When I was about ten-years-old I was invited to a birthday party at the swimming pool. I had never learned to swim, and still haven't, but I enjoyed spending time in the cool water on a warm day. I had just had my tonsils out a little before the party and that was the first time I had really been out to do anything besides play in the yard.
It was June and our neighbor decided she wanted to go swimming for her party. I don't really remember many of the details but there is one thing that happened that I have never forgotten. As I said I had never learned to swim so I usually stayed in the more shallow end of the pool or along the edge where I could hold on. Some kids thought they were being funny and were going around pushing people under. Most of the other kids took it in fun, but not me. I tried to avoid them by staying near the side but somebody found me and pushed my head under. I was around the 51/2 foot deep part of the pool, so not really deep, but as I went under I felt like I was sinking a hundred feet or more. The feeling of drowning seemed to last for minutes on end when in reality it was only a few seconds. I felt like I couldn't find my way to the surface and I was sure I was going to die.
Looking back, I don't think anybody realized how terrified I was. To them it was still a game. However, to this day, I am still terrified of going to far out into the water. I don't even really like to take baths. I just can't relax for fear I might drown.
I have felt that same fear and feelings at other times in my life as well, only I wasn't swimming or even near water. The past few weeks I have had similar feelings.
When I have bad spells of depression and anxiety it sometimes feels like I am literally drowning. I feel like I am sinking to the bottom of a deep pool where I can't find my way to the surface. These feelings are just as scary as the time when I was ten.
Don't get me wrong, I am not feeling suicidal or anything, but I have been struggling with trying to swim. This morning I woke up crying. I have been doing that a lot lately. Just don't ask me what's wrong because I really don't know. It is everything and nothing at the same time.
About a week and a half ago I had one of the worst anxiety attacks that I've had in a long time. The thing is that I know what brought it on and I could have avoided it but at the same time I knew I was where I needed to be. One of my triggers is crowded places. That Friday night I was in the temple to begin our stake conference weekend. I knew there were a lot of people there but was trying to not think about it. I try to sit in the back on an end seat which helps a little. I was near the back of the chapel but as we were leaving to go into the next room I made the mistake of looking back and seeing how many people were still behind us. I was already emotional since that would be the last temple session with that stake presidency since we would be getting a new one that coming Sunday and also knowing how many people were ahead of me. As I finished greeting the temple presidency counselor and his wife and the stake presidency and their wives I was bawling and starting to hyperventilate. I pulled my dad aside and told him I needed a minute before we went in. The bishop's wife and daughter-in-law stopped to see if I was okay. Long story short, I sat in the back and somehow managed to survive but the next day I had a migraine.
The next night we had a wonderful adult/youth session of conference where we heard from an Area Seventy and General Authority of the Church. We were also able to listen one last time to the members of the stake presidency. They all spoke about hastening the work. It was a a good meeting and very spiritually uplifting. On Sunday morning we arrived early to find out who the new stake presidency would be and to once again be spiritually fed.
We had been speculating for weeks about who the new stake president would be and I just kept coming back to one person. My thoughts were confirmed as I saw members of his family enter the chapel and the again when his name was said to be sustained. I had been a little anxious to find out because I have grown very close to my former stake president. I had been silently hoping and praying that his successor would be somebody I could develop a good relationship with as well. The man who was called happens to be a former bishop of mine whom I have admired for a long time. As his name was read and the congregation raised their hands to sustain him, I offered a silent prayer of thanks to my Heavenly Father for calling a man I know will be a great example to all and who will love the people and be of great inspiration to them and especially me.
I brought this up so that I could tell you about last night. As I said I have had some of those feelings of drowning lately and was starting to get scared that I might not be able to resurface if I went to far. The other night I got a call from an acquaintance telling me about the LDS Addiction Recovery program. She mentioned that it wasn't just for people with addictions and that a mutual friend had given her my number, with my permission, feeling that maybe I could benefit from the program. They hold classes here in Castle Dale on Tuesday nights in the seminary building.
Yesterday, after work and running errands, I didn't really feel like going anywhere else. However, as the time drew closer for the meeting to start I felt strongly that I needed to go. I was feeling pretty nervous especially when it was my turn to introduce myself and tell why I was there. I didn't quite feel like I fit in since I don't have a problem with drinking, drugs, pornography, etc. On the other hand I felt like I could benefit from the things that were shared. The missionaries that were in charge pointed out that everyone can benefit from the principle that are taught through the program and that by attending we can be of service.
As I was leaving I was very emotional and not quite ready to go home. Since it was getting dark I didn't feel right about going for a ride, besides I was in my grandpa's truck and didn't want to go too far without permission. I had a feeling that I should get a blessing as soon as possible and knowing that my dad wasn't home felt that I should go to talk to the new stake president. I told myself I shouldn't bother him because he was probably in a meeting so I drove past the church and went and got a pop instead. As I was passing the church again I felt even more strongly that I should stop so I pulled in the parking lot and sat there for a minute. I told myself that if he was in a meeting I would just leave.
When I walked in I could hear voices in his office and asked one of the clerks if the stake president was in a meeting. He said yes but that they should be almost finished since they were supposed to be having a presidency meeting then. I sat down to wait thinking it would just be a few minutes. About an hour later the stake women leaders left his office. I was crying and didn't know why but a few of these women stopped to say hello or give me a hug. When the stake president came out of his office to see me I knew I had made the right decision.
I have known this wonderful man for a long time and felt very comfortable talking to him. He already knows enough about my depression and anxiety that I didn't feel nervous. He told me that the meeting he had been in had had to take place so that I could see those women come out. He said they are like me and I am like them and that I could find answers and strength through the. Before I had a chance to speak he said he knew why I was there and gave me some advice and then asked permission for him and his counselors to give me a blessing. I left that office with a strong testimony that these men were called by God. That they will be of great help to me and the other members of this stake.
As I said, I woke up crying this morning. I still feel in some ways that I am drowning but that if I don't give up I can learn to swim. It will be hard but if I exercise faith the Lord will help to lift me out of the water.