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Sisterly Love

By Rosalyn Eves

Brooklyn Museum - The Sisters - Abbott H. Thayer - overall

Valentine’s Day is coming up in less than a week. Mostly, I’ve been trying to ignore it (it’s not my favorite holiday), but my five-year-old won’t let me. For weeks now (literally) he has trailed me around the house, asking me to help him make valentines. In turn, I haul out the red, white, and pink construction paper, the markers, scissors—and, reluctantly—the glue. For ten or fifteen minutes he works happily, cutting out misshapen red paper hearts and gluing them onto white paper cards, before losing interest and moving on to other tasks, leaving a detritus trail of paper clippings in his wake.

Because I have also had this post on my mind, my son’s incessant reminders have forced me to think about Valentine’s Day and social conceptions of love. I don’t want to rehash familiar arguments about the loneliness of a “couple’s holiday” for single people; I don’t even want to criticize the glorification of romantic love (although I have more than enough to say on that topic). But I do want to talk about a kind of love that too often gets overlooked in the glamor of romantic love—the strong, affirming love that can exist between good friends, particularly between women. I’m not sure it was coincidence that Sunny posted about Relief Society yesterday (after I had written this post)—for me, it is this very connection between women that characterizes Relief Society at its best.

First, let me tell a story. In high school and college I had a good friend with whom I also had a strong (if unacknowledged) competition. Both of us were good students, but she was prettier and more out-going than I was. However, I consoled myself that I was, if anything, the better student. Eventually we drifted apart; she got married, and I left on a mission. While I was gone, mom faithfully fed me tidbits of news about my friend—about the essay contest she’d won, about the prestigious scholarship she’d just been awarded. Instead of feeling pleased for her (as I knew I should), I felt sick, as if somehow her gifts made mine less.

Unfortunately, this kind of invidious comparison isn’t an isolated experience (not for me; nor, I imagine, for most women). And I think it’s this kind of conflict that Patricia Holland addresses so beautifully in a 1984 address, “The Fruits of the Spirit”:

It seems tragic to me that women are often their own worst enemies when they ought to be allies, nurturing and building each other. We all know how much a man’s opinion of us can mean, but I believe our self-worth as women is often reflected to us in the eyes of other women. When other women respect us, we respect ourselves. It is often only when other women find us pleasant and worthy that we find ourselves pleasant and worthy. If we have this effect on each other, why aren’t we more generous and loving with one another?

I’ve thought long and often about this. I have finally come to suspect that part of the problem is the heart! We are afraid—afraid to reach out, afraid to reach up, afraid to trust and be trusted, especially with and by other women. In short, we don’t love enough. We don’t exercise to full capacity the greatest gift and power God gave to women.

Luckily for me, my own story has a happy ending. After my mission, I sought my friend out, catching her one afternoon after class in the dimly lit basement of the Jesse Knight Building on BYU’s campus. I told her how jealous I had been, and asked her to forgive me. She stared at me in shock for a minute, then said, “But I was always so jealous of you!” We both laughed—and cried—and have, in the years since, become better about not judging each other, or ourselves, quite so severely. This friend has been my confidante (although she probably doesn’t realize it) in more than one moment of spiritual or emotional crisis. I wish now that I had had the courage to approach her much earlier.

Patricia Holland goes on in her talk to offer three exercises for increasing our capacity to love for each other: to forgive one another, to love unconditionally, and to give love without expecting a full return on our investment. In the interest of time, I’m going to focus on the second, but I encourage you to read her powerful essay in full. Sister Holland suggests that a key step to loving unconditionally is to become aware of, and curtail, our tendencies to critically evaluate others (and, I would add, ourselves):

What we want most of all is the approval, praise, and unconditional love of others. Can we give less than what we desire for ourselves? . . . One day my feelings had been deeply hurt by a close neighbor. Feeling what I was sure at the time was deserved self-pity, I went to my room and poured out my broken heart in prayer. I remember specifically saying, “Dear Father in Heaven, please help me to find a friend whom I can trust, one with whom I know I’ll be safe, one who deserves my confidence and my love.” He did bless me—he gave me, for a moment, the uncluttered insight that can come only by the Spirit. He helped me to see that I was praying for a “perfect” friend, while he had generously surrounded me with friends whose weaknesses were like my own.

