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Last week we had a great conversation in church about Lehi’s Vision in the Book of Mormon. For those not familiar with the vision, you can find all the details of the vision in 1 Nephi chapters 8 and 11.
In the vision, there is a part where mists of darkness arise around people who are striving to reach a tree with fruit that is most desirable and fills ones soul with joy. The tree, according to scripture, represents the love of God.
In the Church, I feel that when we discuss the mists of darkness that arise in Lehi’s dream, we often correlate that with temptations, sins, and distractions from Satan that take us off of our path to God and to wayward paths.
However, last week, as we discussed and read about the dream, I thought about times in my life when I have literally had mists of darkness arise when experiencing depression or discouragement. I’ll paraphrase one experience that I wrote about in the book Discovering Light:
There was one day while I was experiencing extreme depression and doubt. I was driving in the rain and crying from the heavy weight that I was feeling. Thoughts were swirling around in my mind and I pulled over and offered a mighty prayer in desperation, asking God to intervene.
Within a couple of minutes, my Grandfather called me, out of the blue. Hearing his voice as he said “my boy!” immediately snapped me out of my downward spiral of negative thinking and I smiled as I remembered the fun times I had with him growing up next door. Images of riding horses together, working together, singing together, etc. came into my mind.
I shared with him my emotional state and how depressed I felt. He opened up to me and shared with me how intimately he understood my situation and shared some very personal experiences of a time when he was depressed right after my Grandmother had passed away.
He then shared his testimony of how God carried him and helped him through and he knew God would do that for me too. This conversation gave me hope for that day and was a testimony to me that not only did my Grandfather care for me, but my Heavenly Father did as well and had sent Grandpa as an angel to rescue me.
This experience reminds me of something Russell M Nelson, from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles recently wrote in his book “Accomplishing the Impossible”. He writes:
…angels are at work. Often our members are “angels” to neighbors in need. Home teachers and visiting teachers, as ordinary people, frequently render service that seems angelic to grateful recipients….I am among the many who have often referred to the loving acts of an “angel mother” or an “angel wife,” or the priceless love of “angel children”.
Do we believe in angels? Yes! We believe in angels-heavenly messengers-seen and unseen; and earthly angels who know whom to help and how to help. Gospel messengers, or angels, can include ordinary people like you and me (pg 25).
I’ll forever be grateful for my Grandfather who was close to the Spirit and listened to a prompting from God and acted as an angel to my prayer when I was in the middle of a “mist of darkness”.
From personal experience, I know that darkness, doubt, and depression can be overpowering and make one feel like it is impossible to accomplish the task of even getting through another day. I know that with God’s help, we can all accomplish the impossible to either have strength to hold on while we are experiencing “mists of darkness” and eventually make it through.
Those of you who have read this blog over the years know of my past struggles with Anxiety and Depression. Many of you know my story and how I was able to overcome anxiety and depression.
Since writing the book, Discovering Light, I have been contacted by other bloggers, medical practitioners, and non-profit companies to share my story. I feel that anxiety and depression is something that is only recently being acknowledged and accepted in society and in order to help inform people, I welcome all opportunities to share my story.
One thing I’ve learned is that each person struggles with anxiety and depression in a unique way and there isn’t a cure-all for everyone. Many people struggle for years and feel terribly alone and isolated.
When one of the administrators of the website: With Real Intent reached out to me about a series they are doing on anxiety and depression and asked me to write an article, I gladly accepted.
The series is called Peculiar Minds and has articles from many different people who are or have suffered from anxiety and/or depression in various forms. It is very interesting to see what works for some people and how each person deals with anxiety and depression. I wish that there had been this type of site when I was struggling.
I encourage you to visit their site and forward this on to anyone who may be struggling at this time.
I read a recent study called “Why Marriage Matters” that listed 30 key findings supporting the institution of marriage. Since my parents were divorced when I was young, I can personally relate to many of the key findings. In fact, I noticed that many of the findings outlined in this study such as mental and psychological distress, delinquent behavior, etc. were ones I experienced personally and wrote about in a recently published book: “Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication“.
