Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding Joy #1

Quick update: The Guardians: Revenge is coming along great! Had a few insights last week that have really helped pull the story together. It feels more complete. :) Also, if you have not read Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, do it! On to the heart of the post!

Finding Joy-Thoughts
These are thoughts that have been floating around in my head for a long time. I am in no way a medical professional. Always, always, always counsel with a medical professional if you are suffering from depression or other ailments, especially of the mind. This is a sensitive subject that I am treating as delicately as possible. It was a difficult post to write and I can only ask that you read it with the intent that I have written, to help others. The examples I use are my own.

Luke 2:10-11, 14
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you agood tidings of great bjoy, which shall be to all people.
 11 For unto you is aborn this day in the city of David a bSaviour, which is Christ the cLord.
 14 aGlory to God in the highest, and on earth bpeace, good will toward men.
John 14:27
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 16:33
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have apeace. In the bworld ye shall have ctribulation: but be of good dcheer; I have eovercome the world.
I have three beautiful, wonderful children. In my religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), they often talk about how children are a joy, how they bring so much happiness. When my third child was born, it was not that way. I felt certifiably insane at that time. I ranged in emotions, from hating my children to feeling guilty about that hate, to loving them intensely, to staying up late at night in a panic that someone would break in and kidnap or hurt them to fearing that I would be the one to hurt them. Quite frankly, it was terrifying to feel so out of control.
I endured for about a month after the birth of my third. It was all my head, after all. My emotions were out of whack with the birth of my baby. I just needed to get over it. I realized I needed help when I was at the store checking out. The checker asked the generic "How are you?" and I nearly lost it at the desk. Tears welled up out of nowhere and I thought I would collapse. I called my doctor as soon as I got home (and the tears flowed freely!). She immediately put me on medication suitable to my condition. I was lucky. The day I started taking the medication was the day it took effect. It can often take up to six weeks before that type of medication begins working.
The day the medications started, I felt reborn. I could sleep at night. I loved my children. I no longer had urges to hurt them. I knew that everything would be okay. About a month later, I again called the doctor. I felt strongly that it was time to quit taking the pills. I weaned myself off the pills, again under her direction. I have been blessed not to have a recurrence of that episode.
I must contrast that with my time as a teenager. I spent most of my high school years believing that everyone hated me (what teen doesn't?). My senior year, it finally occurred to me that no one cared about me that much. I laughed when I realized it. They had their own problems to be thinking about, they did not need to add me to the pile. It was a huge weight off my shoulders, realizing that I was thinking about others thinking about me more than they thought about me. It still took years of self-mental therapy to get over my paranoia. Whenever I caught myself believing others were talking about me, I had to quickly remind myself that they weren't. And then I had to change topic in my head, running away from the misconception.
I tell you these two stories to make a point. So much of our happiness is related to our thoughts. Our entire perception of the world comes with how we think about it. Which is why I love the Savior's injunction to "Be of good cheer." Sometimes, you have to be happy. My situation as a teenager did not change one iota (that means 'bit'). But my perception of it did. It has hugely impacted my development into an adult and my ability to love others. By taking matters into my own hands and being of "good cheer," I have been able to enjoy life. Do not think that it is easy. It takes effort, every single day.
In contrast, thinking myself happy did not (and could not) work after the birth of my son. There was more going on physiologically than psychologically. This is where the angel's pronouncement comes in. You know, the one about a Savior being born. I needed help. I was desperate. And my doctor, at that time, stood as the Savior for me. She helped me, saved me from myself.
At this Christmas time, there's a lot to be said for good cheer. In general, people are happier and more giving. It is an elevated kind of happiness, one full of gratitude. Oh sure, the rest of the year, we feel pretty good. We take care of ourselves and are content. But this time of year...this time we celebrate a Savior. We recognize that we are nothing. We recognize our neighbors. We recognize that we are each struggling with our own demons. And some demons may only be defeated through the Savior.
There will always be pain and suffering in the world around us. But as we rely on the Savior, we can find peace and hope, faith to move through this world being the best we can be.
For some, there will always be pain and suffering within. But the answer is the same. There is still hope. And in the hope of healing, we can find peace. The Lord Christ will not leave any who rely on Him. He lives! And He offers to us the same. Life.
And so I ask you, at this time, to set aside some of the franticness you may be feeling. Take a moment of reflection to remember why you are celebrating this season. Look on your neighbor with a little more compassion and offer the Lord a little more gratitude for His compassion. And as Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"

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