A good relationship is not one in which perfection reigns; rather, it is one in which a healthy perspective simply overlooks the faults of others.

I imagine all of us know women like this—strong, flawed women who are doing their best. These kind of women are the lifeblood of the church; they are mainstays in my own life. While this kind of love—accepting, forgiving, self-less—often gets overlooked or ignored in the mainstream press (after all, it’s hard to capitalize on it commercially), it is a kind of love for which I am profoundly grateful. It’s also a kind of love that I want to be able to offer more fully.

Today, I’d like to invite you to reflect on your own friendships, particularly with other women. How have these friendships blessed you? How do you exercise this kind of love in your own life? What can we, as women, do better to cultivate a more accepting environment in the circles we inhabit (at home, at church, in our communities)?

About Rosalyn Eves

(Prose Board) currently lives in Southern Utah with her husband and three small children, where she teaches writing part-time at the local university. She has a BA in English from BYU, and an MA and PhD (also in English) from Penn State. In her spare time (what's that?) she likes to read, write, try new recipes (as long as she doesn't have to clean up), watch movies with her husband (British period drama is her favorite), go for walks, and generally avoid anything that resembles housework. Her first novel comes out Spring 2017 from Knopf.

33 thoughts on “Sisterly Love”

  1. This is so good, and so uplifting. This is not an area that comes easily for me. I will be pondering it over all day and look forward to benefitting from the insights of the women of Segullah.

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  2. Thank you for sharing these thoughts! I love the forum here that allows us to discuss these things and improve ourselves. Another great talk that this post made me think of is by Elder Holland (wow, they're such a great team) called "The Other Prodigal" from the April 2002 General Conference. When I heard it for the first time, the lightbulb went on and I could see exactly where I needed to change. I encourage everyone to read it (if you haven't already)… Here's the link:

    http://lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/the-other-prodigal?lang=eng

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  3. I have learned a powerful lesson about friendship in the last two years. My best friend in the world is 49; I am 31. Her six kids are nearly raised; I am still adding to my family. Our friendship began in the choir seats at church (we are both average altos) when we were both in the midst of personal crises two years ago. Out of those early conversations blossomed a deep and abiding friendship.

    Over the last two years I have wondered why we didn't cross paths earlier, or why I have never connected with a woman in this way. It turns out that this friend has taught me to let go of my fear, just as Rosalyn suggested. In the past I have unwittingly held back on communication, service, and love because I have worried about rejection or…something. I have also learned that if we are open to God's direction, he will place the right people in our paths.

    This dear friend moved away last year, and we have had to work hard to maintain the relationship. But I am starting to realize that there are still people where I am that can meet my emotional needs. I just have to let them in.

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  4. You are so right! How we should value friends! They are absolutely essential to our progress and balance.

    My best friend lives far away and the boys at home are always very surprised that we are able to speak 3 hours on the phone (every 2 months or so). We have so many things to share! We talk about our faith and our doubts, our sad hearts and joys, our children and their challenges, our callings, our hobbies… in fact about life. And we understand each other feelings. That’s why we keep calling ourselves friends. It’s like having a sister I chose.

    I’m glad you also mentioned Relief Society because it’s really all about women in all different shapes and colours. Moving around them is not always easy as we grasped from the comments to Sunny's post but it can be a really enriching experience if we just stop comparing and criticizing (women do that a lot. why?).

    When we use our energy to get to know and accept others, especially if they are different, our inside world will grow and we will see a brighter kaleidoscope of colours, and we will want to be involved with it and by it.

    The same path leads to find friends in the different corners of our life. Inside the church or outside, don’t limit yourself to it.

