Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Anxiety: Sometimes it's Okay to Say No

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. I'm not over anxiety and depression, so how can I blog like I know it all? I hope you don't think I know it all, or that I never struggle anymore.

The truth is, I kind of gave into my anxiety the other day. At least that's how I felt until I heard a talk the today. Here's the story:

I was asked to got on a pioneer trek with the youth of my church. I accepted the invitation.

Then, the anxiety started.

I know it sounds silly, but I was terrified. I went on a trek when I was 17, and I had a great experience. I kept talking myself into it, saying I could do it.

I worried about being away from Jordan (he is my rock). I was also worried about my diet. Would I have enough to eat? Who would I be spending time with out there? Who would be in my tent? (Tent. I hate to admit it, but that is another source of anxiety! I wish I was a camping person, but I've come to accept the fact that I am not.)

The truth is, these thoughts were irrational. I knew I would be more than taken care of. The leaders of the trek have one priority: keeping everyone safe. I knew I would be fine if I were to go. I knew they would work things out with my diet. I knew that I could make it.

I also knew I would make myself sick with worry for 6 months until I went.

I talked with Jordan about it and I prayed. I currently have a bit on my plate with my new job, my church calling, housekeeping, school, etc. Was it healthy to have this load on top of that?

We went to a fireside last Sunday that was about trek. They talked about everything that would be happening. At that time, I was seriously considering that I may not be able to go. As the fireside continued something interesting happened. I felt peaceful, but not in the way I expected. I felt peaceful about saying I couldn't go. I felt like the Lord understood.

Could I have done it? With God's help, absolutely. But, I truly felt He didn't expect it from me at this time. I felt like He understood that I  needed that extra pressure off at this time.

So, we let them know I actually wouldn't be able to make it after all. At first, I was a bit disappointed in myself. I let my anxiety win. Bummer. Then I realized, I really hadn't. I had anxiety about it, but that wasn't the deciding factor. The deciding factor was the peace I felt about saying no. I felt God was okay with that decision. I hadn't lost, I had made a decision with God's help.

I just got back from a conference called Time Out for Women. It is an LDS conference with speakers, musical numbers, etc. It's a lot of fun! One of the speakers said something that really hit me. The speaker was Kris Belcher (she is so awesome). She said something like this,

"Sometimes we need to say, 'I can't,' not in a giving up way, but in a discerning way." 

This really struck home with me. At this time, I can't go on trek. It is too much for my mind to handle. I didn't decide not to go because I am weak or I am giving in to my anxiety, but because I made a decision (with God's help) that it was a good idea for me to stay home. I discerned (is that a word?). I am so grateful for these wise words and for God's love and hand in my life.

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Like A Broken Vessel" By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Part 4

I wanted to start this blog post with two quotes:

The first is from Elder Holland's talk:
"So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend."

The second is a common inspirational quote:
"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."

I remember when I was deep in depression. I thought about the rope quote. I remember thinking, 'I've been hanging on for so long, I don't know if I can hang on much longer.' I remember praying and feeling like my words weren't leaving the room. Weeks later, I would think, 'I'm still hanging on this knot, barely.' It was hard. Even though it felt like my prayers weren't being answered, for some reason, I kept praying. Maybe it was because I have always been taught to pray, or because deep down, I knew He really was listening.

Sometimes I forget how much my Father in Heaven loves me. Elder Holland says He loves me (and you!) more than we can even comprehend. That is a lot! I think about the love I have for my family and friends, it is a huge amount of love. Heavenly Father loves me that much and infinitely more! That is hard for me to wrap my head around sometimes, but what a comfort it is! He loves me with a perfect love.

1 Nephi 11:17 says, "I know that He loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

We may not understand depression or other trials fully, but we know that God loves us.

Even when I thought He wasn't listening, He was there.

To read Elder Holland's full talk, please click here.

Read parts one, two, and three.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Keep It Simple!

At church today, we had a sweet older gentleman give a talk. One thing he said that stuck with me was...KISS...Keep it simple stupid! I'd heard it before, but I loved it. I wonder how many kids turned to their moms and said, "Did he just say stupid!?" It was funny, but I love that phrase. Keep it simple. How often do we add extra stress to our lives because we make them complicated? Sometimes we expect huge things from ourselves when we could just keep it simple. Later today, we went back in the evening for a trek fireside (it's another meeting that they sometimes hold after church...when I was a kid, I thought fire fighters were there). We are on a committee for trek, so we had a table set up for our ward (church group) youth to sign up for trek. They had asked us to make a sign to post on our table so that our youth knew which table they needed to go to (there were several different wards there). About two minutes before we left for the fireside, I used some markers and wrote our ward's name on a piece of printer paper with a note that said, "Sign up here!" Simple.

