“You Can Choose to Stay,” Ensign, September 2018
I had just gotten engaged to the love of my life, I had a great job, I was doing well in school, and I was happy and excited about life. Things seemed to be almost perfect. But nothing could have prepared me for what was coming my way.
In the midst of all this happiness, my entire world didn’t just fall apart; it was completely and utterly torn to shreds. I have struggled with depression for a lot of my life, but this time something was different. This time my depression was intense and overwhelming. It was as if suddenly a switch turned off the lights and plunged me into a darkness I had never experienced before. I became severely depressed and anxious to the point that I began to consider suicide.
I prayed constantly for God to heal me, to take away my pain—to remove this darkness from my life. I lost all hope when my doctors were unable to find a solution for me, while at the same time it didn’t seem like God was answering my prayers.
I began to have thoughts like, “Heavenly Father, are You even there? Do You even care about me or love me?” I got more and more upset with Him and told Him that if He wasn’t going to answer my prayers, then to please take me out of this world. I didn’t want to die, but I was terrified to live with the pain I was in. I felt like I was a burden and a disappointment to my family. I felt like I was making everyone around me miserable. I felt like I didn’t deserve love. I felt like everything would be better for everyone if I weren’t around. I couldn’t handle the pain any longer.
But help finally came.
My depression finally got so severe that I needed to be admitted to a hospital. A new doctor supervised me. We tried new treatments, and he was able to find medications that finally worked for me. I can honestly say that my doctor, my treatments, and the love I felt from others truly saved my life. I slowly began to find sparks of light, bits of hope, and feelings of happiness and love. I was slowly becoming stronger every day.
Once I started to heal—although it took some time to truly see and feel the light again—I finally realized that my Father in Heaven had been with me all along. He gave me supportive people in my life, doctors who were knowledgeable in treatments, my fiancé (now husband), and the strength and endurance to get through it all.
This experience has shown me that God doesn’t always give us obvious answers to our prayers or an immediate fix to our trials. Instead, He provides us with tools like family, friends, counselors, doctors, medications, and so many other means to help us overcome challenges. Sometimes I think of how Nephi was given divine help to make tools for building a ship (see 1 Nephi 17:8–10). After he had the tools, he still had to go through a lot of hard work and uncertainty to build what his family needed. In the same way, the tools I was given didn’t immediately take my pain away, but they enabled me to learn and grow from my trials and sadness.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of searching for such tools when he said: “If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation” (“Like a Broken Vessel,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 41).
Most wonderful of all, Heavenly Father has given us a Savior who died for each and every one of us. He loves us. He knows each one of us individually. He knows and has felt our darkest moments. He and Heavenly Father will never abandon you. They are there. They care for you and have more love for you than you can fully comprehend.
My prayers are with anyone who is struggling, or who has struggled, with this dark and lonely illness. Don’t give up. There is always hope and light. Seek help. Find your tools. You can do this. You are stronger, braver, and more amazing than you might know. You can choose to stay. To quote Elder Holland again, “Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee” (“Like a Broken Vessel,” 42).