My mother once sat at my bedside and told me "Dying is easy; it's living that's so hard." At the time, I didn't believe her. Now, here I am standing on the cusp of another long Michigan winter, dreading the cold and dark.
A long time ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I have come to understand that while that opinion may well have been incorrect, I do suffer from debilitating depression that creeps up on me in the late fall and throws me into mania come spring. The only season where I really feel like myself is summer.
I have been trying my hardest to keep hold of all things good and calming. I have been reading my Scriptures, trying out new crafts and hugging my husband.
I have also been gritting my teeth, crying a lot and considering throwing massive tantrums. Sometimes notebooks I was just writing in take to flying through the air and smacking into the wall, and I come to and find myself killing a poor, hapless pillow that got in my way.
There is definite pain in healing from mental illness, and the road I chose is not right for everyone. I have been medication-free since 2007. Occasionally, I will go to see a counselor if I feel the need, but most of the time I rely on my faith and my family to keep me afloat. It's hard to look over the past few years and see that I have not progressed as much as I had hoped. Sometimes I am still afraid; sometimes I am still depressed, and I can safely say that the mental torture I subject myself to is an awful price to pay for being lucid.
But there is a healing power in the Atonement of Christ. It doesn't make everything better all at once; I can attest to that from where I sit this evening, having been sick and in pain for most of the day. It does, however, give me something to hope for. Someday, I will be completely well.
I get a glimpse of what this will feel like when I sit in the temple in the presence of God. My worried soul is calmed; my harrowed mind is quieted. I am not paranoid or depressed or upset. I am my best self. This winter, I am going to try to go to the temple more often. I know that as I go there in faith and prayer, I will find the strength I need to deal more effectively with my illness. I will be at peace.
It is this peace, the peace of Christ, that I wish for all of you this holiday season. Open your heart and let Him heal this pain that comes from living day to day. I will be right there with you.