“How I Found Better Days,” New Era, Sept. 2020, 10–13.
How I Found Better Days
If you struggle with thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. In this interview-style story, one young woman shares how she learned to find hope in her life again.
Question: When did you start having feelings of worthlessness?
Answer: I struggled as a child. I had a wonderful family and didn’t go through any obvious tragedies, but I always seemed to feel angry at myself and those around me. I would take these feelings out on my siblings. The more I mistreated them, the worse I felt. And yet I couldn’t seem to stop. This behavior drove a wedge between me and my family members. When I was 12 years old, I thought I was an evil, rotten, worthless person. I thought everyone would be better off without me.
Question: Did you ever try to tell your parents about how you were feeling?
Answer: I remember one time at the doctor’s office, the pediatrician asked Mom if she had ever heard her children say, “I wish I’d never been born.” And Mom answered, “No, all of the kids are fine.” I was surprised that Mom didn’t know I had thought about killing myself. So I tried to tell her what I was going through. But she acted so shocked that it made me never want to talk about it again. I pretended that I hadn’t really meant it.
Question: Did you go to church during this time?
Answer: Yes, but I didn’t really understand what a testimony was. I always knew deep down that there was a God, but Satan was working hard to convince me to doubt everything else. So I started wondering if the entire Church was wrong. Fortunately, I had some great Young Women leaders who were inspired to help me and show me a lot of love. One of them in particular helped me start feeling better about myself.
Question: Tell me more about what the young women and leaders did to help you feel better.
Answer: A bright spot was my Young Women class. I had a teacher who taught right at my level. She’s since moved away, and I wish I could tell her what she meant to me. I don’t remember what she taught exactly, but I remember feeling like I belonged there.
Another thing that really helped were temple trips. Even though I often felt worthless and didn’t think anyone cared about me, I enjoyed the spark of light and goodness of the temple. I often felt the Spirit there. One trip in particular made a difference. It started out bad because one of the older girls said something hurtful to me. But later that day, she apologized and gave me a hug. And I learned that I really liked hugs! After that, I asked her for a hug every Sunday. One Sunday I sat down in sacrament meeting without getting a hug from her. And she came up to me and said, “Where’s my hug?” with a smile. I felt so surprised and special that she sought me out and showed me love. She and I became closer and closer friends. I know hugs don’t help everyone, but they helped me.
Question: You mentioned earlier that one leader in particular helped you. Can you tell us more about her?
Answer: Sure! She was the craziest, most energetic person I have ever known. She seemed to have never-ending amounts of happiness to share. She greeted me with so much enthusiasm and love every Sunday and gave me a hug. Her dose of goodness seemed to be just what I needed. I would carry it with me during the week. Over time, I began to accept that what she said was true. The Spirit was working on me. This is when my behavior finally started to improve in a lasting way. And my suicidal thoughts, which I’d had about a year, went away, though I still had to work on how I felt about myself.
Question: Outside of the Church, was there anything that helped you start to feel better?
Answer: Another turning point was when I began to volunteer at a nonprofit organization each week with my older brother and my mom. I was sometimes the only volunteer on my team who showed up regularly, so my supervisor counted on me. I found I really liked that. For example, one time we were cleaning up together, and she got called away to do something else. I kept sweeping and working hard. When she came back, she said that I had really good initiative and gave me so many compliments. And it felt so good. I realized that working hard and doing a good job was fun. Helping was fun! So I began to try my hardest to be the best volunteer that I could be. I gained enough experience to train other volunteers. I developed a passion for this organization and made friends.
During this time, my behavior continued to change in positive ways as I felt the Spirit increase in my life. Over the next couple of years, I made friends again with my family members. I started feeling like a good person instead of a bad person. I became a happier person. People even commented on how much I smiled. And my happiness no longer depended on having a leader saying good things at church. My testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ was growing, and I could feel Their love for me.
Question: So after all of this, where does your testimony stand today?
Answer: My testimony keeps growing stronger. I know now that Heavenly Father loves every one of us—including me. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that no matter what mistakes we have made, we can come back to goodness. We can repent through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Anyone can return to Him again.
Question: If you had a message to share with someone who was struggling with feelings of hopelessness like you went through, what would you tell them?
Answer: Please, if you are experiencing low self-worth, or depression, or want to die, or any other feelings like that, reach out for help. Go to a parent, a youth leader, a former Primary teacher, a bishop, even a friend—anyone you feel you can trust. I promise you that Heavenly Father does not want you to die. He wants you to live and feel joy. He wants you to feel His love. Turn to Jesus Christ. He can help you throughout your trials. He knows everything you are going through. Meanwhile, Satan is the one who tells you lies about yourself. Ignore him. He wants you to fail. Heavenly Father wants you to succeed.
Question: Do you ever still have bad days?
Answer: Honestly, I still have a hard time accepting compliments or believing good things about myself sometimes. And I think insults hurt me more than they hurt most people, even if they’re just a joke. I still sometimes have a hard time believing that people love me until I feel convinced. But overall, I like myself and who I am becoming. It is a glorious feeling!