Monday, January 26, 2009

Mirthful Monday: Two one-liners and a light bulb joke

"I'm only paranoid because everyone is out to get me."

***

Psychiatrist to his nurse: "Just say we're very busy. Don't keep saying 'It's a madhouse.'


***

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

-Just one, but the light has to really want to change.
-Just one. And his mother.
-Just one, but it takes nine visits.
-None. The light bulb will change itself when it's ready.
-"How many do you think it takes?"
-"How long have you been having this fantasy?"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Some But Not Unhappy Statistics

It's been a long week for me. I'm tired and pretty stressed. Actually cried for a couple hours Wednesday afternoon. Between N's struggles and the other two being sick and my husband being back in school and me trying to be the writer that I'm not, well, things got pretty bleak for a day or so here. It feels like a cop-out, especially because I spent a lot time working on a post about gender and emotional support systems, but for today's Science Friday installment I'm just going to give you some interesting stats. I typically take statistics with a grain salt (numbers are too malleable; too much depends on the set up) but I think that it's good to be informed of them all the same.

* Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. This includes major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

*Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants. At least four percent of preschoolers -- over a million -- are clinically depressed.

*30% of women are depressed. Men's figures were previously thought to be half that of women, but new estimates are higher.

* 54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness and 80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment. (Now that's depressing!)

*Depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder and costs employers more than US$51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity, not including high medical and pharmaceutical bills.

(For sources and more information on any of these stats please click here.)

And finally, some food for thought from Judith Guest:

"Depression is not sobbing and crying and giving vent, it is plain and simple reduction of feeling...People who keep stiff upper lips find that it's damn hard to smile."
(oh, excuse her French.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From the Ensign: " Awake My Soul!: Dealing Firmly with Depression" (or When CBT and LDS collide!)

It could be a really lame joke: a psychologist and an LDS bishop run into each other in front of the monkey cage at the zoo and get to talking. Eventually their discussion turns to matters of the heart and soul and becomes quite heated. The psychologist pulls out Darwin's On the Origin of Species and claims that human emotions are a result of environmental conditioning causing biological and physiological changes. The bishop pulls out his triple combination and responds that all are children of God and that emotions are the gateway to the Spirit. Finally they throw their books at each other in disgust and stalk away. That evening as the zookeeper checks all the cages he notices the monkey reading two books. "Whatcha readin'?" he asks. With a grim face the monkey looks up and replies, "Oh, I'm just trying to figure out if I'm my keeper's brother or my brother's keeper." (Har, har, har.)

Or it could be a REALLY old, and slightly frustrating (it mildly offended me and a couple parts made me laugh out loud), Ensign article.

Today's "From the Ensign" article is taken from the August 1978 issue and is entitled, "Awake My Soul!: Dealing Firmly with Depression". To me this article is representative of how so many, many, many LDS people view depression and how Latter-day Saints should deal with it. Basically, it is a strange mish-mash of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and LDS doctrine.

The main thesis of the article (as evidenced by the title which implies that depression is no more than a naughty child) is that depression is something that, if dealt with firmly enough, can be "fixed." The article is written in a discussion format where the supposedly depressed person says something stereotypical (i.e. “I feel so out of place at church. Everyone there but me seems to have his life in order. Everything is hopeless.” ) and the author replies with some sage advice and some scriptures.

So what does the author recommend? Well, CBT, or as he puts it,
"Basically there are two approaches. The first way to attack depression and feelings of inadequacy is to try to change what you’re doing so that you’ll feel better about yourself. The second way is to try to change your feelings about yourself so that it will be easier for you to do things differently."
Here's a more specific breakdown:

Idea #1:

"Each of us has many voices within, criticizing and praising, encouraging and discouraging, desiring and warning, reasoning and disregarding. We’ve all wondered at some time which voices were from the Lord and which were from Satan, which came with us from premortal life and which we’ve acquired since birth. . . For years your personality may have been growing in one direction. Now you must help it grow in another direction. You cannot easily erase those destructive voices from the past, but you can recognize what they do to you and turn them off. You can rid yourself of these voices by replacing them with positive feedback and experiences that will build self-esteem. The Lord has promised that our weaknesses can become strengths and that 'all things shall work together for [our] good' if we search and pray. (Ether 12:27, D&C 90:24.)"

*What I liked: We're owning up to the voices in our heads! Yay, us! And we are starting to challenge those voices.

