Transcript:

Darla: [00:00:00] Welcome to the  Spiritually Minded Women Podcast . This is Darla. Thank you so much for joining me today. I have another great interview for you. Today I’m talking to Laura Laberteaux and we are going to have a discussion about something that she’s experienced on her journey which is depression.

And I know that’s something that a lot of people can relate to. So I am really excited for you to hear her experiences and what her journey has looked like. But Laura, thank you so much for being here. I’m so happy to have you. 

Laura: [00:00:50] Yay. I’m so excited. This will be great. 

Darla: [00:00:53] Yes, it really is going to be great.

Would you just take a second and just introduce yourself, tell me a little bit more about you. 

Laura: [00:00:59] I am married to the funniest man alive. At least that’s why I married him. And we have four beautiful children who are the oldest is seven. The youngest just turned one and we stay really busy.

We’ve been homeschooling for probably for my oldest. He’s in second, we’ve been homeschooling his whole school career, school life, and I am a family photographer in Southern California. I love capturing the small moments that are so fleeting. And I especially love to capture mothers because so often we are so overwhelmed with peanut butter and jellies and laundry, and and we can forget how glorious we truly  are.

And I love to take a mother get her all dolled up and take a portrait of her that she can be reminded of her divine nature and how awesome she is. 

Darla: [00:01:57] That is amazing that you can recognize that this gift that you have with photography can help another woman recognize their divine nature and the who they are and their identity.

I think that’s beautiful. So great. It’s really good to get to know you. And this topic is not always an easy one to talk about, but I am really grateful that you would be willing to share. And so we’re going to be talking about your experiences with depression. So tell me what that has looked like for you in your life.

 Laura: [00:02:25] It’s been from postpartum depression and it started when I had my first. He had a really rough first three months . And that was because we didn’t know how to feed him. There’s, there’s a lot of pressure to nurse to breastfeed, but we discovered that I have a deficiency where I literally cannot produce breast milk past like a week of my baby’s lives, their first week of life.

And that was really hard to come to grips with. We tried all the things because that’s you know, what you’re supposed to do. And I’m so grateful to live in a a period in life, in the world, in history, where we were able to supplement him with formula and all of my babies.

That’s how it’s been for all of them. But for the first three months, Oh, it was awful. I grew up in the church. I grew up wanting to be just like my mother and I wanted to have all the babies and craft with them and snuggle with them. And I had no idea that it was going to be so hard. Nobody told me that I might not like it. And so I remember distinctly the day where suddenly I liked being a mother, all of a sudden, and he was a lot older well, he was still less than a year old, but  we were starting to finally make connections to each other and I could feel a fog lift.

And that’s when I realized that I had postpartum depression because that’s probably the sneakiest part of depression is that you have no idea almost that you have it, all of a sudden life just feels wrong. And you assume it’s you’re doing something wrong. I think especially as covenant women were thinking, I must’ve made a mistake somewhere.

I must not love this child enough. I must not be reading my scriptures enough. Did I miss a challenge that the prophet issued? Like, why am I suddenly feeling this way? And so I’m really glad that on a lot of platforms, postpartum depression and depression in general is being spoken about so much more.

And so I’ve had postpartum depression after every one of my babies, except for my last baby who was born right before the pandemic. So biggest tender mercy from heaven that I did not have post partum depression in 2020, which I was anticipating. I was waiting for it.  But my depression became its darkest.

I had the worst struggles with it after my third, my daughter Kenzie. And it was a mixture of hormones and life. 

Darla: [00:05:06] You told me before the interview, you had a lot going on in your life. You had a lot of other things besides just having a baby and having this postpartum depression. What were some of the other things that were going on for you?

Laura: [00:05:17] So at the darkest part, she’s my third. She was a baby and my first two children are only eighteen months apart and that’s a lot. And then she came along And at the time my husband was serving as Bishop. He was called to be Bishop when I was like three months expecting. And I also had a little bit of natal depression also with her.