I’ll outline 10 of the findings that I was either surprised about, or personally experienced.
Ten Findings Supporting the Institution of Marriage
- Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality
- Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens.
- Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.
- Cohabitation is associated with higher levels of psychological problems among children
- Family breakdown appears to increase significantly the risk of suicide.
- Boys raised in non-intact families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior
- Marriage is a virtually universal human institution.
- Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers, and cohabitation is less likely to alleviate poverty than is marriage.
- Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.
- Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.
While I’m not saying everyone needs to go running out there and get married to solve the world’s problems, I do believe that if a man and a women have a loving relationship that it is most beneficial for society if they get married rather than live with each other, which we see very often today.
What are your thoughts on these findings?
A few years ago I wrote an article on how I was able to overcome anxiety and depression without using medication. At the time, I didn’t realize how many people struggled with either anxiety, depression, or both.
Since I wrote that article along with some other ones, people have emailed me, called me, or just talked with me about their struggles with anxiety and depression. When I started receiving so much feedback, I decided a great way to get the word out would be to write a book on the topic.
Over a year ago, I started writing a book on my experiences with overcoming anxiety and depression. What I thought would be a short process ended up being about a year in the making. Editing the book and finding a publishing company was another endeavor that took almost as long.
Long story short, I finally finished the book and am excited to share it with you or anyone else you think may be able to benefit from overcoming anxiety and/or depression.
The book includes my personal story along with several resources to help guide people to learn how to cope with and eventually overcome anxiety and depression.
Feel free to visit Amazon.com and check out the book. I arranged a “Look Inside” feature so you can read some of it. Click on the image below to check it out:
While preparing to teach this week’s Sunday School lesson in 2 Corinthians, I came across a talk given by Paul Johnson, one of the Mormon Seventy, entitled “More Than Conquerors Through Him that Loved Us“. There were a few lines in the talk that stood out to me, which I will quote:
At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. And no one is exempt, especially not Saints striving to do what’s right.
A pattern in the scriptures and in life shows that many times the darkest, most dangerous tests immediately precede remarkable events and tremendous growth. “After much tribulation come the blessings.”
As I read this, I immediately reflected on my own personal trials I’ve experienced so far in my life. For me, the most difficult trial I’ve had so far has been overcoming addictions, anxiety, and depression, which I’ve written about here and here. In this post, I won’t spend any more time reflecting on the trial, rather, I will discuss the blessings that came after the trial.
Although I struggled with the issues for about 15 years, the most severe part of my trial lasted about 2 1/2 years as I struggled to overcome various problems partly caused from things I did and also from things that other people did that were out of my control.
However, as I made progress and felt the Lord’s hand guide me through the way, I came to trust in Him completely and believed that as long as I followed Him, everything would work out for my own good. Deep down, my deepest desire was to have a healthy relationship with a good woman, but if the Lord thought it would be best not to have that, I was fine with that because I had seen what trying to do things on my own had brought me over the past 15 years.
Over time, God granted me peace of mind and spirit. With that came confidence in my relationship with God and also with myself. I grew to love who I was and feel gratitude in hy heart. Shortly after the most sever part of my trial was over, God granted me the greatest blessing in my life other than the gospel: my wife. It came unexpected, but I thank the Lord every day for the blessing that she has been in my life. With her in my life, I feel that I have been able to come even closer to God as we grow in love for each other each day as we raise our family to the Lord.
I know that my trials are different than others’ trials and what appears to be a trial for one person would not be a big deal for another. The tendency is for people to not share trials, but this online format can provide a good place to share experiences and perhaps receive some insight. I have learned that sharing experiences helps build faith and helps us get through the trial. If you have an experience you would like to share about overcoming a trial and the blessings you received from the Lord afterwards, or if you are currently going through a trial and need some help, please share.