    I increasingly think/feel that other perspectives are refreshing and stimulating and sometimes I don’t even agree with them. When people feel accepted they will be less defensive and it is easier to become friends. And we have to remember it’s a process not a fact. Let's enjoy all the diversity and choose some to be our dear friends.

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  5. Alex, To respond to your question of why women tend to compare and criticize, I think Sister Holland nailed it in her essay when she suggests that it's at root about our own insecurities (something I struggle with). When we are able to accept ourselves for who we are, it becomes easier to accept others for who they are too. Sometimes–often–it's easier to mask our own insecurities by targeting others' weaknesses.

    What I loved most about Sister Holland's piece as the idea that accepting friendships are at root about making ourselves vulnerable–it takes a lot of courage to open up to someone, to drop the protective armor that we might have, and to recognize that extending love does not automatically mean a return on our investment. I have to admit that I'm not very good at this yet, but I feel inspired by her essay to try harder to love more.

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  6. One of the regrets of my life is that it took me until I was in my late 20s to stop withholding praise from others. I was always so unsure of my own gifts and talents that I didn't want to exalt others' — my pride, small-mindedness and jealousy got in the way of what could have been more encouragement of others. I think part of it is that my mom was not very good about praising me or others, so I didn't grow up with that mindset.

    One of the joys of my life now is to be a cheerleader of those around me. It's so easy to look for the good in others and say positive things, even if it's just "I think you're wonderful," or "You are such a patient mother." I gain so much from the positive comments of others and I love coming to know and appreciate the talents of others.

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  7. Thanks for this post. I love Sister Holland’s thoughts on making ourselves available to friendship by reaching out and loving without expecting a full return.

    I can tell in my own life when I am extending love to someone for love’s sake or whether I am extending what outwardly appears like love for my own sake. The difference for me is evident in the way I feel God’s love fill the empty spaces in my own soul. It would seem the more love I give the more I am filled to overflowing and have more to give, whether reciprocated or not. When I extend myself for my own sake (expecting something in return) the opposite is true and I feel I have to guard my resources very carefully.

    It is so easy for me to think about how I wish another would be for me, but much harder to to train my thoughts to what I can and should be for another.

    Thanks again for such a lovely, uplifting thought for me to ponder today.

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  8. This reminds me of a recent experience I had. I was lamenting to my husband that some of the sisters in the ward hadn't made me feel as included as I would have liked. It wasn't that I felt they wanted to hurt me, but they didn't seem to value or need my friendship the way I felt I needed theirs.

    It was then that my husband reminded me of Julia, an older inactive sister I visit teach whom I had not even thought of inviting over to our home before.

    I realized that while I didn't dislike Julia, I hadn't stopped to think of her. Just as the sisters I was upset with hadn't stopped to consider me.

    After that I changed my approach and tried to reach out to others I had overlooked before–even if I thought we had little in common, and even though I can feel very shy when talking to new people. So far it has been a very positive experience.

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  9. I enjoyed reading this today, especially since I've been thinking (a little too much) about my comments about yesterday's RS topic, and what I need to do about it. I enjoy a very satisfying, rewarding and reciprocal friendship with a sister (who also happens to be one of my bio sisters). We live far apart and almost never see each other but we are good friends. I think the key part that makes our friendship so valuable to me is the reciprocation. She gives and I give. She receives and I receive, but it's completely free and open with no "expectation."

    The part that I usually find most lacking in my interactions with other sisters is reciprocation. Sister Beck mentions as her third point to not "expect a *full* return on your investment" but what about ANY return at all?

    How can a friendship grow between sisters when only one person gives? When only one side makes effort?

    How can I learn to give and care just for the sake of giving and caring?

    It's not that I'm all about me but I don't see how any friendship or bond can form, much less grow, one-sided. (Obviously, I have much to understand here… hehe!)

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  10. Thank you all for your comments–this wasn't the post I had originally meant to write, but it felt at the time like the one I needed to write.

