The reason that I picked this talk to be my first to discuss is because it touched so many people so deeply. People I know, people who are my friends. So many that I know struggle with mental illness. I struggle with mental illness, both personally and in my family. A year ago while watching General Conference, I had no idea that in just over a month my husband would try and commit suicide. Try and almost succeed. From my own experience I understand the hopelessness and despair that metal illness can bring, and now I understand the hopelessness and despair that can come to those who love someone who is suffering.
So often as both the suffer and watching someone I love suffer I have felt broken and damaged. I have even had moments were I have felt that maybe the Atonement didn’t apply to me. This was a suffering no one could understand. It wasn’t spoken about and the difficulties associated with it where often not spoken about at Church or spoken of in hushed tones. Elder Holland changed that for so many during this conference. He brought it out of the closet in a profound and wonderful way. Of course if you are anything like me any time Elder Holland talks it is a wonderful experience. But this was special and unique for so many.
Today I am really looking at the next to the last paragraph:
“Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must
remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds
can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed.While God is at work making those repairs, the
rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind. ”
The reference comes from Psalms 31:12 but in the context of what I was discussing before, the hopelessness and the sense of being alone, I looked at the whole chapter and I think it all speaks to Elder Holland’s point.
First that sense of hopelessness:
9 Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side:while they took counsel together against me, they
devised to takeaway my life.
I read this and it describes perfectly my pain both as a sufferer and a loved one. How many times did I feel like my whole being (“mine eye..my soul and my belly”) was being devoured by my suffering? How many times did it seem that my suffering was made worse, not by those I identified as enemies, but by those I considered neighbors or even friends? How many times have a entered a room and hit that wall of silence, knowing with my whole being that my situation was being discussed.
Now don’t get me wrong I know that most time, people where just unsure how to respond, they could not understand why I was terrified to go in public places. They couldn’t understand that I would literally vomit, and pass out when I was having a panic attack, and don’t even get me going on the times where I was hallucinating, and self medication seemed like the only option.
People has the best intention but always said the wrong things. Or they thought they knew the perfect advice (even though they had never been through the same experience). I ended up letting go of a lot of people I cared about at various times of my life, because they could not understand the pain that I was in. They thought I (or my husband) could just snap out of it and move forward.
14 But I atrusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.
Especially when my husband was in the hospital and we did not know if he was going to live or die, as I was making decisions that people sometimes violently disagreed with, I trusted in God to lead me and guide me, and have continued to do so in the year since.
15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
I know with an assurance of the Spirit that my deliverance is not yet but that it will come. That weather the enemy is the people around me or my own mind, that in the Lord’s time I and my husband will be delivered.
17 Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon thee:let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the
I have nothing to be ashamed of even when my mind betrays me, because I have and continued to call upon the Lord. I have relied upon him continually. I have to the best of my ability followed Him and followed the Spirit.
22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes:nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when Icried unto thee.
Even when I think all is lost. Even when I think I am a lone, the Lord is there answering my prayers in ways that I cannot imagine. Giving me at all time exactly what I need. I know just as Elder Holland spoke about that the Lord may not remove all of my struggles and that in this life, it mental illness may be a constant companion. But I also know that the Lord preserves me, and that as I continue to fight and have courage he will give me strength. He will make me strong to withstand whatever troubles come my way, and that as I continue to hope in him, that hope will be rewarded.
In Jesus Christs Name Amen