*What I didn't like: The author, who has already stated that this has little to do with sin, says that some of those voices come from Satan. I've had numerous people mention ideas like this one to me when I talk about depression and I hate the implications. It always cause a frenzied thought process: Satan is living in my head? I mean, considering the fact that Satan can't be anywhere in my life that I don't let him (at least that's what my Seminary teacher told me. Wait. What are you saying? Life is more complicated than that? Well, crap. Don't tell my Seminary teacher.) then I must have let Satan in my head--which must mean I want him there? AAAAAH! I AM insane! I'm sure the people who say this don't mean it that way, but that's the way I always process it. I prefer to think of the crazy gal in my head as a neurological misfire. That seems to knock the wind out of her. With the Satan line, the crazy chick is only encouraged. If the Satan-in-my-brain logic works for you, more power to you. I'm just saying maybe we should be a little more careful with how we toss it around.

Idea #2:

"It’s one thing to face up to our weaknesses and work on them. It’s another thing to dwell on them. The gospel teaches us to take charge of our minds as well as our bodies. Suppose you’re thinking about a mistake you’ve made. Ask yourself: Is this helping me deal with the problems I’m now having or is it making me feel more inadequate? If it’s dragging you down, push it out of your mind or crowd something else in front of it. The apostle Paul told the Philippians that he knew he wasn’t 'already perfect,' but at least did 'one thing': 'forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.'(Philip. 3:12–14.) . . . Nowhere in the scriptures do I find any license to punish myself. President Kimball [taught] us that we are punished by our sins. That’s punishment enough. It’s much better to reward ourselves for what we do right. This helps us focus on our strengths and moves us more in that direction; punishment focuses on our weaknesses and doesn’t teach us any new behaviors."

*What I liked: The self-flagellation impulse is strong in people with mood disorders. Whether it's mentally berating oneself or holding back from pleasurable experiences or self-mutilation like cutting or eating disorders, there is a strange relief that comes from punishing oneself. But, wait! The scriptures and the prophets have told us that's wrong. We don't believe in penance; we believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ and the grace of an almighty and all-loving God. It's not our job to punish. It's our job to lean on Christ and try to do better.

*What I didn't like: I think the author seriously underestimated how hard it is to redirect the depressed brain. I wish he had included some suggestions on how to "crowd something else in front of it." Usually the only way I can accomplish this is to read or turn on the TV. I'm curious how you all crowd things out. For me, the harder I try to NOT think about something the more intensely my brain focuses on it. Redirecting can be tricky and I wish there was more detail here.

I guess my biggest beef with the article was that it seemed to focus so heavily on managing the symptoms instead of dealing with the cause of the symptoms. Then again, the article was written in 1978 and depression was not well understood. We have a lot more information now and it is probably unfair of me to judge this article by today's information--which is why I tried to present both sides. This article has a lot of good advice, but I hope that we can also use it as a jumping off point to grow in our understanding instead of one more thing to make us feel like we aren't trying hard enough.

Or we could use it as an excuse to tell really lame jokes ;)

Anyway, to end on a positive note, here are some other good tips:

1. Be aware of your feelings. Recognize when you begin to feel depressed, discouraged, and uneasy. Many times a person feels down but doesn’t know why. As soon as you recognize depression, trace back the chain of events that led to it.

2. What event cued these feelings? Was it something you did? Something you didn’t do? Something someone else did? Something that disappointed an expectation?

3. Then ask yourself, “What does this event tell me about myself?”

4. Then challenge those negative voices. [You'll] know what to do to have a better experience next time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mirthful Monday: for all you But Not Unhappy sports fans. . .

I just wanted to thank you all for the great discussion we had last week. I learned a lot from reading your comments and I appreciate all the thought you guys put into them. I have the BEST readers :)


The psychology professor had just finished a lecture on mental health and was giving an oral test.

Speaking specifically about manic depression, she asked, “How would you diagnose a patient who walks back and forth screaming at the top of his lungs one minute, then sits in a chair weeping uncontrollably the next?”

A sports-minded young man in the rear raised his hand and answered, “He’s probably a basketball coach?”

joke credit

Friday, January 16, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled post for a Depression Profile

I know, I know. I was going to be all regular about my posting and I'm sure all of you are expecting the another But Not Unhappy Science Friday, but I have another Depression Profile to share with you and I was just so excited I couldn't wait! I love it when we share our stories. We all have so much to learn from each other.

