Feature Friday: Alli N

Alli and I have known each other since we were little kids. We were baptized on the same day, Halloween, were friends all through high school and have stayed in touch via social media. She has always been someone I’ve admired.
Alli was born and raised in Utah. She was a happy go lucky kind of girl growing up and was always happy, laughing, and just enjoyed life. She met her best friend and husband during a singles ward activity in 2010 and they were married six months later in the SLC Temple. They have been happily married for six and a half years now and have three beautiful children ages 4, 3, and 1.5. Her family is everything to me. She is a HIGH Fitness instructor and loves being able to help others feel the happiness that comes from a great workout.  She also loves to cook, spend time with her family, shop… for workout clothes… and eat ice cream.
One of my biggest dreams had always been to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything in the world. When my husband and I felt the strong impression to start a family back in 2012 we were ecstatic and spent our time as most soon to be parents do… tracking milestones, assembling nursery furniture, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our sweet baby. After what seemed to be the longest nine months one could endure, our tiny little girl was born and little did I know at that moment, my life would change forever. Not only as a new mother but as a fighter of Post Partum Depression.
The day our sweet Hadley made her way from Heaven into our arms was one of the happiest I can remember. Joy, Pure Joy! We had a very exciting few weeks following her birth including bringing her home on a crisp snowy Christmas Eve, our first Christmas as a family of three, a visit and help from my mom and mother in law, a break from school for my husband, parental leave, visits from family and friends, and lots of snuggling our little girl. Then…slowly, the excitement started to fade, and ordinary life began to creep in. Christmas decorations were put away, Brad returned to school and work, family returned home (which at the time was three hours away) and there I sat, alone, with our tiny baby, crying and wondering  “what now?” “I should be happy” I would tell myself “I just had a baby, and get to stay home and be a mom just like I have always dreamed!” but deep in the corner of my new mom self, I was sad, desperately sad, and very lonely. I was terrified that I was overcome with such feelings of darkness. I cried, I ate, I slept…anything to distract me from the pain I was feeling but nothing seemed to fill the void within me.
I have always been a strong-willed person. The type of person that struggles to ask for help and believes that I can “fix it all on my own”. Because of the pride of my heart, I hid the struggle I was facing from everyone… even my husband. I thought that if anyone found out they would think that something was wrong with me as a person. I never considered that it was Post Partum Depression. I just thought something was wrong with me and I did my best to live day to day.
In my purist to “fix myself” I found a love for exercise and healthy eating. It helped immensely and after six months of struggle, I was finally feeling hope for healing. That was until my hormones took a terrifying plummet with the pregnancy and delivery of our second beautiful baby girl…a devastating miscarriage… and the pregnancy and delivery of our perfect little boy. I began to torment myself relentlessly by comparing myself to anyone and everyone, especially those close to me whom I view as the most amazingly beautiful and gifted women in the world. I began to dislike myself, my self-confidence was nonexistent, I was constantly consumed with thoughts of self-doubt and no matter what I tried, and they never went away. “You aren’t pretty enough.”, “you aren’t good enough.” “You aren’t skinny or fit enough.” “No one truly loves you.” “You will never be a good enough mom.” “You will never be a good enough wife.” You don’t have any useful skills or talents.” “Your family would be happier and better off without you.”…The self-destructive thoughts were endless. I felt broken. Satan had overcome my mind and I was too weak to fight back. I fully believed every lie that was whispered into my mind.  After our little boy was born I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of raising our three tiny kiddos while my husband continued working and going to school full time. I had some very difficult days. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning most days, but would put on my bravest face and go through the motions of mommying… I spent most of my time however withdrawn from my children and family. I felt like a bystander and an onlooker in my own family and in my own life. A move to a new city caused more stress than I ever thought imaginable and towards the end of July 2016, after a day went wrong and words misunderstood, spending hours sobbing to my sweet husband about how horrible I was. I told him that I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t wake up in the morning. As he held me close while I could hardly breathe a light clicked within me and I knew I needed help.
Throughout the course of my 4-year struggle:
I finally mustered up enough strength to tell my Husband about what I was going through, and even though he suggested I visit the Doctor, again my pride refused.
I turned to my Heavenly Father with desperate pleas at night, begging Him to take this cross away from me. Promising that I would be a better mom and wife If He would just take it away. Like the loving Heavenly Father He is, he did not take it away.  But gave words through Elder Jeffery R Holland in his October 2013 General Conference Talk “Like a Broken Vessel” and through hymns that would enter my mind during times of despair. “Where can I turn for peace…where is my solace… when other sources seem to make me whole…who has the quiet hand to calm my anguish… who, who can understand? He, only one” “Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side…with patience bear thy cross of grief or pain” “I believe in Christ, so come what may” these words always brought such peace.
Asked for and received more Priesthood blessings of peace and comfort than I have in my entire life, and received loving counsel from my Heavenly Father on how to feel happy.
Put aside my pride and started asking for help. I told my family the struggles I had been facing and started going to a therapist.
My first visit to my therapist, I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression. I was always completely against medications until my therapist explained what I was going through so vividly after spending an hour with her, she calmly went to the whiteboard that hung on her wall and drew a picture that will forever be engraved in my mind. She drew a picture of the layers of the ocean and a beaming sun. She explained that everyone has waves in their lives, ups and downs, just as there are waves on the sea. When you are dealing with depression, your mind sinks down under the water until that level becomes your new normal and it becomes harder to see the sunshine. She went on to explain that I had allowed myself to sink to the lowest level on her diagram, where it is nearly impossible to see the sunshine. She warned that medication would be the only thing to help get me back to the light, and after her beautiful explanation, I knew she was right. This was an ah-ha moment for me, and I quickly started my medications.
I have been in recovery for a year now. And along with taking my medications daily, I have become a fitness instructor, and love feeling the happiness that a great sweat can bring. Medication has not been a cure-all, and this is a struggle that I will most likely face the rest of my life… but I know that God has a purpose in His divine plan for me to experience what I have gone through. Even though I do not know the reasoning behind it, I will continue to trust in Him and lean on Him as I did in my deepest darkest moments. Because He is the only one who has been with me through this entire journey and carried me when I could not carry myself.
“Don’t you give up. Don’t you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead Trust God, and believe in good things to come.”
                                         -Elder Jeffery R. Holland
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