When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Alicia

I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Alicia’s story firsthand at the SALT LDS Retreat a couple weeks ago. I talked to her during the retreat and asked if she’d be willing to share her story and I’m so grateful she said yes because same-gender attraction needs to be talked about more.
Alicia Young, the youngest of eight, loves living in Calgary, Canada. Her job is to care for three incredible adults who have physical and mental disabilities. There’s nothing else that she would rather be doing. Her family is everything to her, and she is lucky to live by some of them. In her free time she enjoys playing soccer, or writing and recording music. She believes in the power of vulnerability, living wholeheartedly, and owning her story (thanks to her favorite author Brene Brown).

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I used to wonder if I might be bisexual, but I let go of that idea after I was baptized. I had an extremely hard time struggling with same-gender attraction during and after my mission. I came out as a lesbian after my mission. I totally intended on being an ACTIVE gay Mormon, but I slowly kept taking steps into darkness, and I became further and further from God and the church. It came to the point where I didn’t know if good and evil existed, or if God and the adversary were even real.

I slowly returned to using weed. One day, I ate a morsel of a weed brownie and it had an effect on me for months after. I suspected that it was laced with something. I experienced a drug-induced psychosis (which means losing touch with reality). I was absolutely convinced that I was about to die. I wrote out my last words because I didn’t think I’d get to say goodbye.

I had an experience where my life flashed before my eyes, and I knew perfectly that the life I was living was against God’s plan for me. I had the strongest feeling that if I didn’t change my life immediately that God would take me from the earth. I literally ran to the church to find missionaries. They were so kind and understanding and the Branch President eventually brought me to the hospital, because I was experiencing psychosis (meaning, I lost touch with reality).

There I believed that my body was dead and that I was in the spirit world. I recorded my testimony on a sheet of paper I got from the nurse because it was the last time I thought I’d ever be able to. I was surprised that I did still have a strong testimony. It was always in the back of my mind, but I would just numb it away with drugs or alcohol.

I met an amazing woman, and we considered each other soul mates. I had everything I could ever want, but I knew something was missing. We became girlfriends. She came to the psych ward to see me, but before she got there I got a very strong feeling from God. Like a spiritual magnetic opposition about her. I knew that I couldn’t be with her anymore. I broke both of our hearts, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew I couldn’t be with any woman.

I started meeting with missionaries and tried to bring more peaceful things into my life. One night I watched this Christian movie that absolutely changed everything. It answered many of my questions that I never thought I’d ever have answers to. I learned that God is the one who made the commandments and I simply get to choose to follow them or not. I don’t get to create or abolish them if I disagree. I felt the most incredible peace about the law of chastity that I never had before. I also learned in a new way that faith is always a choice, so even though I was so far gone, I believed that I could just choose to move in the direction of believing again, and regain my testimony.

I was readmitted to the hospital for my Depression and Psychosis and was taken to a room with security guards outside the door. This was the darkest and most terrifying night of my life. I felt completely alone, except for the evil spirits that I felt there. I almost lost control over my body. The nurse was extremely worried about me, as I was almost in a state of catatonia. It was physical and spiritual at the same time.

That moment was pivotal to me because as much as I didn’t feel I could trust anyone, I realized at that moment that I couldn’t get through this life or this moment without trusting another person and without trusting in God. The nurse came in and offered a pill to help me relax and sleep. She told me that I could trust her, and pleaded that I take the pill. I took it and finally trusted that I would be okay.

Taking my medication now reminds me of the Savior’s Atonement every day. I need them for my mind to be at peace, and to let me be myself. Just as the Savior brings me peace, and allows me to be my best self.

It took almost a year of suffering and looming darkness to fully come back to God, the gospel, and the church. I was amazed at how scriptures I had long forgotten, just came back to me perfectly at the exact time that I needed them. I learned again that Jesus is my personal Savior and he doesn’t want me to dwell in darkness, but he wanted me to forgive myself so that I could move on and have light in my life again.

I am putting my trust into my patriarchal blessing, that I’ll be able to get married in the temple and have a family. I know that with God all things are possible. I know that The Family: A Proclamation to the World is true and that it’s from God. I no longer identify myself as a lesbian or bi or any other title, but only as a daughter of God.

I was elated, and so blessed to have been able to take the sacrament again after nearly 4 years. I am joyful living this life, and I will never look back. I now have the privilege of working in the temple, and to feel the Holy Ghost so strongly.

It is almost unfathomable to understand how much the gospel of Jesus Christ really changes a person. I know that if it wasn’t for the divine intervention I experienced, I’d still be living the same life. I believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is my everything. It’s my life and my future. I know and I believe that Jesus Christ is real!

If you feel like it’s impossible to reconcile your faith with your own thoughts and emotions, or if you are lost in darkness and anger, I want you to know that your heart and soul truly can be whole and one again. And to those of you who haven’t come out and who feel alone and afraid of what people might say or think; to those of you who have come out, and have been received with anger; to those of you who have been kicked out of your home or disowned; to those who have felt so alone that they wanted to commit suicide; to those of you who have left your faith, because you thought there was no other option, and to the friends and the family of someone struggling with this, (who have cried in prayer for the damage done by people who don’t understand), I express my love and concern for you.

I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
You can find Alicia’s full story here. And if you want or need to talk to someone you can find her on IG @liciayo.

Why Silently Surviving Souls?

Silently Surviving Souls is 2 years old! I thought it was finally time I explained a little more about what it really is and why I chose the name.


