Do Good Anyway

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

(Adapted from Kent M. Keith – The Paradoxical Commandments)

Self-Less – Thoughts on Service and Depression in Mormon Culture

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

My whole life, I have been taught of the value of selfless service. If you are ever struggling with yourself, find someone to serve and it will help your situation not seem so bleak. It is important to show compassion; to bear one another’s burdens, to mourn with those that mourn, and to succor the weak. The following two verses come to mind:

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

“He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:39

Marvin J. Ashton counseled those suffering from depression to “not doubt your abilities. Do not delay your worthy impressions. With God’s help, you cannot fail. He will give you the courage to participate in meaningful and purposeful living. Prayer and service lift their spirits and increase their self-esteem and feeling of power or control. Taking the focus off of themselves also helps put their problems in perspective and makes them feel they are not singled out for challenges. A day of service makes them feel useful and significant to others. At the moment of depression, if you will follow a simple program, you will get out of it. Get on your knees and get the help of God, then get up and go find somebody who needs something you can help them with. Then it will be a good day.”

Depression isn’t a sign of failure, but the feeling of failure. Telling someone to “snap out of it” is like telling a sick person to perform surgery on himself. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, an LDS father of five said, ” We have this ‘All is well in Zion’ kind of thing going on here…We’d rather not talk about it at all…or maybe go talk to the bishop about it. If there really is  a mental health issue you need help with, it doesn’t work to talk to your ecclesiastic leaders.” He touches on a pretty common misconception – that the bishop is your all-knowing source of guidance and counsel. If you’re having a problem of ANY type, you need to go talk to the bishop. But this is not necessarily true. Most bishops are not formally and professionally trained in psychology. Bishops are given guidelines in a handbook, and are told to “follow the spirit.” Bishops do the best they can, but they have limited resources. They are able to refer you to a mental health professional, typically through LDS Family services. Unfortunately, an untrained bishop may attribute overwhelming feelings of depression as evidence for a serious undisclosed sin. These unnecessary feelings of guilt will likely make the depression even worse. Psychological disorders are NOT a reflection of sin. I wouldn’t be surprised if most disorders found in a mental health clinic were also found in a typical ward.

I was reading a link someone sent me on Mormon Depression via Twitter the other day. It was an article by a conservative Christian pastor named Mark Cares, President of the Truth in Love Ministry. The Ministry has launched a billboard campaign in Idaho called “Feeling Worthy?” and campaign literature focuses on Mormon “stress points.” Pastor Cares said, “Mormons are under a significant amount of stress because of all the commandments they need to uphold and the duties they need to perform in order to be worthy to receive God’s blessings — including his forgiveness. The article asks, “Are Mormon women plagued with guilt and stress because of their religion, or is this campaign simply another form of anti-Mormonism?”

Paraphrasing the article a bit, researchers have drawn conclusions that the large Mormon population in Utah is partially to blame for the high levels of depression in the state. According to studies by Mental Health America and Express Scripts, Utah is the most depressed state in the country, and Utah residents are prescribed antidepressant drugs at a rate twice the national average.

A 2008 ABC News article stated, “The postcard image of Utah is a state of gleaming cities, majestic mountains and persistently smiling people. But new research shows a very different picture of the state, a snapshot of suicide and widespread depression…Psychiatrists point to several factors that could contribute to Utah’s high levels of depression: limited mental health resources, restricted access to treatment as a result of cost, poor quality of resources and a varied list of other factors, including an underfunded educational system and a culture deeply rooted in the Mormon faith.

As these depressed Mormons, particularly women, serve themselves out of their rut,  a key principle is not often mentioned; the opportunity to serve requires the other half of the service equation – someone in need of service. Sometimes, the person desperately in NEED of service is overwhelming themselves with GIVING service. As I struggle to improve my self-confidence and trust my innate abilities, I tend to drop everything when I hear of someone in need. I want to be happy, so I help. It does feels good to be helpful, but I’m realizing how often it depletes me.

I’m in a constant battle between my own needs and the needs of others. My husband has needs. My daughter has needs. My parents have needs. 90% of the time, I ignore what I need for myself. And I’m beginning to realize how harmful my “selflessness” has been. I’ve given up on dreams and desires of my youth. I missed out on much of Rosie’s young years because I was working to support my family. I’ve postponed my goals of fitness and weight loss because the financial cost was too overwhelming for our meager budget. A lot of the time, I don’t know what is worth aspiring to in my future.

I am realizing my desperate need to allow myself to be selfish, not selfless. And it feels like foreign territory.

I know through my religious beliefs that my struggles are temporary. God has a plan for me. The following quotes and scriptures help sustain me when I feel like I have no strength to keep trying.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8­9).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (“Doctrine and Covenants 122:7)

“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith. . . .Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.” Spencer W. Kimball

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”  Gordon B Hinckley (quoting Jenkin Loyd Jones)

What YOU can do to help the Watson Family…

From within hours of the accident, we have had an outpouring of offers to help our family in this time of great need. Usually at the time of these offers, we said we’d let them know because the family hadn’t fully assessed our needs. Now we have a list of ideas for how you can help the family run. Unfortunately, a lot of the family need is financial. Without David’s DISH income, a lot of day-to-day expenses will not be able to be paid without help.

1. Gift Cards: Smiths, Harmons, Costco, Shopko, Target, Walmart…to help pay for groceries and other items that may need to be purchased. Mary will be sent out on a lot of shopping assignments (and who can trust a teenager with their parent’s credit card??? jk) Cash or checks are also gladly and thankfully accepted for any amount.

2. Ready-to-Eat Meals: We have been blessed with many fully-stocked hot meals so far, but what would also be helpful are ready-made casseroles, lasagnes, meals for the crockpot, etc…that can be refrigerated or frozen, then easily heated up and served. We’re big fans of the fruit and veggie trays from Costco too 🙂

3. Cases of bottled water, juice and other snacks: Since we stand vigil at the hospital for so many hours at a time and all of the vending machines are outside the unit, we’ve already scraped our stash of bringable snacks at the house. We get thirsty, and Barbara prefers juice over soda. Other snacks like granola bars, fruit, junk food, Orbit Gum and munchies also help us curb our hunger and minimize our trips to the hospital cafeteria.

4. Outside-the-house help: If you happen to drive by, and see that snow has not been shoveled, or garbage cans haven’t been taken from the curb, please stop by. We also need our Christmas lights taken down (since David will obviously not be up on a ladder anytime soon…) As the spring comes along, there may need to be some yard work done also.

5. Prayers, Letters, Emails, and Supportive Phone Calls: While David is in the ICU so long, this means that whatever progress he does make will probably come slowly. I know that my nerves have been frazzled after 6-9 hour shifts at the hospital each day. It can be hard to keep spirits up when looking at his swollen, bandaged body with various tubes hanging out.

My email is nicoleandrosie@yahoo.com . You can email me with questions or just to let me know that you’re thinking of us. Any donations, cards, and meals can be sent or dropped off at their house. If you would like to mail something, and are not in the Salt Lake area, please email me for their home address.