The day I wrote this article, I came across an amazing story of a young Cambodian boy whose father was captured and killed that escaped with his mother to the U.S. and was able to overcome issues with drugs and gangs to find God and also earn his PhD. See below:
I’ve alluded in previous posts to problems I’ve dealt with as a result of issues from my early childhood. One of my most often read posts is the one I wrote last year about overcoming anxiety and depression. I’m grateful that God has been able to reach so many people through my experiences and I hope that the reference in this post will help as well.
Along with dealing with the depression that I previously wrote about, I was dealing with certain addictions (which, I feel were a trigger for depression I was having). I won’t go into detail about the addictions I had to overcome, but I will discuss the process I went through in overcoming them.
As a young child I had some traumatic events in my life that affected my views on various things in life. Unintentionally I formed addictions later in life as a result of these early experiences. The funny thing is that I knew what I was doing was wrong but I would seem to always revert back to my addictive behavior over and over again. It affected my self-esteem and the way I viewed the world and it went on for many years.
Overcoming the addictions I dealt with were a process. First, I was in denial and I would put the blame on others such as my parents or the people involved in my addictive habits. However, after a few years and a serious wake up call I realized I had a problem and needed to overcome it. The only problem was that I couldn’t stop myself from the habits that had been formed even when I knew they were wrong.
To make a long story short, God helped me through blessing me with determination, patience, and guidance from the Holy Ghost for a number of years. One day as I was driving the Holy Spirit told me in my mind to contact an old friend I hadn’t talked with in years. When I called her I thought I was going there to help her on an errand from God but soon found out that she had recently gone through an addiction recovery program. She became my sponsor for the program which was a major part in my addiction recovery.
Looking back on it, I am deeply grateful that God knew me personally and cared for me deeply enough to guide me to the right program. For me, it was very helpful and worked in the end. However, I did feel a bit of a void especially when talking with my church leaders. I would have loved to have been in a session with people who had similar views on God but I don’t think the leaders were properly trained or aware that the LDS church has an addiction recovery program.
The other day I came across this LDS reference and thought it would be very helpful for people to know about.
Here they have support groups, counseling services and publications for addictions dealing with the following issues:
I encourage those of you who are either dealing with any of these issues or are in a leadership or counseling role to help others with these issues to use this website as a reference. I think if I had known of this before-hand it could have saved me some time and I could have overcome the issues with much more support.
If anyone else has ideas of good references for those dealing with addictions please feel free to share.
In 1966, Batsell Barrett Baxter delivered an excellent sermon entitled “As a Man Thinketh.” I HIGHLY reccomend reading it. While the whole sermon is excellent, I choose to pull the following quote from his sermon at the Hillsboro Church of Christ:
“Chronic resentments, grudges that we carry around with us, become deep-seated abscesses. They ruin our personalities. They poison our minds, and they produce diseases in our bodies. When we continue to carry them, we are slowly but surely committing suicide! The cure for a surgical abscess is incision and drainage. This makes healing possible from the inside out so that the patient is rid of the abscess once and for all. The cure of a spiritual abscess is forgiveness–real forgiveness. This heals our minds, our bodies, and our souls.”
Have you ever suffered from someone who hurt you whether intentionally or un-intentionally? Do you or have you ever suffered so much that all you can do is supress the pain and try to forget? Do you hold a grudge against someone that harmed you or a loved one? If so, then I hope that what I share in this post will bless you.
By the time I was in my late 20’s I was slowly dying both physically and spiritually. This may sound extreme, but I had been poisoned by my inability to forgive one of my parents who I felt had abandoned me after a divorce in my younger years. On the surface, I knew I needed to forgive and I tried to force myself, but nothing I did seemed to help. It became so bad that my resentment started taking over my life in my relationships with others as well as the way I viewed myself. I was sick–both physically and spiritually.