When I was trying to come up with a name for this Blog and Instagram account I kept thinking about how there are people out there who are fighting those daily battles that we know nothing about, the ones that can’t be seen, the ones that are hidden in the heart. The first idea that I had that really resonated with me was Silently Suffering Souls. But when I ran it past a friend she mentioned that it sounded sad and that surviving sounded more positive. I liked that because I definitely wanted it to be something positive. And so Silently Surviving Souls was born.

Every time I hear someone say that they are suffering in silence I just think, “Bam, yes. There it is.” I really prayed and pondered about the name for this whole endeavor and didn’t decide to do it willy-nilly. I really want people to know they aren’t alone in the things they experience in this life.

Even though we each have different, unique, and specific challenges that are given to us there are things we can learn from one another. I haven’t been divorced or had to bury a child but I can resonate with some of the feelings that these souls have experienced. I have learned from their struggles and been blessed by their faith and example. And while each trial is catered to our needs, there are things that we can all relate to. Each trial of infertility or being single is different but similar thoughts and feelings are experienced across the board.

Because of blogging, I learned that I enjoy writing. I like to share my thoughts and experiences in hopes of blessing others. But this blog would not be as successful without all of the wonderful souls who have written their experience or story for it. I am so grateful for their bravery, kindness, example, and love. I have learned so much from them and from sharing some of their deepest feelings and hardest moments in life. And I have seen firsthand how their stories and experiences have blessed and helped others as well.

Am I the only one who gets the vibe that if you’re not happy all the time then you’re doing something wrong? You literally cannot always choose to be happy. I want others to know that it’s ok to struggle and have a hard time. Our trials can be downright hard and instead of acting like we have it all together or that our lives are perfect we should take them for what they are and FEEL WHAT THEY MAKE US FEEL while also learning from them and trying to do and be better because of what they put us through.

And when someone else is the one struggling, don’t overlook those struggles. Don’t rate them on a scale and think they are more or less than yours. What’s hard for me may be a total walk in the park for someone else, but hard is hard no matter what and don’t let anyone downplay that. Just be there. Just listen. Just show up. Let them experience their struggle instead of telling them, “It’ll all work out,” or, “Everything happens for a reason.” And the same goes for you, too, experience your struggle. I don’t think anything good ever comes from trying to suppress your feelings.

I have truly come to know that we have no idea what people are going through and therefore it is of utmost importance to treat everyone accordingly. I have also come to know that once you know someone’s story, it is a lot easier to love them. Maybe that’s why Heavenly Father has an “easier” time loving all of us? He sees the whole picture, He knows our whole story.

Keep The Commandments

My oldest daughter, who is 3, is playing rec soccer and I volunteered to coach the team. This past week towards the end of her game she gave me a hug when she was supposed to be kicking the ball and almost started crying because she didn’t want to play anymore. I grew up playing soccer, and I still play when I get the chance, so seeing my daughter not enjoy something that I absolutely LOVE hurts my heart a little bit. And I was thinking about how we must hurt Heavenly Father’s heart when we don’t do things that He loves.

On September 2, I had the opportunity to teach the combined Young Women’s lesson. The focus for the month of September is The Commandments.

I started off by asking the young women what they think of when they hear the word commandments. Then I had the young women list what The Ten Commandments are, and then I showed a trick I learned on my mission to help them remember what they are (signals you do with your hands). Because I felt like 12 to 18-year-old girls know what The Commandments are I decided to take my lesson in a little bit of a different direction, focusing a little on living in the world but not of the world.

I then asked the young women what commandments girls their age struggle with. They told me things like keeping the Sabbath day holy, the word of wisdom, swearing, the law of chastity, etc. So then I passed around a gift, that I told them not to open yet, which was filled with blessings that come from keeping the commandments and I told them that it was their job to convince me that I want this gift. Who doesn’t want blessings? As they tried to convince me that I want this gift I came up with all the excuses I could: “I like going boating on Sundays because all y’all are in church and it’s less crowded, same with shopping. I like drinking my coffee in the morning because it helps me stay awake in school. I like to be able to say what I want when I want, and people think it’s funny. I like being able to hang out with my boyfriend alone so we can kiss and such without people looking at us like we’re gross.” Essentially I told them that the gift wasn’t worth giving up my habits for.

I then shared with them this story…

“This past year some of my friends on Facebook began posting their position on marriage. Many favored same-sex marriage, and several LDS youth indicated they ‘liked’ the postings. I made no comment. “I decided to declare my belief in traditional marriage in a thoughtful way. “With my profile picture, I added the caption ‘I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.’ Almost instantly I started receiving messages. ‘You are selfish.’ ‘You are judgmental.’ One compared me to a slave owner. And I received this post from a great friend who is a strong member of the Church: ‘You need to catch up with the times. Things are changing and so should you.’ “I did not fight back,” she said, “but I did not take my statement down.” She concludes: “Sometimes, as President Monson said, ‘You have to stand alone.’ Hopefully as youth, we will stand together in being true to God and to the teachings of His living prophets.” – Neil L. Anderson (Spiritual Whirlwinds)

And I asked if they had ever been in a similar situation. Some of the young women shared their experiences and we discussed what to do in those situations. And so I want to pose that question to you, what do you do when people you are surrounded by don’t follow the commandments?

We read the next 3 quotes and I kept posing the “What do you do?” question to them after reading each one.

