had officially been diagnosed with depression for eight years. I knew I had depression and I told people that I was doing the best I could. (NOT!) I kept feeling worse and kept thinking that my daughter and husband would be better without me. I acted on these thoughts on the 20th of that month by attempting suicide by overdosing. I texted Michael's father and told him what I had done and both Michael and Carl found me and had an ambulance take me to the hospital. I didn't stay at the hospital. I came home and still didn't do anything for my depression. I think, at least a small part of me didn't want to get better. I liked the attention. Carl spent many hours the next couple weeks talking with me and at one point he told me that I was trying to do to my daughter what my father had done to me- leave them wondering what they did wrong, what they could have done better, blaming themselves for me leaving. That hit me. I swore that would be the very last suicide attempt I would ever have.

At the beginning of this year, I started slipping down that slope again and by April I agreed to be admitted to Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital for a week. It was really hard for me to be away from my family so long, but it was good at the same time. I finally had become serious about getting healthy. I learned a lot while I was admitted and was able to start some medications that have been helping and I have been able to not abuse them. When it was time to be released I started feeling anxiety. I wanted, desperately, to go home but I was unsure of how I would handle myself. That is when it hit me that I needed to be serious about my recovery and had to take an active part in it. Nobody else can make me well and the medications are just tools to use for a good starting point.

When I came home it would have been easy for me to stop taking the medications and to let depression take over again, but I couldn't. I saw the love a lot of people have for me and decided to not give in. I did a Google search for depression groups that I could attend in Utah County, and I found several. I started attending these groups and found one that really hit home for me. Recovery International. This a group that studies the teachings of Dr. Abraham A. Low and teaches you how to apply his method to your life. Right away, I noticed a drastic difference in my behavior and attitude. I don't complain, I don't give in to my temper nearly as frequently, I'm able to shake off disturbances, even major ones, quickly, and many more. Michael, and others, have commented how great it is to have Yannie back. My interests are returning and I am feeling quite passionate about things again. (Including Recovery International. Seriously, you should check them out!)

Right now I am focusing on getting healthy and being a wife and mom, and you know what? I'm on a good path with that right now. I know that the maintenance of health is a life-long task and sometimes I'll want to quit putting the effort in, but I won't. I don't like having the symptoms of depression and the tears it places in my family. I will continue fighting for my health and will continue to explore myself. I am genuinely excited to be returning to school in the Spring of 2016. I am hoping to become a psychologist specializing in working with rape victims. It will be hard but I feel that with my experiences with not only rape, but with my own mental illness as well, that I will do a lot of good in this field. I am a capable lot and am able to do a lot of good in my life and help my family do well in theirs.

I have depression but I am not depressed. It is not who I am. My illness does not define me. 


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Falling In Love

Dear Life, 

When I first met you I was a mess. Literally. I was screaming my lungs out and didn't look very cute. (Nothing like now!) I was unsure of myself and my surroundings and was terrified of what was to come, but you simply gave me your blessing and told me I had countless and endless opportunities laying in wait. I didn't believe you at the time.


Growing up you were still there whispering words of encouragement, words of living. When I was a little girl I started believing you more and was a strong independent toddler, but I still didn't love you. I didn't even like you. Let's be honest, I never even gave you a second thought. How unfair and ridiculous I was! You were the reason I woke up every morning and took that first breath and every one after. 



Becoming a teenager was difficult at best and seemingly impossible at worst. Again I was a mess, only not literally this time. I was in a dark and cruel place and continually tried to break up with you and end our relationship. You, being wiser than I am, never let me drop you. I resented you. I wanted you to leave me and never return. I hated your words of living and I wanted to silence you. I tried and tried to push you away, but you were persistent and stayed with me through thick and thin. I didn't understand you and why you were intent on torturing me. 



Only now do I know that you were not torturing me, you weren't giving up on me. You loved me.


It has taken me years to fully understand those implications, and I'm not sure that I fully appreciate them yet, but I am trying. I am working on my love for you and I am learning that I have loved you all along, even when I thought I didn't. You are just as important to me as my family and I am going to work on creating that bond with you. I know you have a lot to offer me, including the endless possibilities you suggested when we first met. I'm going to live and not let those unliving-living (you know the type) people convince me otherwise. I know you will be patient and not give up on me because you haven't yet, and I'm now going to do the same for you.


With Love, 
Yannie



Friday, June 06, 2014

A letter to myself



Dear Yannie,

It's been almost two months since we have talked and I noticed that you're still struggling a little bit on some things I told you last time, so I've decided to write to you again and again voice my thoughts on you and about you. Maybe you'll eventually believe it if I tell you enough.

You ARE beautiful. Forget for a moment how you think you look and listen to me. You have a deep-rooted beauty that goes far beyond just physical beauty (don't get me wrong, you're physically beautiful as well). You are kind, loving, and compassionate, all traits of being a beautiful person and because of this others are drawn to you. You have the ability to turn anyone's sour day around and make them smile. And speaking of smiling, your smile can light up a room before you step foot in said room.
You play an important role in other's lives. People know that they can turn to when having a hard time, or a good time, and tell you all about it. They know that if you offer your service or your ear, or anything, that you will follow through on it. You are reliable and trustworthy. I know that you have considered yourself to be a burden to those around and have considered suicide, but you would leave an enormous hole in people's lives and hearts if you were to hurt yourself in this way. A lot of people would be hurt- not just your family. There are those that look to you for encouragement. Where would they be if you left? You are both needed and wanted. Don't give up on yourself.

You are an example to others. You come from a horrible, hellish background but you survived. And you haven't just survived. You have broken those moulds and are not continuing to be your family. In many ways you are a pioneer to and from your family. You haven't just given up and you have sought out Christ. Even with your past, including not having a father, you trust in a Heavenly Father that you weren't allowed to know until you were fifteen. You did what you felt was right even though it went against your family's thoughts and beliefs. You are strong. I know sometimes you become frustrated when you are told that, but it is true. I think you get frustrated because if you are honest with yourself, you'd admit that it's true and things would be easier for you. Let yourself be strong and confident. You have my permission You deserve it (trust me, I would know).

I'm going to offer you some advice now and I really hope you heed it. First, don't let the past have anymore control over you. Move forward and keep moving forward without looking at the past. Those from your past are winning if you continue to believe what they told you and what they did to you. Leave them in your past but stay grateful for the experiences. They make you better able to help others that have gone, or are going, through something similar.

Second, don't be afraid to be yourself. You have a lot to offer the world and those in it including your children. Don't worry if people won't like you because of you being yourself. If someone doesn't like you, they don't like you. It's not the end of the world. Go on. Be yourself and love you.


Third, have the courage to make mistakes in your life. Mistakes are what people learn the most from and making mistakes helps Heavenly Father show you your weaknesses so that they may become your strengths. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone.

Well Yannie, I believe it is time to let you go. I hope that this letter will help you when you are feeling down on yourself. You really are amazing and deserve the best from life. I do love you, even though you find that really hard to believe or listen to.

With Love,
Yannie