Everybody, I’d Like You to Meet My Mental Illness

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Running between the couches in my therapist’s office is a wooden coffee table with a chess set on top. The pieces on his side are charcoal gray. The pieces on mine are gold. We never touch them during our sessions, but we always play.

He types quick notes while I talk and glances at me over the rim of his glasses with the dissecting look of a person who knows how to wait, and that’s his game: wait, coax away knights and bishops until I’m vulnerable, check me, but let me win. I grab fistfuls of tissues and play a different game entirely: overthink, slide a square back after tentatively sliding one forward, stall, protect. In my game, I am the king. The queen is always the harder one to beat.

Last week, my therapist gave her a name and gave me a new strategy: this is an anxiety disorder and you should probably take medication. One to three orange pills per day and one white pill per day, my physician confirmed. They’re bitter on my tongue and I’m told that winning will still be a slow process this way, but I’ll stand a better chance against the despot wreaking havoc on my body.

With boots on, I am 25 1/2 years old, 5’4″, and 114 pounds. The prongs on my belts have begun the thrilling and terrifying exploration of fresh new holes they’ve never been able to reach. I’ve begun the thrilling and terrifying process of leaving my house on my own after work hours and existing like a normal person again. One day, one morning, one hour, one pill at a time. I have to.

I have a mental illness. Most days, I feel reluctant to call it that because there are others who have it much worse. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that my brain is frequently playing its own game of chess, fixating on single pieces and unforeseeable outcomes as it lazily emits the basic data required for me to function: worry worry worry wake up worry worry worry go to work worry worry worry check emails worry worry take care of your loved ones worry remember to eat worry pay rent worry. This has been my life for almost half a year. Until now, I have not had enough mental room to give words to it, enough distance or practice to tell a person what mental illness and anxiety look like. Here’s one more strategy: I’m going to talk about it in every way I know how.

Anxiety is a small, ink-black worry hovering over your mind that only needs to drip once to be everywhere and in everything. It’s a hurricane that you keep on the inside and let silently devastate you, because letting it out means you immediately become a human evacuation order. Mental illness teaches you many sad things, and one is that there are less storm chasers in the world than there are people who flee.

When it’s especially bad, anxiety is waking up to ballistic missiles, stepping out of bed and into a battlefield where you are the only one fighting. Anxiety is slipping out of your pajamas and kneading the curves of your stomach like clay to make sure it’s still capable of holding anything because you’ve been skipping meals again, or so you can berate yourself one more time for every pound of what if and worry that’s found its way there and stayed.

Anxiety is driving in silence because you’re afraid the songs on the radio will somehow trigger panic. Anxiety is sitting at work with a strained smile and solving other peoples’ problems when you’re dealing with a rising hazard that you can barely contain — shallow breaths, a throbbing heart, lack of energy, nausea. Anxiety is rushing to the bathroom so that no one can see you crying, so you can bend yourself over an open toilet just in case, so that you can fold yourself into a corner like a paper crane and pray to not be so delicate. Anxiety is smiling uncomfortably when a coworker says they need a mental health day, because you know you can’t ask for the same thing and be taken seriously when you desperately need to be. Vomit gets you a day off with sympathy and no questions asked. Mental illness does not.

Anxiety is putting your key in the lock when you get home and opening your front door into a cell that you want to leave, but don’t know if you can. It’s hesitantly pulling back the covers and slipping into bed, knowing you will not be roused by pink sunlight filtering through your eyelids but black panic twisting in your gut. Anxiety is the fear of being awake — or for those of you who handle humor better, anxiety is being dragged to a party you never wanted to go to, spending the whole night wondering how you can both seem really chill and quietly want to never leave your house again, and stressing out because your ride out is nowhere to be seen.

I have a collection of metaphors to describe it when I don’t want to feel completely deprived by it, and a growing list of advice from loved ones and friends I’ve told myself I am never to listen to:

“Maybe you need to make different life choices.”
“Run.”
“Just stop worrying.”
“You don’t need to see anybody. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

You don’t win at chess by running from or minimizing the challenge. You win by playing the game one bloody square at a time. Prayer and faith are my squares, my days at a time, and though I know that many people who struggle with mental illness don’t share the same beliefs I do, I know that there is hope. It is sometimes a wild and fleeting thing, perhaps even a distant thing, but never an impossible one. So I’ll get up and I’ll play. Some days I’ll have it really good, and others I’ll struggle. Some days I won’t know how to move and worry myself sick about what will happen if I do. But I won’t quit. Kings don’t quit.

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16 comments

  1. You are an educator. This is an important aspect of your writing. You expand understanding. Including your own (like every good writer). I admire you.

