How to Save a Life

So this past Saturday I had a major panic attack. The worst I can remember. While I was in the thick of it… horrible hysteria… I couldn’t even put together a complete sentence, my mother called me. She dropped everything to come and help me through it.

I have struggled with mental illness all my life. On my mission I was fortunate enough to have a brief window of relief. I had only two panic attacks on my mission, both very early on, and I thought when I go home that I had basically been cured. I was not, and when I fell, I fell hard.

A Walk to the Past

There was a time in the not to distant past where I went to a very dark place. I felt like I was worthless, a failure. From my perspective I couldn’t do anything right. I had gotten it in my head that my closet loved ones were annoyed and angered by my existence. It seemed that even my parent’s lives would be better if I wasn’t around. Suicide became a reoccurring thought. It was more than an escape from the emotional pain it was in, I thought I would be doing a favor to my loved ones if I was out of their hair.

Suicide is often considered taboo. Which, in my opinion is very counter productive. I was lucky enough to have been able to escape the horrible suicidal thought pattern without too much external intervention, but that was honestly luck. My plan was to wait for someone to notice or acknowledge my suffering, when they were ready, when my problems wouldn’t inconvenience them.

When someone is struggling in life I find that more often than not they just need a friend. Someone who can be there without being an inconvenience. On Saturday my mother was there for me without a thought about all she had to do. She was willing to talk about how I was feeling, with out  judgement, without solutions, with just ears. To be there and to show me that she loves me.

Hard Topics

So, when it comes to addressing taboo topics, the only solution is to address them. To talk to communicate. To talk about them before they are an issue. To talk about them with love and understanding. It takes being proactive when something is out of whack.

When I was at my lowest I planned my suicide twice. Each time I got to the  point of execution my mother was there. She noticed a problem and inserted herself into my life. She saved my life. So I invite us to follow her example and be present and involved in the lives of those around us. To observe and act.

Conference Time is Here Again

So it’s late, and instead of going to get “rested” for tomorrow I have chosen to visit the internet and hopefully contribute the happiness of others through the gift of written word. Ok, I know that I am not a gifted writer, but it still brings me joy to know that someone might read this.

For those readers who are not members of the LDS faith I want to inform you that tomorrow is something we Mormons like to call General Conference. It is exactly what the name describes, a conference given by our Global church leaders. It is not exclusive either. It is broadcast for the entire world via TV, internet, radio and any other form of communication you can think of. It is available in almost every language you can imagine. It is for everyone.

In recent years I have awaited General Conference in anticipation, and I am sad that this is the first time in 5 years that I will be unable to view one of the sessions (there are 6) live. You see, as it does for many members of our church, General Conference holds a special place in my heart since many of my major life changing event have lined up with to occurrence of General Conference

Story Time

5 years ago I was in my first year of college as a naive little 18-year-old freshmen who was ready to take on the world. My dear friend and I had returned home for the weekend to watch General Conference on the giant projector at my uncle’s house. It was nice to be home, because college was not at all what I had expected.

As conference started our dear prophet Pres. Thomas S. Monson open with a few words. In just a few short minutes he had the attention of thousand of young members of the church including myself. He had just announced what has now become known to many as “the age change”. He said that effective immediately young men could leave to serve full-time missions at age 18, and young women could leave at age 19.

I remember that feeling. Hearing those words. I remember looking back at my mother and seeing her heart drop. I remember the overwhelming love that I felt. The overwhelming joy. The all encompassing desire to leave immediately and dedicate 18 months to the service of my God. In that moment I knew I was going to me a missionary. It was my calling, it was what the Lord needed my to so. These words provided my peace and guidance to change my life plan in a HUGE way.

6 months later, I was sitting in my living room watching General Conference with my family. It was my last Sunday before boarding a plane to Argentina to enter the Missionary Training

 there. I remember the excitement and anticipation and the way that those words that day helped move forward with that decision.

These past couple months I have been reminded a lot of the experience I had on my mission in Uruguay. Those friends made, the skills learned, and the personal growth. It was an amazing time in my life that I would never trade for the world. Some of the most memorable experiences form my time in Uruguay were those General Conference weekends where we dedicated time to travel and attend satellite broadcasts, to the words of out prophets from Salt Lake City. 

