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He Walked Through It All

HE WALKED THROUGH IT ALL

By Sarah Clark

“How can I help you if I don’t know what you’ve walked through?” 

A few years ago, we experienced some big changes in our little family. Even though I knew everything we were doing was the right thing for us, because of the many undeniable nudges from God, I started to experience a depression that made me question everything.

A few months earlier, we had a baby and experienced some great miracles throughout the pregnancy—both big and small—and my faith had been tested and strengthened. After a stressful and sick pregnancy, we were elated that she was here, and I was relieved in so many ways. 

I wasn’t ready for the postpartum darkness that would ensue. Everything was in question, which was so unlike me. My faith, my self confidence, my ability to do things, my ability to ever be myself again. 

Where was the girl who had fun and wasn’t self conscious? The girl who loved self improvement, the beauty of humanity, God’s creations, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

She was stuck in fetal position on the couch and it felt like she might never come back. I began having night terrors. Going to the shower or bath to scream or cry was common. I felt panicked at almost every moment of the day which made it hard to sleep, and the vicious cycle continued. Anytime I would hear of something scary or sad happening on the news, via friends, or social media, I would tailspin into the depths of anxiety. 

I remember pacing our room one night as I waited for the pounding in my chest to slow down after another night terror. I felt alone, terrified, and sad. I hated feeling “dramatic,” and didn’t know how to talk about what I was experiencing, so I kept it to myself. 

Eventually, something happened that brought out memories of childhood trauma, and it became almost too much. I didn’t recognize myself or these emotions, and part of me wanted to fight to get “Me” back, but the other part of me didn’t have the energy to do it. 

I would hear of friends starting a new workout routine or going to the gym and I couldn’t mentally or physically fathom how they had the energy to do that when it took all I had to get up and make my kids’ lunch. This wasn’t like me. Amid the struggle, I gained a lot of weight within a few month’s time, and I became upset and resentful towards myself and the lack of motivation that I had. Feeling the Spirit was hard. Feeling anything was hard. I knew I couldn’t move forward like this, and began looking for a therapist. 

I remember sitting in my bed and looking at the different photos and descriptions of therapists and praying over each one. I eventually decided on one and sent her an email. It took all I had to find a babysitter and get there. When I showed up at her office, she asked me to start at the beginning. I had been to therapy once or twice back when I was pregnant with our first baby for some intense anxiety I had experienced, but nobody had ever asked me that. When I relayed that to her, she responded with something I will never forget. 

“How can I help you if I don’t know what you’ve walked through?” 

 

I had several moments of clarity where I remembered that there was someone who walked through it ALL in order to succor us. Someone who took His perfect self into the Garden of Gethsemane and Atoned for things that He never did, and felt things he didn’t deserve to feel. All for us. He did these things for moments like this when we feel that nobody would ever understand.

But He does, because He loved us enough to walk through it. 

Things didn’t get better all at once. There was no lightbulb moment where I got up and felt better like I had with previous bouts of postpartum depression. But the things that started to help were connecting with close friends and making new ones, therapy, and a rockstar husband who helped me get out of the house, even if I said I didn’t have the energy. We began biking around the neighborhood, and as I felt the sun and wind on my face and witnessed glorious sunsets with my family, I felt God. I vividly remember smiling into the wind and feeling free for the first time in what felt like a long time. 

In conjunction with that, I started immersing myself in scriptures daily. I craved it. I felt like I was building and even rebuilding my testimony one small study session at a time. As I read the word of God, my soul swelled with joy. I had felt joy when reading before, but there was something about feeling like I was at rock bottom and building a foundation from there. When we build upon Christ, it really is a sure foundation. It fed my soul.

As I finished the final pages of a book of scripture, I stood in my hallway and cried tears of joy. I could never deny the positive feelings and hope that flowed through me while reading it, along with my love and connection to my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

During part of this time, we lived in the south where almost everyone we came in contact with had an undeniable love and unapologetic testimony of the Savior that they were willing to share. It’s something I’ve always tried to do, but felt stifled by the fear of offending someone with what could be perceived as a hidden agenda. These amazing people of all different religions, but a common love of God, helped to rebuild my confidence in giving God the credit that is due. 

Looking back, I’m so grateful for that experience. It was stretching and heartbreaking, but I know that I didn’t walk it alone. It takes me back to being in labor with one of our babies. As each contraction came over me and became more powerful, and almost unbearable at times; a scripture was impressed upon my mind over and over and over again. 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3)

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