Why My Birthday Is My Favorite

Oh the dreaded birthday. I've heard the older a person gets, the less and less that person enjoys their birthday; however, I must be some kind of large exception to this rule because my birthday is by far my favorite day of the year. In fact, I love my birthday so much that I use at an excuse to treat myself to a day of bliss (with a small budget of course, I do have a London trip to save for). Hence the reason I bought myself a Groupon for a day at the spa this year and a pair of ridiculously over-priced rain boots. (So the London budget may have been stretched just a little. Oops...) I figure my birthday is as good of a time as any to give myself the presents I feel I desperately deserve.

Although buying myself things is a definite plus to having a birthday, lately I've come to the realization that there must be more to my extreme birthday love than my self-proclaimed "need" for some self-indulgent gift giving. After much contemplation I've discovered that for me, my birthday signifies something truly wonderful. It signifies that I made it yet another year longer than I thought I would. It means that I get another year to make a bunch of mistakes, another year to travel, another year to meet new people, and another year to try and make a difference in this huge world.

So while most people may be moaning and groaning over yet another year of getting older, I'm going to be over here throwing myself a party with my new rain boots on and a big fat smile on my face knowing that this year may just be one of the best years of my life thus far. Who says depression has to be a show-stopper.

Happy 20th Birthday to me! (On August 5th, although I do accept celebrating of my birthday at really any time of the year)



The Fears That Come with Depression

There is nothing more potentially awkward than meeting a person and realizing, "Wow I actually know everything about you already. You have tons of siblings. You served your mission in Washington. You were a babe in 1999. And you look just like that brother you posted a picture with." Sure enough, you already know more about this person than you really should, after all you only met ten seconds ago.

The only thing worse than meeting someone you already know tons about and pretending you know nothing is being the person who was stalked. This is the story of my life. Not because I have some exciting life or some super rad Instagram account; this simply happens as a consequence of this little blog of mine. 

All of my Facebook friends and Instagram followers, some of whom I haven't spoken to in literally years, all have the potential to know that:
1. I struggle with depression. 
2. Depression is a frequent occurrence in my life. 
3. I buy myself flowers. 

Dating has only increased my level of discomfort over this blog as guys have casually attempted to bring up the fact that they know my deepest secret. This is usually followed by my shameful attempts at trying to figure out a way to make it seem as if I don't even write this blog. 
Don't get me wrong, I am not ashamed to admit that I struggle with depression. What I am ashamed of is the fact that I am so afraid of what people will think of me when they learn that I still struggle with this debilitating issue. 

I worry sometimes that people will judge me based solely on the fact that I struggle with this illness. I worry that people will treat me like some kind of patient and feel bad for me. I worry that my "friends" will desert me when things get really hard. 

You may be reading this and think, "Han, I would never do that!" But be honest here. Has the thought never crossed your mind that it might be hard to be friends with someone who struggles with this issue? Yeah we all have issues. But this, this is a big one. 

Now obviously I'm not trying to scare any of you away from being friends with me, in fact, I could use some more friends! But I'm just warning you now that I'm not perfect. I have come a long way in my battle with depression but I still struggle. I still sometimes wonder just how much longer I can take feeling this way. Does this mean I can't succeed in relationships and work? Of course not. Does this mean some people might think I can't succeed? Perhaps. 

But I realize that I have something to offer that no one else on this earth can. I still haven't figured out what that is exactly but I know that I'm not simply a meaningless blob of depression. I am a person who loves people more than is rationally acceptable and who understands how much depression hurts. I am a person who loves the Savior with all of my heart and who desperately needs Him. And most importantly I am a person who is a child of divine worth and purpose. And so are you. 

So next time you meet me, just know that I am well aware of your potential knowledge of my issues. However, this should give you all the more reason to feel really awesome when you realize that my life might be almost as hard as yours sometimes. 

Here's to a hard but blessed life!


Depression sucks.