    @handsfullmom–I agree that it can be difficult to praise. As a teacher, I know that praise can be one of the most effective teaching tools, but I still sometimes find it difficult to do. Yet I love it when I get praise myself.

    @Roberta–I'm still working on how to give when I don't get anything in return. For a long time I felt like a lot of my friendships were one-sided, that I was more invested in them than my peer. In retrospect I'm not sure that was true; maybe we just expected different things. And I'm sure I've been in a number of friendships where the reverse was true, where I wasn't giving as much as my friend (but, being concerned primarily with my own perspective, I probably didn't notice). But I think part of the challenge here is recognizing that relationships (like everything else) require a degree of agency–I can't control how someone responds to me, but I can control how I reach out to them. I'm still not very good at this, but I've been inspired by this talk to try to simply reach out; I think I lose more when I don't reach out than when I do(even if I'm not met in my reaching).

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  11. It's funny, just a few days ago I shared bits of this in a Relief Society lesson in a branch where I have not felt included and accepted. It's ironic, but I'm hoping that if I can change my attitude, I can change my relationship with my sisters.

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  12. I really appreciated this post. Reaching out without expecting a return is what I imagine charity is. I am especially struggling with this right now because I personally feel worn out with nothing to give but yearn for support from others. I feel very burdensome to my friends and try in every way to not ask for help. I honestly don't even know how any of them could help me. How do you help a 29 year old mother of three who was just diagnosed with bipolar II disorder? The stigma and shame alone are almost too much to bear. And so I am hoping that treatment will help me and hanging on for dear life in the mean time.

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  13. I'm not sure this only applies to women, perhaps it does particularly, but it also had meaning for me. I always struggle with disappointment in my friends. What sister Holland had to say punched me in the face…spiritually.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Eleise–I've also been in the position of being a more needy friend. It's a hard place to be because you genuinely do need the help, but (for me at least) the constant asking really strains relationships, even when people share gladly. I hope treatment helps you–I have relatives with bipolar disorder and they have all found treatments that are effective. More than that, I hope your friends and family are perceptive enough to serve you in the ways you need.

    While you do need to be cautious who you talk to because there are people who won't understand, I suspect you'd be surprised how many women around you struggle with depression or see the effects in the lives of loved ones. Most people nowadays are well aware bipolar disorder is a chemical/biological problem similar to many other chronic illnesses and so will be accepting of you and understanding of the difficulties you face.

    If I can give some advice (and don't be afraid to tell me to get lost if this doesn't agree with you), get help with your kids–give yourself the time and space you need to work through the depression and through any treatments you need. Ask for help–there are people out there who will be more than happy to help you! As much as you can (and I know how hard this can be when you're in the middle of a depressive episode) look for ways you can serve and cheer others. You'll be surprised how much good you can do even when you feel needy.

    Stay strong, my sister.

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  15. "The part that I usually find most lacking in my interactions with other sisters is reciprocation. Sister Beck mentions as her third point to not “expect a *full* return on your investment” but what about ANY return at all?

    How can a friendship grow between sisters when only one person gives? When only one side makes effort?

    How can I learn to give and care just for the sake of giving and caring?

    It’s not that I’m all about me but I don’t see how any friendship or bond can form, much less grow, one-sided. (Obviously, I have much to understand here… hehe!)"

    Roberta, this so spoke to me, but in a different way than you intended. I have a serious deficiency where allowing someone else to serve me makes me feel such anguish and deep feelings of failure and weakness that I can hardly ever allow it.

    So I watch other people's children. I take them meals. I call them up just to check in. I pray for them. I listen to their sorrows and mourn with them, keeping their confidences. But except in case of "trade" (like I take your kids so you can volunteer at the school and then you take mine while I volunteer) I just don't accept service, and though I am friendly and open, I'm not open about anything that really matters.

    (In fact writing this post is VERY uncomfortable, but I think it is important.)

