The One Where I Vowed to Never Write Again

Oops. Look's like that vow didn't go very far. Hopefully my wedding vows are a little more solid.

First of all, I must say that I have lied to you all. (Isn't that a great way to start the most truthful blog post I've ever written) And rightfully so, have I lied. I mean I struggle with a mental illness and I have been in a spiral of depression over the last six months. I don't want people to know that! Yet here I am telling you all about it. So here we go.

Here is how this pit of depression started. It was a fine day on an airplane home from London, England. I was reflecting back on this amazing experience I had studying abroad and how grateful I was for the Gospel and the people I had met. But something happened on that plane. My thoughts started to shift from gratitude to bitterness, granted it wasn't just one plane ride that did this to me, but over the next few months I chose to be bitter, jealous and ungrateful relying 0% on my Heavenly Father. I started to feel unworthy and unimportant. I started to feel incredibly lonely and it seemed that no matter what I did to fix it, it just kept getting worse and worse. This loneliness then turned into an obsession over infinite inadequacies that I figured I would never be able to overcome as well as distancing myself from the people I loved the very most. I became so obsessed with how I was never going to be good enough that I could hardly feel joy in anything I was doing. 

This obsession turned into extreme jealousy of everyone. I  looked at all my friends and people I was surrounded by and thought everyone else must have a way better life than I do. It seemed that while I was struggling just to function like a normal human, my friends were off getting married and graduating college and doing all of these incredible things. Meanwhile, in my twisted brain, I was sitting here thinking I was accomplishing nothing and doing nothing with my life. Everyone was better than I was, which must have meant that Heavenly Father loved them more. 

I was so jealous of everyone that I didn't even realize what a mess I was making for myself. I was so self-centered and so focused on me that I was keeping myself in this pit of depression that followed me everywhere I went. I couldn't find joy in anything. Everything seemed to be a chore. I had to tell myself every day that some day things would be better; but then I'd wake up and things would be exactly the same. It seemed to never end. This repeatedly miserable life I was living just kept getting more and more miserable and I was stuck. 

Over the last few weeks, however, something started to click in my brain. I started to realize that maybe, just maybe the reason I was so depressed was due to my lack of faith and reliance on the Lord. I remember talking to my friend and saying, "My life isn't centered on the Gospel at all. I have no faith in God." Do you want to know what her reply was? "Well then center it and have faith!"
At first I was so mad. I started thinking, No Han, you don't need this! You don't need the Lord. You're fine. You're doing just great without the Gospel. 

Those thoughts were so incredibly wrong. I can now admit (and this humility still stings a little) but I can now admit that I was stuck in the pride cycle. I didn't need a Savior; I didn't need grace; I needed a nap and some space from this Gospel that I felt provided me nothing but insecurities and doubt. 

Now, I realize that openly admitting I am a terribly flawed, single woman is a risk in some ways. I realize social media tends to be used for more perfect things. I'm sure I risk losing some dates; I'm sure I risk losing friends who think I am an emotional disaster and ultimately I risk employers reading this and going "Oh boy, what have we gotten ourselves into." But to all those people I must say that I really don't care. For the first time in my life, I just really don't care about what people think of me. In fact I want people to know that I struggle! I am an incredibly flawed and inadequate human. 

But I have decided that for that reason, I am pretty freaking rad. I've got so much going for me in knowing that even though I have so many inadequacies and so many things I could be doing better, the Lord will never ever give up on me. And I know that for a fact. And for that reason I felt it necessary to revamp the blog I have neglected for so long. To help someone out there to know that that someone can change. That that someone can "choose to believe" as they put it so well this past General Conference. Choose faith over fear. I am a testament that it works. That the Lord is real and He knows us. But we must come to Him; He won't come to us unless we let him in and actively seek him. Seek and ye shall find Him knock and He shall open the door and let you in. This is my hope for each of you. 