  2. Hello, you don’t know me but I somehow stumbled on your blog months ago and have really enjoyed it. This is an incredibly brave post. I myself suffer from anxiety, I had my first bout with it when I was in third grade, and have struggled with it off and on ever since. So much of what you said hits home, especially the strained smile at work and having the radio off in my car. Christmas is especially hard, being a joyful time of celebration and yet I can’t get myself to feel any of that let alone normal enough to get through the day. I find a lot of strength hearing the stories of others who are similarly struggling and yet are coping. Some of the best people out there strugglewith this. Something that I found fascinating was to read President George Albert Smith’s struggles with mental illness. Just google “George Albert Smith and mental illness”, click on the first website that pops up and follow the link. You’re not alone even though it feels that way.

  3. You don’t have to win, you only have to be brave enough to fight and take it one day at a time. As someone who has mental health issues I understand the stigmata associated with admitting to society about the trials we face.

    You should not let mental health make you feel weak or vulnerable. Like I told a social worker long ago, if I am talking you need not worry about me. Worry about me when I no longer reach out, or wish to talk with anyone.

    While you’re correct that many people do suffer from worse forms of mental illness, you should not let that cloud your mind, from the battles you still have to face.

    Be brave, be bold, be beautiful. God knows you, if you feel a burden is taking its toll or that your anxiety is beyond control.

    Try deep breathing, slow it down. Focus on your breath. One, then two, now work on three. Go to a place in your minds eye where its serene.

    Slowly take back some of the control that is lost, when our minds want to blow everything out of proportion.

    The biggest reason anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation or any other form of mental illness is hard to deal with or talk about in my humble opinion is two fold.

    1. Society thinks its all in your mind, that what you face is Not real.

    2. Society believes that eventually at some point you will be better. Oh, how I wish that were true.

    Hang in there.

  4. I happened on your blog by chance, and yesterday actually wrote out two other long responses and assumed that they posted to your blog through the use of Google + but when I checked, just like the one that never made it to this page

    “I copied and pasted it here”

    Is the only way to post on your blog to input a name and email?

    Looking at the other pages I thought I had commented on, one blog was from 2013 and one from 2014. I guess I showed up a few years to late to the party. One of the blogs was titled:

    “Why I stay Mormon when many friends have left”

    and the other was titled:

    “Why I took “returned missionary” off my checklist” I wish I found these articles a long time ago.

    I read through almost ever comment. And really appreciated the insight from some of those people “not the troll’s” of which there were a few.

    I guess I am posting this Ari, because what you’re doing matters. When I served my Mission people were always so focused on the numbers.

    Instead of the individual person.

    Many people falsely assumed that many Baptisms makes a Missionary successful, when the reality to me is this; if the only soul you bring to Jesus Christ happens to be your own, how glorious your life could be.

    I am a Disabled Veteran. I was terminated from Federal Employment because I missed to much work because of a VA disability.

    I am young, but no longer work. It took some time to get over that. To be honest maybe I never will be completely over it.

    If you looked at me, the hardest part for me used to be – you cannot tell from looking at me that I struggle at all.

    Instead most people either assume:

    1. You must be faking.
    2. It can’t be that bad.

    For awhile I didn’t leave my house. I didn’t clean my house. I didn’t do laundry or clean the kitchen or feed our pets. It’s as if life stopped.

    Sure I was still breathing, but I wasn’t living.

    I felt like a spectator watching my own life pass me by. That aspect scared me.

    I suffer from Depression, Anxiety, Suicidal Ideation, Panic Attacks, Degenerative Joint Disease, Arthritis, Back and Knee issues, frequent Migraines “just to name a few.”

    I believe that “Attitude is Everything.” So choose to have a good one.

    I just voluntarily read something on Anger Management the other day. It’s been almost 2 years since I gave my two Labrador’s up for adoption. They were great dogs, but I was having trouble controlling my own temper.

    I would like to think that I am now in a better place. But honestly am not sure.

    Some days everything feels normal, and by normal, I mean that for example yesterday I went for a walk with my wife. I had a really bad migraine so I wore sun glasses. I started to get paralysis on the left half of my face which spread to my right upper leg.

    When I got home from this short walk, I felt terrible. So why would I go? I went because I didn’t want to disappoint my wife.

    I miss lots of things, because usually I don’t feel good. Either I am sick or one of the aforementioned issues is bothering me or both.

    Integrity to me means, what you do when no one else is looking. And I have given my word to people who love me that no matter how terrible I feel – I won’t remove myself from the “board.” – Appreciated your Chess analogy.

    In this last year, I almost left the church. The Spirit was screaming “Not to mail” the letter but I ignored it, and did it anyway.

    I talked to a few of my siblings, and was glad I did. I walked back the resignation letter before Salt Lake City ever received their copy.

    – Sorry this rant is so long, if you’re still reading this. Thank You.

    Instead of rehashing everything again, I am just going to copy and paste it into this post.

    ~ Why I took “Returned Missionary” off my checklist”

    “Happened on this article and this blog by chance. But it hit a nerve. I served a mission but it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

    I actually had a doctor on my mission ask me where I was from and tell me that “bikes do not work on snow and ice.”

    You see I had 9 concussions on my mission, lock jaw, and needed 1 wisdom tooth pulled. For 2 of those concussions I actually blacked out. For 1 of them my mountain bike slid down a hill and I woke up in the snow with my face on a metal grate.

