Tag Archives: Things I Know

Why I wrote about my depression

I thought I would say a few things that I should have said yesterday about why I wrote about my depression.

First, I wrote in the hope that anyone else who is fighting depression will feel less alone. I know I felt very alone in some of the hardest times, even when I was surrounded by people who loved me would would have helped me if I had said anything. I hope you will reach out to me if you need help.

Also, I’d like to do what ever I can to help get rid of the stigma that has surrounded mental health. I grew up with the attitude that mental health problems are the same as physical health problems. I’m not embarrassed to say I have Asthma. No one, myself included, should be embarrassed to say they have a mental health problem. Often, the first step to getting the help you need is to say that you are struggling.

Third, it’s part of my fight, to admit that I have depression. I am best able to control my depression when I say, out loud, on paper, or what ever, that I’m fighting it.

Last, hopefully this will help someone see the signs of depression in themselves or in those around them and help them get help. Because, as it was with me, sometimes you can’t see it yourself, and you need someone to help you see it.

Remembering the Hard Stuff

Cardio appointments are always a mixed bag emotionally for me.

On the one hand I spend the whole time being SUPER grateful that Peanut is well and that we have not been to the Cardio in two years.  SUPER grateful for the miracle of her life.

On the other hand I relive, especially in the time between doing the echo and seeing the doc, every fear and pain that I went through when she was born until I stopped being in a constant dread of her dying, which was at about 19 months.

This last Cardio appointment was a little nerve wracking for me, we were there a few months early because Peanut had been complaining about feeling short of breath, which can be a sign that something has gone wonky with her heart.

She is fine.

But that current fear reminded me.  It reminded me to pray and feel grateful.

I feel very blessed to have wonderful doctors, wonderful family, wonderful friends, and a wonderful Father in Heaven who has helped and continues to help me and Peanut.

I think remembering past trials is probably always like that, you remember what the pain was like, you can feel it the same way you can feel someone’s pain when you see them get hurt badly.  Sometimes it’s even more then that.  Sometimes you relive the pain.  Hopefully, you relive the joy too, the relief you felt when the trial ended or when you understood what it was all for.  Hopefully you pray just as hard as you did during the trial after the trial, prayers of gratitude for what you learned, for help received.  I always try to remember to do that, to pray with as much fervor as I did in that PICU.

How do you remember the hard stuff?

Independance Day, Armenian Style

/Intro —

As many of you know, I spent two summers in Armenia as a teenager. It was a really great experience in many ways. I learned a lot of things that have shaped who I am as a person now. One of the things that I learned is why Communism is so bad and what it does to a country and a people. I also learned what the price of Freedom is. I learned that it is a high price, but one worth paying. I’ve decided to write a posts, maybe more, talking about this. I hope that they will help you understand a bit more about the me, my political views, and maybe take a look at your own.

/End Intro —

When I lived in Armenia they had been free from the USSR for only four years.  I was there when the country had their fifth independence day. Armenia’s independence day happens to be July 5th. When you are a teenager and someone shakes your hand a solemnly congratulates you on your country’s independence, it make you take notice and wonder why, especially since in America we tend to take Independence day as a chance to party (not that their is anything wrong with a party, I love a good party)

On the Fifth of July Yerevan was very, very quiet. Not that their were not people about, there were lots.  There was a parade, a very very quiet parade. No fireworks, no party’s, just a solemn procession. It was after that I started asking questions.

First I asked my friends, the kids my age, “why don’t you have a party? Why aren’t there fireworks? Why is everyone so serious about Independence day?” Sadly, none of them really knew.  In retrospect I supposed their parents did their very best to shelter their kids from what happened, that would be a very Armenian thing to do in my experience.

Then I started asking the adults. I got pieces, a lot from listening to my parents talk to other adults (sorry Mom and Dad! I wanted to know and it’s not like I was really eaves dropping, you knew I was standing right there.) Here is some of what I learned.

When we went to a concert, at the beginning the Armenian national anthem played, it had no words, only music, I asked why.

The music had been written by an Armenian, but the words had been given to them later by the USSR. They were not going to use those words (It had a lot of talk about Mother Russia and such) but they were going to keep the song, they were going to take it back from Russia. Make it free like they were now free.

I asked once why there were no buses in Yerevan, just little personal vans that drove around like buses.

Armenia was the first of the former Soviet Block countries to get their independence. Russia was quite unhappy about it (This is the understatement of the year). Their reaction when it was inevitable was to essentially say “Fine, you want it, you got it.” They took all the power plants apart, shut off natural gas pipelines, and ripped out anything they could infrastructure wise, put it on all the buses in the country and drove them to Russia. They didn’t want Armenia to be free, but if they were going to be free Russia was going to make them pay for it. I think they were hoping Armenia would beg them to come back and “save them”.

I asked why there were no old trees only young trees in Yerevan. It seemed strange when everyone seemed to love gardening and plants.

