I have struggled with depression and anxiety throughout my life. For me there were many issues underlying the symptoms and behaviours that the Lord wanted me to address and deal with such as perfectionism and learning self-care.
I strongly rely upon my prayers and scriptures to guide me and it has been through the Holy Ghost that I have been led to further understanding of myself.
I feel we are embarking on a whole new era of truth about the functioning of the brain and how so many of our mental disorders originate from biological imbalances.
I am currently reading a book by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. called "Change Your Brain,Change Your Life" which is very enlightening and encouraging because it is possible to film the brain's activity and see where it is firing too much, too little or not at all. He especially addresses the issues of depression, anxiety, obsessiveness, anger , and impulsiveness with relation to the brain's functions.
The advancement in scientific research in this area is truly exciting and encouraging as it helps lift the stigma and shame associated with mental and emotional issues. It helps replace self-reproach and judgmentalness with compassion and understanding.
The Saviour has and continues to guide me through the Holy Ghost in that the eyes of my understanding have been opened as He reveals further truths about these difficult and complex issues. We'd all love instant answers and healing but sometimes there is much to learn through the journey of that healing.
I know we are told that just getting a priesthood blessing is not enough but I keep questioning why not. Isn't a blessing meant to heal? If priesthood blessings to heal the sick cannot heal them then why do we give them?
Following my former husband's death, I went to see my bishop. I was so upset. The stories I heard were horrific. After telling my bishop about his behavior, my bishop started on the same spiel I had heard for decades. Sin and Satan.
I finally turned to him and said, "But bishop, that is not what happened!"
The bishop gave me a blessing that told me if I wanted to know the truth I should search for it and I would find it. So I did. The search took numerous hours, and weeks and months. But I did find the answer. My former husband had suffered from a terrible and basically untreatable mental illness.
I am sorry I ever took my pattern of behavior from the examples around me. He did not need to be judged. He did not need to be excommunicated. He needed to be hospitalized and helped.
May God forgive us all for the way we have treated these people.
Thank you for publishing this. It is good to see mental illness being talked about openly.
I do have one complaint about the way we are now discussing mental illness within the Church. I know we are trying to hold out hope to the sufferers and their families. But the LDS members need to know that not all mental illness is treatable. So often now, I just hear people judge and dismiss the sufferer with the words that they are responsible to taking their meds. The fact that some of the worst of these illnesses have no appropriate medications and sometimes the medications stop working seems to be beyond the comprehension, or perhaps requires too much empathy, for many.
Also, the Church leaders, especially bishops and stake presidents, need to be better trained at recognizing symptoms. Excommunication courts are not the place for these people. Psychiatrists and hospitals are the place. And a strong program of outreach needs to be undertaken to retrieve those we have driven out of the Church with our ignorance.
Three + years ago the article "Faith to Heal the Brain" was shared on Meridian about my son, Nick Herrmann, and our journey with neurological and mental health challenges. In short, while praying and searching the scriptures for help for my family I happened upon an interview with Dr Norman Doidge who later came to SLC to share his book "The Brain's Way of Healing."
In preparation for the event I spoke with Rick Hill, LDS Family Services, about our experience. In a follow up letter he said:"Along with you, I have long noted the power and virtue of the word of God to teach us how to find deliverance from our trials and tribulations.I believe that individuals that will invest heart felt study of the Lord's teachings and then apply them in their service to others will find their way out of any challenge they face. To your credit, you have applied this by turning to His teachings to solve the problems you have faced. In so doing, you have been taught "next right" steps throughout your journey. I have found this same principle to work within my life and will continue to advocate this. I'll never forget a statement by a former Area Seventy, Harold Brown, who stated, "Prayer and scripture study is always enough!" He then helped us understand why it is enough by stating that it will always help us, through a revelatory process, understand the next right step, often a simple and potentially unrecognizable step. This requires our best effort as we move forward (in getting the help we need). In my humble opinion this is how you found Dr. Doidge."If curious about the science of the brain, the Soirit, hope and healing, visit http://brainchange4you.com/index.html
My first husband's chronic depression was a major contributor to our divorce. Had I understood the disease - and my own issues that precipitated the breakup - more, we might have been able to weather the storm. I can still use this article's counsel to help our children who all have some degree of the affliction. Thank you.
major depression is in my family genetically. I know this because my mother had it and then my sister and I both have it and then my daughter and one of my sons had it. when you see it happening in a family you know its in the dna. in my mothers day women would just go into the hospital and be treated. put on medication and then when that worked they let them go. in my day it was different. no one went into the hospital. we were instead directed to therapist and talk therapy was used. I was warned off taking medication. because of that it was hard and long. I was raising a family that grew to 5 kids and my husband was in the military. I had to put on a front of being okay even though the skin on my face would sag because of it. I looked stark and felt so bad and even the body was sick. I would have to suck it up and keep on going like a good soldier. later when I had surgery hysterectomy I was put on an antidepressant because I was allergic to the estrogen they were putting me on. I hated taking anything because of what I was told. however when that cloud lifted and I discovered I felt great and had more energy and less anxiety. I also had anxiety disorder as well. I then after 5 kids and the hysterectomy I went to work part time and to college. some of my kids were older. I had maybe 3 episodes in my life. later I tried to get off the medication and wound up with seizures. so now I take a seizure med and an SSRI. I got really sick from a flu and was not treated soon enough and it led to my medicine not working right and in the small town I was in I couldn't get in touch with a psychologist and I decided to go into the hospital so my medication could be fixed. I was in a bad way and needed a doctor to figure out my medication and in this town no drs were available for this. so my only alternative was to go into the hospital. it was the first time, and I wasn't depressed mainly messed up from all the diahrea. my husband took me and when I entered the hospital I brought my meds with me and they took them and said in front of my husband that they would meter my meds to me. as soon as my husband left....that nice treatment stopped. I was then treated like I had commited a crime. I was harshly told what to do and expected to do whatever they said. since I wasn't depressed I was aware of what was happening at all times. I had to fight to get my own medication that I brought with me as I have allergies to whatever the drs feel they want to give me such as my seizure meds. I had to wait until the dr figured things out and I grew sicker. the treatment was so bad I thought how can anyone get well in a place like this. one of those days we were in a group and talking and one of the ladies began to complain that she hadn't been given her seizure medication and she has had siezures since she was a child and it was dangerous for her not to have them. so I began to realize that this place was not a good place for people who have mental illness. so the things I realized through this is yes there is stigma...always has been. the stigma for men is worse then for women. if a man is known to have any such thing as depression or anxiety he is judged differently and may not get the job. so men have a potential to keep it to themselves and not seek out help. even now it is talked about on the news on tv how if someone commited a crime they were mentally ill. there is a difference between depression and mental illness. depression is a mood disorder. then there is real mental illness. I think that some of the places people go for getting help needs to be inspected and checked out. as soon as I left I told my husband and others about what happened. I have many friends who knew me and I told them I was going to find out what it is like to be in the hospital for depression or the like...as I had never done that before...and only needed my medication adjusted. the stigma needs to go away....and not all people with mental illness will commit a crime....or are criminals...im an old woman now...and my kids are old people...I have lived a long life and survived raising 5 kids and military life....so I am fully aware of how things should be but aren't....being treated like a criminal in a mental hospital isn't right...
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