    Even when my depression is debilitating. Even when I feel desperate. Even when it wouldn't even be a burden for the other person, I very rarely make an exception and allow someone else to care for me.

    Case in point…a few months ago I had to rush to the ER with my baby. My neighbor next door was home. My friend in the neighborhood was home. It was bedtime, but my husband would not be home for hours. I trekked all five children with me…and it didn't even occur to me to ask someone to help me.

    Over the last couple of years I have realized that the relationship truly cannot be one-sided for those deep friendships to form. You have to open up. You have to give and take.

    And that's why I have lots and lots of acquaintances, and even friends, but no true friends.

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  16. In my ward a few sisters started a babysitting trade that involves fake money. Within their circle you get bucks when you watch someone's kids or give bucks when they watch yours. I chose not to participate because I need to be humble enough to ask for help (which can be difficult), to put myself at a friend's mercy without a promise of return – that is service and it has blessings which you don't get when you "pay" for it. I will watch someone's kids, but I don't want it counted and measured. This reminds me that there is no even trade in friendship, no counting out the acts of friendship so that you're even. Giving yourself willingly (which sometimes is asking for help) is a huge part of a successful friendship.

    In relationships, even in a simple friendship, there is an element of risk. Sometimes it takes a while before the efforts pay off, sometimes the pay off is just the warm fuzzies from being there when someone else needs you.

    Eliese – You do have to choose carefully who you trust, but you can ask for help and people will want to help. My sister was recently diagnosed as Bipolar, but lives across the country, there's very little I can do to help her. It would be a blessing to me to help a bipolar sister where I live because it would teach me what my sister is dealing with and I could hope that someone was doing the same for her.

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  17. I've also struggled with learning to ask for and accept help, support, and love. Curiously, it was when I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder that I decided I really needed to start reaching out. I was miserable and felt so alone, and when I slowly started telling people I trusted about it, I was overwhelmed by their willingness to help. Most had no idea what to do for me, and although it was difficult and made me feel so incredibly vulnerable, I eventually learned to tell them. What I needed most was usually no sacrifice for them–that is, just to have someone sit with me, hug me, let me cry on their shoulder.

    At the time, I was convinced I was the neediest friend ever, but I realize now that I was giving them something very valuable–the chance to give of their love to someone who was all too grateful to receive it. As humans we long for connection, for emotional intimacy with others. And that only comes with give and take. If we as Mormon women insist on constantly being the givers, then who will be the takers? How will we ever grow to be of one heart, as we ought? Letting someone serve you gives them a chance to know you, which is a blessing for them.

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  18. Rosalyn: For some reason I hadn't connected agency as part of the overall equation but it's so glaringly obvious that I feel a bit silly for not seeing it before. Your words and Sister Beck's suggestions have given me something more positive to think about, and maybe I'll even try her challenge.

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  19. Thank you to all of you who opened up here (Eliese, Kristine, Kristin, Laura, and others). I think it can be hard to accept the service of others, but I think we are blessed when we do.

    Roberta–one of the hardest lessons I had to learn on my mission was about respecting the agency of others. Now I'm having to learn it all over with my kids! And I'm still learning it with friends.

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  20. kristin N, jendoop, and Laura: Thank you each so much for your kindness and insight. I have felt loved and looked after on a day when I thought I was totally alone. I'm printing out each of your comments to read again and again as I practice serving others when I am in my lowest moments and allowing them to serve and truly know me. Your wisdom and compassion has been an answer to my prayers. Thank you each so much.

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  21. Kristin, Jendoop & Laura: I totally missed your post…but I totally understand. I'm the first to offer/volunteer help but I'm the last to ask. There's just something about feeling "needy" that is a problem for me. I guess I just want people to "magically" know I could use some help and then to firmly insist that they give it after I refuse the offer…haha.

