The hardest choice I’ve made in my life was…
…to reveal my major depressive episode and my suicidal thoughts to an unknown audience of thousands.
Following the birth of our fifth child, during nearly the entire five years my husband served as Bishop to our congregation, I lived in a world of increasing darkness and despair. I had no idea what was happening to me; I just knew that suddenly my life was no longer happy, I felt worthless, and I had no hope that things would ever change. I decided I must have been wearing rose-colored glasses earlier in life, and now I was simply seeing things as they really are.
At one point I became convinced that the best thing that could happen for my children would be for me to die and for them to have another mother who was all the good things that I could never be. As I read the scriptures—better for one man to perish than a nation dwindle and perish in unbelief—I thought I saw confirmation from God that this final act would be in my family’s best interest. Though my thought processes were terribly flawed, I could not see those flaws from the bottom of my deep pit of despair.
Fortunately, I was led to people who recognized what was going on, and I recovered through a combination of medication and cognitive/behavioral therapy.
In one of my last meetings with my therapist, he challenged me to write a book about my experiences. I laughed.
I had come out of darkness and back into light; why would I ever want to go back and reexamine those terrible experiences? And why, after putting what little emotional energy I had into hiding my personal, private horror, would I want to reveal myself at the very time I was done with all that?
But my plans were not the Lord’s plans. Less than a year after starting to write my story with a collaborator who was a mental health professional, Reaching for Hope: An LDS Perspective on Recovering from Depression was published. As I said my prayers the evening of the book’s release, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach and knew that events were out of my hands. I, at my very worst, in my moments of greatest failure, was now revealed to the world. I hoped the outcome would be worth the cost.
It has been. Just last week, a woman I had never met told me she had read my book. I’m never sure what to say to that: “Hope you enjoyed it!” isn’t right. People don’t read that book for relaxation or escape. But she said the words that I treasure each time I hear them: “Now we understand what our son is going through. And he knows that he is not alone, and he has hope that he can recover.”
Weeping may endure for the night, but joy can—and does—come in the morning.
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Find Meghan’s book here.