In this week before Easter, many LDS bloggers are sharing their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. I am including myself among these voices.
One of my favorite parts of the video I share with this post is the quote "despair becomes hope." As someone who has been battling depression and anxiety for most of my life, I can attest to this. Of course, those who know my story probably wonder how it is possible for me to continue having faith through my battle with mental illness. Let me tell you: it hasn't been easy.
In fact, there have been times when I've very nearly given up. There were times when my pain was so unbearable that I did not think I could go on, where there was even a part of me that wished to die so I could be free of the pain of my depression and anxiety. I felt alone, so very alone. I even came to a point where I was convinced that no one would care if something bad happened to me. I felt like no one understood.
When no one else knows the pain we suffer, Christ does. He knows each and every one of our pains intimately because he experienced them in the Garden of Gethsemane. Not just the pain of sin, but the pain of illness both physical and mental. He knows my pain, and has always been there to help me through it...all I have to do is ask.
My testimony of the Atonement has grown stronger during my battle. I have not been cured of my depression, but the burden has been made lighter. Christ does not always promise instantaneous healing, but he promises that his "yoke is easy, and [his] burden is light." The yoke mentioned in this scripture is symbolic. Think about it: a yoke is what holds two oxen together while pulling a heavy load. Two oxen, not one.
Christ shoulders the burden with us, so we don't have to do it alone. "We'll get through this together," He says.
As I've mentioned before, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in the fall of 2007, and it was by far one of the hardest times in my life. I was going to therapy, and I felt like my life was falling apart all around me. Sometimes, I cried for seemingly no reason. My prayers for healing were fervent, and because I didn't have instant relief, I thought they were going unanswered.
But tender mercies were sent my way to help me bear the burden. Just before the semester started, a cousin moved to Provo so her husband could attend graduate school. In exchange for letting me do my laundry at her house, I watched her two young, adorable children (later three). Those kids gave me a reason to keep going, with their smiles, giggles, tender hugs, and sweet kisses. My cousin offered a sympathetic ear, and she was always so upbeat.
There were other tender mercies, in the form of an apartment of girls in my ward who were happy to listen to me gripe about life, and included me in their activities, and a friend from my home stake who lived across the street. I also had a wonderful roommate who talked sense into me, even if I scowled.
While I didn't get the miraculous healing that I so wanted, and still want, the Lord was with me and helped me through these people and others. I would rather forget the pain I went through, but I never want to forget the blessings I gained through the trials I faced.
Because of Him, my despair has become hope. For the first time in many years, I have hope that I will be healed. My healing has been gradual, but it is happening. I may not be completely healed in this life, but I know it will happen.
But Laura, isn't it the therapy and medication that has brought about this healing? Yes, but I firmly believe that I was guided to my therapist and to do the therapy she specializes in. My decision to go on medication came after praying extensively about it and receiving confirmation that it would help me.
I share my testimony not in an attempt to convert everyone or to force my beliefs down everyone's throat, but merely to share my own experience to help bring hope to anyone who may need/want it.
I hope everyone has a joyful, inspiring Easter :)