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  22. Eliese- I feel such an out pouring of love for you. How I wish I could do something besides pray for you, but pray I have and I will. I think you are remarkable to be so honest. Not giving up can take amazing effort. May you feel the Lord's hand in your life, especially now. As one who suffers from depression I know that is an enormous challenge when your brain is not working correctly. Have faith that He loves you and try to remember past experiences when you knew that love. If you were my neighbor/sister/friend I would want to help you in any way I could. Isn't it interesting that when the affliction is something like cancer we easily rally. But mental illness can be so much more complicated and taboo. If you are just hanging on, then keep hanging on! Your cyber sisters are rooting for you!

    Rosalyn and all others-thank you! I was inspired and taught from this post and all the comments.

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  23. I mentioned this post to my husband last night because we frequently talk about the differences between male and female competition. I've found that both men and women are competitive in friendships–almost every single friendship I've ever enjoyed, whether with a guy or with another girl, included some aspect of competition. Mostly it's pretty innocuous–who is best at Mario cart; who has a bigger music collection; who bakes the best cookies, or something equally silly and easily accepted without implying true inferiority/superiority within the relationship.

    I think one of the things that differentiates men and women is their response to the competition (and yes, I'm going to overgeneralize here). Men don't seem to mind using competition as a way to sort themselves into the hierarchy. For whatever reason, having another guy around who is better at something isn't as much an affront–it's taken more as a goal to improve enough to beat the other guy. Or, at least, that's what my husband claims–other guys may have a very different take!

    I don't know why women are different in this, but we seem to be. I think it's a very natural thing to fall into competition with the people around us just because that's the nature of the world. At the same time, I know I don't like feeling like I'm in competition with others, even though I totally fall into competing over stupid things and then feeling bad about it, whether I beat the other woman or not. Either I'm inferior or I feel bad for making someone else feel inferior. I don't know why we set up the no-win situation, and if it would be better to simply accept our competitive natures and treat competition with less seriousness, or if we should try to avoid competition altogether.

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  24. And Eliese–if you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend reading the BCC series on depression. It's a conversation between nine permas on the site who have all struggled with depression, many of them needing medication to function. I'm only going to link to the last installment because all the posts are available from there:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/03/04/living-with-depression-part-iv-everything-else-for-now/

    I know what you're going through isn't chronic depression, but if you read through the comments in particular you'll see how many people there are struggling with similar issues, and might find some good suggestions that will ease your own burdens. I found great comfort in knowing I wasn't alone, and in hearing how others learned to function in spite of mental illness.

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  25. TTT: Thank you very much for your love and prayers. I am amazed by the outpouring of support I feel from women I have never met. You have offered me a new kind of hope that I didn't have before. I so appreciate your insight about the difficulties I face because my brain is not working right. You explained it perfectly and now I know I am not the only one who feels that way. Thank you again.

    kristin N: Thank you for the link! I hadn't seen it before and plan on starting at the first post and reading through the comments. I am so grateful to you for thinking to share it with me!

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  26. Something I realized many years ago. Real Love is recognizing, accepting our own and others faults and loving despite or because of those faults. Heavenly Father knows our faults and weaknesses and loves us so much anyway.
    Heavenly Father teaches us that perfect Love is loving someone for both their strengths and weaknesses.

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  27. Eleise, I know how hard it is to reach out for help. It is my biggest weakness. But I can tell you and others that it has helped me improve my friendships.

    Last year, I realized that I needed to address my depression after a terrible episode with a close family member. It was terribly hard, but I found a therapist. I needed to find a babysitter for 2 of my children while I went to therapy. It was so hard, but I talked to my visiting teacher about my experiences and explained what I needed. I was given wonderful service. The women who watched my children while I went to therapy truly loved and supported me. I also felt ashamed, but they made me see that I wasn't alone. I will never ever forget the service they rendered me. As a result, I feel much closer to those women.

    I hope you are able to find those whom you can trust. I hope you are able to find good help from a excellent professionals.

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  28. So many great insights about dealing with depression or other forms of mental illness, and reaching out to friends within that context. Maybe this calls for a separate blog post dedicated to the subject?