Name: Courtney
Age: 24
Location: Colorado

I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, OCD, and anxiety disorder when I was 15 years old. Currently my psychiatrist does not believe that I have bipolar, she has suggested that perhaps I was diagnosed too young and I just have depression with OCD and anxiety. I have been this way since I was very little according to my mother. I first noticed it when I was probably about 12 or 13. As a child I was rapid cycling bipolar so my moods shifted quickly, sometimes several times a day and sometimes just several times over a few days. After I had my son I suffered from severe post partum, which was exacerbated by a lot of external forces at the time. I also suffered from severe post partum right after I had my daughter 9 months ago. I think I am still feeling a bit of that.

My worst days vary. Sometimes it means I feel totally hopeless and spend a lot of time crying and sitting at the computer. I just meet my children’s basic needs and I feel a lot of guilt. Sometimes I get really hostile and angry. It seems I have no fuse and no filter. I say whatever comes into my head and I feel myself loose control quickly. Then I feel a lot of guilt for being so mean and upsetting my family.

My best days I feel like I am okay, I feel happy and hopeful. I feel like I want to go places and see people. I want to be part of society and I am pleasant and I actually laugh about things! I am more patient as well.

I have seen several therapists and psychiatrists. I took meds for bipolar at age 15 switching between several to find the right ones. I stopped treatment at 18, then went back when I was pregnant with my son. I was terrified that I would have severe postpartum because I was predisposed to it with the bipolar. I started taking meds the minute he was born, but stopped them when he was 6 months old. That was a mistake. I spiraled down fast and I was out of control miserable. I tried to go back and get help at the mental health center in [my town] but had a horrible experience. I was having a lot of rage. I felt out of control and I was trying to find a way to help and feel less angry, I explained what was going on that I had lost it and smacked my sons hand after he pulled all the wipes out of the box for the millionth time and she called social services. They came to my house and looked at my son and thankfully closed the case. But I was terrified and the damage was done. I was too afraid to go back and get the help I needed. Anyway right after my daughter was born I went back and got help again. I currently see a psychiatrist for meds and I see a therapist once a week.

The medication has always been iffy for me because I hate taking it so a lot of times I would forget or stop treatment before it had time to work. I cannot really remember my childhood reaction because I was not really sure what was wrong. Therapy has always been a great tool for me and really just good friends who are willing to talk and accept me the way I am without a stigma. I am trying medication again because I am tired of trying to control it all on my own. With two children life is so much more complex. There’s no time for insanity. Especially since my husband is in school full time (night classes) and he works full time. I am also a part time student. Its hectic.

I think I always felt extreme guilt for what I lacked. I searched for the Spirit and always felt that I had a special connection with God because I really felt He was the one person who truly understood me and knew the real me. I felt great compassion for others and I really did feel connected to the spirit. I had a lot of time with prayers though. I tried to pray but could not quiet my mind enough to hear the answers. I always doubted and never really felt sure I was getting and answer.
I was always feeling that if I just did more, tried harder, maybe I would feel better. I never felt like I measured up. I obsessed over not being righteous enough. I worried about not fitting in with people at Church. They seemed so happy and perfect and I was so NOT. I always sensed the fa├žade that members put on. So many people were afraid to tell the real truth about things like mental illness or anything that would be perceived as imperfect. [Laura's note: That's one thing I'm trying to help with at the But Not Unhappy Blog. Mental illness and mood disorders are NOT sins! We can talk about it and reach out to each other.]

I left the church a year ago for one reason; I just didn’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet anymore. I read a lot of historical materials about the Church and about Joseph and I just could not make my new vision of all that fit with the vision I had grown up with.

It was devastating because it made me question the reality of God which sent me into a deeper depression. I relied so heavily on God for so many years and suddenly I felt cut off. I was lost. I still am in a lot of ways. I worry about it all the time. I obsess over his reality and what comes after this life. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in it, it sinks me and I feel so hopeless. I am trying at the moment to find God again, taking baby steps just to get some of what I lost back.
Since leaving the Church my guilt has gone away. I don’t feel so bad because I don’t set myself up to a standard that for me was impossible to reach. I am better able to accept my flaws and imperfections.