When I came to the realization that I was the one with the problem and took responsibility, that was a huge step for me. I didn’t know where to start though and how to overcome the resentment that I had harbored subconciously for so many years. I turned to the Lord in prayer asking for Him to provide a way–and he did.
A couple weeks after I had started seriously praying for an answer and way to overcome my issues with forgiveness someone I hardly knew in church came up to me and said “I have a feeling that you could use my help.” I was immediately intrigued.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“I work for a lady that practices Reiki and other natural forms of healing.” she said, “You should come by.”
I’d never heard of Reiki before, but thought it was at least worth giving a try.
A week or so later I arrived at the clinic and started getting to know the “Reiki Lady”. A name that I soon started calling her that stuck. In our initial appointment I shared with her my experiences as a child. It was very painful and I was full of resentment, hurt, and anger. After our intial visit, she determined that multiple sessions were needed and I scheduled a few appointments.
For those who aren’t familiar with Reiki, it is an Asian form of natural healing in that the practioner focuses on your energy levels that your body puts out through pressure points called “chakras.” The sessions I found to be very relaxing and helpful, but my anger and resentment would still rear its ugly head along with the spiritual and physical symptoms. The spiritual symptoms would include: anger, bad habits of manipulating others especially in relationships, pessimism, a cynical outlook and behavior, and lack of trust. Physically I had depression, anxiety, and also pain in my stomach from holding the bitterness in for so many years.
During one session with the “Reiki Lady” we did something different than we had ever done before. We started normally with the sessions by getting me into a relaxed and calm state of mind. However, this time she told me she was going to do a guided imagery session to help me heal my subconsious mind. It was amazing and would take a long time to explain, but to keep this story short I was able to pull up images of myself as a child and see myself forgiving my parent for everything that had happened. It was truly a miracle. From that point forward, things started to fall into place and I was able to forgive completely and I can now say that I love and respect both of my parents completely.
My experience was different than others experiences in that it wasn’t the traditional approach. However, I know that God worked through a number of people to help answer my prayers and heal me from the poison of holding resentment.
In a way, I guess this is similar to what Glenn Beck has been sharing over on his site called Face your Storm. For those who would like to hear other stories of overcoming adversity, this is another great site.
I would love to hear others stories or thoughts on learning to forgive. Please share so we can all be uplifted.
I came across notes from a talk given about 1 1/2 years ago by James E Faust, who at that time was serving as a counselor to President Gordon B Hinckley for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Parts of his talk was on having a healthy self esteem. I will list the 6 keys that he mentioned and share some of my thoughts as well.
6 Keys to a Healthy Self Esteem
Keep your Free-agency
In my opinion, this is one of the only things that we truly have control over. We have the power to decide what we will do in any given situation. I have written about controling our thoughts and how our thoughts shape who we are. If we get in the habit of doing good things and keeping the commandments good things will come our way. If we choose bad things or even go to the extent of using harmful things like drugs, our agency is given away. It is our choice to either choose the will of God or not. Those who choose to live within the commandments of God have a healthier self esteem than those who do not.
There are a few scriptures that point out how humility and meekness bring us joy and abundance. (Isaiah 29:19; Psalms 37:11) Those who feel the love of God and the joy that comes from humbly following Him feel greater joy and self-worth than those who do not.
I know that when I’ve chosen to be honest in all my associations and conversations I feel much better about myself than when I’ve chosen not to. Those who strive to be honest with themselves, their friends, their employers, and all people feel greater self esteem. The big challenge for me and probably many other people is the small “white lies” that creep in there. If I exaggurate a story or build myself up in a way that isn’t necessarily completly true that is lying. Some may say it’s impossible to be completely honest. Maybe it is, but striving to be honest will surely lead to a greater self-image.
Love of Work
I grew up on a farm and learned to appreciate work. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I love it. However, I do know that I definitely feel better about myself when I’m working for a good cause than when I’m bumming around.