    But that is not even the best part. In my first area my trainer and I had just road our bikes across town during the winter.

    I was toting around this large picture of Jesus Christ to share with a sweet little girl and her Mom we had previously made an appointment with.

    We locked up our bikes, missed the ice and proceeded to walk to our appointment.

    My trainer walked in front of me and said: “You better watch it buddy.” Under my breath, I muttered: “Or, what?”

    What proceeded next is still hard for me to believe. This was my first area, my first companion, I was fresh from the MTC, and this was my first time away from home.

    This guy sucker punched me in the face. To make matters worse we were only 3 weeks into a 6 week transfer, and they made me stay with this Elder.

    The Assistants to our Mission President were called, and I was told to lie to the members in our area. The assistants said that telling the members the truth could hurt the missionary efforts.

    Lying was foreign concept to me. I was always taught to tell the truth.

    Later on in that same mission when I had the lockjaw and the wisdom tooth that needed removal, I was given pain medication only after a member said that if the Mission did not do what it was supposed to do and take care of my health issues this member was going to graciously pay out of their own pocket.

    So I was in my Zone Leaders apartment on heavy prescription pain killers, and the other Elder’s assumed I was sleeping.

    They started to gossip about me, I steadied myself on the wall and on shaky legs walked into the other room and confronted them.

    They lied right to my face, and said that they had not been talking about me.

    When I repeated verbatim what they had just said. Instead of having them say: “I’m sorry.”

    Instead they said: “Oh, you heard that?”

    These are the kinds of people I served with. I remember that movie God’s Army that came out, and I laughed because of how truthful it was.

    My brother who had not served yet was incredulous, that a mission was actually like that.

    And maybe not all of them are, but mine being stateside certainly was.

    I read through almost all of these comments and do realize that this original post is from 2014, but still felt like I needed to say something.

    I ended up going home after only a year because of Medical Reasons, but every time I sit in Elder’s Quorum and hear people talk about what a great experience a mission was.

    I cringe. For me, a mission showed me that people hide behind their Faith.”

    Following that article, I clicked on:

    “Why I stay Mormon when many friends have left.”

    ~ “Ari,

    You got me again. Man I wish I found your blog a long time ago. I think the reason that many people have stepped away from their faith is they feel betrayed.

    If you’re anything like me, I was raised to believe that Joseph Smith had one wife “Emma.”

    So when reality hit recently that he in fact had multiple wives, which is polygamy. And I could wrap my mind around that.

    I cannot in good Faith wrap my mind around Polyandry. Which is having wives that were already married to other men.

    And the oddity of this realization was having my own Bishop tell me not to read apostate materials.

    But my source was the Joseph Smith papers on LDS dot org.

    I like you have seen the strengthening and enabling power of the atonement.

    I have prayed and seen people healed.

    I flew into Utah from out of state to see my Brother. And that morning I had a thought.

    I married a non member and she had some questions. And I thought if anyone could answer her questions surely one of God’s 12 Apostles could.

    So I prayed to run into one.

    My wife and I went down to SLC after walking around the grounds we were walking up a hill about 3 blocks away from Temple Square.

    When I actually ran into the late “L. Tom Perry” who said: “You two seem to be getting along okay.”

    Later that day in the Brigham city temple, before it was dedicated I was sharing that story with my brother.

    Who was on his mission, helping at that particular Temple before it was dedicated.

    We had permission to tour that Temple with my brother and his companion.

    Anyway, I was sharing this story with my brother and he said.

    “Well, you know what you did wrong, right?” He continued. “You only prayed to run into one of the 12 Apostles, you didn’t pray to speak with him. Be more specific when you pray!”

    In this last year, I actually turned in papers to have my name removed from off the records of the church.

    But than I decided that I did not want to go through with it.

    Why not? Well, even though I felt betrayed. I still have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true.

    I still believe we have a Prophet on the earth.

    I still believe that families can be together forever.

    I still feel the spirit, and I still find answers in the Scriptures when I am humble enough to let go of my pride and pray and ask for things that I have been contemplating.

    A long time ago, I don’t remember where I read this quote: “The greatest threat to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints will come from within, in the latter days.”

    I never could fathom what that meant. Because I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when things really were not that bad.

    This was a time when people still had dial up internet, and cell phones were these giant bulky monstrosities.

    Payphones were still prevalent, and everyone had a home phone with an answering machine.

    Oh, how times have changed. It now seems that everyone is in a hurry, and no one has time to contemplate their own Faith.

    So for me, the reason I stay was penned by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”

    From an October 2013 talk titled “Come, Join with us.”

    Ari,

    What I am attempting to show you, is even though I found these posts years after the thread was already over – You helped me, your words and those of others who were here before me, helped calm my soul.

    I prayed the other day and found my answer in the Scriptures, like I always used to. I had not done that for quite some time.

    Thank you.