When we got there, some of the other tables had extremely elaborate signs. I was a little self conscious for a minute. My sign looked pretty pitiful compared to theirs. Then I realized, our signs were doing the exact same job, but mine had taken me about 10 seconds. It has been a crazy week, I didn't have time to make a beautiful sign. Also, I don't think they expected that. My sign did it's job perfectly.

Now, I know some people really enjoy making things like that, so I am not criticizing them. I am just saying that we shouldn't think that we HAVE to do things elaborately all the time. If you enjoy making a beautiful sign, go for it, but don't stress yourself out over it. A lot of my anxiety comes from expecting way too much from myself. Sometimes we may enjoy going above and beyond what is expected of us, but at other times, doing the bare minimum is completely acceptable.

Here are a few ways I try to keep it simple: (but I have to admit...sometimes I feel guilty about keeping it simple. I am going to try to stop that! Simple is not a bad thing!)

  • My husband and I frequently eat off of paper plates. Does this make me a bad wife? I don't think so (although sometimes I worry about it). It does make it so I can spend more time with my husband instead of washing dishes. 
  • I really am a little embarrassed about this one, I didn't send out thank you cards to everyone for our wedding gifts. (Does that make me an awful person!?) I am SO grateful for all of the gifts (people are so generous!), I just figured people look at the card for two seconds and then it goes in the trash. (I hope I don't get struck by lightning for this!)
  • When one of my professors asks for a 4-6 page paper, I write 4. 
  • When Jordan and I were over a large activity for our church, there wasn't any fluffy stuff. It was extremely successful, but I didn't worry about things such as decorations, pretty napkins, etc. My mind couldn't handle stuff like that! We had a wonderful time, and it was very simple. 
  • In the Education program, a lot of people feel it is necessary to give cute little handouts when they do a class presentation. (Again, I'm not criticizing, some people love that stuff). When I do a presentation, sorry, but there aren't going to be any cutesy handouts!

When times get hard, remember to keep it simple! (And remember, you're not stupid!)

A sweet friend of mine who writes a blog wrote a post that was very similar to this subject. She talks about sometimes just needing a "Pajama Day." I totally agree, sometimes we just need a mental health day. Read her thoughts here.

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Teaching High School Has Taught Me About God

As I have worked as a teacher in the High School for the last few weeks (I can't act like I'm a pro, it really has only been about 11 days...but, let's pretend it has been a few years), I have realized how concerned teachers are for their students. I work with some seniors, so the pressure is very high to help them graduate. I have been touched as I have watched the efforts of teachers to support students in their goals.

I think back to when I was in High School, and sometimes I felt like I was the only one in that school who cared if I graduated. There was actually a moment when I realized I was a credit short when graduation was near. I ended up doing some packets for the last class and was able to walk and graduate from High School. It seemed so fragile then, like if I made one slip up, I wouldn't graduate. I realized as I have watched teachers at work, that there would have been many people available to support and help me reach my goal of graduation if I were to have fallen behind.

As I thought about this, I couldn't help but think about God and His hand in our lives. I know that there are so many things I and other teachers do to help our students that they don't even realize we do. We talk about them in meetings, check on their grades, check if they are on track for graduation, email parents and teachers, gather missing assignments, and the list goes on. Today, I went through all of my students to see who was failing my class and why. I wanted to be able to pay special attention to them so I could help them succeed in my class. There are so many things we do to help them that is behind the scenes. They don't even realize we are working to help them.

I think God works the same way. Who knows how many accidents he has protected us from? How many trials has He kept us from having to go through? How many times has He forgiven us for mistakes we seem to keep making? He is always watching over us, ready to help.

I was driving in my car the other day thinking about this connection between a teacher and God. I remember thinking, He's been in my life everyday. Even the days I have thought He was far away, He was right there. Sometimes my anxiety/depression tries to tell me that God doesn't care. It tries to tell me He isn't listening. As I drove in my car that day, I felt His love. I knew that He has been there through every moment of my life, happy and sad. I knew He was aware of my struggles then, and He is aware of my struggles now. He is constantly checking up on me, paying attention to my sorrows, and celebrating my triumphs. He is aware of every thought and every worry. What a comfort that is.

He loves me and you. His goal is for us to be happy and come to live with Him again. He wants us to graduate from this life with honors.