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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lesson ~ Depression and Mental Health

Taught by Jeanine M.

From the talk:
'Like a Broken Vessel by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland'

In the last conference, in Elder Holland's talk he refers to the scripture in Psalms that compares the feeling of hopelessness to being a broken vessel. (Psalm 32:12)  
In the parable of the cracked pot, we are reminded that even a vessel that is cracked still has a purpose.

Elder Holland declares that; we should feel no more shame in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or a tumor than the afflictions of mental illness.

Why is there a stigma?  
Have things improved?  

In our discussion we realized that most of  us were raised in an environment where mental illness existed but was never discussed and was often kept secret.  Even today, hurtful things are said to those suffering from mental illnesses and to their families.  Things need to change and we will start now in our neighborhood.  Even though we should be willing to talk about and treat mental health in the same way we talk about and treat our physical health, we can recognize that mental health issues are much more varied and much less understood.  This just requires us to be more understanding of others and more patient with ourselves.

The Center for Disease control and Prevention reports that 1 in 10 adults will suffer from depression or anxiety and in 2010, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 12-17.  1 in every 5 families will be affected  by depression.

This was such a landmark talk because an apostle recognized how widespread depression is.  He names several prominent people as well as himself that suffered from deep depression.  He also acknowledges that it is not always a result of sin or adversity, but it can be part of our mortal existence.  He mentions that everyone experiences discouragement and a certain level of depression.  He wants us to differentiate between this and clinical depression.  He says, "I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person's ability to function fully... a dark night of the mind and spirit that is more than mere discouragement."

He poses the question, "How do we respond when we or someone we love is confronted with challenges?" First and foremost if the depression or anxiety is debilitating, seek the advice of trained professionals.  Elder Holland says, "Be honest with them, prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe.  Our Heavenly Father expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts he has provided in this glorious dispensation."  

He gives more suggestions that I divided into three categories.  

This is what he says about each of them:

Have Faith:  Never harden your heart, seek counsel, ask for priesthood blessings, faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the spirit into your life, never lose faith in a Father in Heaven that loves you more than you can comprehend.

Have Hope:  Hope is never lost, take the sacrament and hold fast to the promises of the atonement, believe in miracles, trust in the fallen world we chose to come to, if the bitter cup does not pass; drink it and be strong, trusting in better days ahead.

Have Charity:  We should show compassion to each other, be nonjudgmental, merciful and kind.

He counsels us to watch for stress indicators and try to prevent illnesses when we can.  Be on the lookout for fatigue and take time to 'replenish and refill.'  

Neal A. Maxwell advised us to learn to;
"discern between divine discontent 
and the devil's dissonance." 

Tina S. shared with us about a day when she was really down, everything just seamed like it was so hard. She just laid her head down on the counter and cried. Then recognizing those feelings come from Satan, she decided she wasn't going to let him 'win'!  She stood up and announced out loud to Satan, "I'm going to clean my toilets, you can't do that, you don't have a body"!!  When she was done she felt better knowing she had won the battle that day! 

We want to change things by starting in our own ward and neighborhood, having more charity and choosing not to judge and by opening up one to another. One sister shared a remarkable story of a family whose schizophrenic brother killed his sister and her friend.  They have shown charity toward him by helping him get the help he needs and still treating him as a member of their family.

In the same Psalm that references a broken vessel, David declares, "In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in the righteousness."

It really is through believing in Christ's Atonement that we can be healed from the mental illnesses that plague us.  May we seek professional help, have faith, hope and give encouragement to those who suffer by being charitable, kind and loving. 
See: Moroni 7:42-48

Elder Holland says, Though we may feel we are "like a broken vessel," as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter.  Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed.  While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind. 

Know that if you suffer from anxiety or depression you are NOT ALONE!  
All of us if not struggling from it ourselves, have someone we know that struggles with it.  Do not be afraid to talk about with each other.  

Let us put our arms around each other in compassion and love, lifting and supporting one another as Sisters of our Divine Heavenly Father.

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