Ability to Love
This one is a life-long pursuit and those who are blessed with this ability to give and accept love have much higher self-esteems than those who do not. For years I feel that I didn’t love and respect myself as a child of God. I had negative thoughts about myself and blamed others for some of the bad things I did as a result of not respecting myself or others. Fortuneately the Lord was there for me the whole time and helped me through this. I learned that it is o.k. not to be perfect and to love myself for all my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned that love is a choice. In fact, loving others doesn’t come naturally for me. I have to pray for this love every day and I feel that the more I pray to the Lord, the more He blesses me with the ability to love myself and others. To read a list of great scriptures on love and charity for yourself and others, click here.
- Love of God
1 John 4:8 states: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Therefore, in order to love we must, as Joseph Smith stated in his Lectures on Faith gain a “correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.” These attributes can be found in the scriptures and include: mercy, grace, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, constant, all-knowing, and many more. I know that when I strive to show love towards God that I have better self-esteem and desire to do good. I feel more grateful for the blessings that He gives me on a daily basis and realize my dependance on Him.
In conclusion, I realize that we all struggle with varies things and some of us struggle with self-esteem. I know how difficult it can be to learn to love myself, others, and God, but I also know that it is possible to overcome. My hope is that this post helps some of you who may be struggling with any self-esteem issues and that this serves to assist you as it did me. Feel free to share any thoughts you have.
12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication
1. Learning from Others
I suffered for years having panic attacks followed by a darkness that would come over me sometimes for days. I didn’t know what it was for many years, but one day a friend mentioned that I could be struggling with depression and anxiety. I was devastated when I took a test online and learned that I indeed had symptoms for anxiety and depression. I didn’t know where to turn. Thankfully, there are other people who have gone through similar experiences to share their insights. If I didn’t have valuable resources and other people to help me, I wouldn’t have survived because at my lowest point, I was considering suicide.
I didn’t want to use drugs to overcome anxiety and depression, so I turned to others for advice that found in the book: Discovering Light. Discovering Light is a #1 Amazon bestseller and a book that has valuable insights in the category of overcoming anxiety and depression and contains a journey in overcoming anxiety and depression without drugs. This book not only highlights the story of suffering from anxiety and depression and overcoming it, but it
Simply click on the image of the book, or the link below to learn more:
My friend also referred me to use self study programs, which were very cost effective and helpful for me as well. They referred me to a sites similar to the ones listed below:
2. Desire to Overcome
After I found out I had both anxiety and depression, I had an intense desire to overcome anxiety and depression. I wanted a normal life back and held an image of that in my mind. It was very hard, at times, and I sometimes lost hope and would just sit and stare at the walls wondering if I would ever make any progress. Thankfully, there were many resources that helped give me hope to keep looking forward and to not give up. One of the books below, Discovering Light contains many valuable insights and references to other books that helped me maintain a hope and desire to overcome anxiety and depression without medication. This desire led me to complete the other steps.
3. Faith in God
Alma Chapter 34: 32-34 was what kept me moving ahead.
When I had serious depression and thoughts of life being better if I weren’t alive, I remembered this scripture. I believe that the same spirit we possess now will be with us even after we die, so if I don’t deal with it now I’ll be dealing with worse things later.
5. Home Study Programs
A friend of mine told me about an in home program and how they had used to overcome anxiety and depression without medication. I had tried taking medication, but it didn’t feel right to me so I quit. This program was a very useful tool for me and I still refer to it often. I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with anxiety and/or depression. This book describes in detail how to use the in home study program along with the benefits involved. In home programs played a crucial role in overcoming anxiety and depression.
Below is a list of very effective in home programs that are both time and cost effective and recommended:
6. Talking with a coach or mentor.
Many people who deal with certain issues from their childhood such as I did with abandonment develop negative addictions. For me, talking with clergy was somewhat helpful, but bishops aren’t usually trained to handle these issues. I was referred to a different program that helped me overcome my addictions and also train my thoughts. Bishops know where these resources are. If you are not a member of the LDS church, you can also look up various agencies such as: alcoholics anonymous, sex addicts anonymous, etc. I think they have organizations for people who use drugs, have eating addictions, etc. I believe that most of these programs will have a 12-step approach. I found these to be very, very helpful. There is a list of various resources outlined in detail in this book.
