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August 2, 2013
Pebbles, Potholes, and Perspective
The Fifth Pillar of Psychiatric Recovery: Spirituality
by Sarah Hancock

So far we've covered four of the Five Pillars of Psychiatric Recovery: hope, empowerment, choice and accountability and creating a recovery environment. Although every pillar is vital, I think I'd like to change my visual image to an arch and refer to the fifth pillar, Spirituality, as the arch's keystone.

If you are unfamiliar with a keystone, it is the stone placed at the top of an arch. It absorbs the instability of the pieces below. It is the last piece placed in an arch and it is what provides strength to the entire arch, stabilizing and holding all things together.

As a person who has a strong testimony in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the plan of salvation, the gospel has always been a part of my life. I served a full time Spanish-speaking mission in Dallas. I went to the temple regularly, attended church weekly, served in various callings and tried to live the gospel as I understood it.

When I began to have symptoms, my brain chemicals were so off that feeling the spirit was impossible.

For me, coming to terms with the Plan of Salvation is what finally helped me progress on the road to psychiatric recovery. I was thinking about how Heavenly Father taught us everything we needed to know before he created the world. I thought about how it wasn't until He knew that He'd taught us everything and that we couldn't progress more until we tried out our knowledge that He created the world and gave us the opportunity to come to earth.

We were sent to earth to prove ourselves (Abraham 3:25). Here on earth we get to prove to ourselves what we are really made of. But do we need to prove it to God? He knows all! I think we are proving it to ourselves (this is the gospel according to Sarah).

I think about how He wants us to return to live with Him and so He won't give us anything we can't handle. We may not feel like it, but deep down within each of us is that knowledge of how to succeed. He wants us to succeed so desperately that he allowed our older brother to come to earth and sacrifice himself for our safe return.

Our Savior would not have done it if he didn't believe it us. If in the premortal life we didn't believe in ourselves — that we were capable of successfully graduating from earth life, we would have fought on the other side with a third of the host of heaven who believed we'd never make it unless we were compelled to return to our Father's presence.

Instead we believed in ourselves so much, having the confidence in what our Father taught us and the confidence in what we knew that we risked it all and joined two-thirds of the heavenly hosts, fighting valiantly for our Father's Plan. If we didn't know we could do it, we would have joined the other side.

Our Savior has so much confidence in who we really are that He willingly gave Himself up on our behalf. I promise you, He wouldn't have done that if He thought we were a lost cause. He has confidence in us. In you! Confidence that we will listen to our true character, buried deep within, and find out what we are really made of.

Heavenly Father has confidence in us too. Were it not so, He would have never even given us the opportunity until He knew we were ready. You are here now, proving you are ready to fight the good fight.

Next time you get those nasty intrusive thoughts (believe me — I struggled with them for 14 years before they finally went away), just keep chanting "Heavenly Father sent me to succeed.! He Knows I can do it. I just need to remember what I already know!" (John 14:6).

In an effort to help you see life from a spiritual perspective I would just like to really delve into this topic in greater detail with my next column.

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