Saturday, May 17, 2014

Because I got through it, and so can you.

Recently friends of mine lost their brother. I saw it unfold on my Facebook newsfeed. First he was missing, then police found his car, after a search went out they found his body. Seeing this all broke my heart, even though I believe in Heaven, death is the scariest thing to me. The sudden death of a loved one is probably the thing I fear the most. As I scrolled through Facebook again I saw the cause of death, he had taken his own life. And then it all made sense, in a horrible and personal way, I understood exactly what their brother went through. In trying to offer my condolences to my friends I had no words except that Daniel and I both know the pain of this situation. For Daniel and his family, this is how they lost his brother. For me, this is how my family almost lost me.

I've dealt with some heavy and challenging stuff in my life. Growing up my dad drank and had a temper that left us wondering not if he would snap, but when. At age 11 my parents divorced, it was a good thing really, but it was a long and bitter battle with lawyers, mediators, restraining orders and forced visitations. Freshman year of high school I faced anorexia. My world was consumed with food, counting every calorie, exercise and being as thin as I could. I lost weight, my period stopped. My mom took me to the doctor and they sent me straight to the hospital. My resting heart rate was 30 bpm, dangerously low. Hooked up to monitors that alarmed every time my heart rate dipped too low, I barely slept that first night. 9 days in the hospital were followed by 10 more in a psychiatric facility, the first stay of many. When I got out I had regular doctor and psychiatric appointments. Still my battle continued, now with bulimia. I bought and hid my binge foods. I knew what was good for throwing up and in what order to eat it in. I threw up in the shower, friends houses, at school, anywhere I could. More hospitalizations followed. Then the cutting and depression started. Cutting was a way to manage and release all the emotions I had inside. I will wear those painful scars all my life.

I talk about all these things to highlight one, off all the things I have dealt with, depression in by far the worst one. It is a numbness and hopelessness like nothing you can imagine. It is crippling. The world is no longer the same, and you can do nothing about it. And yet despite the numbness, there is simultaneously an overwhelming amount of emotions. My chest and heart would physically hurt, it was the worst pain I have felt. That emotional pain is what led to the cutting. Physical pain to distract, physical pain to release the awful raw emotions. The depression made my once happy (yes it was happy, even with everything else going on) life dismal and bleak. Add any sort of disappointment or failure to that, and the world might as well just end, because living through the pain was not an option. And that is what brought me, several times, to the act of trying to end my own life. I was almost successful. But I wasn't, and somehow I made it through the worst time in my life. And then through the years of depression, my life started to turn around. The feelings weren't so strong, the numbness wasn't there all the time. Slowly, surely, I was turning the corner. Was it the medicine? Not entirely. Therapy? In part, maybe. I honestly don't know, but I made it. I survived not alone and unscathed, but rather with physical and emotional scars and with friends and family who always loved me. No one condemned me, no one made light of my situation. I had dear friends who loved me for who I was at that time, and did anything they could to help. Talk to me on a bad night, left me alone if I needed it, loved me from a distance if that is what helped.

I write this not for my own benefit. While I am not shy about my past, I do not openly talk about it much. The scars on my arm are obvious and many, if people ask I will always answer, I don't mind. But I write this for those people who know the awful pain I have written about, who have thought the only way to make the situation any better is to cease to live anymore. For those people I say, you will get through, you will be happy again, it will get better.  You are worthy of living, you are worth having around. You are infinitely important. Do not be embarrassed about your pain. It is not a sign of weakness, you cannot just 'make yourself happy' or 'snap out of it', it is a serious illness, treat it and look at it that way. I feel like I was a victim of depression, and I still bear the burden if those memories. But you will get through it, because I got through it, and so can you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Because modesty is for me

This blog should really be called, 'things I want to talk about but it is too long and complicated a topic to post on Facebook'. It's kind of a long title, so I'll just keep the title as is ;)

But seriously though, I have all these thoughts and opinions swimming in my brain, sometimes I put them out into the Facebook world, more often though, they stay swimming around in my brain. This is one of those topics.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon church, we believe very strongly in modesty. For women this means shorts and skirts that are knee length or longer, shirts that cover shoulders and midriffs. No low cut shirts, no bikinis, no spaghetti strap tank tops, no strapless dresses. That is a lot of  'what not to wear', and for teens especially can be hard to live when it comes to current fashion trends and finding dresses for dances. But this is what we are counseled to do, and this is what I believe in.

Recently I saw an article in Facebook about a photographer who was doing photo shoots of Mormon women, nude. The purpose? Helping these women to feel good about their bodies, to not be ashamed. I read about this (posted by a non-member friend) and was shocked. Were they really suggesting that the push for modesty made these women ashamed of their bodies? If that was the case, then I think they missed the point.

Before I was a member I wore tube tops, bikinis, strapless dresses, tank tops, short skirts, etc. The first time I wore a spaghetti strap tank top I remember feeling so uncomfortable and exposed, but the more I did it, the less awkward I felt. I wore bikinis, and felt all those same feelings, and I never got used to it. When I was learning about the Mormon church I was taught about modesty. My response? I grew up swimming, I am a swimmer, I've spent half my life in a swimsuit, why is that okay but a tank top isn't. But there really is a time and a place for everything.

On top of concept I've often heard told to Young Women, dress modestly so boys don't get the wrong idea or think bad thoughts. While I would love my sons to only associate with modest women, that will not always be the case, and they are responsible for their thoughts, not the women they come in contact with. So to be modest for the sake of vulnerable and impressionable young men only, that is not the point.

The point is, I am modest for me. I am modest to show that I respect the body I have been given, that I respect myself to not have to show lots if skin to be fashionable. I dress modestly because I believe that is how Christ would want me to dress. I feel more comfortable and more confident when I dress this way, I do not have to worry about what will show when I bend over or squat down. I do not cover  up because I am ashamed of my body, but because I love it enough to dress it nicely and modestly so that my light can shine through.