Armenia had beautiful forests, most of them are gone now. When that first winter came many people were freezing and starving to death. The gas lines were still broken (plus they came from Russia, who would not turn them back on) the power plants were still in pieces. The only solution that could save people was to cut down the trees, so that is what they did. They said it was worth it to save their people and to have their own free country. When I later read “We the Living” by Ayn Rand it reminded me of this story about Armenia.

When the election came I was told to stay away from a street that I normally walked down, I asked why.

It was the street with the presidential palace. It was FULL of people, protesting, lobbying, shouting, waiting to hear the outcome of the presidential election. Apparently the man that was president at the time had been discovered doing certain things the old soviet way, the way of kickbacks, bribes, and ignoring rule of law. The people were ANGRY. They had starved, frozen and died to get rid of people like that.

I’ll stop here for now, I’m starting to cry thinking of the sufferings of the Armenians. The next lesson I learned that I think I’ll write about is my experience with those clinging to the USSR and Communism and what happened economically to Armenia once they were free.

Being Nice to Yourself

Any time it’s come up that I have not yet finished my degree people tend to react with poorly concealed surprise. When they say “I thought you already had your degree.” my response has been “It’s because I’m smart that everyone thinks that.” That usually get’s met with even more surprise. There are lots of observations about humans I could make here, but what I want to focus on is the fact that my saying ‘I’m smart’ garners so much surprise.  It’s not that people don’t think I’m smart, it’s the fact that I say it that surprises them.

To be complimentary towards yourself is apparently taboo, and to disparage yourself isn’t. Why is this? Why do we feel more shame in complimenting ourselves then we do belittling? Really, tell me, because I don’t know. I think this is a trend we need to change (Wow, I’m really in for the social change here lately).

When in life do we change from someone who is nice in their self to someone who is not? I don’t remember, but I do remember changing back. There was a day that I said to myself, “self, why are you so mean to you? You would not want to be friends with someone who was mean to you, so why do you let that happen with the person you are with ALL THE TIME!” So I stopped. It took some time, but I did it. I’ll still have a bout every once in a while, but overall, I’m pretty nice to myself.

Then I started branching out. When I would hear people talking mean about themselves I would tell them that I don’t let people say mean things about my friends, especially my friends. Then I started saying some of the nice things that I knew about myself.

You should try it, it’s great!

I’m hoping to be an example to my girls. I’m trying to teach my girls to be nice to everyone, starting with themselves.

Do you say nice things about yourself? Why? How do people react?

On Being Opinionated

People often say that they are too opinionated, or that someone else is too opinionated.

That is a ridiculous statement (in my opinion).

Everyone has opinions about everything. Literally EVERYTHING. Everyone is opinionated. You may have conflicting opinions, you may change opinions, but if you really dig and think you do have some kind of opinion. You may say you have no opinion, but that is either because you don’t want to say what your opinion is or you don’t care to give it any thought, which is an opinion in itself. The people who are called too opinionated are the honest people, the people who will actually TELL you what their opinion is and stand by it. Why would we want to shut down honesty and the sharing of ideas?

As a person who has very often been called ‘too opinionated’ I’d like to remove the shame and stigma that comes from society for this way of being.

Let me talk to all opinionated people here. As an opinionated person it is your duty to promote opinionatedness. You can do this by following a few simple rules.

  1. Be opinionated and own it
  2. Be respectful in your opinions
  3. Allow others to be opinionated as well
  4. Always be willing to change your opinion with new information (that doesn’t mean you WILL change your opinion, it just means you are willing to look, consider, and analyze other opinions, information and data)

Be opinionated and own it: The worst thing is to have an opinion and say that you don’t. Not only are you being untrue to yourself, you are being untrue to the opinion and idea you espouse. Encourage others to be opinionated. Don’t feel shame and don’t spread it.

Be respectful in your opinions: We all have opinions that are ‘mean’. I suggest thinking ahead of time how to deal with it when a time comes up that your opinion on a subject might be considered ‘mean’. The classic ‘does this dress make me look fat’ scenario comes to mind. We also all know when someone is vulnerable or sensitive about their opinion, we all know when our opinion might not be welcome or be met with a response we would not welcome. Use caution. For example, I’m almost always the most conservative person in any given room. Unless the room is filled with conservatives or I am specifically asked, I tend to keep my political opinions to myself. If I am asked, I always include the fact that I know I’m WAY more conservative than everyone else. That seems to defray any kind of animosity I would otherwise face.

Allow others to be opinionated as well: Don’t state your opinion in a way that makes others feel they are not allowed to have a different one. Such as including in your statement of your opinion phrases like “Only idiots don’t know that…” or “You would be stupid not to know that…” Leave these out, no matter how much you are tempted or feel that they are true. Don’t imply them with tone or body language. Do follow up the statement of your opinion with a request for the other person’s opinion. A simple “What do you think?” is very effective.

Always be willing to change your opinion with new information: Being closed minded kills mental growth.

Lastly, I’d like to add that although I am sharing these ideas I’m not perfect at them. I KNOW I have done the opposite of all the things I said here at one time or another. If I’ve ever done any of those things to you, I’m sorry and I hope you will share your opinion with me again and I’ll do my best to not repeat past mistakes.

Opinionated people Unite!