Over and out, 



A Little Victory for Hannah Karen

Since the beginnings of my battle with depression and perfectionism, I have come to little epiphanies or victories if you will. They often come in small doses and more often than not come irregularly but nonetheless, they do come. And when they do I am reminded why I decide to continually keep struggling with this and to continually strive to fight it.

I, like all of you, struggle with many things. Life is hard. There are financial woes, heartaches, stresses, frustrations and all kinds of other things that seem to constantly be dragging many down into a state of misery and discouragement. (I know, I'm 20. How could I have dealt with anything discouraging? Just trust me.) Even the most elect of this human population would agree with me in saying that life is just inherently difficult. No wonder people are so depressed! Times are hard! We are all trying to live up to a certain standard and when we fall short, we are getting down on ourselves for not quite measuring up.

I believe humans naturally tend to have a "glass half empty" approach. It is simply in our nature to immediately see the negative in a situation. (You can disagree with me all you want but even the most positive person in the world has struggled with negativity at one point or another.) Being positive takes a LOT of work, whereas being negative seems to be easy. It's easy to look at some of the things I have struggled with and still struggle with and think, "Why me? This sucks."

We often hear in church/Pinterest/business settings that, "It is our reaction to adversity, and not the adversity itself that makes us who we are... blah blah blah." Okay so what you're telling me is that when my bank account starts going negative I should immediately have a positive reaction and praise the Lord? Cause that is never my first inclination.

I would like to suggest instead perhaps a different way of interpreting this quote. That is to say that instead of our IMMEDIATE reaction to adversity making us who we are, I would suggest that it is instead our reaction DURING our adversity that truly makes us who we are.

Now, I don't expect any human being to be particularly positive and upbeat 100% of the time in which said person is struggling with something difficult. I find that to be much too exhausting and frankly, I'm all for some well-worded sarcastic negativity. However, I believe that in order for adversity to change us and make us better, something has got to change within us DURING the trial. Whether that's a better attitude or a greater willingness to humble ourselves before God is a personal thing. But I believe what it universally comes down to is this: through every trial and through every heartache we must find SOMETHING good. I know I sound like a total cliché  and that this is nothing new but boy, is it difficult to truly commit to doing this, especially when dealing with things that are incredibly difficult. However I have been practicing for several weeks now and I can tell you that once you get started and really dedicate yourself to finding the good, you'll be amazed at what you discover!

I have found as I have dedicated my thoughts to embracing the challenges I experience and being willing to conquer them with the Lord's help that I have felt a new sense of motivation and peace and stronger desire to keep moving forward. So try it! Find something good. I know some of you are thinking I'm Positive Penny and that this is ridiculous, but I promise usually I'm Grumpy Han and when I pull the Positive Han out of my pocket, miracles happen. So just trust me! Get some good positive thoughts running through your mind. You will be amazed at what they can do if you commit yourself to the positivity and keep moving forward.


That One Time I Decided Not to Go On a Mission...

Once upon a time in a city far, far away lived a girl who could not stick to her commitments and decisions. It seemed she would make a decision, feel confident in the decision, then immediately proceed to make a completely different decision. The more she tried to decide what to do, the more deciding overwhelmed her and she was sick of deciding the wrong decisions.

Okay enough with the closed captioning. This girl was obviously me and this wasn't once upon a time. In fact, it was last week.

People always told me getting ready for a mission would be difficult but I didn't realize it was going to be THIS difficult. I mean if someone would have mentioned to me that mission prep. included major breakdowns mixed with feelings of inadequacy, depression, doubt, frustration and about everything in between, maybe I wouldn't have signed up for this gig? I'd be lying if I told you I haven't been extremely struggling with these feelings of self-doubt over the past couple months.

One night in particular these feelings became extra difficult to deal with while staying in a hotel in the middle of Paris, France. These feelings became so difficult to bear, in fact, that I decided, ya know what. This is too much! I can't do this. I can't serve a mission. I am a depressed, emotional human being and I am not good enough to serve a mission. It's just not going to happen at this point in my life. Maybe I could have handled it before but now I can't anymore and the Lord will understand.