“We don’t hold back to see what the minimum is we can get by with. The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind. Our whole heart! When we are baptized, we are fully immersed as a symbol of our promise to fully follow the Savior, not half-heartedly. When we are fully committed and “all in,” heaven shakes for our good. When we are lukewarm or only partially committed, we lose out on some of heaven’s choicest blessings.” – Gary B. Sabin

President Monson said: “The Savior of mankind described Himself as being in the world but not of the world. We also can be in the world but not of the world as we reject false concepts and false teachings and remain true to that which God has commanded.”

President Harold B. Lee said: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to … learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. … There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes. … It may contradict your political views … your social views … interfere with … your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, … ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you …’ (D&C 21:6).”

President Lee was Prophet from 1972-1973. That quote was from the early ’70s. I love how he straight up said you may not like this. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely seen many things people don’t like these days and the opinions they aren’t afraid to share about it. But the blessing he promises if we do what is right is amazing, and isn’t it worth it?

Finally, I had the young women open my gift. I passed it around and had each one pull something out. The items inside were: a picture of my daughters the day that they met in the hospital when my second one was born, a photo of my husband and I the day we were sealed, a photo of the temple, a mini missionary plaque I got from my stake, the scriptures, my Patriarchal Blessing, and a photo of our Savior. We went through each gift and I told them that I rejected each of the blessings that came from those beautiful, treasured moments. I rejected the blessings that were promised to me in my Patriarchal Blessing, from my mission, from being sealed in the Holy Temple, from the scriptures, from having a family, and from my Savior and His Atonement. Can you imagine rejecting such gifts? I can’t.


One reason I had such a hard time on my mission was that I saw people reject these things. I wanted so badly to give them all the blessings of the Gospel, but a lot of them decided there were things they’d rather have instead. And that was so difficult because I knew and still know that they could have so much more. And the same goes for friends and family that I see choose things of the world over things of God today, right now. It makes my heart hurt.

So, again, what do you do? How do you convince people that they want the gift?

One of the young women finally gave me the answering that I was hoping for… you focus on you. Ultimately, you are the only person who you can open this gift for. Everyone else has to decide for themselves. And it’s hard to watch others push it aside knowing what treasures wait for them, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your blessings.

What is stopping you from keeping The Commandments? And is it worth rejecting blessings over? What blessings await you if you would only decide to turn to Him and sacrifice the things of the world?

“Ye are the SALT of the earth…”

I cannot stop thinking about the SALT LDS Retreat I went to on Saturday, September 8, and I wanted to share some of my golden nuggets from the event.

It was held at the Marriot City Center in Salt Lake City, UT and was an all day long event. We started and ended as one big group, but had breakout sessions and roundtable discussions in between.


The first speaker was Elise Curtis, the founder of SALT. She talked about “Blessed is she that believed,” and it resonated with me because of the quarter-life crisis I feel like I’m going through currently. Are you recognized as a believer? She challenged us to think about why we believe throughout the day. Alma 32: 26 & 27 – let your desire work within you and then act!

The second speaker was Tamara Chamberlain, and spoke to us about The Atonement. I loved her right away because she told us about her love for Oreos, and I am a little obsessed with them myself. But the reason she told us about Oreos was because of this commercial she saw (GO WATCH IT! Wouldn’t it truly be wonderful if an Oreo could do all those things and more?) and how it made her think about the word wonder. Do we stand in awe and wonder of the Gospel? Wonder: a cause of astonishment or admiration. Let’s pass the wonder on, like in the commercial! Tamara then told us about 4 wonders of the Atonement: 1) complete forgiveness, 2) power of healing – repentance is God’s plan, knowing that we will fail, 3) change of heart, and 4) reality of our divine nature. What fills our time often reflects who we are. What is the daily state of my heart? “Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me. Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.”

We then had 3 different breakout sessions, with lunch in between, and had the option to choose between 2 different sessions. At the beginning of each breakout session, a Sister shared her testimony, and they were all beautiful and so touching.

The first breakout session I went to was with Lydia Defranchi-Nelson called, “But Mary Kept These Things, and Pondered Them in Her Heart: Letting Revelation Percolate in Our Lives in a Culture of Instant News.” It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but still very good. Lydia talked about how we are constantly bombarded by information these days and how we CHOOSE what we allow into our minds. Does the information you’re receiving serve a purpose? Maximize your time and space with The Spirit. There is no neutral ground in the universe. Wait (in discomfort) on the Lord – His timing is different than yours.

The next breakout session was, “Finding Joy in Motherhood,” with Cheri Magill and Melisa Osmond. Cheri spoke first and asked, “What makes you a good Mom?” At the end of the day, it’s the fact that we keep trying. Your child’s behavior is not a reflection of your ability to Mother. Recognize what is in and out of your control. Every day is a fresh start. The obstacle is the way. Motherhood is REFINING. How has God helped you through your wilderness (and how are you documenting it)? Stop trying to prove something! Create a “Mom Mission Statement.” You’re not missing out on today because you’re holding tomorrow in your arms (loved that one!). She played some beautiful songs for us that she had written about Motherhood, and then Melisa took her turn. She told us that hard times build our character and to EMBRACE the Mom you are! VALUE Motherhood. She talked about a hard experience her family went through, but how at the end of it there was joy. There will always be joy.