I wish there was not such a stigma attached to bipolar. To me depression alone seems a little more common these days, but bipolar is still very stereotyped, and feared. I wish people knew that being bipolar doesn’t make you psycho, it just means you are overly moody. I just wish people had more of an open mind and heart to people who are suffering from afflictions like this.


I want to thank Courtney for sharing her story and being honest about her experiences with the Church. While not all depressed people have the same experiences, I think it is valuable to all of us to see the other viewpoints. I'm sending Courtney lots of good vibes and wish her luck in her search for God. I know He will guide her and reach out to her. Thanks Courtney!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Letter to M

Hi Friends. In the comments on last week's Ensign post a commenter named "M" said that she/he was formerly LDS and had depression and that she/he did not find relief from her/his symptoms until she/he left the Church (sorry for all the she/he stuff. M's profile is private). "M" then went on to say that, "It's unfortunate that you are unable to see that biggest reason for your depression is your inability to live the teachings of your church. But don't feel bad, nobody can. You will never be a good enough wife or mother as long as you are LDS." That's a loaded comment and a common misconception, so I wanted to share my feelings in regards to what "M" said.

Dear M,

Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I appreciate your experience and that you were courteous in your comment. I hope you will understand that, even though I disagree with you, I am trying to be courteous as well. Please understand that I am not trying to change your experience or disrespect you; your experience is yours and you have made the choice that you feel is best for you. This letter is just me explaining and clarifying my own experiences.

To be honest, after the birth of my oldest, when I was in the throes of untreated postpartum depression (some of the scariest moments of my life), I think I would have agreed with you. Going to Church was the hardest thing for me. I hated seeing all those other people who had it so together and seemed so perfect. Some strange comments and insensitive interactions with people made me feel like some of the members thought they were better than me. Church did feel like one long fashion show with all the models trying to one-up each other with their cars and the fancy clothes on their kids and how much they scrapbooked and who knew the scriptures the best. I would skip class and wander the halls thinking, "Why the hell am I here?" I wasn't really sure. Looking back, I'm not sure why I kept going. Probably because it was easier than not going and explaining to my family how I felt.

Well, that and I still kind of believed it. While not every area of my testimony was solid, I still knew that Christ had atoned for me and my sins and troubles. I still knew that I was a child of God, even though I was pretty angry at Him. And I still hoped to have an eternal family. Even though becoming a mother had been a miserable experience for me I hoped that somehow God could find a way to make us right. I also thought about my covenants and what it meant to break them. I wasn't ready to do that yet.

Eventually I did get treatment for my PPD and I got my head above water. I was still really bitter about some of the other ward members and I was still angry at God about a number of things but I was able to see how my Church membership benefited me and my family. One of the chief benefits from my membership at that time was my calling.

When my oldest was around a year old I got called into the Primary presidency and got to work with some truly spectacular people. The woman who was president over me was a humble, efficient, Christ-like person and I learned a lot from her example. She had a loving and peaceful spirit and she trusted me enough to let me make mistakes and learn from them. I benefited a lot from my association with her. Her attitude about mistakes and how we all learn was unique in my Church experience up to that point. Before then callings were always about impressing people and showing off your own abilities--pretty prideful stuff. Working with this woman was about leaning on Christ and trying to share His love with others. I hope if I am ever in a leadership position I will be able to recreate that atmosphere.

The other thing that was really helpful about serving in Primary was the focus on core doctrines. There wasn't a single Sunday where we "forgot" to include Christ in our lessons. Heavenly Father and his love for ALL His children was central to everything we did. We never strayed into so-called "deep doctrines". We stuck to the basics and the Spirit flourished--at least that's how it felt to me. I was grateful for the refresher course in core doctrines that Primary was. It changed my perspective and approach to the Church. I think that's one reason why I still love Primary and always say yes when someone asks me to substitute.

Another thing that changed during that time was my involvement in the arts. I started writing every day when my oldest was about ten months old and it brought a lot of relief and order to my troubled mind. Writing became an opportunity to sort through myself and experiences and decide how I really felt about them--even when I was writing fiction. It calmed me. Eventually, this led to more involvement in the LDS arts community where I discovered how varied the LDS experience really is. Sometimes in our wards we look around and think that everyone is the same and that we have to conform to fit in. But that isn't true. Lurking, and eventually becoming a contributor at A Motley Vision, opened my eyes to how differently LDS people could think and feel and still be faithful.

