Not A Victim

V- is- for- victim that’s good enough for me
V- is- for victim that’s good enough for me
V- is for victim that’s good enough for me
Victim… Victim… Victim
Starts with V
(sung in the key of C-is for Cookie)

Long before meeting the missionaries on my small Caribbean Island, I had made friends with the invisible enemy known as depression. From an early age, my memories involved some level of sadness. As an only child whose only friends were books, existing within the walls of my own world was my daily reality. I discovered early on that I wasn’t like other girls my age who had a large group of friends. I preferred the company of my books and my dog Delilah.

To most, I seemed extremely shy. In fact, I was. I cowered in fear each time anyone spoke to me. And even at the “old-enough” age of twenty-nine I will break out into tears if someone raises their voice.

While growing up, each Sunday while seated with my grandmother in the congregation of our small Methodist branch I would often watch with jealously as other kids my own age flitted around the branch with their friends without a worry in the world.

As the years whizzed by, so did the rapid decline of the joy inside me. When I reached secondary school at age 11, I not only knew what sadness truly was but discovered early on that something was seriously wrong inside my head. Gone was the little girl who was lonely. Instead, an emotionless stranger had taken over who was simply tired of existing.

My thoughts graduated through the various levels of despair, sadness, until suicidal thoughts and depression filled my daily existence. I woke up each day unhappy and with a sick feeling of dread in my stomach that I had once again woken up to exist in a world filled with grey. I felt leashed and bound by the expectations others had of me. I was supposed to be someone who I couldn’t be…

I was supposed to be anyone but me…

During those years, I made several attempts to end my own life. At first, I considered pills but my fear of vomiting and failing seemed too much to undertake. I considered wrapping something around my neck, but I knew my fear of heights would override any selfish thoughts. Then I considered slitting my wrists. I knew I would pass out from the sight of blood before I even carried through with my plan.

Then I decided to walk into incoming traffic. I came close, almost nicked by a car while staying at my grandmother’s house. My need to not exist became greater with each passing day.

To this day, I credit my mom for always being vigilant. She’s always seen my tears. She’s been amazing at letting me vent. Still, there are some things she never knew. There are some things she will have to see in this post for the first time. So, mommy if you are reading this (and I know you read everything I write so you are) I’m sorry that I never opened up the way I should’ve when I struggled so horribly with the monsters raging on in my head.

It all came to a head when I turned 18, when after a fight with my dad, I attempted to slit my wrists as I finally gained the courage to end it all. It was almost therapeutic as I finally let someone in after years of hiding. After years of suppressing my thoughts, someone finally heard.

What followed was a round of anti-depressants and my doctor informing us that I was depressed after filling out the PHQ-9 questionnaire. I fell outside the normal range and scored at the bottom of the ranking. My doctor also informed me during this time that it only due to my mom’s diligent parenting that I was not placed in a psychiatric ward.

In time, I eventually found a therapist and attended a few sessions to help work out some of my most pressing issues.

As the years passed, I eventually became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was there that I heard the most sickening generalization of depression and mental health that I have ever heard in my twenty-nine years of life.

I had been a member of the church for almost two years when I heard someone speak about mental health for the first time.

Victim.

The word slapped me in the face as a young man around my age referred to those who struggled with mental health as victims who preferred to listen to the voices of the world over choosing to become healed by the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Although I was majorly peeved, this really put into perspective how often we speak of mental health within the closed boxes of the gospel. Time and time again I’ve been surrounded by uneducated voices speaking from “pedestals of misinformed judgement”.

Although church talks profess to have the perfect answer to combat the “demons of mental health”, I have found that it isn’t quite possible to paint each mental health journey with the same brush. For some… the gospel will only get us so far. Eventually, we may have to rely on other methods of support. Building a tribe who understands us at the point of where we are works wonders in establishing a place of constant evolution where we can grow past our demons.

Mental health challenges don’t come result of our unworthiness. They aren’t punishments for mistakes we have made. We aren’t weak if we struggle in our day-to-day lives with things, we can’t rationalize well in the physical world.

What I’ve learned about mental health especially in my own journey to vanquish my own imaginary dragons is that each day fighting back against the forces of negative thought processes is a day where we pat ourselves on the back for our efforts.

And on the days where we succeed in changing a small speck of our lives for the better, we can truly celebrate our victories with renewed hope that our tomorrow will be better than our today.

(Trigger Warning for This Video)

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4 Responses

  1. SisterStacey says:

    So true! I love this! As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I am not a victim either! Sending you love and hugs!

  2. Libby says:

    Balancing mental health problems is hard enough. We don’t need to hear from self-righteous folks that our problem is that we’re not praying enough, 9r trusting God enough, or being too worldly.

  3. Katie Rich says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so very glad you are still with us. Thank you for advocating for a better understanding of mental health care in the Church.

  4. Bryn Brody says:

    Thank you fir sharing your story. Your vulnerability and insight is desperately needed in the world, and specifically in the church. Hugs, friend.

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