"How are you?"
The simple words from my dear friend constrict my throat, but her next words fill my eyes with tears that I struggle to keep from spilling:
"I've put both your names in the temple."
The meeting begins, and my mind drifts back to March 2004.
It began with a phone call from my husband at work: "Will you miss me when I die?"
The question sent me into a panic and began what can only be described as a month-long hell. Something was wrong, but none of the doctors could tell me what it was. Phil experienced disturbing hallucinations, extreme sensitivity to noise (how do you keep a 5-month old baby from crying? or 7- and 4-year old boys quiet?), and slept over 20 hours a day, every day—for 4 weeks. He remembers maybe 2 weeks of the entire month. I will never forget a single, hellish moment.
In the aftermath of that experience, I learned exactly how clinical depression feels. I found out what it's like to not be capable of feeling anything. I could not feel the comfort the Holy Ghost brings. I felt completely alone, completely hopeless, utterly exhausted. Anti-depressants finally helped. But it took me over 2 years to stop feeling like I was the only one who could be responsible—the only one fully capable of taking care of the kids, the homework, the house. Even though Phil never repeated the episode, I could never completely relax back into my role as equal partner. I was constantly on edge.
Medication, blessings, time, and faith put me in a better place. Last year was the first year that I did not notice when March came and went. I finally felt like things were smooth again.
July 2007 came and with it a new hell. Manageable, but still hell. Surprisingly, I felt calm and peaceful. I knew our family would make it through. Phil was with me; we were fighting this attack on our family together this time—equal partners. Even though we were dealing with something horrible, we found joy in the strength our family was discovering, and we were excited to find that we would be adding another child to our little family.
January 28, 2008. Phil is away on business in Taiwan. He calls me that morning (or evening, where he was) to tell me he'd spent some time in the ER. I was worried, but he assured me he was fine and it wouldn't happen again. He was wrong.
The next day Phil was admitted to the hospital for the same problem that sent him to the ER the day before. His coworker called to give me details and to reassure me that Phil was going to recover fully (he was able to give Phil two blessings, both of which promised healing). This same coworker watched Phil collapse at work in March of 2004, and he noticed some eerie similarities: Phil not knowing how he got back to the hotel, asking if the hospital thing was just a dream or if it really happened. We communicated often over the next several days. Rich was literally a gift from God. He comforted me, and he took care of Phil for me. This time, as opposed to last, we got a solid diagnosis. Thankfully, we also got clearance for travel home.
Phil arrived home on Friday evening, February 1st. In a little over a week, we've seen a doctor (who confirmed the Taiwan diagnosis) and started a treatment plan for the main problem. Phil has spent the week sleeping all day, every day. He says things that are just a little bit "off." And I find myself reliving the hell of March 2004. This time, I'm 8 weeks away from my due date, and, because of the potential harm to the baby, my body is not able to depend on medication to avoid the brick wall that is clinical depression. I'm tired. My emotions go very quickly from anger to despair, annoyance to tears. I fight to hold on to what I learned last time: God loves me, He knows what I'm feeling, and He will not abandon me.
Elder Holland's statement stops me in my tracks. He talks of families—of couples—having to face the trials and the dangers of the world for as long as the world has existed. He tells me what I have been struggling to do all week: "Fear not."
Fear not. The hardest commandment in the entire gospel—at least for me.
But I don't know how, or even if, we'll get through this.
But I'm sinking.
But I don't know if I can do this again.
Fear not, little one.