What it is like going to the temple with mental illness

7186889084_58969a0453_b“What size dress do you want?” the lady asked me from behind the counter.

Don’t have a panic attack, don’t have a panic attack, I kept thinking to myself as I replied, “I don’t know. What sizes do you have?”

The lady went on to explain all the different sizes that they offered while I tried not to break down and cry.

“So, which one can I get for you?”

“I don’t know. What would you recommend?”

She gave me a weird look, which I don’t blame her for because I’m sure the last thing she wanted to do was guess my size.

“Well, what size pants do you wear?” she asked hesitantly.

“Um, well I don’t know that either…”

Looking back, I wish I had just explained that I am recovering from an eating disorder and talking about my size is super uncomfortable.

See, I was at the temple with a friend and knew the dress I owned before I went into the treatment center would no longer fit me. Meaning that I had to rent a dress. Which, then lead to this super awkward exchange!

Of course, after finally getting my dress and putting it on my eating disorder was over joyed! Which it then preceded to use to its advantage the whole rest of the time I was at the temple. It kept telling me that I shouldn’t have even bothered coming. It’s humiliating to have to rent a dress when there’s home that I love. And how dare I allow myself to not fit into it anymore!

Even though I don’t always have an awkward conversation about my size when I go to the temple, my eating disorder always finds something to go on about every time I go. And that is on top of my depression, which makes it hard to feel anything but numb while I’m there. And my anxiety, which causes me to panic and stress about every little thing!

Most of the time I go to the temple it’s a pretty difficult experience. Which, I feel awful about because the temple is a sacred and holy place!

For so long, I felt so guilty and unworthy to go to the temple because of this. I mean, if I’m struggling with my mental illnesses in the temple then there must be something wrong with me! Everyone else has an amazing experience and sometimes I leave the temple feeling worst then before I went in.

What I didn’t understand is that these illnesses, just like any other illness, don’t just disappear because I’m at the temple. They are a part of me. They are a blessing and a trial.

So, before I go to the temple I need to make sure I take my medication, pray for extra help, and that I am mentally prepared for it. I now understand that it will be tougher for me to feel the spirit and sometimes I just won’t spiritually get out of the temple what I hoped I would.

Despite all of this, I have found that it is worth it to go. I know that every time I do I’m blessed for it. My mental illnesses are easier to handle, I have more energy, and it’s easier to see the little ways that the Savior shows me that he is there.

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