Utah seniors share their stories of resilience.
Finding My Reason to Live
Hi my name is Jen and I have struggled with depression since I was about seven years old. I was sexually abused from the time I was four years old until I was eleven. I was raised LDS in a family of nine children. I was the third child. I had seven brothers and one sister. I always felt like I was unloveable and did not belong anywhere. I had very few friends in school and I went to a very small school in Morgan, Utah that was really into clicks and it felt like once you were in a click you were stuck there permanently. When things got unbearable I was in fourth grade. I was at the top of my class until then and I developed an addiction to the library. I found that I could lose myself in a book to escape my reality. I would read as much as twelve books a day. I fell behind in my school work and it seemed like I was always grounded as a result. It wasn’t until I started ninth grade that I started making friends. I got to the point that I stopped caring if I fit in. I stopped trying to try and do my hair like the other girls so I cut my hair super short like my brothers and developed my own style. I was still really depressed though and thoughts of suicide started and were relentless. I was so depressed and I had no idea how to tell anyone how bad it was. For some reason telling someone in plain English did not occur to me. My dad was a LTC colonel in the army and thought that talking about feelings was a bunch of psycho babble.those were his exact words. I was fourteen when my sexual abuse came to light. I thought I was going to die of shame. I started talking about my thoughts of suicide and was finally allowed to go to therapy. I hated the way I felt inside and desperately wanted to find relief so I started opening up and talking to my church leaders and my therapist and basically anyone who would listen and offer advice. I got on some antidepressants and they did not seem to work very well for me until I tried zoloft and that worked pretty good for several years. For many many years I acted like I was mad at the world but I was really just mad at myself. I got into drugs and it got to the point that the moment I woke up I scoured the house trying to find anything I could take to knock me back out so I could just stay asleep. I figured if I was asleep I couldn’t make any mistakes and I wouldn’t feel all of the emotional pain I was enduring. I could not find a way out of it. I got married eventually and about 3 years into my marriage I woke up to find my husband sexually abusing me in a way that I was not OK with. I felt humiliated and ruined inside. I was horrified because I could not believe I had married a sexual predator. I was in shock and did not feel like I could talk about it to anyone about it. I felt so alone and ashamed. I got it in my head that if I just stopped sleeping I would be safe from that ever happening to me again. So I started doing Meth to stay awake around him. I imagined that I was being chased by a tidal wave of emotion that I believed would destroy me if I ever let it catch up with me. So my position at that point was that I would rather die than come down. I was high for 13 straight years. I used all day everyday. I was so lost but I stayed in therapy through it all. I was still desperate to be able to find my way out of all of the pain I was feeling. In therapy I was asked what I was hoping to achieve by coming to therapy and my answer was always the same I was trying to find a reason to live. In november of 2013 I became homeless and it broke my spirit. I had no energy to do anything. I had a car I had money to get a place but no energy whatsoever to go out and look for a place to live. I felt so hopeless and thought about giving up often but everytime I started to really contemplate suicide seriously I remembered something my seminary teacher told me when I was 14 and suicidal. He had tears in his eyes and his voice broke when he said “Jen I want you to know that if you kill yourself you will leave your mother a wretched woman” those words have always been burned into my mind and I will always be grateful that he was prompted by the Spirit to tell me that. I have not always gotten along with my mom but I could not bear to ever break her heart like that.
In December of 2014 one of my most treasured and dearest friends passed away from breast cancer. It was interesting to me because the day before I started crying uncontrollably. I did not know why and I was unable to speak. I had this huge lump in my throat and I tried everything I could think of to get out of it usually I could smoke some weed and it would always pull me out of it but not this time. Nothing worked. Looking back on this moment I can see that I had given up. I wasn’t exactly suicidal but I felt like I had lost my will to live at this point. I decided to call my friend and talk to her because she always was there to talk to me about whatever I was struggling with and I knew she truly loved and cared about me. When I called her husband got on the phone and told me that she had passed away at 5:30 that morning. I was stunned by the news and when I hung up the phone I felt this hand touch my heart and I felt a sense of love and comfort that I had never felt before. I believed at the time that my it was my friend telling me that she was still with me. Then a name came to my mind and I felt like I needed to find this person I had met through my friend who had just died. I found her at the funeral and we became good friends. In February of this year I was still struggling with thoughts of suicide and I asked this new friend what does it mean to let go and give something to God. I wanted to know how a person does that and what it even means. She said to me “why don’t you ask him” I told her it never made sense to me to pray because I always had this idea in my head that you had to pray a certain way for it to count. I never felt like any of my prayers counted because I never felt any different after and she said you don’t have to get down on your knees and fold your arms all you have to do is talk to God as if he is sitting there right next to you it does not have to be formal at all but it doest have to be straight from the heart. So about a week later I was sitting in my truck and feeling depressed and hopeless and so brokenhearted and I decided to try my friends suggestion. It certainly couldn’t hurt to try anyway. So I started to pray out loud I was talking to my Heavenly Father as if he was sitting right there next to me. I poured my heart out and started sobbing. I talked about all of the things that had been hurting my heart. I talked about all of my fears and the things that I felt had made me unworthy of his love and forgiveness. After about a half an hour of pouring my heart out to God a feeling of doubt creeped into my head and I started wondering if I was just talking to myself and so I asked him with tears running down my face if I was his daughter? Was he concerned with me and my struggles? Did he really truly love me and want to heal me of the agony I was in? The moment I said those words I felt a hand touch my heart and fill my whole being with love and comfort and I could feel the darkness lift off of me and the light poured into me heart. It was so powerful and I instantly knew that this is how it feels when a prayer is answered. I could no longer deny that I was a beautiful daughter of God and I began to realise that all of the pain I had been going through was completely necessary because it became clear to me in that moment that my heart had to be completely broken so that I would have to turn to him for relief. I had no idea it was that simple. He was just waiting for me to simply ask him for help and the moment I became willing to just ask he ran to my side to offer his unconditional love and support. I put myself in rehab in March of this year and am currently in an outpatient evening treatment center. My life is far from perfect but I have an amazing relationship with my father in heaven today. If I had know that life would ever feel this good just by asking God if he really loved me I could have avoided so many dark times. If I had known that life would ever feel this good I would have stopped using drugs years ago. I have made God my very best friend he can heal me of anything that ails me and he can and will for anyone who is willing to simply ask. I never ever thought I would ever feel happy I just never believed it was possible for someone like me but for the first time in my life I am truly happy. I am truly happy that I never gave up when I was in my darkest moments. I have felt so many times that I was so far gone, that I had done too many bad things, I was so lost I could never find my way out of the pain but this was the biggest lie I ever told myself. I have found a way out of the depths of my despair. By the grace of God I have found a way. It is not hopeless.
About the Author
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