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Last week I spoke about our discussion in Family Home Evening, when we read the article about the man who was battling depression and anxiety.

Having come from a broken home, we each have had experiences with minor depression and anxiety.   That was normal and to be expected when life throws you curve balls the way it did for us.

However we also have friends and family members who have dealt with more severe cases of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues such as PTSD.  We have also, unfortunately known too many people who either committed suicide or attempted it.

As a part of our family discussion we talked about what it feels like to have depression and anxiety.  Brady told us that when you are in the midst of a depression, you don’t have the energy to get up and do things, and often, just don’t care.  I imagine it feels like having the flu, when you just don’t want to do anything, and nothing matters but resting to get better.  Then when the depression subsides, and you realize that there are a lot of things you should have done, but didn’t get done because you were feeling down, you begin to feel very anxious because those things probably still need to get done, but by now the tasks are so piled up that it feels too overwhelming to do.  Then you get angry with yourself and feel like you have been foolish for not doing more already.  Then you feel bad about yourself, and the cycle of depression starts all over again.

Although many people deal with situational depression, caused by things that happen in our lives, but there are others who deal with depression that is chemically or biologically based.

Going back to the people who chose suicide, each of there cases were as different as their lives were, but the one thing that is the same is the pain and anguish of the loved ones left behind.

My best friend was one of the people who attempted suicide, but through a couple of miracles she was saved.

I heard a rescue worker once explain how frustrated they get when they have to save someone who has attempted to take their own life.  He felt like it was pointless because “if they choose to end their life, they’ll just do it again later and my rescue was a waste of time.”    Unfortunately this worker didn’t understand this mental illness and his view can sound a bit selfish.

Well, in my friends life that was not the case.  When her attempt failed, she recognized God’s hand in saving her, and she stopped obsessing over death.

What was even more important, she was there for me when another friend died from suicide.  She was able to explain to me that when a person gets to that point, they are so far in the darkness that they can’t understand how other people feel, and they believe that the people they love would truly be better off with out them.

Even though they may think that the world is better off with out them, we (as their loved ones) know that this just isn’t true.  They are caught completely in distorted thinking.  They are not themselves, or thinking rationally.  And if they choose to leave us through suicide, it can leave the darkness behind for us to now try to make some sense out of.

One of my family members to had a loved one commit suicide, and she said of this “suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do.”  Although they don’t see it, it truly can cause deep wounds that are difficult to heal. We are on the outside and have to deal with the aftermath, and we don’t always see the darkness that took over the victims mind.

In fact without having been through a bout of true depression, we cannot know at all how it feels.  We don’t know how alone and helpless it can feel.

I am grateful for my friendship with Kathie… even all of the ups and downs she went through and cared enough (and trusted me enough) to share the details with me.  I came to see what a beautiful person she was, and how important it is to be gentle and understanding when someone is dealing with something we don’t understand.

Elder Holland gave a great talk about depression.  Found here.   He mentioned a few people who have dealt with depression. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and himself.  Three amazing men that the world would not be the same without.

I truly appreciate his addressing this issue.  Both for the benefit of those who suffer with it, the family members and loved ones who are trying to help those suffering and for the rest of us to have a better understanding of this illness.  The only thing lonelier than experiencing depression, is to have the people around you not understand, or worse, to be judgmental of it or you.

I was sick last week with a sore throat and cough, and my kids (thinking they were being funny) said “well stop it.  stop being sick.”  How silly is it to tell a person with a cold, to just stop it, and get back to regular life?  But how common is it to hear someone judge a person with depression, and tell them to just get over…  think more positively… read your scriptures and it will all be okay.  Through history it has been common for people to treat mental illness as though there is something wrong with the person afflicted with it.  Sometimes it was felt that they brought it on them selves.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should never let ourselves be caught up in the trap of judging, especially someone who is hurting and alone.

If a friend had cancer and were going through Chemo, even if we hadn’t ever experienced that ourselves, we can be empathetic to how they feel, and give them our love.  We may not be able to do much to relieve their suffering, but we can love them and pray for them.

Well, the same thing goes for those dealing with a mental illness.  It can be uncomfortable to be around some one who is hurting emotionally, but we can give them our love.   We can feel for their hurting.  And we can pray for them.  But mostly, we can start by not judging them.  We may never know what brought them to this state, but we do know that they are a child of God, and He expects us to be gentle and loving to one another, regardless of the burden that we each carry.



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