I have never felt so far away from the Lord. My prayers became something like, "Oh hey. It's me. You forgot me and I'm trying to figure this out by myself. Thanks for nothing. Amen." (Harsh. I know.) I was just so utterly frustrated and confused. Why was preparing to do something so great with my life proving to be so incredibly difficult?

After spending a week panicking about what I was going to do with my life for the next year and half if I wasn't going to serve a mission, I felt very strongly that I needed to have a long discussion with my parents about what the heck was going on. Finally I followed the prompting and picked up the phone for a chat with my favorite humans, Dave and Nance. And of course, like they always so wisely do, they counseled me, "Hannah, we support whatever you want to do. But we just want to be sure that you're making a decision based on faith and not fear."

Then it hit me. I was so afraid of having depression while being on a mission that I had decided distancing myself from the Lord would somehow be beneficial for me. At this point I knew what I had to do. I knew who the enemy was and I knew exactly how to conquer him.

Immediately I started looking up talks, scriptures, and General Conference addresses about faith conquering fear and trusting in the Lord. I knew that conquering Satan would only work if I were to enlist the help of the Lord.

It was only after all this reading and praying that I came to some insightful conclusions. First and foremost, that I was more than adequate to serve a mission and that things were going to be okay; I could do this! Secondly and perhaps most profoundly I came to the conclusion that Satan was using fear to convince me that I was incapable of serving a mission and moving forward with a decision I knew to be true.

Although my story is not always a "happily ever after," and I'm sure I will have many more battles with Satan, as will you, there is something I know this time around that I forgot last time and that is this: we have a Heavenly Father who will be there for us during the "happily"s and the "not so happily." No matter what. We can always enlist His heavenly help and power through our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a comfort that is to me and to you!
So let your faith conquer your fear! You can do hard things.
Here's to spending the next 18 months of my life serving the Lord and being confident in my decision!


My Attempt at an Autobiography and Why it Would Suck

As we have been discussing fine literary works here in London, I have been lost in contemplation over what an author might write about me if I were to be the subject of a said literary work. Depending on the author, I suppose varying stories would pursue. Heaven knows if my mother were to make me a subject of a literary work she would write page after page about how talented and wonderful she thinks I am, as only a mother can do best. If my best friend were to write a novel about me, I'm sure it would be filled with mixed emotions as he/she knows so many different facets of my personality that others don't really see. But what if I were the author of my biography or rather an autobiography?

What would I have to say about Hannah Karen Wood? Would my thoughts be like the ones of my mother: full of positivity and light? To be frank, I doubt they would be. Rather I suppose my autobiography would be a short story of how great my life could have been. I might mention my seemingly endless struggle with depression or my frustrations with various cultural norms that upset me; but ultimately it would come down to a rather dreary story. Perhaps it would be one of those books that sits in the dark abysses of Barnes and Noble, a dust collector if you will, that finally runs out of print, a book that can only be found for $1 at a yard sale in some remote locale only weeks after being first printed. 

I realize this may sound quite depressing and frankly, it is. How terribly tragic it is that a person with the blessings I have been given thinks of her life as worth nothing more than an autobiography found at a yard sale. Now I suppose this view of my life isn't entirely my fault i.e. depression, however, it breaks my heart that I view myself in this light. How unfortunate that Satan has lead me to believe that my worth is so incredibly small.

Recently I had an interesting experience with a dear dear friend who is also struggling with depression. As I was talking to him and listening to this incredible, amazingly talented, capable human discuss his feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, it broke my heart. It was a sort of out-of-body experience as I realized that the feelings he was describing matched that of my very own thoughts and views of myself. If only I could possibly convey to this human just how much love our Heavenly Father has for him.

It is unfortunate that we live in a world where love is scoffed, made fun of, seen as nothing more than mystical child's play. Many see love as something found only in a cheesy Nicholas Sparks' novel; after all, marriage is no longer a sealing of love but rather a trial period of a relationship until things get too difficult, at least according to the world's standards. What the world doesn't realize is the effect that love can have on an individual and the sacredness of love. A person who knows he is loved can do much more than one who does not have this knowledge. It is only the pure love of Christ that can do this.