And the last breakout session I went to was, “You Create Your Life,” with Brooke Snow. I had a slightly hard time in this session because of my dealings with anxiety and depression and how that can sometimes inhibit your ability to choose how your life goes, but it was still good and gave me things to think about. I have the power to CREATE! Things we see, say, and feel turn into actions which equal results.

The roundtable discussions were next, and we got to pick 3 to go to. I went to “Mindfulness for Moms: Simple Practices For a More Peaceful, Present, and Purposeful Life” first with Kim Christensen. She told us about an experience she had that turned her to mindfulness, which means remember, awareness, connection. She shared 4 things that help her be mindful: 1) seek meditative moments (intentional if possible), 2) rewire your thoughts – observe the thought, where it came from and why it’s there, and guide it (affirmations), 3) don’t let your phone rule your life (experience first, post later), and 4) let go of perfect in favor of being you. The second one I chose was “Regaining Peace Each Day, Each Hour, Through Learning What It Means to Become New in Christ” with Briana Johnson. She talked about how we can walk with Christ to have peace. How would having more peace change you? When all other relationships fall away the one with Christ remains. In life, you’re not always going to be happy but you can have peace. Live undaunted! Be riveted! And the last, but certainly not least, discussion I went to was “Everyday MOMents: Discovering Christ in the Details and Filling Our Holes with Him,” with Jessica Poe. She shared a few scriptures and quotes with us about discovering and having new eyes. We discussed the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-6) and how he made an effort to see Christ and was rewarded for it. Find Him. Feel Him. Share Him. She shared an amazing story about how she develope a hole in her dura and what it took to heal it. You can’t always heal yourself. Healing takes order. Christ’s blood is what heals our holes – The Sacrament.

We all came back together after the roundtable discussions and talked about what to do next. Brooke Watson led the discussion and said, “Christ takes what we have and makes it enough.” Bam! Needed that too. She gave us a call to repentance of sorts, to do better and be better. Repentance is a fresh view of oneself.

Our final speaker was Kim White and she spoke to us about how God is in the details. She has been battling cancer for 4 years and is literally a walking miracle. She told us about various things that have happened to her throughout her cancer journey and they are by no means coincidences. God can handle anything you need to say to Him. Don’t take life for granted. What an amazing woman she is and I am so grateful she was able to share her strength, wisdom, and testimony.

What an amazing event it was! I needed it more than I thought I did. I met new friends, IG friends in person, and spent time with old ones. This day hit the refresh button for me, and I hope that even though you may not have been there yourself that something I shared with you touched your heart and mind.


When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Suzie

I found Suzie through Instagram a little over a month ago and have been following her journey with her darling son, Trey. I am always amazed by parents who have kids with special needs. I’m grateful Suzie was willing to give a small glimpse into what that’s like.
Suzie is a simple Mom who grew up in the city and the country. From Las Vegas to Star Valley Wyoming. She currently lives in a town called Pahrump, 45 minutes outside of Vegas, which is the perfect mixture of country and city. She loves playing basketball, doing her makeup, hunting, and traveling. She has been married to the love of her life (seriously) for almost 12 years!

March 22nd, 2010 a beautiful, healthy baby boy was born to us. He was the third boy in a row, and we were smitten instantly with his sweet face. We had many exciting firsts with him, his first year of life. Crawling, walking, clapping, dancing, saying first letter sounds of some words, etc. We were surpassing milestones left and right. When we had Trey, he was our 3rd baby in 2 years. SO yes, we had three in diapers, for a few months. It was wild, smelly and I rarely sat down.

Fast forward to when he was 16 months old. Something triggered our sweet boy, and we had lost him. No more eye contact, zero babbling, almost zombie-like. I haven’t heard him say, “Mama,” since he was 16 months old… He’s 8 now. We have had so many learning opportunities to raise a child with autism. I honestly think he was sent to me so I could learn to be more Christlike. It’s as simple as that. He has taught me patience, what having actual soul-deep hope feels like, how to pray, how to love unconditionally, and how to press on.

Having Trey actually gives my life more purpose. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father, because of Trey. To me, Trey is literally perfection, whether the world agrees or not. Our life with just N/T children would be too easy.. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. And what would this life be, if it were just easy?

How do I keep going when things get tough? Well, that’s a hard one to answer. Every situation is different. But the common denominator is knowing there is an absolute precise purpose for why my husband and I were sent a child with a disability. I think knowing that there’s a purpose to this life, that all will be made right in the end, and that death is not the end, motivates me. If i didn’t have the beliefs I do, where would I be on this tough, rugged journey? Where would my hope be? Would I pray as much as I do now? Would I soul search as much as I do? The answer is no. I am nothing without my Father in Heaven.

“I wish to say a word of appreciation for those among us who struggle with handicaps and impart a message of comfort to their families, especially to the parents. Where in all of the world is the son or daughter of God who is totally without blemish? Is life not worth living if it is not perfect? Do not the people with handicaps also bring their own gifts to life—and to others who are free of those handicaps—in a manner that cannot come in any other way? There is hardly a family without one of its members who might be considered physically or mentally diminished. I have a great appreciation for those loving parents who stoically bear and overcome their anguish and heartbreak for a child who was born with or who has developed a serious mental or physical infirmity. This anguish often continues every day, without relief, during the lifetime of the parent or the child. Not infrequently, parents are required to give superhuman nurturing care that never ceases, day or night. Many a mother’s arms and heart have ached years on end, giving comfort and relieving the suffering of her special child.” —James E. Faust, “The Works of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1984,

Superhuman nurturing care. Still working on it!! Does having something to believe in make my life easy? No. It just makes the journey bearable. I still have many rough days. Days where my husband will come home from work, and look me in the eyes and say, “Honey, go get the mail.” That’s code for, get out of the house and go do whatever you need to do, to gather yourself together and come home with a smile on your face. If that’s going to Maverick to get me a hot dog and a diet mountain dew, then so be it. If it’s calling up my mom or sister, and just going for a drive, then that’s what it is. EVERY MOM NEEDS A BREAK!! We all get ragged, worn, or mentally a little crazy. And with that being said, I think it is SO important for every special needs mother to make sure she takes time for herself to regroup.

