. . . mental health awareness. . .

9:22 AM

i've been wanting to write about this for a while now. but things like fear and not knowing what to say stopped me. but part of life is saying things, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it may be, that are important to you.

a few years ago i started to address my anxiety for the first time. it was scary and humbling, because i didn't want those around me to see me as "weak" or "sick." i didn't want my siblings to know that i needed help. i wanted to be strong. i went on my mission and was thankfully blessed to experience very little effects of my anxiety, but since being home (almost a year now!) i have struggled with anxiety. when it came to a point where i felt paralyzed- emotionally, mentally and physically- i got help. for a little while there i was relying so much on weekly meetings with my therapist. i took some brave steps and removed parts of my life that were causing me the most anxiety (and i know that were not right for my life) and struggled to get back to "normal." it's hard to come back from a mission, but it's even harder to come back and be stripped down figuratively "naked," and then try to figure out who you are after that. but i've been working at it, and i know for a fact that i'm doing so much better than i was seven and eight months ago. 
there have been very few people in my life who understand what anxiety is. people tell me just not to worry so much. or people will say, "oh that's just your anxiety." i've had people tell me that if i just had more faith then i wouldn't struggle with anxiety. most people don't know how to help me when i am feeling very anxious- and they don't really want to be around me when i am anxious. on top of that some people don't really think you are struggling.
now i'm a big advocate of squaring your shoulders and doing what needs to be done. i also am living proof that the Atonement can heal you. but i also believe that God gives us certain trials that he might not take away for our whole lives. and he expects us to get the best help we can (see Like a Broken Vessel by Jeffrey R. Holland). so i've been seeing a therapist for the majority of this year. i'll admit, it's a bit shameful to admit to people, and it's not something that most people know about me. 
because it makes me feel vulnerable. 
and most people don't know how to react. 
in this year i've learned that i am not my anxiety. it does not determine who i am, really. it doesn't define my character and my personality. my anxiety will never stop me from being the best i can be and from making my life a happy one. 
staying close to God has helped me so much in this journey. in the moments that i wondered if there was anyone there, i felt his arms of love around me and i have felt angels surrounding me. this "trial" has blessed me with greater empathy for those who struggle with mental illness. it has allowed me to really relate to the girls i work with. it has kept me humble and on my knees. it has brought me closer to my mom and dad. 
so yes, there is good that has come from my mental illness.
i just want anyone who is struggling with a diagnosed [or undiagnosed] mental illness to know that there is hope and help! there is hope through Jesus Christ who truly suffered for everything that we go through. He know how to succor you! and there is help- support groups, therapists, family and friends.
i am so thankful for the family and friends who have been there for me throughout my journey. i am thankful for a wonderful therapist who has helped me dig deep and really understand my anxiety and perfectionism. most of all, i am thankful for a loving Father in Heaven who is always there for me. 

i want to help break the stigma of mental illness. having a mental illness does not make you "crazy" even though some times you feel like you are going crazy. mental illness is real, but it doesn't mean that you have to be paralyzed by it. you can live, hey, you can thrive, in spite of a mental illness.
so let's reach out. be a little more compassionate. a little less judgmental. and open our minds and our arms to those who are struggling with mental illness around us.

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