I have a confession to make: once upon a time I got married and had children. At one shower (Bridal? Baby?), I got a gift from a loved one: a book that I took one look at and threw away (after the shower!).
I still remember the title: I’m a Day Late and a Dollar Short…and It’s Okay!
What an irony, right? Since I give books for wedding and baby shower gifts? Haha! The joke’s on me!
My sincerest apologies to both the giver and to the author! (If either of you ever read this, please forgive me.) I just took one look at the drawing of the lady on the front and did not want to be like her. I had other plans. I was NOT going to be the lady in the bathrobe with curlers in her hair looking utterly frazzled. Nope. Not me.
What is that saying again? Life happens while you’re busy making other plans?
Well, when I started experiencing clinical depression shortly after starting our family, I did feel like my life was not going the direction I wanted. Sometimes over the years, I have indeed felt–at least inside–like the lady on the cover of that book.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I just wanted to start out, Daisy, saying that I hope you’ll give these letters more than a second’s glance. I hope you will read them. I know if you do, we will be closer because you will know me better. That’s what sharing does–builds a bridge between two people that we can cross and be better friends on. And someday, if you want, you can share your story with me.
I would love that.
OK, so on to my story. (Well, the beginning part.)
The first time I really remember dealing with mental illness was when I had an episode of depression my first year at college. That semester was overwhelming: I had enrolled in an Honors Colloquium (multi-disciplinary seminar) and was in over my head with a shelf full of reading that I couldn’t keep up with. That constant feeling of being overwhelmed may have had something to do with the depression I felt.
One morning, I woke up and felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. Literally. And I just felt like crying. I felt completely out of sorts, not myself. It kind of felt like an “out of body experience” because it was so foreign and hard. I am sure I prayed for help, because I always have, but I don’t specifically remember doing that. I do remember calling my mom and crying over the phone something like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” After talking with my mom and step-dad, I went to the counseling center at BYU and met with a counselor. I don’t recall going more than once. Maybe I did. And I don’t remember what the counselor said. But that was the beginning–an awakening that I was dealing with a new and foreign challenge: depression.
I don’t remember feeling the effects of depression again to the same degree until 3 years later when I was getting ready to go on my mission. And that’s a story for my next letter.
It’s interesting to me, as I look back more than 31 years, that when I started on this journey, I was blessed to get some help–enough to keep going. Overall, my life was happy: I worked hard, did well in school, made friends, and grew in my other endeavors. I’m grateful for the support Heaven provided me and for the love my parents showed.
And that book I threw away? I ordered it today from Amazon.com. 😅