The Livingstons

The Livingstons

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Depression is Real

The past few blog posts I've written have been about how amazing it is to be a mother, and while I fully stand by what I've previously written, I feel that I should write about something that I've been dealing with this year as I've transitioned into motherhood.

I have been struggling with a deep sadness, something underlying, something that is always there, regardless of how happy or upset or excited I am at a given time. I don't know if I could classify this as "depression," and I don't mean to offend anyone who truly struggles with chronic depression, but what I have been dealing with hasn't just been caused by a bad day or my feelings getting hurt. 

What I've been dealing with is ongoing, it doesn't really go away. It's something that I really do not understand because I've never felt like this before in my life. It's something that is extremely frustrating to me because I don't know exactly what to do to get rid of it.

It all started after I had Katherine. I had what they call the "baby blues" a few weeks after her birth, and then it seemed to get better. I felt more confident with being a mom, and so I started feeling a lot better. But then it came back, and this time it seemed worse than the first time. And I didn't understand what could've triggered it.

I started blaming other things for the way I was feeling. I would tell myself that I just feel like this because motherhood is such a huge transition. Or that I don't get out of the house enough. Or that I don't have enough friends. Or that I don't talk to people enough. Or that this past year with all of the craziness has just been catching up to me. The list would go on and on. And while many of these things were true, I knew that just fixing those problems probably wouldn't just make this sadness go away. It was something more.

I wasn't a very fun person to be around when I was at home. I'm sure Greg struggled being around me because I was upset or sad or annoyed or whatever. I felt really bad. I knew that I had nothing to be sad about, that I have an amazing life (I really do). But I tried to explain to Greg that it wasn't as simple as just thinking happy thoughts or having a positive attitude. It was definitely something harder to overcome than that.

I had a hard time understanding exactly what it was that was happening to me. I wasn't sure if I was depressed or just in a really bad mood all the time or my hormones were going crazy. I was open to whatever it was that was going on; I wasn't going to sit back and be in denial if I truly needed help. But I was so confused as to what exactly was going on. It wasn't like I was really really sad all the time. In fact, I have had a lot of really fun and happy times with people I love. But when the dust cleared and I was at home laying in bed, the sadness would return. And sometimes, it seemed encompassing. 

I realized that I needed to do something about this sadness. I couldn't go on with the way things were. I knew that I had some choices. I could keep blaming other things or people for how I was feeling. I could let the sadness envelope me and take over. Or I could choose to follow God with my whole body, soul, and heart.

I chose God.

I began to pray to find out what God wanted me to do. I asked God for help. I evaluated the things I wasn't doing that God wanted me to do. I decided to try harder every day to do what God wanted me to do, including doing the little things day by day. I was happy that I was really trying my hardest, but it seemed that the sadness was still there.

One night, I told Greg that I felt like I was trying my very hardest to do what God wanted me to do. But it seemed like God didn't hear me. Or at least, it didn't seem like He was answering my prayers just yet. Why were my problems seemingly getting worse while I was striving to do what was right? Through our conversation, I knew that God was there, listening. I knew I needed to have faith.

I turned to the modern day apostles for help. I stumbled upon an amazing talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (here's the link: The talk is called "Like a Broken Vessel." In his talk, Elder Holland addresses people who have any type of mental or emotional illness, especially those with depression. He gives hope and counsel as to what to do when you or someone you love is afflicted with any degree of mental illness. It is an amazing talk; I strongly encourage you to read it.

This talk gave me strength and encouragement. It gave me a little bit more understanding. It gave me comfort to know that I was not alone, that Christ knows exactly how I'm feeling, and He has the redemptive power to heal me.

My struggles have not gone away. They still hover over me. But I have faith that God hears us. He understands exactly what our struggles are. He has the power to heal us. He WANTS to heal us. Sometimes it just takes patience and endurance on our part to be healed. We must have faith. Everything will be made right in the end.

I love God, and I love that I get to have a deep relationship with Him. I know He is listening, even when it seems like He isn't. He is there, always. I love Him with all of my heart. I love my life, even with the struggles I've been going through. I love my husband, I love my beautiful daughter. I truly do have an amazing life.

If you are struggling with any sort of mental or emotional illness, please talk to God. Find out what He wants from you. It might mean that you should seek professional help in addition to spiritual help. God can heal you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

8 Months Ago My Life Changed Forever

8 months ago, I was a clueless 22 year old thinking life couldn't get any better. I thought I was as happy as could be- I had just graduated from college, I was married to the man of my dreams, and life seemed pretty amazing. And then I had a baby.

8 months ago, I was scared. I knew that having a baby would change my life forever, and I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with that. I was scared of the entire birthing experience I was about to go through, and I was scared about bringing a baby home and raising her. But then I had my baby.