  5. Hello Shrek! My name is Darwin, and I read every word!

    Okay, first what your training elder did to you by punching you was abuse and assault. Statute of limitations has probably passed for any legal charges, if you entertained that thought…and I can both see why you would…and why you wouldn’t.

    Interesting thing happened to me last Christmas (2016). I am the only Church member in my family, and my Dad had a stroke a couple of years ago, so I look after him. Mom and Dad and I were at a relatives place. They had picked us up, and Dad was tired and wanted to go home. They thought I was being pushy and controlling, I said they were only thinking of themselves. They said they “hated” Mormons and one of them punched me.

    I didn’t even flinch. Another one punched me. Again, I didn’t even flinch.

    Seriously, it was probably what getting hit by a lame gerbil felt like.

    Two hits in the same spot on my face (both sucker punches) and I didn’t even have a bruise.

    I could have pounded both of them into the ground without breaking a sweat. But that day I simply turned the other cheek and we left.

    Honestly…I don’t always do that. But I did.

    I did also report it to the police, by way of information. Because there was always the possibility that they would blame me for the whole mess, and my Dad still needs me, and that means he doesn’t need me locked up on trumped up charges.

    As to the abuse part of your training elder punching you, there’s this: “The Church’s official instructions for ecclesiastical leaders sums up the approach: “Abuse cannot be tolerated in any form.”

    They should not have kept you with that elder. He should have a disciplinary counsel, plain and simple, maybe after he was transferred to the mission home to shovel sidewalks or something. I get that he needs to heal too, but that is what the disciplinary counsel would be for.So he can completely repent and change.

    When I was at BYU, I ran into some guys who seemed to have not read past “I Nephi being born of goodly parents”. They were arrogant, they were comparatively wealthy, they belong to “social clubs” that were pseudo fraternities…with the drinking and drugs and bullying and sex…relieving many a Mormon maiden of her virginity one semester and then leaving on their missions the very next semester. And the main reason they went on their missions was because their “frat brothers” told them that serving a mission would look good on their resume.

    I had a few run-ins with them and eventually got them kicked off campus.

    The point being that there ARE members who are…putzes.

    Always have been, always will be.

    BUT…remember King David had sex with a married woman, got her pregnant and arranged the death of her husband.

    The Church was STILL true even though he did that.

    The Church progresses in spite of the putzes, because if the good people.

    Because for evil to flourish, first good people have to do nothing.

    I don’t know the source of your quote: “The greatest threat to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints will come from within, in the latter days.” But it sounds…uh… scripturally sound.

    Think of the Book of Mormon. The destruction of the Nephites came about because of secret combinations.

    Then there is Section 121 of the Doctrine of Covenants where the Lord states that “almost all men” when they get a little authority begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    That “almost all men” part would suggest that it is the rule rather than the exception. That it happens more often than not.

    Good people need to hold those who exercise unrighteous dominion accountable. With truth combating false doctrine. And yes, with reporting things higher up.

    We’ve been promised that the Church will never fall into apostasy again. But at what price?

    We were also promised that we would be able to claim Jackson County Missouri…but because of faithlessness on the part of the Saints…there was A LOT of suffering involved, and failure as well. Because of faithlessness we still have not obtained that promised blessing.

    And we have paid a heavy price. Being mobbed, murdered and driven out of the east ring any bells?

    The EASY route really is to stand up for truth at every opportunity.

    As to your encounter with Elder L. Tom Perry, there is something you should know: I got to meet him too. And I know that at great personal sacrifice, he made himself accessible to a great many people. I even got his email address….although I only used it once or twice…because I knew OTHERS also had easy access to him and I knew he would get burned out.

    Perhaps when you encountered him he was in the midst of that.

    Remember, even the Savior got tired.

    Something to think about.

    .

  6. Darwin,

    I really enjoyed what you shared. In regards to the late; Elder Perry, I had not been to church in quite some time, but still had enough Faith to ask to run into one of the 12 Apostle’s.

    So initially when it happened, I sent a text to my Brother who sent me back a photo, in order for me to correctly identify that was who I just spoke with.

    My wife didn’t wish to go back and talk to him, even though I offered. And other people were already engaging him.

    As for the issues with my mission, the biggest thing it did was make me not want to associate with the church any more. And for a number of years when I was active duty military I didn’t.

    Instead I walked down every path I never said I would go down. And than I used the Atonement.

    And that literally created more frustration for me. I was in a single’s ward many years later.

    I am very blunt, and do not really posses a filter.

    I was actually in the waiting area before an endowment session with my Singles branch, and there was a woman who I thought was pretty.

    So I started to talk to her, and ask her out.

    Her response; “I don’t date men like you.”

    I was a little taken back, I mean I was at the Temple getting ready to go through an endowment session.

    But to be fair, I remember when I was active duty not living church standards, and I asked my brother to set me up with someone from BYU.

    And he said that exact same phrase. “They don’t date people like you.”

    Come to find out later that he had struggled with some of the same things I have repented of.

    The point I am making is, I understand that their is Divine Truth, that doesn’t trump imperfect people.

