Blog Archive

5 principles

1. Gratitude.   About 10 years ago I began a gratitude journal.  In this, I have found my testimony strengthened as I remember the Lord’s mercy to myself and my own family.  I also found that the more I write the more ideas come to mind and I cannot put down my pen. That the Holy Ghost would bring “all things to (my) remembrance” and I would recall tender mercies from even very long ago as a child.   I have also found that the times I do have trials, whatever they may be- even depression, that those are the times now that I am most grateful for. For especially in those times, I have kept a faithful gratitude journal, and because I chose to focus on Him and what I could embrace from that particular trial- even depression- those very things I thought were holding me back were actually the Lord’s greatest gift of strength to me, because those are the times I have learned the most from the Lord. 

2.   Grace.    In living gracefully, I have learned how to more fully rely on my Savior. I've realized more how I need His influence each day of my life to help me not only in my weaknesses, but to better my strengths, and even live in the day to day tasks with greater purpose and joy.  I have come to more fully utilize the Savior's atonement as an “enabling power” spoken of by David A. Bednar.

          As a teenager, I struggled much for instance with perfectionism, which –though not caused my depression- did influence it.  Through much prayer and practice and most of all coming to a deep and abiding understanding of the Savior and His grace, I am not a perfectionist anymore. And the most liberating thought of all is, through His grace, I just need to be me. Professor Tyler Jarvis wrote an article in the Fall 2013 BYU magazine about his thoughts on grace and perfectionism.  He concluded his article with a chorus of Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” saying, “Cohen may not have meant this verse exactly the way I interpret it, but for me it captures very well the idea I am trying to express: 

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Our bells are cracked.  But let’s ring those bells that still can ring.  Stop worrying about your failure to achieve perfection-perfection is not possible in this life.  Instead embrace the light and healing power of Christ that come in through our cracks and imperfections.”

3.  Love.   In Matthew 22:37-40 it says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
           It was always easier for me to understand loving my Heavenly Father and loving my neighbor,  but the part of the commandment I struggled with more was “love thy neighbor as thyself”.   It is a commandment to love ourselves just as much as we love our neighbor.   So, I began seeking out things that would feed my spirit and who I was meant to be. My children know I need my exercise time each day. I also watch very carefully what I eat, have researched vitamins, medicine, and other healthy practices to keep me well.  I try to spend time improving the talents He has given me- whether it’s through music, education, sports, or other things that feed my spirit, knowing that what I give to myself I can give to others in service and love.  And that is why I have tried to learn to also love myself.


4.  Simplicity.  Stress can lower serotonin.  And lower serotonin in the brain can mean a greater chance to sink into a depression.  Because of that, I have learned I have to consistently balance my life each day.  Like a diabetic has to watch his/her levels of insulin- I also have learned to watch my stress levels.  And through a loving mentor, I have learned how to specifically do that in my own life.  It has blessed me to do many things in life including holding a few time-consuming church callings, being a “single” wife to a busy physician, run in many races, organize groups for children and women, homeschool a child with some challenging needs, and most importantly meet the wonder and demands of motherhood to 4 wonderful, active boys.

          Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “One of the things we can learn from studying the growth of tress is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate.  However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements of survival.”  

     A while back, I felt not only overwhelmed and stressed, but unable to cope with the day to day demands of life because of the weight of my depression.  I still strived to do my best each day, but my energy was at a low.  I realized in time, that I was not only overwhelmed with physical tasks at hand, but my mind was crowded with too much I felt I needed to do. I felt like I still needed to do everything I usually would, though I felt so awful.  Through prayer now, I let myself have a hard day.  I slow down my pace and try to recognize depression for what is really is- an illness- and take care of myself so I can take care of my family.  In this, I’ve sometimes had to miss important family gatherings or events, but the more I learned to take care of myself and “slow down” interestingly enough, the quicker I recovered.  I also used those times I did not feel well and times I could just talk to my father in Heaven.  Instead of feeling guilty I couldn’t be at this function or that, I would strive to pass through that dark time growing closer to Him.  And as I did, I felt not only better, but also found more focus and renewed energy and strength.

     Another way I have strived to simplify is I also take time to be still each day to focus on my relationship with God, others and myself.  That alone has provided me with greater focus and meaning each day and the ability to leave the dishes undone so I can play with my children, or to do those dishes because they need to be done, and tell my children I've already played with them for a while that day.  I have learned skills to help me see how to prioritize each day’s needs as its own. 

      I have also learned to leave margins in my days.  Those open spaces have allowed for a greater influence of the spirit, room to always serve someone in need, and most importantly room for serving my family whose needs change each day.

      I also calendar differently.  Instead of putting the doctor’s and dentist appointments in first, I put in the things I desire to do that will help me build my relationship with God, other and myself.  I schedule temple time, play time and learning time with my boys, dates with my husband, service for those who have been on my mine, and goals I want to accomplish first.  Second, and less important are the things that usually go on the calendar, doctors and dentist appointments, parent teacher conferences, meetings only as they are needed- not more.  I’ve learned to say no when there is too much going on and say yes to things I know will feed my spirit and bless my family.  Simplicity has been in short a way of living for me each day, and now I feel my life is full of the things I desire to do and be, because it’s what I feel He would desire of me.

5.     Faith in the Savior and His gospel.   The greatest things that have enabled me to pass through depression again and again with hope and faith has been being consistent with the basics of the Savior's teachings.  Daily scripture study, prayer, temple (my church has temples that teach us more of His plan) and church attendance have been vital. 

During my darkest days, it was extremely difficult to go to church.  Not because I didn’t love the gospel or even love going to church.  I usually did always enjoy going and Sundays were a favorite day of mine.   But when I felt the depression and anxiety I remember days crying in the car or restroom praying for some solace- solace that going to a big building full of people would not help me obtain.  I wanted to obey the commandment to go to church but my social anxiety at that time was too great.  But I went anyway.  And though each week for years and years it was the same painful experience, I look back and know now how blessed I was for being consistent and not giving up.  In fact, by going, I was blessed to overcome that social anxiety aspect of it.  
Most of all it has been Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that has enabled me to bear this burden with greater ease.


   

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your self care list. I learned some of this at the eating disorder clinic and some from the Holy Ghost but I needed to read this today to remind myself why it is important again. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Thank you Lisa. Sure love you and I would love to hear what you learned.

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  2. I love this list, Ces!! Especially your thoughts on grace and simplicity. Thank you for continuing to share. Sure love you!

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    1. Love you Rochelle!! I appreciate your love. Those principles have truly blessed my life, I know I wanted to just share.

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