And let me add to that, as much as I think it is important to have me-time, I think it is even MORE important that my husband and I have a date night, once a week. It can be as simple as putting the kids to bed, and watching our favorite show on TV, with a giant bowl of popcorn, of course. Finding the right babysitter (or two, or three, so you can rotate), is key for us. We can’t just trust anyone. It has to be someone who understands Trey a little and can handle when he has his earthquake-like meltdowns. We have to find someone who understands that his stimming (when he flaps his hands or makes crazy facial expressions), is not him having a seizure. It just means he’s UBER excited about something. We have been super lucky with being able to find a few sitters that we trust. MAKE TIME FOR YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE, OR EVERYTHING ELSE IS GOING TO CRUMBLE AROUND YOU! The divorce rate of couples who are raising a child with autism (and any other disability for that matter), is insane. Take care of yourself, and take care of each other so you can be a team.

I am grateful for the life I live. The ups and the downs. I am so grateful for this bond my family has created with each other, on a magnified level, because of Trey. If I can look at a disability as a gift, or perfect love from our Heavenly Father, everything changes. If I keep on keepin’ on, it will be worth it.

“I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.” Until that hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show “compassion one of another.” – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Feature Friday: Alexis

I found Alexis’ Instagram account and asked her to share her experience with anxiety. Her account is great and can be found here, she also has a Facebook page.
Alexis Graff is 22-years-old and a mom of two little boys under age 2. She recently graduated from Dixie State University with a psychology degree, aspiring to one day become a substance abuse counselor. She would love to help end the stigma of mental health by educating others about it and letting others know it is okay to have trials. “As we share our vulnerabilities we can be of great help to others around us!”


I learned what it was at 18 years old. It started in 4th grade, at age 10. My parents switched me from public to private school because they felt like I was wasn’t learning enough in school. I always had straight A’s, which I think played a huge role in the switching of schools.

A few months into school, there was a social studies exam I needed to take the next day. My cousins had come into town that night, so instead of studying, I played. (Keep in mind I was only 10!) I took the test the next day, knowing I had missed almost everything. Then we graded them. Before we even started, I knew I failed that exam miserably. My teacher started giving us the scores based on questions missed. I could feel my heart racing so fast, my stomach becoming a huge knotted mess. I had never felt so afraid in my whole life. I asked to go to the bathroom as my voice shook, you know, when you’re trying to prevent yourself from crying. I got to the bathroom and began sobbing on my knees, by the toilet. I felt like the knot in my stomach was going to come out of my throat. It didn’t.

I failed that test. My parents were going to be so disappointed. Why didn’t I study? I shouldn’t have played, I should have been responsible. What if I didn’t pass the 4th grade? I just sat there miserable, afraid, not knowing what to do.

My teacher came and found me and I told her I was so sick. My stomach was hurting so bad. She called my mom and she took me to Instacare thinking I had something wrong with me. After waiting for what seemed like forever, the doctor saw me and said I was fine. Nothing was wrong with me. He mentioned an ulcer but that was the extent of that. So for years, I battled daily migraines, headaches, waking up with stomach aches, and more.

When I got into middle school, I finally had an MRI done because these headaches were not normal. Guess what? The MRI came back clear. What the crap?!

After that, I just decided that I was probably going to have these problems forever and I’d better get used to them.

All of those symptoms were present in anything I did. At work, at school, in volleyball, in choir, at church, at the store, and pretty much everywhere else.

I graduated high school, started college and that’s when everything made sense. There I was studying psychology, and we were discussing different mental disorders. As the professor went over GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), I finally felt understood and knew I was clearly not the only one facing this awful disorder.

Fast forward a marriage, and a baby later (3 years) I started a page to help others understand what mental health is, what living with a mental illness is like, and how to cope. I want people to know they are not alone, and that sharing their experiences can help others in ways nobody else can.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Berklee

Berklee was “introduced” to me by a mutual friend through Instagram. She has her own blog where she shares her experience with divorce but offered to write a post for mine too. (Her blog is definitely worth checking out! Even though I haven’t been divorced, I could totally relate to some of the thoughts and feelings she experienced from my experience of being an ERM.) This girl has a heart of gold, read on to see for yourself.
Berklee is a BYU graduate and currently teaches high school history and geography. She loves to travel, having lived in both Italy and Germany, and has visited 23 countries. She is applying to grad schools in the UK to further her education in history and she hopes to be a professor someday.