    I don’t think someone’s past mistakes should follow them around like a scarlet letter, but at the same time; has someone really changed?

    And because of my mission, that companion that sucker punched me had ADHD “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” he just didn’t know how to communicate with me.

    I was taught to talk out issues before they become problems. My Mom wanted to know how come I thrived in basic military training but not in the mission field.

    Or more aptly put; Why was I okay with a drill instructor yelling at me but not okay with an Assistant to the Mission President telling me what to do?

    And the reality is because in BMT they were straightforward with us, and I knew what was expected of me.

    I was blind sided on the mission when the people that were supposed to be setting the example, were instead asking me to lie.

    I went to church today, hadn’t been in months. And honestly I really enjoyed it. Might even attend two weeks in a row.

    My patriarchal blessing says that I am supposed to be missionary minded, not only as a young man but as my life goes along and that I am supposed to use the spirit which I know I can feel to help others along the way.

    When I was getting that blessing before my mission, I would ask God a question and the answer would come forth out of the Patriarch’s mouth.

    Thus I know that the answer was of God, because it wasn’t a verbal question.

    At church they talked about attending the Temple – and my neighbor and I are going to try and go each Thursday.

    I read my scriptures again last night. Honestly its the little things that matter the most.

    I have been having many terrible migraines lately, but roll with it the best I can.

    Some days I feel like I’m running on Excedrin, and its always a mixed bag simply because Excedrin migraine makes my stomach hurt.

    But than today at church I read D&C Section 105 Verse 6 “And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.”

    That is not to say, it will be easy. But it puts things into perspective that there is a reason for it.

    My patriarchal blessing also said that I would have a long life, it didn’t say anything about it being pain free :)

    I did think about pressing charges against that Elder, I also thought about ending my mission because of him.

    Ultimately I stayed.

    However again, upon going home for medical reasons my stake President tried to emphasize that if I didn’t return that I would have to answer in the eternities for not finishing my mission.

    That was unrighteous dominion.

    To often, people put their own thoughts and feelings into what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. They make something so simple hard to understand.

    More often than not, if we would just slow down and listen to the spirit the answer’s that we are seeking will be opened to our mind.

    But it’s tough to listen to the spirit when the volume on the world is turned up and our spiritual batteries are not charged.

    And that is why its important to do the little things, like pray and read scriptures.

    Any way, sorry that I sort of went off topic, than back on, repeatedly.

    – Cheers

    1. Actually Shrek, that was easy for me to follow!

      Those ladies who wouldn’t date “people like you”…?

      You wouldn’t want to be with them anyway.

      This is the Gospel of Repentance.

      If they as Church members don’t get that, then they are not going to be much help to you in getting to the Celestial Kingdom anyway.They would blindside you again and again.

      I have had my own experience with they don’t date “people like me”, but because I am a visible minority. Card carrying Native American.

      I wasn’t born in the Church but did my own prayerful study about what God’s true Church should consist of. The Lord invited me to His Church. So one Wednesday evening I walked up to the chapel in town and asked the sister missionaries I met at the door how I might go about being baptized.

      I got the second discussion with the elders the next day (Thursday) got the baptismal challenge the day after that (Friday) then the next day (Saturday) I got baptized.

      In my second year I got a new racist bishop. members offered to pay for my mission, but he refused to let them AND he refused to send in mission papers for me. I helped teach and then baptized a non-member lady I worked with, and yet another racist bishop didn’t like the fact that I was engaged to a white lady, so he got an out of town friend to stay with him to date my girl while I was at BYU.

      I was on a scholarship for books and tuition, but I had a government program that was paying for my room and board. She was handling the correspondence for me, but because of her dalliance, she neglected that. I found myself homeless in Provo for the winter.

      On the upside, I was always the first to know when it was snowing at night!

      Back at home< I prayed for more opportunity to use the priesthood, so I could grow and be more useful. My prayer was answered. I was asked to give priesthood blessings both of healing and comfort several times a week for a few weeks. A racist bishopric member told me that Satan had answered my prayer.

      Apparently he thought Satan was all about helping people in need. I pointed out the error of his thinking, and reconfirmed that the Lord has answered my prayer.

      The bishop taught in a special relief society Sunday School that no one should ask for a blessing from "people like me".

      You know…visible minority.

      People worked hard to stifle my spiritual growth.

      Didn't work.

      I knew I was at the Lord's Church and that the Lord had invited me and I was doing the Lord's work in countering false doctrine and racist and abusive behavior.

      Sure, I sometimes wound up telling people to take a long walk on a short pier. (i.e. to go take a jump in the lake!)

      They are not the Lord…in spite of what their ego tells them.

      So no, I am not going to shut up and sit quietly in the corner like a good Indian.

      I DO know my place.

      And my place is standing up for the truth…beside the Lord.

      The important thing is to not let them kill your ability to love. OR to BE loved. To allow love for you.

      The way they win is to kill your love for others and stop you from allowing love from others.

      Never let that happen.

