“Berglind Guðnason—Árnessýsla, Iceland,” Ensign, April 2020
Berglind (left) with her sister Elín (right). When Berglind was in the deepest depression she had ever faced, she felt that she couldn’t go on. By opening up about her struggles to family and friends, she has found spiritual and emotional healing through the tools Heavenly Father has provided.
Mindy Selu, Photographer
I’ve been dealing with depression since I was 13. At one point, things got so bad that I tried to take my own life. I felt very hopeless at that time. I thought, “I’m never going to be happy. I’ll never achieve anything.”
There was a moment when I thought that leaving the Church was the answer to my problems because I just felt hopeless about everything. It is so easy to do what you’re not supposed to do in Iceland. The Church is so small here. It was just me and my siblings in our Church classes growing up. I felt lonely and for a while I didn’t like going to church.
Most people in Iceland push religion away. People start drinking at an early age. I got caught up in that, and I was inactive for a moment in my life. I’m not proud of that, but it’s a part of my experience and I learned from it. I studied a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and liked what he said: “The past is to be learned from but not lived in. … When we have learned what we need to learn … , then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.”1
One day when I was really struggling, I read my patriarchal blessing. As I read it, I realized that I do have a future. God has a plan for me, and He actually loves me. Going to church, taking the sacrament, reading the scriptures, and praying has brought so much light and happiness into my life. I soon realized, “This actually helps me.” That’s when I knew I always wanted the gospel in my life. After everything I’ve been through, I know that the gospel has saved my life, and I’m very happy about that.
Talking about my depression with family and friends has helped so much. It also led to more help. I didn’t want to take medications or go to therapy. I kept telling myself, “I have God.” But God provides many other tools, like medication and therapy, for us to use in addition to spiritual things.
As I started reading my scriptures more every day and getting closer to God through prayer, I received many blessings and revelations that my purpose is to help others. I feel like so many of us face mental health issues and we try to hide it. My depression and struggles have taught me that it’s better to open up and connect with others. My friend recently opened up to me about her struggle with depression. We talked about it and we truly understood each other.
We don’t always notice what others are struggling with, but I just walk around sometimes and look at other people and realize that God knows each and every one of us. He loves us and knows exactly what we are all going through. And we can help each other.
Through my struggles with depression, I’ve learned to ask, “What can I learn from this trial?” instead of “Why do I have this trial?” I love Ether 12:27, where it says that weak things can become strong if we have faith in Jesus Christ. This is always a comfort to me.
We all chose to come here to earth. We knew we were going to suffer through trials. And honestly that is what makes life great. Because we know there are good things to come. We know that if we follow the Savior throughout every hard phase, we can have eternal life and all these blessings that are waiting for us.
I’ve definitely noticed how I’ve changed through my depression. The Savior’s Atonement is real, my heart has been changed, and I’ve gotten stronger. I feel like I’m a different person than I once was. People notice and say, “You’ve changed.” One girl from school even said, “I see a difference and a light in you.” It’s weird because she isn’t even a member of the Church, and we hadn’t ever really talked before.
When I was in my worst depression, people would tell me, “It’s going to get better.” I would get so tired of hearing that but, as weird as it sounds, it’s true.
But you have to want to get better. I’ve learned that you can’t expect to get better by doing nothing. You have to want to be happy and believe that you have potential and a future. It’s important to remember that you are loved by so many people, including your Heavenly Father. They are all there to help you.
I never thought I would be as happy as I am now. Some days I still struggle, but with the tools Heavenly Father has given me, I can handle it. Now when I feel myself slipping into depression, I tell myself I am loved, I have people to talk to, and things will get better.