8 months ago, I was uncomfortable, had to use the restroom every 5 seconds, felt like my body didn't belong to me anymore, and couldn't wait to be done being pregnant in hopes that I would finally "have my body back." And then I had a baby.

I had a baby: the most beautiful human being in the entire world. Katherine Ann Livingston.

I finally realized that life was INFINITELY better with a baby. It was (and is) really, really hard, of course. But it is the best thing I've ever done.

I realized that there are and will be days where I feel scared, but that you learn how to be a parent day by day. That's really how you have to take it- just day by day.

I realized that pregnancy was almost a joke (I'm so sorry to all my first-time pregnant friends). Don't get me wrong, pregnancy is not fun on your body, and it's really uncomfortable. Sometimes (if you're unlucky), you feel pretty darn terrible, enough to even throw up. I totally get it. But I realized that your body isn't really your own anymore- at least not for a little while. If you're nursing, you are on demand every few hours. That little munchkin NEEDS your body for survival. That baby also loves to crawl all over you, pull your hair every chance she gets, climb up your legs so you'll hold her, or poop, pee, and throw up on you. It's just part of being a mom. And it's the absolute best thing ever.

I do have to say this though: not every day is the best thing ever. I don't feel as happy as can be all the time. In fact, I have felt extremely sad and depressed at times, and it's hard to understand why sometimes. But through those hard times, I've learned to truly rely on God. He is the ONLY way to truly be happy. When you are in those dark and terrible times (and they will come, no matter who you are), God is the answer.

My little Kater Tot is a little miracle. I love her with all of my heart! Here's what we've been up to the past couple months!

Caught red-handed (time to baby-proof).

Silly girl.

Soccer balls are one of her favorite things.

Pretty sparklers at Uncle Chris and Aunt Bailey's wedding reception!

My mom and dad babysat Katherine one Saturday afternoon so Greg and I could go to a much-needed temple session. It was AWESOME!

Beautiful girl.

Katherine loves massages almost as much as her mommy.

Surfer girl.

This is pretty typical when she's in daddy's arms for some reason.

We went to the Laguna Beach Sawdust Art Festival. It was fun to see some cool art!

Happy girl.

Too cool for school.

The beach is also one of Katherine's faves.

Love my girl.

We went on a walk with some friends one afternoon and made a pit stop in Barnes and Noble, where Kate started chomping on her friend's toes. Such a funny situation!

Katherine loves the beach with Grandpa!

We love the beach.

We went to Utah at the beginning of August for a family reunion. While we were waiting for some of our family, Kate decided she wanted to drive.

We really love Aunt Wave!

She really is obsessed with outlets, unfortunately.

We went to Salt Creek to watch the sunset one day. It was gorgeous.

She knows she's cute.

We hung out with Grandma and Grandpa one day! We had a lot of fun!

Katherine's favorite thing to eat are bananas. She can just eat the entire thing if we let her.

In August, some of Greg's family came down and stayed with us for a few days. It was really fun! We did a lot of things together.

Little Sam with his skim board.

Cute Lauren!

Greg tried to teach her to surf a little bit.

We went to the Orange County fair and had some fun!

We also went on a hike with the family. It was gorgeous.

We went to the park and had a BBQ, too. Katherine loves the park!

Just swinging with daddy.

Cutie pie.

Just so precious.

Our 4 year anniversary was on August 26. We had a lot of fun together!

Katherine is always getting into everything. Troublemaker.

She LOVES shoes.

We go to the beach all the time. We just love it!

Beautiful child.

Katherine's all-time favorite things ever are DOGS. She LOVES dogs. She loves getting licked in the face, grabbing their hair, and just being with them. She literally starts smiling and laughing when she sees a dog. So cute!

At the beginning of September, we went up to Utah for Chris and Bailey's wedding reception. It was fun to be there and celebrate with them. We had a lot of fun being back at BYU too!

Greg's little cousins and Sam loved playing with Katherine.

On our way back home, we ran into Ann Marie at the airport! Such an AWESOME surprise! We love Auntie Ree!

One night last weekend, we went to Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach to see the sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous. We LOVE where we live. It was one of the best decisions we've made.

So cute!!

I love my little family so very much.

Seriously an angel.

We also went to Downtown Disney and checked out the huge Disney store. Katherine was in HEAVEN. There was so much to look at and touch. It was a lot of fun! It really made me want to get a Disneyland pass.... We are taking donations...

We went on a hike to Holy Jim Falls in Trabuco Canyon on Labor Day. There was barely any water, and it was SUPER hot, but it was super fun!

8 months ago, my life changed forever- in the best possible way! Katherine is seriously such a happy and curious little baby. And I absolutely love it. It's a lot of work because of how active she is, but it's so worth it. It's worth every second.

Ten bucks says she walks by 10 months!!