      1. Darwin;

        First let me apologize for all of the individual people who have wronged you within our church.

        On my mission we baptized brother Standing Bear.

        I have a friend who is Black Foot Indian.

        I also have another Indian friend whose Mom is their Tribal Lawyer.

        My wife is half Asian. And unfortunately since moving this last June a local person at the super market asked my wife where she was from.

        My spouse told her, and the lady continued with why we didn’t need any more Asian’s moving to this area.

        I wasn’t around for this conversation and my wife didn’t tell me about it until 3 or 4 months later.

        It made me angry, my wife is the kindest person that I know.

        Similarly when I was active duty military even though I am White I was TDY “Temporary Duty” in Virginia.

        My Sergeant and I were headed into a Waffle House one morning dressed in our BDU’s “Battle Dress Uniform” when an older African American man outside on a bench called us a Racial epithet.

        Once inside the Restaurant, before we ordered my Sergeant said: “Did you hear what that man just called us?” Yes, I replied.

        “What do you think we should do about it?” Nothing, I said because our actions will reflect on all who wear our uniform. Not just on us. I think we should order breakfast and forget about it.

        In Boise Idaho while still active duty I was heading into a Black nightclub with my Pacific Islander friend and my Black friend.

        They both got by the Bouncer without an issue, but when I also tried to walk by he held up his hand and said I needed to pay the Cover.”Fee for entering the club”

        When I pointed at my two friends who just walked by without paying he laughed and said it was the “White tax.” So I forked over the 5 bucks, and went in.

        My point is regardless of where you go its inevitable that someone is racist or a bigot. I commend you for your approach in that you took the high road, and didn’t let it stop your spiritual progression.

        Happy New year.

        1. Thank-you very kindly!

          It all really goes back to the fact that they have not let the “Divine Truth” improve them enough yet…like you said.

          I mean really…they sent my membership records out of the ward! How does one not take that personally?

          The only place in the Church where I didn’t experience racism was at BYU. It was truly a breath of fresh air!

          And then, as mentioned, they messed that up for me from back home by having some guy romance the girl I had baptized and was engaged to, so she neglected my financial correspondence, documents weren’t acknowledged or responded to and I was homeless in Provo. I toughed it out for months…but eventually I had to quit school.

          And they have done worse. Far worse.

          I was married to a woman with mental health issues.

          Her daughter from another relationship, and her own family played my then-wife’s triggers like a piano…or rather like a remote control.

          She finally gathered her strength to stand against the manipulation, but she had a lot of resentments. And her major symptoms (if you will) of her mental health issues were anger and rage.

          She was verbally and emotionally abusive to our children and her daughter from another relationship was physically abusive to my children.

          From my perspective, I didn’t want to give up on anybody.

          But the situation was wearing everybody down.

          Her father said: “I will give you money to leave that Indian.”

          She didn’t really consider it…

          …until…

          My bishop and stake president both told her that (because I was trying to make a living from home to protect my children from abuses) I wasn’t making “enough” money…then she should be ANGRY with me.

          Funny, I don’t remember reading THAT anywhere in the Proclamation on the Family.

          But they were racist. They hated me. And they resented the fact that I married a white women.

          So not ONLY did they tell a women with mental health problems who had anger and rage issues that she SHOULD be angry with her husband…but they ALSO told her that she should leave me and take the children to teach me a lesson.

          Her Church leaders. her father, her family, her daughter from another relationship all played on her mental health triggers…and she was raging too much to feel the Spirit at all…

          And everybody was telling her not to listen to me…the only one who actually loved her.

          Not only was what the bishop and stake president told her against Church policy, but it was also illegal.

          Section 283 of the Canadian Criminal code; Parental Child Abduction.
          According to the Supreme Court of Canada R. V. Dawson[1996] 3 SCR 783 : Paragraph 18:…There is nothing in this mens rea to suggest that the actus reus requires anything more than preventing a parent, guardian, or other person having lawful care or charge of the child, from exercising control over that child.

          Paragraph 24:…Parliament clearly intended to expand the reach of the child abduction provisions so as to protect children from unilateral removal, even in the absence of a custody order, and even by a person who could, in some sense, claim a right to possession of the child.

          Parental child abduction is also child abuse:

          “Child stealing, from the point of view of the child, is child abuse. In child stealing, the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them.” from PARENTAL KIDNAPPING: A NEW FORM OF CHILD ABUSE by Dorothy S. Huntington, Ph.D.

          Children who have been psychologically violated and maltreated through the act of abduction, are more likely to exhibit a variety of psychological and social handicaps. These handicaps make them vulnerable to detrimental outside influences (Rand, 1997). Huntington (1982) lists some of the deleterious effects of parental child abduction on the child victim:

          Depression;

          Loss of community;

          Loss of stability, security, and trust;

          Excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences;

          Loneliness;

          Anger;

          Helplessness;

          Disruption in identity formation; and

          Fear of abandonment.