Again in Alma 34, it talks about praying for everything important in one’s life. This links back to step #2, but I can’t emphasize enough how important faith in God and prayer are. Through this experience I learned how God cares about me personally…especially when I’m at my “worst”. I say this in quotes because we are never bad in God’s sight, no matter how good or bad our behaviors are he views us and loves us the same.
Through prayer and meditation, I was able to learn how to focus and control my mind. I am very grateful to God for the gift of prayer and know that miracles happen as a result of sincere, humble, faithful prayers and patience.
If you are interested in learning powerful meditation techniques check out the following programs:
8. Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)
NLP was the key to me being able to move from just managing anxiety and depression to completely overcoming it. NLP is another tool I used to clear my subconscious mind. I worked with two coaches who used NLP on me to clear negative experiences I had seared into my subconscious mind that were affecting my behaviors. This is another highly recommended tool. The book contains a whole chapter dedicated to NLP.
Some very good programs to learn about re-programming our subconsious minds are:
9. Learning to control thoughts
Proverbs 23:7 says: “as he (or she) thinks in his (or her) heart, so is he (or she)”. This is true. I think this is something all of us will be working on throughout our lives. However, learning to control our thoughts is essential. I wrote another post a couple of months ago on how to overcome negative thoughts and provided a few techniques I use. The post is called “The Gifts of the Spirit: Overcoming Negative Thoughts and Speaking with the Tongue of Angels”. In addition to that article, Discovering Light has very detailed information on learning to control thoughts and how to train our minds. If we do not learn this skill, we will not be able to overcome anxiety and depression.
The Quantum Mind Power program is a good resource too.
10. Have a daily routine/Healthy Living (Exercise and Nutrition)
Having a daily routine helps me a lot. I notice that I do much better when in a familiar environment surrounded with positive things. For me, this is my daily routine: Wake up, pray, exercise, read scriptures, make breakfast for my wife, think about daily goals, work, come home and either relax or do house chores, etc., read scriptures with wife, pray, go to bed. Sticking to this schedule keeps me focused and my attitude stays much more positive.
Eating a lot of healthy breads, fruits, protein, and some meat has helped me a lot. Staying away from sugar and caffeine is essential as well. I’ve found that the promise in the Word of Wisdom is true in that I receive more health by following its counsel.
Although these suggestions are good, there is even more involved with eating properly and taking care of our bodies. A complete chapter is dedicated to nutrition and how it plays a role in being able to overcome anxiety and depression. In addition, the following programs on nutrition and exercise are available:
11. Keep a Gratitude Journal
The book Real Men Do Cry has a great reference on counting our blessings and how gratitude can change our mood. I found this to be true in my situation as well. I keep track of all the positive things that happened to me and at the end of the day I write them down. This keeps me in a positive state and away from dwelling on the negative.
For someone who has struggled with anxiety, relaxing is a learned technique. There are certain activities, music, and thought control techniques needed in order to train our minds to relax instead of fly into “fight or flight” mode.
I found Reiki and meditation to be very relaxing and would recommend checking the following programs out:
In conclusion, I know that if you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression how hard it can be. Some of you may be on medication and that might be necessary or even mandatory for you, which is fine. My main purpose is to share some things that have helped me and I encourage you to incorporate any of these things, if you haven’t already. Also, please feel free to share any additional things that have helped you so other readers can benefit from it.
I also want my readers to know that I know that God hears your prayers and will answer them in due time. I’ve learned to be grateful for my experiences with anxiety and depression because I’ve learned how dependent I truly am on God and have see how great His hand can be in my life if I stay close to Him. I pray that we can all stay close to our Father in Heaven and know that if we do, he’ll lead us through the dark and discouraging times on our lives.