My last Sunday on my mission was October 5th 2014, another General Conference weekend. It has been two years since the age change, and I had grown in so many ways. I listened to that words of the prophets and apostles that day just as I had for every General Conference

 I attended in my mission. This time it was listening for advice and guidance on what to do as I returned home to my family who I had not seen in 18 months. 

Just like that Conference 5 years ago that changed my world, every conference can impact and change our lives. They give us guidance comfort and instruction. If we listen to the words spoken we will change. We will walk away better people. We will become closer to Christ. 

I sincerely invite everyone to participate in General Conference this weekend. To tune in and listen to what your Heavenly Father has prepared for you. I promise that you will be filled with the word of God and feel is love the love that he has for you as his child.

One is the Loneliest Number

So confession time, I am afraid of a lot of things. I have probably said that before, but really have kind of  a “fraidy cat”. There are also lots of things that me nervous and the future is one of them, but what makes me scared is being alone.

I have learned many things about myself in recent months. One of those things that I have learned is that I am very much an extrovert. I feed off of social situations and I learn best in a group or when I have to teach or explain myself. I work best with someone else there. I love hanging out in groups and going to parties. I love being will people and going out a doing things. But for the first 22 years of my life I though I was an introvert.

Why did I think this? Because I am very, very socially awkward. Everyone knows it. My friends in high school wanted to make a new yearbook category of “most awkward” just for me, because I embody awkward. Even my mother has told me that I am socially awkward, and when a mother admits the fault of a child it must be true.

To avoid a lot of the awkwardness, I tend to not talk to people. Like ever. I never make eye contact. I can never find questions to ask, or ways to keep up a conversation. In many ways it is just easier for me to avoid people. Well, as an extrovert, where I need interaction will people, this is very dangerous. I am avoiding the friendships and bonds that give me energy and help me function on the day to day.

 

I have made lots of friendships in my life. Have had the opportunity to meet and get to know tons of people. I have had great friends, many

people that have changed my life, but when I can’t figure out what to say or how to start a conversation I tend to fall away from the friendships. And then I never know how to reconnect. This leaves me feeling alone. Friendless. I think of the things that I used to do with the people that I used to know and I just kind of feel alone.

I am preparing in the move to Oklahoma. By myself! Not that will change my situation very much because I don’t do much with my friends anymore and I need to extend myself socially. But I won’t have my parents, who have over the years always been my rock and in many ways, my social life. I am very scared to move. To be alone. To have to make new friends. To be awkward and make mistakes. To get to know new people and do a whole lot of different. So, I am definitely terrified. Freaking out. Ask my mother. I am going crazy, and at times barely functioning.

I have learned through many trials that I am “never alone.” That Christ and his Atonement are always there. This is true. Through this I can find strength to do new things. And because of this knowledge I know that everything will be alright at the end. I mean, I have one hundred percent confidence that moving to Oklahoma is the right thing for me (there was way too much divine intervention for it to be wrong).  I am still terrified of the new adventure. It is still hard, and I still spend a lot of time forcing myself to get ready. So we’ll see what happens, but I will survive.

 

The One on Dating

About two years ago I release a video on YouTube… actually I don’t like that preface. Let’s start over.

In a past life I really wanted to be a famous YouTube star. I had a YouTube channel. I tried vlogging, but my lack of views was pretty un-motivating. About two years ago I published a video about my angst toward dating. I’ll let the video speak for itself, but I find myself in a similar situation again in my life.

Don’t get me wrong…those friends who were previously getting engaged are all still happily married and are not getting engaged for the second time. Alas, as June rolls around, we are back into wedding season and well I just can’t help but feel the need to get back on the dating app scene.