          Many of these untoward effects can be subsumed under the problems relevant to Reactive Attachment Disorder, the diagnostic categories in the following section, and the sections on fear, of abandonment, learned helplessness, and guilt, that follow. from Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse by Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D Presented to the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child, in Special Session, June 9, 1999 on behalf of P.A.R.E.N.T. and victims of parental child abduction. Nancy Faulkner 1999

          So this is what racist and abusive local Church leaders can do and will continue to do is they are not called on it and held accountable.

          But ALWAYS remember: This was NOT the God. This was NOT the Lord. This was THEM. The racists.

          AND…I would like to take this opportunity to point out that is wasn’t specifically my now ex-wife’s mental health issues that was the big problem.

          That’s right.

          She did not let THIS all happen because of her mental illness.

          She let this happen because she didn’t really love me.

          When we met… I looked great on paper. And she knew that other ladies admired me in spite of my nativeness.

          Plus I saved someone’s life in her presence.

          She felt like she SHOULD love me.

          And she was deathly afraid that NO ONE ELSE would ever love her. She was terrified that she would never be married because she had messed up and had sex and a kid out of wedlock.

          So she settled for me…a guy she didn’t really love.

          THAT was the REAL reason she betrayed me.

          NOT because of her mental health issues.

          I know and am aware of MANY people with mental health issues.

          Ari is pretty spectacular…she is amazingly spiritual and so very intelligent and talented and gifted.

          And from what you have shared, Shrek…YOU are pretty spectacular too!

          The Lord NEEDS you in his Church. He NEEDS your strength and YOUR example.

          And this is why…the Lord Himself stated: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God. …

          “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

          “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28–30.)

          ” There are some as wolves among us. By that, I mean some who profess membership in this church who are not sparing the flock. And among our own membership, men are arising speaking perverse things. Now perverse means diverting from the right or correct, and being obstinate in the wrong, willfully, in order to draw the weak and unwary members of the Church away after them.

          And as the apostle Paul said, it is likewise a marvel to us today, as it was in that day, that some members are so soon removed from those who taught them the gospel and are removed from the true teachings of the gospel of Christ to be led astray into something that corrupts the true doctrines of the gospel of Christ into vicious and wicked practices and performances”. Admonitions for the Priesthood of God – President Harold B. Lee October 1972

          We need the constant guidance of that Spirit. We live in an age of deceit. “O my people,” said Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, “they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” (2 Ne. 13:12.) Even within the Church we have been warned that “the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR, April 1949, p. 163.)

          And finally…

          Said Brigham Young: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. … Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (JD, vol. 9, p. 150.)

          THIS is why the Lord NEEDS you AND Ari.

          You both know how to do this!

          Happy New Year to you too!

  7. Darwin,

    Sounds like you have had a rough go of it. Don’t let that discourage you. That doesn’t mean that you always have to be happy or that every day is a good day.

    Instead it simply means, to roll with the good and the bad times and to keep your head up.

    I just take life one day at a time. I have a genetic disorder called Klinefelter Syndrome, which gave me some learning disabilities.

    It also made me socially awkward. Growing up even though I was involved with choir and church things, I literally could be sitting in a room full of random people or family and feel like I didn’t exist.

    I wondered more than once if anyone would miss me.

    That is depression, and I can assure you that while I know many people would in fact miss me it doesn’t make having mental illness any easier.

    Instead it burdens me, because I used to feel like if I shared with someone how I really felt they might feel responsible if I did something.

    When I was active duty I was engaged to a woman who was Bi-Polar.

    She stole from me.

    She blackmailed me.

    She used her mental illness to manipulate the situation.

    Because I admitted to being Suicidal at one point, I lost my freedom. In that I was involuntarily escorted to the military base.

    I was released to a friend, and made to stay with him and his wife for 2 weeks because the military didn’t trust me to be on my own.

    In reality this is what actually happened. The Fiancee broke up with me “Thank God.”

    But at the time, I felt like I didn’t want to live without her.

    I admitted this feeling to her.

    We were on the phone, and than later I was on the phone with my Mom.

    While on the phone with my Mom, someone rang the doorbell.

    I opened the door, and the police had both ends of the block cordoned off.

    Two police were on the porch, both had their guns drawn and pointed center mass at my chest.

    They asked me if anyone else was home, and still on the phone with my Mom I told them I was alone.

    They asked if there were any weapons on the property, and I admitted that my Fiancee had a hand gun registered to her on the property.

    My First Sergeant was called, and he is the one who took me to the base.

    Apparently here is why all this happened. The police and my Fiancee were also playing phone tag.

    They were told that I was holding someone hostage at gunpoint in my own home!

    Not the truth, not at all. I guess I should be thankful I didn’t get shot.

    Anyway a few weeks later after being taken to the base, and after being released to my friend.

    The military said that they wanted to test me for being Dyslexic.

    They told me that the only way to do this was to drive down to Boise and Admit myself into this clinic.

    Unbeknownst to me, I did what they said. It turns out that this was a Psychiatric ward.