So it came earlier. So I remember, and at that time, my depression took the form of me really feeling like an angsty teenager. I wanted to tell that stake president, don’t you know I’m about to have another baby? And you’re just here. Oh, it’s because you can support him and you can do this. And I was like, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. And so he became Bishop and then after she was born in March, December of the year, she was born in 2017. We had an electrical fire in her bedroom at night. One of the outlets caught on fire.

And her bedroom door had been shut. We were in our room, which is right next to hers sleeping. And when we heard her start to cough and we’re like, that’s weird. And she  kept coughing and coughing. And so I went in there because I was like, this feels weird went in there and her whole room is just filled with smoke.

And I scooped her out. I ran out, we couldn’t. Couldn’t see anything. Cause the outlet inside had caught fire, so nothing was out yet, but the whole room was filled and I thought so often and I still do. I was like, what if the smoke had just put her to sleep? What if it had just suffocated or what if she hadn’t coughed?

 Because the smoke detector, which we have remedied was right outside her bedroom in the hallway. So it would’ve taken a little while longer for that for us to be alerted by the smoke detector. And so we got that all taken care of, and that was like days before Christmas. And we got that all taken care of.

I was starting to feel a little better. I was listening to podcasts. Your podcast was huge. I took you on every walk in the morning, every scripture, every talk about joy and womanhood and motherhood, prayers, all the oils, all the walks. And because I should say I sought revelation so many times about this because I wanted to know if I should see a therapist. I knew now I was dealing with depression after it being my third baby.

And I felt very clearly that my path did not include therapy at the time. But for others who really feel a nudge. Follow that nudge. Therapy is incredible. And a support group is incredible.  

Darla: [00:08:07] I think that’s a really important point to make because that’s what we’re talking about is a journey on the covenant path and a journey is an individual it’s unique, it’s for you.

And so you’re not saying I did this, so this is what you should do. You’re saying, this is what God told me to do, and this was my personal revelation, but anyone can go out and find that, and it might not be, it might be different. And so we can’t judge each other or, say she did this and that was wrong.

And because I did this and none of that applies here. So I think it’s really good that you’re pointing that out because we all have our own path and he’s going to prompt us, he might prompt us differently than he would someone else. So that’s a really good point. 

Laura: [00:08:42] And so I’m doing all this stuff.

My baby, she’s now reached a year old and I’m still, it just feels so much heavier than it ever did with my other, with my two other babies. And I’m just like, what am I missing here?  And then  a cancerous lump was found on my husband’s side, which like cancer completely  sideballed us and I spiraled real quickly.

And and so it was, so my depression became a mixture of just life along with the postpartum part. And I just kept chugging along and I kept praying. And then one day on your podcast, you interviewed Melinda. I don’t remember her last name, but she talked about her bread crumbs.

And I remember I was sitting outside the grocery store and it was raining and I couldn’t bring myself to go inside the store because I was like, I have to listen to this. This is I have to finish this podcast. And And after that podcast, I felt hope for the first time in probably two years. And it’s not that I wasn’t receiving help from heaven.

Like I said, my depression mostly came out at that time as like an angsty teenager. So I wasn’t real thrilled with a lot of life. I was irritated by my kids all the time and I was confused when people told me how incredible they were because I couldn’t see it. And I hated that I couldn’t see them for what they were.

But Satan gets so loud when you’re struggling with mental illness And it is, and it’s truly a fight to see the light on a lot of days. But so after the breadcrumb episode, I started to look, I was like, you know what, even though it feels impossible, I have to change the voices in my head. I have to. Instead of saying something like, Oh, I have to go to church again by myself and sit on the pew again, even though I wasn’t alone, I had a very supportive word family.

I didn’t feel it. And even though I knew deep down inside, I knew they were there and they supported me and they loved me. And so just a couple of weeks actually, after the breadcrumb episode, we had a Relief Society activity. It was a spa night. So it was spiritually prepared always was our spa night.

And that is when my miracle happened. 