The pure love of Christ is the only cure for bringing someone to the understanding of their true worth. 

As I continue to work with my dear friend, I can only hope that I can attempt to emulate that very love the Savior extends to each of us. It is the Savior's love that conquers all depression. It is the Savior's love that leads me through my darkest moments. It is the pure love of Christ that I feel through my parents, dear friends, neighbors and my sweet nursery children that leads me through even the darkest moments of my depression.

May I also put in a plug here that although we must remember we are loved we must also remember TO LOVE. It is because of people who chose to openly love me that I am still living and breathing. It is because of the note I found on my pillow last night expressing love, it is because of the sweet texts I receive from my mother expressing love that I am still here. Don't miss those opportunities, for the impact one's love can have on another is far too great to surpass.  

May we take the time to truly love those with whom we associate. 


A Note from a Dear Friend Regarding Depression

I felt the weight of the phone in my hand as I took it away from my ear. The feelings of worry started to creep in. I replayed everything that had happened over the past year and the positive impact this will have, as well as the hardships this will bring not only for her, but also for her family and myself. The voice of panic, heard just moments before was on repeat in my head; “My Mom is taking me to the hospital.” I took a deep breath, and continued driving; thinking of the road we had ahead of us, as well the one we had come from.
My experience with depression is going to be different than that of the norm shared here on the desert daisies blog. My experience and view comes from the loved one.  The friend, the family member, the significant other, or whoever else may help with the battle of depression. Throughout my senior year of high school my best friend suffered from major depression, and I walked the journey right along with her. I saw the highs and the lows, and just about everything in between. I saw the thought processes, which led to the spirals into the dark abyss where you would wonder if they would ever find their way back to the surface. I was on the other side of the line during those late night phone calls when there seemed to be no point left to living, pleading with you to just wait one more day. I was the one tasting the victory when you realize just how far you have come, and you look back to see the battles you have won. I know depression is real. If there is one thing I learned from my experiences with depression it is that. IT IS REAL. As once said, “You’d never say, ‘It’s just cancer, get over it!’ So why do we say that about depression?” Depression is something people do struggle with, and as Hannah once said, “if left untreated it can literally be fatal!” So to those of you who struggle with depression, and those of you who know people who struggle please don’t tell them to just get over it, because trust me, it doesn’t work.
            Now, for those of you who struggle with depression or anything like it, the first thing I want you to know is that WE LOVE YOU. I don’t care how ugly, fat, boring, stupid, you think you are we love you. No matter how unlovable you think you are, I want you to know that you are loved. There is someone around you who loves you more than you could ever know. It does not matter the mistakes you have made, or will make. We don’t care about the silly things you some times say, or how much candy you eat. We love you and will always love you. Do I need to say it again? WE LOVE YOU. We know this battle isn’t easy, but we will be there to walk it with you. So reach out to us and let us help you. 
            Now for those of you, who are the loved ones, LOVE YOUR PEOPLE. I don’t care what they said or what they did. They need your love, just as badly as you need theirs; actually they probably need it more. SO LOVE THE CRAP OUT OF THEM. Send them an encouraging text, give them a phone call to tell them how much they mean to you, or go out of your way to do something nice for them. I know this road is not easy for you. It may be hard for your loved one, but it is hard for you as well. I want you to know that it’s okay. I want you to know that it will all be worth it. I want you to know that you are loved as well and that is why they have reached out to you, so take their hand and show them how to come up out of that dark abyss. One of my favorite quotes come from a speech given at BYU by Terry Warner says, “The telling blows against evil are struck one act of love at a time.” So strike your blows in this battle.

            I know this is probably stuff you have heard before, but I wanted to add my voice to those who have already spoken out for depression. It is a passion I have developed and it is real. It is a struggle. It can be helped. Yes, it is a hard road to travel down, but when you can look back and see the distance you have traveled, it somehow pushes you to go a little farther.