Battling Clinical Depression, “Finding the Light from Within”
Editor’s note: Ariane has created a blog where she talks about dealing with clinical depression and anxiety. She kindly consented to us sharing one of her posts here at Mormon Women.
“Finding the Light from Within”
(the first in our “Forward With Faith” series)
As we journey through life, along the way we discover through various personal experiences, the learning and growth that is required of us to become the type of person that the Lord intends for us to become. As we experience both the struggles and the victories, we can gain valuable strength and knowledge that will add to our character an extra measure of strength and understanding. It is my hope that through sharing my experiences with clinical depression and anxiety, that I might in some small way be able to make a difference in the life of another who is carrying the same burden, and that along the way each of us will find additional faith, hope and strength as we trust in the Lord and make Him a constant part of our individual journey.
When I was a kid I went on a tour through Minnetonka cave. The tour guide lead us diligently thorough the cave along the lighted pathway. Scattered throughout the cave were these amazing stalactites and stalagmites. As rain would fall upon the roof of the cave, drops of water would trickle down through cracks in the roof and form these fascinating formations.
At one point along our tour, our guide gave us an unforgettable experience. For a few seconds he turned off all of the light that had allowed us to safely navigate our way through the cave. Without any natural or man made light, the darkness was overwhelming. It was so dark that we could not even see our hand held out in front of our face. The darkness completely engulfed us.
Much like this cave, clinical depression can turn what was once a lighted pathway into a blinding darkness. I use the word blinding because in the depths of clinical depression the darkness that engulfs an individual can become blinding. This blindness is not a physical impairment of the eyes, but rather an impairment of emotions and thought processes. These impairments of the emotions and thoughts can be so severe that it leaves one without the ability to seethe valuable and worthwhile individual that they are. Trapped in this darkness a sufferer of clinical depression can soon forget that there even once existed a lighted pathway. The blindness that consumes them can quickly cause its sufferer to loose hope that they will ever find their way out of the darkness of the cave, where they once again can find light.
A clinically depressed person is also much like the stalactites that I saw hanging in the cave. They can be very fragile. They must cling “tite” to the ceiling of the cave to avoid the possibility of falling and breaking. When depressed, an individual too must cling “tite”; week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour.
There have been many times when I have felt so deeply inadequate and worthless from my depression that I truly believed there was something inherently wrong with me. I would try to pinpoint what exactly it was that caused me to feel so worthless. Was I not nice enough or giving enough? Was I too quiet or maybe just plain boring? Or maybe I just had an unlikable personality. These thoughts rang even more true to me, because I had what I believed to be valid reasons to prove their truthfulness.
I struggled so much with these negative beliefs, that even looking at others’ blogs or Facebook pages became another reminder to me of my inadequacies and my worthlessness, which would constantly send me spiraling down. I eventually had to make the decision to stop viewing blogs and to close out my Facebook account for my own well-being.
However, as I continued to cling tight as these stalactites do, the darkness that surrounded me began to fade.The dark cave I was trapped in, did not suddenly become illuminated with light, but I began to find the light within myself. This occurred over a process of finding proper medication, attending counseling appointments, and of course through the Atonement of the Savior. I once again have began to see my value and worth, allowing me the ability to work on rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence.
One of my favorite scriptures that has become dear to my heart as I have battled to correct this blinding darkness, is found in Doctrine and Covenants 78: 17-18. It reads:
“Verily, verily I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.”
I am as that little child who is working on understanding what great things Heavenly Father has prepared for me. I cannot bear all things now, but I do have the knowledge that the Lord will lead me along, and that I will be blessed.
One of the blessings that I have been given is the knowledge I’ve gained through cognitive behavioral therapy. The focus of this therapy is to learn how to challenge the negative and distorted thoughts that consume the mind of individuals suffering with clinical depression. The key to successfully responding to this therapy is to find positive thoughts and reasons that prove the negative thoughts and perceptions to be untrue. Going through this process of challenging the negative thoughts allows an individual the ability to better see the positive proof, which in turn broadens their ability to not only challenge the negative, but to also more fully believe in the positive. As I have worked on incorporating these principles as a part of my healing process, believing in the positive, has been a vital part of rediscovering the light within myself.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
our deepest fear
is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people
won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And when we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson
This quote hung on my fridge for several months. It has served as a reminder to me to learn to love the person that I am, and to let my personal light shine. My faith helps me to know that we are all children of God and as we more fully come to recognize that, the light within each of us will radiate. We will be more fully capable of challenging the negative thoughts and perceptions and believing in the positive and valuable qualities that allow us to love and believe in the person that we are.