    Once admitted, they would not let me leave. When I tried to say that there had been a misunderstanding – it fell on deaf ears.

    When I tried to explain that I was only there to talk to a Psychologist about possibly being Dyslexic – they said that the Psychologist would not be there until the end of the week.

    I was left in that place for a little over a week, the food tasted like gruel. My room mate was a recovering crack addict.

    My unit thought the whole time I was gone that I was on vacation!

    When I finally was able to talk to the psychologist, he said that he didn’t understand why I was in there.

    But in order to let me leave, I obviously had to be subjected to taking their tests. They repeatedly tried to offer me different medications, which I was allowed to decline.

    Many years later, when I was talking to someone at the Department of Veteran’s Affair’s I realized that this is the reason I have trouble trusting people now.

    A few times when I have gone to the VA clinic, and they ask how you’re feeling or if you have had thoughts of hurting yourself. I tell them “Not since yesterday.”

    Self preservation, because you don’t want to end up with a 5150 “involuntary hold.”

    I guess that leaves me always feeling a little guarded in that if I tell people that I thinking about not being here every single day – than they want to take away your freedom.

    And I figure that I have been dealing with how I feel for a long time, and I am still here so I must be doing something right.

    Anyway, I share this stuff with you unselfishly so that you can see – other people have also had a tough road.

    But the road is still worth traveling.

    Doctrine and Covenants Section 105 Verse 6:

    “And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.”

    I came across that in church yesterday, and it felt profound.

    I felt inspired to share this with you, I read it yesterday morning.

    Doctrine and Covenants Section 6 Verses 32 through 37:

    “32 Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.

    33 Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

    34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

    35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.

    36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

    37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen.”

    And than after that the Spirit impressed this other verse upon my mind.

    Doctrine and Covenants Section 6 Verse 22:

    “22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.”

    – God loves you. He loves each of his children, and its unfortunate that you have had the trials and struggles in your life that you shared.

    But let me assure you that in the infinite power of the Atonement that Jesus Christ knows what you’re dealing with; because he voluntarily suffered it first for us.

    That is unconditional love – greater hath no man than he who lay down his life for another.

  8. Shrek!

    Doctrine and Covenants 6 34 specifically and the rest of that segment generally were basically in my Patriarchal Blessing…THAT`s why you were inspired to share it with me, no doubt!

    Great way to start off the New Year

    Thank-you again…

  9. Darwin,

    It fills my soul with gratitude to know that Heavenly Father is mindful of each of us. The gift I was given, is to know that the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints is true.

    I know that I can feel the spirit. I am supposed to use it to help other’s.

    You made me happy – in that, your honesty reminded me why talking to other people and sharing of ourselves is vitally important.

    Not because I wish to boast, but because we’re able to help lift each other up and bear each others burdens.

    – Cheers

    PS: Ari – thanks for this thread. Without it, Darwin and I never would have communicated.

  10. Darwin;

    I miss talking to you. I hope that you are doing well.

    I went to church today, my wife didn’t think I was going.

    I didn’t think I was going either, but I put in the extra effort and went.

    I have been incredibly sick these last two weeks, and today had a serious migraine.

    Fasting and taking two Excedrin and going to a 3 hour meeting, probably isn’t the best idea.

    But I went anyway. And was glad I did.

    I really enjoyed fast and testimony meeting, and was able to feel the Spirit.

    After our meetings were over I reached out to someone and offered to get them something that I felt inspired to offer because of the Spirit.

    They were touched by my offer, and said some very nice things.

    Which I brushed off by saying I was a knucklehead.

    I have never really taken “Thank you” that well.

    But this Sister said it, and than the Sister Missionaries who we offered to feed in a few weeks also said it.

    So I must be doing something right, maybe.

    I guess I wanted you to know that you made a friend, and that I care.

    Heavenly Father is ever mindful of you.

    He knows what has transpired in your life, and what your struggles are.

    If there is something you need, that is a righteous desire, if you pray and ask I promise God is listening.

    ~ Cheers

    1. Thank-you so very much Shrek…that is very thoughtful. And I admire your determination in the face of opposition. I took opportunity to reach out to three people with mostly positive results! All three were old friends…one…the love of his life who he had cared for (she was sick) for ten years had just died. We spoke at length about her and about her now probably looking after him, as his guardian angel. Even though they had moved away years ago, I am grateful the bond is still strong.

      The second, was lady I know in the Church and her mother just died. I also reached out to her, and she was so very happy, as I had know the family for many years, and again, even though they had moved away years ago, I am grateful the bond was still strong.

      The third was local.

      I reached out to him to let him know about the tragedies experienced by these mutual friends from Church.

      He swore at me.

      But it wasn’t specifically me…he was pulling away from the Church.

      He said that he knew everything I had gone through, and he said that if he had gone through what I had gone through…he would never have anything to do with the Church again,.

      So I said…I DID go through it all. and I STILL have my testimony.

      Shrek, you are so right in your example that service DOES sanctify and strengthen a person.

      It is quite the contrast when it does not occur.

      Thank-you.