Hanging out at Blog Segullah also helped me realize that being a mother is a multi-faceted experience. It isn't sunflowers and roses all the time for anyone. I wasn't failing; I was normal. Hearing their stories was/is good for me because it highlights the process of becoming a Latter-day Saint. I think part of my problem with the Church before was that I thought I had to be everything to everyone all the time and hearing the struggles and victories over at Segullah helped me understand how wrong that idea was. So did M. Russel Ballard's talk "Daughters of God".

There are still things that are hard for me about Church. But another important realization I've come to is that I can take it slow. I don't have to do it all or be it all right now. When my depression was untreated I think I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others and thinking that they were better than me. They were perfect and I was not and it hurt a lot to think that I could be trying so hard and be failing so tremendously. But I often remembered a quotation from Jeffrey R. Holland. He said,
"I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, 'robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb'"
('The Other Prodigal", Liahona July 2002).

Also, I think that there were a lot of principles I misunderstood. Things like the role of self-reliance in spirituality, perfection and eternal progress, grace and works (for more on this idea see Katie's blog. She's like the All Grace and Works All the Time channel. Very insightful!). I'm sure there are more. Increasing gospel understanding through service in Primary and through my own efforts really helped. Us Latter-day Saints are good-hearted people, but sometimes when we give and/or listen to talks or lessons we miss. It helped to find truly authoritative sources and meditate on those.

On rough days, I still struggle. There are times that I hate being at Church. At time like that I try to remind myself that Church is about recommitting myself to Christ. It is about me reaching out to catch the hand my Savior is stretching out. When I remember that it isn't so hard.

Good luck, M. I hope you'll still stop by and that we can all work together to help each other through our darkest days!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Science Friday--(But Not Unhappy style)

I may not be Ira Flatow, but I'm stilling doing it. Well, doing it my way. So, welcome to another weekly installment But Not Unhappy Science Fridays. (I'm hoping all the weekly features will help me be less erratic in my posting and raise the quality of said posts.) There is so much research being done about depression and mood disorders and that research can actually tell us a lot about ourselves. The more we know the better we will be at managing our symptoms and getting back to our lives.

Today's science: Area 25--not to be confused with Area 51. Area 25 is an old discovery but I had never heard of it until a few months ago and knowing about it made a difference in how I think (and feel) about my depression.

Despite its name Area 25 is actually not anywhere near Roswell, New Mexico. It is in your brain.

I first heard of it when I watched the excellent PBS special Out of the Shadows. What they said in the program was that for years researchers knew that depression had something to do with the brain but no matter how many scans they did they couldn't find any similarities in depressed people's brains. Sure, they knew that messing with neurotransmitters through SSRIs and other anti-depressants helped alleviate symptoms, but they also knew that those neurotransmitters weren't the cause of depression. They were simply another symptom. There was something in the brain that was messing the neurotransmitters up and scientists couldn't find it. There was no one area that uniformly correlated with depression. Every depressed person's brain looked unique. That left researches stumped. How could they fix/heal depression if they couldn't even find out where it was?

Enter Helen Mayberg. In the mid 1980's she realized that depressed people's brain all showed lower activity in the frontal lobe where emotions are processed. Mayberg said it was proof that depression was more than just a chemical imbalance. Depression was a wiring problem. As Mayberg began studying the depressed brain more she (and her colleagues, I shouldn't be leaving them out)realized that an area buried in the frontal lobe, Area 25, showed higher activity while the rest of the lobe showed lower activity. There was a connection! Mayberg hypothesized that the extra activity in Area 25 was suppressing the normal activities in the frontal lobes and causing depression. From there, Mayberg has studied and designed deep brain stimulation treatment for treatment-resistant depression (depression that doesn't respond to anti-depressants, therapy, or electroshock--yes they are still doing that). For a compelling account of how the deep brain stimulation works read this article from 60 Minutes.

So what does all this have to do with us regular depressed people? Well, to me, this means that depression/mood disorders are not something we can make up. It isn't psychosomatic. It's a real, physiological condition. So next time you say to yourself that all of this is just in your head, you can reply (because I know you all talk to yourselves just like I do!) that yes, it is in your head but in a very concrete medical way. And, just like other people with physical illnesses you don't need to feel bad for getting help and seeking treatment.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Depression in the Ensign: "Not all imperfection is sin."