So, what do you think can be done to spread being opinionated? Do you have any advise to opinionated people?

Additional thought:

In response to an opinion people who say “You always think you are right” are making a ridiculous statement. Of course I think I’m right, I wouldn’t have that opinion if I didn’t think I was right!

Feeling Less

When I got back from my mission all my friends were pretty much about to get married and about to graduate from college, had jobs, lives and so on.

I still had a LONG way to go until I was done with school (and I’m still not done). I wasn’t dating anyone, obviously. I didn’t have a job. I lived in my parents basement and didn’t really have a life.

I went to a few events with my friends but came away ‘feeling less’. I knew that my choice to go on a mission was the right one, but at that moment, when my life wasn’t where their lives were, I felt like I’d given up or lost so much by going. I felt I was out of step, I was ‘less then’ they were, younger (even though I was older), not as together. I didn’t feel like I had a place with my friends anymore. I did go back to school, get a job, get married and all those things that my friends had at the time I came back from my mission.

I found out, many years later that I gave my friends a similar feeling. They though I felt I was past them, that they didn’t have a place with me. Funny how that happens.

Recognizing that was how I felt, that I ‘felt less’, has helped me at other times in life when I started ‘feeling less’. I gave up something to go on a mission, but I gained something more. And those things that I ‘gave up’ were not given up forever. I realized that ‘feeling less’ is not something that comes from God, it comes from the adversary, and we should treat it as such.

When I feel that way now, I evaluate why I feel that way. I look at my choices that brought me to where I am. Then I try to accept that if I do what God wants me to do that what ever it is that I feel I lack has a purpose, and all things that God wants for me will come in time. Then I realize that I am never less in the eyes of God.

Do you ever ‘Feel less’? What do you do about it when you do?

Politics and Religion

The world of Politics today crosses over into the world of Religion more often then I think we would like to believe. The very thing that the Puritans came here to avoid, restrictions and control over the practicing their religion, is very much in danger of happening in the United States today.

I see and hear so many people in the Church say things, that I know that if they just realized how the Church stands on the topic they might take a little more time to think. I very often want to say something in the moment, but I don’t dare, as it’s either not a good place or not a good time, or I’m just not close enough to the person to feel like they will listen to me in that context, or really because I’m afraid to offend.

I probably shouldn’t be that way, I should be more brave to stand up for what I believe even, or maybe especially, to people who believe the same thing. So, that’s what I’m going to do here. It’s the chicken way, but it’s a start.

First example.

Pro-Choice. I could go on about this myself, but I’ll let an Apostle make my arguments for me.  Below is a link to the whole talk, which I recommend you read, and then a quote.

Weightier Matters by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Pro-choice slogans have been particularly seductive to Latter-day Saints because we know that moral agency, which can be described as the power of choice, is a fundamental necessity in the gospel plan. All Latter-day Saints are pro-choice according to that theological definition. But being pro-choice on the need for moral agency does not end the matter for us. Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal. We are accountable for our choices, and only righteous choices will move us toward our eternal goals.

In this effort, Latter-day Saints follow the teachings of the prophets. On this subject our prophetic guidance is clear. The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Our members are taught that, subject only to some very rare exceptions, they must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. That direction tells us what we need to do on the weightier matters of the law, the choices that will move us toward eternal life.

In today’s world we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice. Those who persist in refusing to think beyond slogans and sound bites like pro-choice wander from the goals they pretend to espouse and wind up giving their support to results they might not support if those results were presented without disguise.

“Every woman has, within the limits of nature, the right to choose what will or will not happen to her body. Every woman has, at the same time, the responsibility for the way she uses her body. If by her choice she behaves in such a way that a human fetus is conceived, she has not only the right to but also the responsibility for that fetus. If it is an unwanted pregnancy, she is not justified in ending it with the claim that it interferes with her right to choose. She herself chose what would happen to her body by risking pregnancy. She had her choice. If she has no better reason, her conscience should tell her that abortion would be a highly irresponsible choice.

If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins. I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law due to this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? of cruelty to animals? of pollution? of fraud? of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?

And another example.

I have seen several people who are decrying the Supreme Court decision today in favor of Hobby Lobby. People of my faith should be REJOYICING.  This protects OUR FAITH, just as much as it protects Hobby Lobby. The federal government should not compel people to do things contrary to their faith.  And if they could compel Hobby Lobby, what would stop them from compelling the Church?

Nothing.

And yet a third.

I have seen several people rejoice over the striking down of prop 8 in California (I know this is rather old news, but still valid to my point).  When the Church comes out with the statement, which they don’t often do, saying they are sad about it, you should be on board too.

There are more, but I’ll stop there for now.

I think very often people in the Church do not realize how far afield they get from their religion in what they believe politically.  I think people very often get into the “espouse ideas contrary to their religion.” without even knowing it. I think that’s because people try to have those things exist in a bubble, one separate from another. That’s impossible, and wrong.

Please please please, before you favor a political idea, see how it stacks up with your Faith. That’s all I’m really asking.

What talks from Apostles or statements from the Church have you see that influenced your political thought?