Surviving Divorce

I have found, after trying to explain my story hundreds of times, that tragedies are often best explained and remembered in moments. Take, for example, a moment from last September. I was sitting in the Celestial room of the Provo temple, overwhelmed and frustrated beyond belief. I had been coming to the temple every few days for over a month now, and I still wasn’t receiving an answer. I needed to know if I should leave my husband. I felt like I was supposed to, all the facts told me I should, all the people that showed up in my life at the time steered me toward divorce; yet, I wanted a direct answer from God. The day before, my (now ex) husband’s excommunication had become official, and our sealing was broken. I felt so alone, not only on Earth but also realizing that I wasn’t sealed to anyone anymore. Sitting in the Celestial room I felt hot tears silently roll down my cheeks. Then a stranger from across the room walked up to my chair. I was embarrassed about crying in front of this beautiful lady. I gave her a shy smile and looked back down. Then she wrapped her arms around me and held me. At that moment, I felt so much love. She helped give me something that Heavenly Father could not at the time, and she is an angel for being His arms on the Earth. This same pattern surrounded my divorce. Every time I felt so alone, that I could not go on, Heavenly Father sent me someone to take care of me. He ensured that I was never really alone. Because of the principle of agency, Heavenly Father could not save me from the consequences of my husband’s actions. But He always made sure that I was taken care of in the wake of those consequences.

The events leading up to my divorce are dark and complicated. The quick version is that my husband had an addiction to pornography (which he lied about) that led to many other infidelities (which he also lied about), and he wasn’t fixing anything. This sounds quick and dry. While I was still married and debating if my marriage was salvageable, so many people told me, “well obviously you should leave him! He was unfaithful, why would you stay?” And yes, on paper, all signs pointed to me getting the heck out of that marriage. But it is so much more complicated. For starters, I loved him. To be fair, I loved a version of him that was not reality, but there were still very real parts of my ex-husband that I loved dearly. Then there was the fact that we were married in the temple. This was supposed to be an eternal marriage. How could I break that? I felt so guilty for choosing to break apart something I had covenanted to keep. Especially when the society around me was constantly talking about marriage as the pinnacle of human existence. Marriage is the happy ending of a million movies, the most trending search on Pinterest, and the exalting ordinance in the LDS church. It is what every little girl dreams of until her day finally comes, and her happily-ever-after is made a reality. And I had to choose to walk away from it. That decision is so soul-breaking. I grieve for anyone who has to make the decision to get divorced. The only way that I was strong enough to walk away from my marriage was through the guidance of Heavenly Father. I prayed to Him asking what to do at least 100 times a day. Just like the moment when I was I the celestial room, I was constantly looking for Him to come and tell me, “get divorced!” in a super-clear, ultra-powerful way. That never happened. What did happen is that each week as I went to the temple, God gave me enough answers to get me through another week. It took months for me to get to the point that I was ready to walk away. God knew that it would take me time, and He gave me answers line-upon-line to get me to where I needed to be.

Once I made the decision, life did not get easier. I once heard divorce described as getting in a car accident every day for two years. I think that is a pretty accurate description. Emotionally, I was a mess. I was lonely, confused, sad, angry, and I had totally lost my identity. Physically I was also a mess. I didn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep, which only made my emotional state worse. Then there is the financial and legal side of divorce, both of which brought out a terrible, frightened, and ugly side of both my ex-husband and me. And to top it all off, this was all happening the month I was starting my new job as a high school teacher. I was completely overwhelmed. I had to take leave and go to the bathroom while teaching to avoid breaking down in front of my students.

However, just like that moment in the temple, God made sure that I was always supported. He had to let me fall, but He gave me the softest pillow to land on. I had women come into my life that had very similar experiences and now were OK; that gave me such hope! There are so many people who are affected by divorce, even in Mormon Utah culture. The problem is that we don’t talk about divorce, so when people experience it they feel very alone. I want to be a voice of hope, that there is life after divorce! For those of you who have experienced divorce, I know it can be hard to share. But the more we share, the less taboo it becomes and the less alone those who have to go through this trial in the future will feel. Your examples can give others hope. For those of you who have not experienced divorce, know that every divorce is different. Try not to judge those going through a divorce, because you never know what has happened. If a loved one of yours is going through a divorce, be there as a friend. Ask how they are doing, reach out and show that you love them no matter what they choose. For me, the people who helped the most were those who would reach out and let me talk about what I was going through, and who loved me. I didn’t need advice or someone to offer solutions. I just needed to feel like I was loved and not alone. You can do that for others!

This week marks one year since I started the process of getting divorced. It has been a rocky year, but I have found so much peace and joy. The two things that have helped the most have been time and support (from God and from those around me). I have found myself again, I have made many friendships that I would not have made otherwise, and I know that I am where I am supposed to be. It seemed impossible for a while, but I really do love my life. I hope that anyone out there struggling through similar experiences can know that there is hope for you too and that Heavenly Father knows and loves you perfectly. You are never alone!

Feature Friday: Ian

Ian is my husband’s cousin. He is the nicest guy and has made me feel like part of the family since day one. He asked me if he could share his story about his attempted suicide and I am glad he is brave enough to share that experience. Mental illness definitely has a stigma, that I think is slowly diminishing (which I love!), but suicide is a whole different can of worms. It needs to not only be talked about, but discussed. Read on to learn about Ian’s attempt and what he’s learned since.
Ian Airmet is single, studying Outdoor and Community Recreation Education at Weber State. He served a mission in the New York Utica Mission and deals with depression and anxiety.


