“I had wanted to serve a mission since I was a little girl, and I finally had that chance when I turned 21. I served in Texas for 11 months before coming home because I developed anxiety and depression.
“I have occasionally wondered why God would instill in me such a strong, righteous desire to be His servant and then take it away. But if I’ve learned anything from this experience and dealing with the struggle of mental illness, it’s that God has a plan for me that is greater and far better than my own. He loves me enough to shape me into the person He wants me to be. Sometimes He takes away what we think we want to give us what we truly need, and I am so grateful that He did that for me.
“This journey hasn’t been easy by any means, it’s been heartbreaking and tear-filled at times, but Jesus Christ heals the soul and brings real happiness. I know that with my Heavenly Father and Savior by my side I can get through the trials that are placed before me.” —Ally
Thanks for sharing, Ally. #ShareGoodness
@telyourstory Instagram account
Allyson • Kaysville, UT • USA 🇺🇸 How do you explain to someone something you don’t even understand yourself? Something that you will never fully comprehend? That’s what living with a mental illness is like… trying to explain what’s going on in your mind without fully understanding it yourself. It’s frustrating, out of your control, and a daily battle, one that I fight everyday. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression while serving an LDS mission in Texas. It was, and can still be, a nightmare. I had wanted to serve a mission since I was a little girl, and finally had that chance when I turned 21. I served in Texas for 11 months before coming home due to developing anxiety and depression. I have occasionally wondered why God would instill in me such a strong, righteous desire to be His servant and then take it away. But I’m learning to walk by faith, knowing that God has a better and far more perfect plan than I do. Some days I feel like I got this and I’m doing really well. I’ve been able to find things that make me feel better: being a mom, having a job, social media, etc., on the flip side, they can also make me feel worse. It’s a never-ending oxymoron. But one sure-fire thing that always helps is knowing that it won’t be like this forever. One day I won’t be exhausted from fighting. I won’t have breakdowns and/or panic attacks in the middle of an exercise class, at church, or driving to the store. One day I won’t need medication to feel “normal.” One day my body will be perfected and I will be free from this illness. I’m so grateful for the Plan of Happiness and the knowledge I have that this life is only a small moment in the grand scheme. And I am grateful for a loving Savior who provided that possibility. He knows. He knows my struggle, He knows me, and He loves all of it. He is the only one who fully understands. And that is the most beautiful, comforting thing to carry with me through my struggle because I don’t even fully understand. He is the quiet, the calm, the solitude, the light, the comfort, the peace. And, “When there’s no peace on earth, there is peace in Christ.” He gives me the peace I need to overcome.
“… I don’t know that I really feel like I have that partnership with God…but I think it’s good for women to know and to realize and to be told that yes, you do have that partnership with God and He is there. Even though you’re going through the motions some days, it does matter. You are making a difference, even though it’s hard to see sometimes.” –Ally Hayward
In this interview, I talk to Ally Hayward, of Silently Surviving Souls about her diagnosis with anxiety and depression and dealing with mental illness in motherhood. Ally was diagnosed while serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and ended up coming home early to deal with her illness.
Motherhood has lessened Ally’s depression because her little girls give her a reason to get up and get going. Her anxiety has been harder to deal with as a mother because having children means there are a lot more things to worry about.
Ally has realized that sharing and being open about her struggles helps her deal with them. She offers advice to those who know someone struggling and hope to anyone who has issues with mental illness. Ally’s website and Instagram account @silentlysurvivingsouls are her way to be open and share about her illness and offer a place for others to share as well.
This is the 10th episode of the podcast. I’m so grateful for all of the guests who have been willing to share their stories and their faith with me. Over the past few weeks, I have had more than one conversation about how some moms may not always feel like God is their partner in motherhood or may compare themselves to someone else. I have felt the need to share that we are all unique, and we don’t need to compare with someone else our relationship and how we feel God.
I was so grateful Ally was willing to share she doesn’t always feel Him in the day-to-day. We had a great conversation about this and Ally expressed so much hope and faith I hope will inspire someone else and help someone else feel they aren’t alone. We all have our own journey to find our partnership with God and that is okay.
Salt LDS Retreat Blog Post: Healing is Feeling
I poured my heart and soul into this blog post and prayed for inspiration when writing it. Once we truly feel what others struggle with can then truly help them heal.
“I wake up in the morning not caring about anything or anyone. I have become past feeling, and I have become numb to the world around me. I get out of bed, but I feel nauseous or sometimes I’ll dry heave. And eventually, I get to some food and I literally have to force myself to eat it. And give myself kind of pep talks as I go along like, ‘This will help give you energy,’ ‘Food will make you feel better,’ and, ‘You need to eat.’ And sometimes as I’m eating I can’t take another bite and I have to stop even though sometimes it’s not enough, but I know that it’s better than nothing. And then I just go back to laying down because I am so tired and I don’t have energy. And the energy that I do have is all negative, and I have no control over it. It just comes and goes when it wants to. I get chest pain so bad that I feel like I’m having a heart attack and there is this invisible weight that just sits on my chest and makes it hard for me to breathe. And I can feel this negative energy just boil up inside of me and it makes my skin crawl. And I just want to get out of my body because of the torture that it creates for me. I would never take my life, but I have thought about it. As I have wanted to it’s because I just want to escape my body and just be rid of the things that I’m feeling and experiencing and going through. And I just want an escape. I sob uncontrollably at random moments throughout the day for no reason at all, and I just can’t stop the tears from flowing. I know that I have things to be grateful for and I know that I’m blessed but it’s not enough right now. It’s not enough to pull me out of the dark pit that I am in and it’s super frustrating. The things that used to fill my soul with happiness are now empty and not worthwhile. I am consumed by irrational fears. I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to be around people either. I am careful with who I spend my time with and I make sure that it’s someone that doesn’t ask me the questions but that they’re just there for me. And at the end of the day when I can finally go to bed sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night not being able to sleep despite being so exhausted. I am tense and so I have to get out of bed and I just pace in my living room or in my bathroom. And I pull on my hair or I’ll sit down and just rock back and forth or I’ll do jumping jacks or swing my arms around. Anything to just get this energy out of my body so that I can go lay back down and hopefully get some sleep and get some rest. And I fall asleep wondering if tomorrow will be the same story or if I’ll finally start to feel better. Part of me wishes me that I could sleep forever so that I don’t have to face this reality that haunts me every day.” – Ally Hayward
So many men and women silently suffer from anxiety and depression. In this episode of the Spark Podcast, Ally Hayward of Silently Surviving Souls takes us into her world as a wife, mother, and writer who suffers from anxiety and depression. We get to see her darkness and she shows us how she copes with the day to day struggles and finds hope and healing.