Darla: [00:11:02] You’re talking about a miracle with your experience with depression? 

Laura: [00:11:06] Yes. I feel like it’s going to sound really hokey when I say it, but it’s not. Cause we have a God who loves to surprise us, loves to show us that He can do anything. And we see that all the time in scripture. So I was at a Relief Society activity and part of it was doing a guided meditation where Christ was the center. And so if it’s okay with you, I’ll just tell you exactly what happened. 

Darla: [00:11:35] Yes. I would love to hear. 

Laura: [00:11:37] So it’s now, so timeline wise, it’s March. 2019.

Darla: [00:11:44] So this is two years after your daughter was born? 

Laura: [00:11:48] Yes. 

And so we were at our activity and they started the meditation and it was a Christ centered one. So the lady is talking to us over the speaker. It’s very Zen. It’s very calming. You can feel the spirit. It’s nice.

And she talks about how you’re supposed to picture yourself in the most beautiful field. Flowers. It’s calming. You can hear the leaves and the birds, and then you see a man start walking towards you. So I’m picturing. And she says, the man gets close to you and you can see it’s your Savior, Jesus Christ.

And I remember my heart stopped because I love my Savior, Jesus Christ so much. And He walks with you, the meditation continues on and she says, then the savior walks with you and you’re just together. And then He says, would you give me your heart? And so in my imagination, I pictured reaching into my chest and pulling out my heart and my heart was black.

My heart was so tired. It was so heavy and just black and in the meditation, she told us to hand our heart over to the Lord for anything that we were struggling with. And so I did and I’m like crying cause I could just feel the love that my Savior had for me. And so he takes my heart and as I’m watching my heart in his hands, it begins to transform. It perks up a little bit and it turns into this a beautiful, fleshy pink color.

Which I don’t know anything about anatomy, but in my brain, a heart should be pink and strong. And and then the meditation goes on and she said, and now imagine or picture in your mind that the Savior gives the heart back to you the way you need your heart to be.

And I took it back and I placed it back in my chest. And the comfort and the joy that I felt I had not felt in years now. And since that day in 2019 my husband is still a Bishop. We lived through a pandemic. I had baby number four, and I have not struggled with depression since that day. I struggle with saying I’ve been healed, but I was. My Savior took my heart, and He healed me from depression. And I have not struggled with it. I have not had the darkness around me like I did, and I can see in my children through the eyes of my Savior, Jesus Christ. And the love I have for them, the love I feel from others is real to me again. And it has been the biggest miracle of my life.

Darla: [00:14:43] That is so beautiful. And I love how it shows us that God is a personal God. Like when you started telling the story, you said, Oh, this might sound hokey, but I was just thinking how He loves us uniquely. He loves us individually and He will come to us in a way that makes sense to us. And that’s exactly what He did for you.

I love the imagery and how you describe that. I know that’s true that He is a personal God and that the Savior can heal us, that there are miracles that can happen. And. It’s all different. It’s not necessarily the way that it happened for you. Like we talked about earlier is may not be the same way for someone else, but the miracles are there and that there’s always hope.

There’s always hope of that happening. And so I’m really grateful that you would share that. What would you say to someone who’s back where you were in 2017, 2018 in that darkness, maybe feeling like your heart is not that pink, alive color, that it’s black and what advice would you give to someone who’s in that stage?

Don’t give up on heaven. You, you can’t feel it, but heaven is just all encompassing all the time. If you can place yourself around people who are stronger than you, maybe right now who, without a doubt, if you can put your physical safety in their hands, your mental safety can also be in their hands.

Find that support group and just stay there. Just snuggle in close to the Savior and to those who you know deep down do love you and then just hold on and just fight for the light because it will come through. It will. And look for the days where you can see little flickers, little beams of light shining through the darkness.

You can find them. 

Yeah, that’s so hopeful. I was thinking about you mentioned the episode where Melinda talked about breadcrumbs and I’ll link that up if anyone wants to go back and listen to it. I’ve actually had Melinda on my podcast twice talking about that experience. And one of the things I remember when I interviewed her was she was talking about this very similar to what you just said let the light in.