    I do want to add one more comment here on the topic, though. Depression is rather insidious, because it makes everything seem harder, and appear darker. But treatment–for most a combination of therapy and medication–is quite successful for the vast majority who suffer. It's not always a quick fix to figure out what works, but usually within a matter of time, you can get to a good place. Even when it's hard to FEEL hope, just know cognitively that there's every reason to be hopeful, and the pain will be temporary.

    I'd also like to encourage the parents in the audience who struggle with depression or another form of mental illness to consider that getting treatment is as much for their children as it is for them. Even if you're not motivated to make it better for you (and I hope you would be–you're worth it!), be motivated to get better for your kids. I was raised by a single (widowed) mom, who let depression linger undiagnosed and untreated for YEARS. And was too embarrassed to ask for help, or let anyone serve her or her kids. It profoundly affected my childhood experiences and how I learned to view myself. I've worked through the issues, but it wasn't easy. I've vowed that if I ever have kids, I'll prioritize their needs, even if it means that I have to let someone else take care of some of their needs should I find myself dealing with a depressive episode and be temporarily unable to do everything I'd want for them myself.

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  29. I also wanted to address Rosalyn's invitation to reflect on close female friendships. I'll probably write a longer piece at my own very humble little blog, but friendship has been on my mind very much the last few weeks. I've had so many emotional ups and downs, mostly dealing with situations with friends and family. Within a month's time, I had a nasty case of the flu, started a new job, found out a close friend's boyfriend had passed away unexpectedly, found out a dear coworker's cancer was no longer in remission. My aunt broke her hip, my brother-in-law was hospitalized with unexplained seizures, my sister-in-law had complications with her pregnancy, and my nephew was born premature and spent time in NICU. Oh, and a friend of mine from church came out of the closet and owned up to the double life he's been leading for the last year.

    I have several friends who I think of as my rocks. Like me, they all have challenges, but they're committed to living lives of integrity while dealing with those challenges. We're all single, which I think is one reason we're able to support each other emotionally so well–because we have the time and emotional availability to offer one another, time and availability that a married person (rightly) focuses on their spouse. They're mostly women, these rocks of mine, although there's one close platonic male friend in the mix. In good times and bad, we rally for each other, we pray for each other, we check in on each other. We're open with each other about our problems, and we don't shy away from the less-fun parts of our friends lives–their illnesses, their sorrows. I met most of these friends in my singles ward while I was in graduate school, and now we're scattered all over the place. But I'm incredibly grateful that each of them has prioritized keeping the connection strong and real.

    During the challenges of the last few weeks, I contacted these friends and asked them to remember me in their prayers. How sweet to receive the response from more than one, "You're always in my prayers." I was surprised at how quickly I felt strengthened by the additional pleas to God on my behalf, or maybe just by knowing they were approaching God for me. I'd been praying for myself before this, but somehow there was this multiplicative effect that surprised me. And I was surprised to be surprised! Did I not already believe in the power and efficacy of prayer? Was that not the reason why I often prayed on others' behalves?

    I loved the way the strengthening of my own testimony and of the bonds of friendship among us built on one another. We really are not meant to be alone in this life. It seems we know this, and think about it a lot in terms of family relations, but it's a powerful reminder of the importance of friendships, sharing our authentic selves, and treasuring the people in our lives who are our rocks.

    (if Jess, teej, Kara, Amy Anne or shaunforth are reading–I mean you!)

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  30. Eleise, you're in good company. I have the same diagnosis (Bipolar II) and several of the Segullah staff members have personal experience with depression.

    I hope you benefit from the BCC roundtable. Participating was a life-changing experience for me. We did a similar series here at Segullah a year ago. The first post is here:

    https://segullah.org/daily-special/depre … epression/

    Mental illness is a terrible disease, but thankfully, there are many options for successful treatment. You'll find your way through. Don't hesitate to contact me if you want an empathetic ear: kathrynsoper at gmail

    Reply

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