“I don’t belong here. Nobody loves me, nobody wants me around.” These were the thoughts floating through my head. I was 14 and dealing with these thoughts 24/7. I was told I was useless, worthless and wasn’t going to accomplish anything. I was the invisible kid who fell through the grid unless someone needed a punching bag. I didn’t have friends and was bullied at home and school. I wondered why the kids I saw at church were nice on Sundays but then the rest of the week just awful towards me. I had two best friends, one who after 5th grade went to live with his dad in Mexico and by the time he got back to town he had made other friends and got involved with drugs. To this day I don’t know if he is alive or dead. In 6th grade I made another best friend, however, as the years went on we just went down different paths. At home, I come from divorced parents and lived in a neighborhood were divorcees were not so common, at least in my eyes they weren’t. There were a lot of things out of my control that somehow felt like they were my fault. Many years went by of pent up feelings of being a social outcast added to the fuel my depression and anxiety. Finally as I was entering high school I received the same advice as when I entered jr high, “You want to do this and do that to fit in with this group. That is the group that will make you cool.” Essentially change who you are to fit in with another group of people. Tired of all of it I decided it was time to end it all. Life wasn’t worth living.

So one Sunday afternoon while everyone was off at church I stayed home and drank some antifreeze with the intention of killing myself. After a few minutes I changed my mind and did what I needed to get the antifreeze out of me. When my mom came home I told her what had happened and we rushed to the E.R. After being cleared I was checked into a mental hospital where I first learned about depression and anxiety. However, when I first got there one of the counselors asked me if I ever killed someone or watched one of my friends die. When I answered I didn’t he asked, “Then why did you try to kill yourself?” It was a question that I didn’t have the answer to yet but I was on the journey to answer it.

I want to say after that experience I went to work to figure out what I was dealing with and how I could manage it. Truth be told is I didn’t. I looked for love and acceptance in all of the wrong places. Friends that I had to change and be someone I wasn’t to be accepted, porn, blaming God for everything wrong, and the list could go on. The way I describe it is I was soulless and allowed my depression and anxiety to destroy and control my life.

There came a point where I got tired of the life I was living. I already had my suicide attempt and that was no fun and I certainly didn’t want to go through another hospital visit again. It was during this time where I had my coming to Jesus moment. I had looked for something to believe in before – things like pagan worship and other ways before settling to be an atheist. This time was different and despite my rule to never become a Mormon I started reading the Book of Mormon and saying my first prayers. In that moment I knew I had a testimony, but I had run away from it instead of embracing it and it was time to change that. It was also time to prepare for a mission again which was another rule I had, don’t go on a mission. Elder Ballard just issued the challenge to raise the bar for all missionaries going out so instead of going out into the field, I had to work hard to prove myself that I was ready and it was something that I wanted to do. That involved learning about depression and anxiety and figuring out how to deal with them, especially if I was to be in a different state or country. It took me two years to do it but I learned tools along the way that I did not have before and they were useful during the mission as well.

I am taking a pause from the story to say this: during this time I started over and got rid of all my previous friends or people I was hanging around. A girl that I had gone to elementary school with and was in my home stake reached out to me one night at a youth activity. When I got active again I called her and attempted to make friends with her. She has been an angel to me. During those years where I was learning to deal with my depression and anxiety and had to talk about a lot of this stuff for the first time, it was with her. It was scary for me and I am sure not the easiest thing for her but she as I stated earlier she was an angel to me and without her I wouldn’t be here today.

I served a faithful mission and I guess that means I defeated depression and anxiety and am living free of it ever since? NOT. The mission and getting active in the church have all helped but the reality is that I have to fight every day. A few years ago I asked a friend out, now in my head I have to focus on just the day in front of me. I don’t go jumping to conclusions or thinking that something bigger is going to happen. I do this because of my depression and anxiety, meaning if I ask someone out and start to think she is going to become my girlfriend or I’m going to marry her then when it doesn’t pan out the depression is there holding me down with thoughts of “you’re useless, you won’t accomplish anything in your life, nobody is going to love you.” So I focus on the here and now. This friend thought I was asking for more and started avoiding me. When I was able to talk to her I would get yes/no answers. My depression took this reaction as “nobody will love you” and thoughts of suicide popped back into my head and I almost sent a heartbreaking goodbye text. Here is the thing about depression and anxiety, they will make mountains out of mole hills. I have been rejected by plenty of times by girls and, heck, they tend to do that sort of thing but for some reason this one stung a bit more than I thought it would. I have talked about tools and here is where I want to share the tools that I have learned.

Recognize the difference between depressive thoughts and actual thoughts. Just as members are encouraged to recognize the spirit, for someone with depression often times the depression influences our thoughts to believe things that aren’t true. When I was rejected by my friend the first reaction wasn’t my thoughts. I love life and enjoy it so why would I want to end it. Recognizing it as a depressive thought helped me to readjust my thinking and do something different.

2 Nephi 2:25 – men are, that they may have joy. As someone who has depression there have been times where I felt like I should be happy, life is good and I have a lot going on but I’m not happy. It is ok to be depressed and sad and angry and all sorts of emotions. Nobody is happy 24/7. Learning this and taking things one day at a time I have learned there are some days where it is better to be just depressed than trying to fight it and try to overcome it. I realize that day was a waste and there are things I want to accomplish so I get back to work and I’m able to get back on feet faster than if I tried to fight it. Also I learned to laugh. My dad taught me to not take myself so seriously and I will look for things that I do that get a laugh. Even the most serious of events can be easier to deal with if you learn to laugh at them.