For a long time I was under the impression that being depressed and being a good latter-day saint was impossible. I thought maybe it wasn't okay to take medication because it meant I was lacking faith or that if I admitted my problems out loud it would mean I was a sinner. Then a few years ago, it was in the October 2005 Ensign actually, the Church ran an article about depression that helped me realize how off-base my fears were. Perhaps individual members would think those negative things about me, but the Church--the actual apostles and prophet, the people who are closest to Christ and Heavenly Father and KNOW the Truth about things--wouldn't think that way. Since then I've been referring people to the few Ensign articles I've been aware of to help dispel false notions and misunderstandings. In my research I discovered that the Ensign has covered depression, mood disorders, and mental illness a number of times. So I am going to do a running feature here on the ol' blog. Every Wednesday, for the next while anyway, you can look forward to summaries of and links to helpful Ensign and New Era articles.

For today I'm going to point you all to the article in this month's Ensign. I was so happy to discover the article, "Bipolar Disorder: My Lessons in Love, Hope, and Peace".

Something I'm glad the author pointed out:
"Mental illness is unique from other human frailties since it can impair our ability to think, reason, and feel the Spirit. I believe it is for this reason that mental illness is often feared and misunderstood. We live in a wonderful time when the Lord has blessed us with all the marvels of modern science, including improved medication. Where mental illness might once have destroyed lives, many of those who deal with it can now control their illness and live relatively normal lives" (p 66).

These ideas cannot be reiterated enough! I hope many, many readers make it to that page of their Ensign--it will save those of us with mood disorders and mental illnesses so much breath!

"The gospel teaches us about perfection and the joy that comes with it, but some of us expect perfection of ourselves instead of seeking to be perfected in Christ. I struggled with the large gap between perfection and where I perceived I stood, made even more obvious by my illness. I regained hope when I realized that although sin is an imperfection, not all imperfection is sin" (p 63, emphasis mine).

I love that! For a long time I kept wondering what the magical spiritual bullet would be for my depression. If I prayed harder, studied my scriptures more, or was better at sharing the gospel, or had more kids, or whatever, I thought God would fix me. I thought that my imperfection was sin and that I could make it disappear through good works. Not so.

Which brings me to another favorite part:
"When the Savior was asked, 'Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?' He answered, 'Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him' (John 9:2–3). Mental illness is not a punishment from God, but His works are manifest in each of us when we allow the Atonement to work in our lives. We may not be healed immediately as the blind man was, but no matter what pain we bear, the Savior will heal us. Through His love and sacrifice we can find strength to overcome our trials, since He has already 'overcome the world' (D&C 50:41)" (p 67).

That part actually makes me cry. I love the idea that my struggles aren't punishment or just part of our crazy, hard, fallen world. My struggles are part of God's plan and actually, amazingly, are a way for Him--and maybe even me?--to testify to the world of His goodness and love. Blows my mind how God can take hardship and ugliness and make them right and wonderful. That is the power of the Atonement. That is the power of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that we can all find a way to access that power in our most blinding and discouraging down times.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mirthful Monday: Did you resolve to get more exercise?

I decided that we all need a little more funny in our sad, depressing lives so here's the first installment of what I'm calling Mirthful Monday.

We all know that exercise is good for depression and most of us resolve to get more of it in the coming year. Unfortunately, most of us run out of motivation (get it? "run" out? I know; you're laughing on the inside. . .). Well, here's something that will hopefully get you going again! (Oh, and be sure to let me know if you want me to put you on my blogroll. Breakdown, Silverrain, Tom Malone, Mom of Boys, and the rest of you--consider this my personal request!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

A shout out to other depressed bloggers: Can I link to you?

Hi friends. Now that I've been blogging for a year I think it's about time (or waaaay past time) to pull together a blogroll. I'd like the blogroll to be a way to build support for those of us who need it, so I'm going to focus it on other depressed (but not necessarily unhappy) bloggers. A lot of you have mentioned in past comments that you are depressed and I would love to include you all, but I also want to respect your privacy. So, if you would like to be included on my Depressed (but not unhappy) blogroll leave me a comment that says so and includes your blog address. Thanks!

Also, be sure to check out the new I've added permalinks I've added on my sidebar for some good resources. I've got some good links to stuff the Church has put out (like the awesome article in the January Ensign about bipolar disorder) and other helpful sites. If you have one you want me to add let me know so I can check it out!