Sometimes depression just sucks. It doesn't matter how righteous I may feel I've been living, sometimes depression just hits out of nowhere and it is frankly exhausting.

Today is one of those days for me: one of those days where I feel like life is way harder than it should be. Don't get me wrong, I have definitely come a LONG way since being diagnosed with depression, but that doesn't mean that I have fully conquered this illness, nor does that mean that I ever really will.

However, I have learned that when I have these feelings come on, there are several things I can do to help myself: 
1. First things first, I call a friend. There are only a select few that I feel like I can turn to- one of them is the Lord but often I need someone who can just text me and talk to me. So I find one. 
2.  I remind myself that things always get better and that I just have to keep holding on. (This step is much easier said then done, but it does work if repeated over and over and over again.)
3. Next I treat myself. Today I decided that I'm going to buy myself some peonies cause they're in season and I deserve some flowers.
4.  I try to stay focused as much as I can on the things I need to get done. (This is another one that is also much easier said than done.)  
5. Lastly I HAVE to remind myself to cancel out all negative thoughts that come to my mind. Often when I am feeling down, I catch myself in a downward spiral of negative thinking- we all do this! But it's so important to stop this IMMEDIATELY in its tracks. Whenever a negative thought comes to my head I think to myself, "Okay Han, is that really true?" The answer is almost always no. 

These steps may sound simple but when I have a "down day" it can often be rather difficult to muster the courage I need to take a step in the right direction. So what do I do when a bad day strikes? I keep moving forward. I don't ever give up and I keep my positive talk up as much as possible! As Hannah Montana used to say, "Nobody is perfect. I've gotta work it again and again til I get it right." (Yes I just quoted Hannah Montana. It's fine.) 
Keep working through, even if that means you have to do it over and over and over again! 

And if things still don't seem to be working out for you, go buy yourself some peonies! Heaven knows you deserve them. 

All my love, 

And I almost forgot the most important part! Never forget that you have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who are constantly cheering you on. Look for their hand in all aspects of your life. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised to find just how close they really are. 


The Distractions of Satan

As I was getting ready for bed tonight, I started my usual routine: contacts out, face washed, teeth brushed, etc. I hopped in bed and thought to myself, "I definitely deserve some Netflix time." However, as I was about to click next episode, I heard a little voice in me say, "Is this really the best way to spend your time?" 

Here we go again, with my conscience giving me the guilt trip. (Holy Ghost- 1 Hannah- 0) As I thought for a minute, I realized that the Holy Ghost was right! I needed to get off of Netflix and study the scriptures. I started by reading a talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott some years ago entitled, "Do What Is Right." I was inspired by his message and wanted to add my two cents to his wise words. 

If there is anything I've learned about Satan through my years of struggling with depression it is this: Satan works by small and simple things. Then again so does the Lord; but the Lord's small things bring about that which is good and praiseworthy. The small and simple enticements of the Devil bring about much misery and depression. 

Think about how many times even today you had a decision between good, better, and best or maybe even simply bad and good. Satan uses our seemingly small decisions each hour to directly effect our spiritual well-being. If he can get us to make even just one bad decision, then he has already begun leading us farther away from our Heavenly Father. How easy it must be for him to simply get me to watch a TV show instead of studying the words of the prophets! Nothing must make him happier than my clicking "next episode." And quite frankly, I hate that. I want nothing more than to make Satan mad at me! I want him to be frustrated to no end that I refuse to follow his enticements. 

Now I am definitely not implying that I am anywhere near being perfect, and I am also not implying that I'll no longer be watching shows on Netflix (oops!) but what I AM implying is that I want to do everything I can to prove to the Lord and to Satan that I know what's right and I will choose the right, even if the temptation is something as simple as clicking "next episode" or reading my scriptures. I am deciding right now that when these predicaments ensue in my life, I will choose the Lord over everything else. 

{If ya get a chance, go read Elder Scott's talk and ask yourself who you will choose to follow?}