So, for many years, probably about 20, I was, the best way to put it would be, anti-boyfriend. I basically thought that having a boyfriend was a sin and secretly condemned all of my age group that followed the societal norms of coupling up. I have talked to my sister about it (years after the fact), and she said that I was so committed to my anti-dating campaign that she thought I would shun her if she ever considered dating…

Anyway, after coming home from my mission almost 3 years ago, I have felt am immense pressure get married.  Now, I can tell you that nothing in the world scares me more than marriage… ok spiders scare me more than marriage, but it is a very close second. Still, I’m terrified of marriage! I have had experiences dating in the past almost 3 years, some good, most bad, but after it all I still feel think the world frowns on me because I have not achieved marriage, nor am I actively trying to date anyone.

What has really I think been the hardest for me is that for the past several months my little sister has been in a serious relationship and recently got engaged to be married. As soon as she started dating her current fiancé, well everything was different. I don’t do different, and my sister dating someone is a huge change. On top of that the pressure from the universe for me to date and get married just seemed to increase, become unbearable.

I started doing every irrational thing from reaching out to my ex-boyfriend to entering dating sites (Tinder and mutual guys, mostly mutual, Mormons are safer). Nothing came of anything because at this point in my life, about to go to graduate school and move dating just doesn’t make sense. Logically, it’s pointless. But I still feel that constant need to find someone to marry. And why? Why can’t I just be happy being a productive single member of society.

Is that pressure to get married a good thing, it could be, because otherwise I wouldn’t date, nor have dated ever in my life. But at the same time, it leaves me feeling like I am not living up to expectations or that I can only be my best self as a married individual. There is not much I can so about it, but it still kind of sucks. I keep “trying” to go on mutual and date, but I do go on the dates because I just don’t want to… I don’t want to date. Maybe one date I will want to again, but I am happy to just try to do my the best version of my single self.

Oh how I wish I could be a Nun

As a little girl I never quite like my sister. We would play barbies together (I always objected to the playing of barbies, but if you knew my little sister you would know that she rarely looses a fight). While she was IMG_2007trying to give her girl barbies fairy tale endings by way of fairy tale weddings, I, giving life to all of the Ken dolls, made it my purpose to ruin all of her fun.

As we grew older and started into the exciting life of teenagerdom and hormones, my distaste for the idea of romance blossomed and bloomed into more of a raging hatred against dating. Basically, I campaigned against ever having a boyfriend. I just could not understand why on earth any kind of relationship could be appealing.

After I came home from my mission, with opinions far from changed, I now entered into this world where I felt an incredible pressure to get married. It was not from any particular party, nor was it for me to fulfill anytime line, but I definitely felt it. And it didn’t want it. I Still hated the idea of having a boyfriend, let alone a husband. To be completely honest, I really just wanted to give my love to Christ and become a nun, but with faith in the fact the my path one day includes a fairy tale ending, I plunged head first into the world of dating.

Dating was not easy. Truthfully it still is not easy. Many times I only went out for the free food. I mean hey, I am a college student. After several attempts the seemed to be that all of those that I went on more than one date with were Latin American and, honestly, in many cases I only went out with them because I like to speak Spanish and dance Bachata.

I am not ashamed to say that one day a man did enter my life who completely changed my opinion of dating. He was a great guy. The most normal guy I ever dated, and we really just meshed well. After a couple months of seeing each other we had the “DTR” discussion and became “novios.”

We dated for several more months, and for the first time in my life I was actually able to understand why on earth people thought dating was a good idea. It was nice to always have someone to talk to, to confide in, to laugh with, to go on adventures with, to grow with. But alas, as this past summer drew to a close we came to realize that we, together would not be able to progress past dating. We were on two very different paths in life, each path the one God intended each of us to take, but they did not ever come together. We had to make the hard decision to end our relationship.

So you what to know what is worse than dating, breaking up. It SUCKS! Pardon my language, but there is no other way to describe the emotional roller coaster that follows what appears to be the tragic ripping apart of ones soul. Over a month later, sometimes I still feel some residual damage.

Why am I even writing this? Do I feel some need to vent to all of my 3 followers online? Unfortunately, no. I mean life would be some much easier if I could just take the high road and become a nun, but Mormons don’t really that. I am writing to say that I am a changed person. From my last relationship I learned one very important thing, I actually want to get married. I want to find someone who I can be with forever. I want to find someone who can help me grow closer to Christ. So I guess I won’t become a nun, but continue the struggle. Wish me luck.