I worried about this lesson, praying about it all week, reading the article again and again. Things
just weren't coming together for me. It was interesting because the more I read about not judging
others, the more I kept getting hung up on how others have judged me because of mental illness.
Finally, I talked to my mom, Woman of Wisdom. She reminded me of a quick story I want to
share with you. It happened when I was a teeny girl and at the time my brothers and I were
constantly fighting with one another, insisting one another had lied and so-and-so was wrong;
you get the idea.
In an effort to resolve the issue, my dad taught us a great family home evening lesson. For the
lesson, my dad placed us strategically around the family room, all facing different directions. He
held an object in his hand, telling us all to stay in our places and point to the object. One of us
was pointing over a shoulder, one was pointing off into the air, and one was pointing right
Then my dad lined us all up in a row and asked us where we'd been pointing. There we were, all
lined up next to each other, pointing in different directions. He asked, "Who's right?"
We argued about it a bit and then that light bulb of understanding flickered on. We realized we
were each right. What a concept! It was a wonderful lesson on perspective. Now, I'm not saying
we stopped fighting and tattling on each other, but it was an awaking for us.
I used to get so sick of trying to explain my illnesses to others: my family, my friends, my
co-workers, my leaders. Honestly, it gets tiring and at times frustrating.
But, reflecting on that family home evening object lesson helped me see it from someone else's
perspective. Perhaps they've never experienced psychiatric symptoms. Perhaps they've never
had the opportunity to meet someone as unique as I am, with the sensitivities I have. Sometimes,
as infuriating as it can be, I realize their perspective is just as valid as mine and it's up to me to
put away my frustrations in order to help others better understand psychiatric symptoms in a way
that makes sense to them.
Recently I've been discouraged at how people I felt close to at one point in my life currently
treat me. I look at them and think, weren't we friends? Didn't we enjoy being together and
laughing our heads off? Didn't I ever comfort them when they needed comfort? Don't I treat
them with respect? Although I thought I knew all the answers, I wasn't understanding all the
When I thought about how to present my Relief Society lesson, I remembered my dad's family
home evening object lesson. As I watched my Relief Society sisters standing in the line of
perspective and judgment, pointing in every direction, I saw my illness from a completely
I was severely ill, delusional, moody, angry, paranoid and even suicidal for nearly 12 years. Now
that's a long time! It wasn't until, long after waning patience, I was placed on the right
medications regimen, creating a balance in my life which exponentially increased my ability to
I no longer have a smorgasbord of uncontrollable symptoms. I am myself again! However, some
of my friends and acquaintances didn't know me before I became ill and therefore don't really
know the person I think of as the real me. Now that Heavenly Father has blessed me with a
remission of sorts, those people who avoid me aren't aware of it because I honestly haven't been
around mentally or emotionally for quite a while and the last time I was, I was really ill.
For me to judge others was just as wrong as their passing judgment on me. I need to carefully
approach these friends and show them through my words and deeds that I am still the same real
me (someone whom many of them never even got to know).
Each of you know who the real you is. In some cases, it may have been a long time since you felt
like the real you (because of your illness, or because of the illness of a loved one), but it's in
your heart. You are still the real you!
Do something this week to remind yourself who you really are. You are a child of a very loving
Heavenly Father. Maybe you need to take an evening walk and just watch the sunset or moon
rise. Maybe you need to take a nice shower with some nice-smelling soap and just enjoy the feel
of the "rain" on your back. Maybe you need to have an open and honest discussion with a loved
Maybe you need to start or reopen communication with your doctor, or maybe you need to just
take an extra moment and pray a little harder, letting Heavenly Father know you've forgotten
who you really are but have faith that He remembers. Whatever it is, peel off the hurt, and just
enjoy the real you.
Here are a couple of new discussion topics that may interest you. I have been thinking about
them and would like your input. If you have any comments or suggestions, write to me.
It isn't always easy to talk to other people about mental illness. What can you do to help
yourself and others get around that discomfort and understand mental illness better?
Does diet effect mental health symptoms?
When you are feeling discouraged, what do you do to help pick yourself up?
Sarah Hancock is currently in her final year of studies at San Diego State University's
Rehabilitation Counseling Program (just voted 9th in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report)
with a psychiatric emphasis. A portion of her internship was spent as the Coordinator of
Disability Services Office for Alliant International University's San Diego and Irvine Campuses.
Having embarked on her own journey with a mental health diagnosis, she is passionate about
Psychiatric Recovery and teaching others how to strengthen their "Recovery Toolbox." Sarah
finds comfort in writing, having completed more than 29 journal volumes. She teaches
occasional recovery workshops using principles she learned from Recovery Innovations.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Sarah served a Spanish speaking and ASL mission for
the LDS Church in the Texas Dallas Mission. She was graduated from Ricks College and BYU.
Sarah currently resides in the San Diego area with her husband. They have four teenage children.
She currently loves serving as Young Women secretary and ward missionary.