May 22nd, 2014 by admin

5 Comments

In Darkness, In Grace

In Darkness, In Grace

SNAPSHOT PORTRAIT: Hillary Stirling

At A Glance

My hardest choice ever was to let God back into my heart.

All through my childhood, I’d known that my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, love me. It was a conviction that carried me safely through the often-tempestuous adolescent years. I knew God’s love in the good times, like when I met my husband, and the bad times, like when I miscarried my first pregnancy. That fixed knowledge helped me find peace and direction. And so it went through unemployment, major surgery, under-employment, my firstborn being diagnosed with autism, another miscarriage, and watching the family I grew up in fall apart—God’s love was a constant that gave me strength, purpose, and hope.

Then, shortly after I weaned my second child, I was struck down by a major depressive episode. I knew that depression could strike anyone and that it was a medical disorder, but I also knew first-hand God’s healing power. From Him, I sought relief from this ailment. None came.

I couldn’t receive the revelation I’d relied on throughout my life because the Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds—but my heart and mind both were broken by the depression.

As I grew more desperate, I read the scriptures, I prayed, I attended the temple with intense purpose—all to no avail. I felt cut off from my Heavenly Father and from my Savior. I couldn’t receive the revelation I’d relied on throughout my life because the Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds—but my heart and mind both were broken by the depression. I was left in misery, suffering the emotional pains of spiritual death.

Eventually, I was able to see a psychiatrist who prescribed medication that did more to lift the darkness than all my prayers had. Though I was grateful for that partial relief, I also felt surprisingly angry. Are we not promised over and over that the Gospel brings peace to our hearts and that our Heavenly Father’s plan is one of happiness? So why could I get those things from a pill but not from Him? He lives—even in my darkest moments, I never doubted that—but I felt that for inexplicable reasons He had turned away from me.

The depression was turning out to be a life-long struggle. Then one day I realized I had a choice: I could go on feeling angry and abandoned, or I could repair my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Even though I still couldn’t entirely trust my emotions, I chose to reach out to Him.

"I couldn’t go back to the way things were before the depression, but I found that with God’s daily grace I could move forward."

I began daily scripture study and prayer again. And while I couldn’t go back to the way things were before the depression, I found that with God’s daily grace I could move forward in my faith journey.

It has taken me a long time, but I have come again to a place of surety. I know my Father lives. I know that He loves me enough to let me struggle through the lessons I need to learn. I know He trusts me enough to try my faith. Above all, I know that despite how I felt, the reality is my Savior had already experienced every moment of my despair, frustration, and anguish. I never was and never will be abandoned.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt A Glance

Hillary Stirling


Location:
Pleasant Grove, UT

Age:
37

Marital status:
Married

Children:
Two (ages 12 and 9)

Occupation:
Paralegal

Schools attended:
Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University

Languages spoken at home:
English

Favorite hymn:
“How Firm A Foundation”

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5 Comments

  1. Kim
    2:10 pm on May 23rd, 2014

    I could have written this word for word. Including the timing ifmy depression after I weaned my second child. I’m so glad there are others who know my struggles.

  2. Joanna Legerski McCormick
    2:23 pm on May 23rd, 2014

    Thank you for sharing….

  3. Bryn StClair
    10:44 am on May 30th, 2014

    I’ve also hand many of the same feelings and dealings with depression. I’ve always felt like my medication was heaven sent…But I understand the desire to be healed. I have noticed that if I don’t manage my depression then the heavens are far far away. I do my best to manage it with all of the tools I can find, some are spiritual some are physical. It’s one of those “thorns in the flesh” that I fully intend to overcome in the resurrection.

  4. Tiffany
    10:10 am on July 3rd, 2014

    Your statement “He trusts me enough to try my faith” really struck me as I am currently struggling through a trial. Thank you for writing what I believe The Lord needs me to hear right now.

  5. Judith
    7:31 pm on October 5th, 2014

    Physical and mental illness have much in common. If you had diabetes, also a chemical imbalance like depression, then insulin is necessary.

    I am a therapist who experiences depression (chronic major depression). Although I was put on medication over 20 years ago, it wasn’t because I hadn’t tried everything else I knew of…

    The recent literature on neuroscience indicates that we can change our brains! Wonderful, inspiring news. The clients I have (I focus on women with anxiety and the triggers that cause it) do not want medication as part of their therapy. I use mindfulness approaches (Dr. Daniel Siegel, in particular) and family-of-origin (a substantive piece of Satir Therapy) to move women towards positive growth. Mindfulness is really the gospel (Word of Wisdom, prayer, exercise, focusing on strengths, etc.) Family-of-origin is helpful in that many of us grow up with expectations (the family rules), beliefs, etc. that may have been useful at some point during our growing up years but no longer help us move forward. Some beliefs/expectations were never that useful! Once we can modify them or toss them, it frees up energy to develop more helpful and useful ways of coping and living.

    Medication can be useful…however, pills can’t help with reactivity, a sure sign of an unresolved family-of-origin issue. I have trained in both these methodologies, and my professional and personal life have been much better…

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