When I first got active I had this picture of what a perfect Mormon would be. As a guy he was clean shaven, part in the hair, only listened to MoTab, dressed with the sweater over a button up shirt, and only said nice positive things. I felt bad because those were not me. I felt bad because I did not grow up with family home evenings, watching Disney movies, or family scripture time. However, in response to a prayer I had said, an answer I got was why try to be something you are not? You have been through a lot of different things that allow you to get to people who others cannot get to. Lesson learned, don’t try to be someone you are not. The experiences you have make you you. Use them, learn from them, and don’t try to fit some mold that doesn’t exist. I felt bad as a child being a social outcast, and today I might still be a social outcast in someway but I don’t care because I learned to love myself – the good and the bad. I have a loving Heavenly Father who wants the best for me and doesn’t want me to change who I am for some latest trend or a person who doesn’t have my best interest at heart.

Last one, forgive. I didn’t mention names or go too in depth of how others have hurt me. I did this because I have forgiven everyone and there is no place in my heart for hatred, no place in my heart for grudges, or to talk bad about others from years ago. I tried to kill someone (me), and someone has tried to kill me (again me). I had to forgive myself for one of the top sins, and yes, it was hard as all hell. But in the end it is an experience that has taught me about living and given me a perspective that others don’t have. 20 years ago my life almost came to an end. The flip side is it started me on a path that led me to finding my life.

Feature Friday: Saralyn

Sara and I went to high school together. We had mutual friends and spent a few days in East Canyon together after graduating. She is easy to talk to and has a very kind heart. She recently started sharing about her own mental health journey and was gracious enough to let this blog be part of that too.
Sara is an artist and she loves the outdoors. She is a 27-year-old, single gal living at home, working part-time, and trying to get back to school in January.


I often hear the phrase, “I have a mental illness, but it doesn’t define me.” My mental illnesses may not define me, but they have definitely RE-fined me. Through my illnesses, I’ve been able to have experiences with God that I never would have thought possible. I’ve learned more about myself and grown closer to my own spirit. My relationships with others have been strengthened, my ability to recognize and appreciate beauty has increased, and I’ve had some beautiful, sacred interactions with those beyond the grave.
While all those things are true, I don’t want to make it sound like everything is sunshine and daisies for me. I’ve been suicidal more times than I can count, and have felt mental and spiritual pain more extreme and agonizing than any physical pain I’ve experienced (including kidney stones). I’ve felt isolated, terribly alone, and completely removed from God and those I love. Fear and depression have been my constant companions for most of my life. I have days when I cannot get out of bed, days when it takes all my willpower to eat anything, and days when I just want to go back to my spiritual home.

Despite all the pain and suffering I’ve experienced, I can truly say that I am grateful for it. Some days it’s hard to remember that. But the things I’ve gained and the blessings I’ve received far outweigh the suffering and hardships. Struggle is a part of this life, pain is a part of this life, but God has gifted us with His Son, who is the source of all truth and light. He picks us up when we fall, He stands by our side when we face challenges, and He holds us when we weep. Things may not be okay, but they will be one day. And until that day, I’ll keep moving forward, taking one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Because it truly is worth it to be alive.

But First, Faith

Any time I read about Nephi I am always so amazed by his faith. I always think to myself, “I wish I could have faith like him.” As I’m starting The Book of Mormon over again, this time I thought to myself, “Well, why can’t I?”

Faith is the first principle of the Gospel for a reason. If we do not have faith, then we have nothing. Everything builds on faith.

“We live in trying times. I need not list all of the sources of evil in the world. It is not necessary to describe all of the possible challenges and heartaches that are a part of mortality. Each of us is intimately aware of our own struggles with temptation, pain, and sadness… Despite all of the negative challenges we have in life, we must take time to actively exercise our faith. Such exercise invites the positive, faith-filled power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into our lives.”
– Richard G. Scott

I have been noticing more and more lately that when we take our focus off our Savior and let the opinions and ideas of others become our source of knowledge then we lose faith. Peter is a prime example of this when he was walking on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Matthew 14: 29-31

There is so much going on in the world, and even in the Church, it can be easy to lose sight of what is most important. It can be easy to question and start doubting. It can be easy to turn to man and away from God.

Speaking of turning to man and away from God… last week, a High Councilman gave a talk in my ward and he shared an experience of someone speaking and posing the question about the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven following Satan’s plan. Why did 1/3 not follow our Savior? He shared that the speaker agreed with all the answers that were given, but that someone came up to him afterward and discussed with him that maybe it was because of a lack of faith. That got me wondering about this time in our pre-earth lives, and even though we don’t have a sure answer, I do believe that it came down to faith. 1/3 lacked faith in The Plan. That means that you and I had faith.

And right now, I’m riding on faith.

I am grateful for past spiritual experiences I’ve had with the simple things: prayer, reading my scriptures, following promptings, serving in the Temple, going to Church, etc. Because those experiences have been carrying me through life for the past couple of months. And I keep doing them because I have faith. Faith that they will protect me from the adversary. Faith that the Spirit will be more abundant in my life. Faith in all the simple things I am promised if I keep going and doing.

Ultimately that is what keeps me going. Faith in those promises. And faith in the knowledge that I have that one day all will be made right. That one day I will be free from burden, sin, and illness. That one day I will be happy all the time. That one day I will have all the answers. That one day I will live in the presence of my Father in Heaven and my Savior.

And I have come to terms with the fact that those things aren’t happening for me right now, during this earth life. That’s part of the experience here, right?

The rewards of heaven will be sweet if we but keep the faith.