And in both of your instances, the thing that came to my mind was the way that we let light in is we let other people in to our lives. And sometimes we may not be able to feel God, but we can let other people who are physically around us. We can let them in. And that lets light in because Satan’s going to tell us, Oh, nobody cares about you.

Or, he wants you to stay in that darkness. And if you don’t tell anyone that you’re struggling, you’re staying in the darkness. Yep. So I love, I know it’s hard and it’s just so difficult. I’ve watched people in my life struggle with that, but when you can open up to even just one person, you’re starting to let the light in.

And I love that you’re sharing that. It’s, just really giving a lot of hope.  One of the things that you told me when we were planning this episode was that your story is about not giving up.  What does that mean to you when you hear that, that your story is about not giving up?

Laura: [00:18:00] Not giving up? I guess I just tried.

I honestly always just tried to make my Savior proud of me. I want my Savior to know so much that I’m here to stand as a witness of Him.

So every time things were so dark. It w you know, it’s almost like the primary songs. If the Savior Stood Beside Me or Teach Me to Walk in the Light, primary songs are incredible. If you’re struggling with depression, listen to primary songs. I was the primary music leader in our ward throughout the darkest times, and they saved me.

So not giving up, You acknowledge that it’s hard and that you would rather feel any other way than heavy and dark. That light is there. That rest comes from the Savior. And so not giving up, you just stand up and try to stand up as long as you can.

And then a little longer.

Darla: [00:19:02] I really love that. Thank you so much for being willing to be open. It’s the reason that I want to share other people’s stories about their journey on the covenant path is because it makes us feel like we’re not alone. There’s somebody else out there that’s struggling the way you were and now they know they’re not alone.

And so thank you so much for being willing to share that. I do have one final question for you, and that is how have you seen and felt the Savior in your journey on the covenant path?

Laura: [00:19:31] I have felt Him. I felt them so closely in my prayers, a lot of the times, and then on days where it’s just so hard. You’re sick or the kids are sick and you have to give baths, you have to feed them  something. And so I really like to do, maybe I’m just a really visual person.

I just imagine the Savior coming in sitting right next to me. And maybe he tells me a joke or maybe he just says, trust in me, lean on me. And I have seen him clearly from honestly the meeting of my husband to deciding we’re going to have more babies to who do I need to serve today?

He just keeps leading me along little by little when I’m ready.  This is love. I don’t know. I see it everywhere and light and in plants, the sun, the sky, and I don’t know it’s everywhere and I love it so much. 

Darla: [00:20:31] It’s so great. I love how your story can illustrate that He shows up in a miraculous way for you at this Relief Society meeting during this meditation.

And then you can also see Him just in the everyday. The things that you said, plants and light and all of that. I really think that’s beautiful and thank you so much for being willing to share your story. 

Laura: [00:20:52] Thank you for giving me the opportunity. If more sisters could just know that they’re not alone, if we could all just hug each other instead of worrying about ourselves.

Oh man, we could do so much in Zion and it would be so awesome. 

Darla: [00:21:08] I think you are so right. Thank you so much for being here. 

Laura: [00:21:12] Thank you, Darla.

 Darla: [00:21:15] And now here are this week’s journal questions. 

During the interview, Laura shared her perspective that God loves to surprise us and show us that He can do anything. How has God surprised you in the past? How have you seen His power in your life? Take some time to record your experiences, thoughts and impressions. 

Laura talked about a guided meditation at a Relief Society meeting that helped her to give her heart to the Savior to heal her from depression. Take some time to think about the struggles you are facing.  What do you need the Savior’s healing touch for in your life? 

How can you hand your heart over to Jesus and allow Him to hand it back transformed and strong. 

In the interview, Laura and I discussed how letting others in on our struggles can let light in and illuminate our darkness. How can you open up and let others bring light to the dark places inside of you?