Beyond The Checklist

034: How to Let Christ Fill the Hole in Your Heart Left by Depression || Laura Cragun


[00:00:00] Darla: Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla. I’m so excited to be here with you today. I have a wonderful guest who has some really great things in her heart that she wants to share with us today. Her name is Laura Cragun and Laura, welcome to the podcast. 

[00:00:43] Laura: Thank you for having me Darla.

It’s so good to be here and talk with you. You’re really fun to talk to. 

[00:00:48] Darla: I know we’ve just been chatting for what, the last half hour before we started, we were like, we’ve gotta hit record. Yeah, I really do love the one-on-one and then I think that’s why I love interviewing people is just hearing other people’s stories and hearing, what really matters to them.

So I’m excited to have you here. Do you want to just take a second and introduce yourself and then we’ll dive in. 

[00:01:05] Laura: Yes. So I am Laura Cragun and I am an intuitive eating and LDS life coach. And I was born and raised in Arizona. So Darla and I connected that way. And then I now currently live in Utah and I have three kids that are young, and I feel like I’m going to be in this stage forever at two, five and eight.

And yeah, I love intuitive eating. I believe that women need to have the intuitive eating and know in order to really make that healing with their selves. Ditching the diets and finding the body acceptance. And it really helps us find the fruit of freedom, but I knew it had to be involved with Christ and my faith was an integral part of it. And a lot of life coaching comes up too. With what goes on and it’s emotionally our physical health is very effected by our emotional health. So I really eat up all that stuff. I geek out about it. I love it, and I love to help women that way and fight diet culture in this day and age right now.

So yeah, it’s really fun to talk with them in every day and on these important matters. 

[00:02:15] Darla: It’s so important. And you’re going to take this whole episode and you’re going to talk about your story. And I know your story starts in young motherhood with depression and anxiety and eating disorders and even suicidal ideation.

And so tell me about that time in your life. What was going on, what led up to all of that happening to you? 

[00:02:35] Laura: So it’s hard to think back on that. Those are some dark times and now I’ve healed it. And I think back and I seeing that it was all part of a plan that curse was my blessing.

And so I had my first son at BYU and we’re trying to, we’re struggling, starting off. My husband’s a firefighter. You went through paramedic school. I had to put them through paramedic school while I was working full time taking part time classes and pregnant. So it was really some hard stuff.

But at the time I had my son I had depression. I just didn’t know it. And no one helped guide me to that point. It was that same year that ElderHolland’s talk came out about mental illness. So everyone’s just the chatters going on about it, but it’s just barely starting.

Years later I still had depression on and off. I come from a definitely some background of family that has had suicidal thoughts and and depression and anxiety. And years down the road. I had another, I had my second and my girl and depression came again. And this time it came harder than ever cause my parents told me they were going to divorce after 28 years. And I’m the oldest of six. And so that I took that really hard, but I was further away from them and in my own life with my own little family, but I really hurt and felt sorry for my young siblings. And of course the phone is ringing a lot.

I’m the older, big sister helping out and all the drama that comes with divorce. It’s very sticky. It’s very hard. And I had to definitely get some more help realizing I need some medication. I need some therapy. And I did. I, just as we’re taught to be smart and do all the things in our power to try to make it better.

It’s hard to not want to be a victim and think why me? Why do I feel like I just want to stay in bed all day and why do I feel so, so completely hopeless when my life is actually very beautiful with a young family and we’re doing okay? My husband has a steady job. So then fast forward to my third Right before I had my third, I was pregnant. We’ll talk about this and how it saved me. This is a very pivotal point in my life of saving myself. And though at a way that I feel like extended another, my, my cousin that was 17 hung himself when I was pregnant with my third. And so we as a family, went down to Arizona and went to the tragic funeral and a lot of a lot of those kinds of cases people say they’re signs that come for him there wasn’t.

And, but he’s always been a shy kid and I babysat him when I was young as a teenager. And I love that. I love that kid and that family, but I had that realization in me. I had never to that point had suicidal thoughts. I was very depressed at times, then more mild depression where I can handle it and move on and do things.

I can still enjoy life having some good medication with me and some therapy every once in a while. But I just, I, when something like that happens, you just realize, you never know when that switch will flip. And it was a tragedy to see everything happen with my family and all these cousins.

And so he left behind four teenage sisters and I took a moment to look myself in the mirror and I said, if this ever happens, If i ever get those thoughts. And I talked to God about it. I have to get help and it can’t be something that I just say it’s just a thought. 

And so I’m really glad I did cause then a year later, I, I had my baby, my little two year old now. And It was everything went fine in the beginning, really. She was pretty good baby. It wasn’t until, and usually my postpartums were like this where it wasn’t till after I weaned as much, usually people say, oh, the six weeks, two months after there’s usually more after I weaned.

And I think it’s just, everyone’s different. Everyone has their different chemicals. So after I weaned her I started feeling off, and then COVID happened. And I just didn’t see that 2020 was going to be my really rough year, beyond most people’s rough years and in a different way. And that I needed to really face some more things for myself. 

[00:07:10] Darla: So you get to this point where you’re recognizing depression. It’s brought on a little bit from the postpartum. Was there one point where it’s just like the breaking point where you knew you had to get help and what did that look like?

[00:07:21] Laura: Yeah, I spend thinking about it. It’s hard to collect my thoughts. Sometimes you just get excited to be in normal life, but it did happen. It was real. I think it was part of it what happened, I’d been taking that same medication for four years. I just kept doing what I was told. And then sometimes I go up in the dose sometimes go down and, but I did also have some more therapy and things I needed to go through.

Definitely relation to some childhood trauma and me and my husband having a hard time in our relationship being very meshed almost to the point where it’s codependent .Where I’m the giver and he really loves to receive that. And I just didn’t get my needs met. I was more of a doormat in that way.

And He also just kept doing his thing and realizing I’m not voicing myself as much, but on me, I need to do that. So there’s that anxiety. This is another huge one. My husband works a lot as a firefighter. They are gone for two days straight and then they come back for a little bit and then they go back again and then when they come back, they honestly need to sleep and get better.

And he had his personal training job. He has had a personal training job on this side that he would do on those days off. And a lot of fire guys do that. And it just seems to be this normal thing in some cultures and people, anybody, where it’s okay to work really hard. It’s a really good virtue, but it was driving me insane how much I had to take on. I don’t have family actually here in Utah. We met here. I came up here for school and he did too. His family is not from here, but we’ve decided to make a new life here since we had a lot of other hard things going on in our other states with our families, and we really probably needed to be protected and clean out our sphere.

And I was so glad I decided that and loving the best I can from a distance. But he, I think I was really compacted over those years of probably about that point 7 years of him working so much, and I just didn’t know any different, but I was I was so depleted. The little kids are so demanding and my son has ADD and ODD and not having support in a community where a lot of people do really was hard on me.

And then in the summer of 2020, I got to this point where I was so depressed, and I didn’t understand why. My medication was working and I just thought, I just, I thought it was more me. I didn’t even question the medication at that point. I was really too far gone, and we were having a lot of arguments and things and trying to stay close to my Savior the whole time.

But I was just feeling really lost and I started feeling some suicidal thoughts earlier in 2020, and I never really grappled with me. Though, I made that promise to myself, I think it’s because I wasn’t acting on anything yet. I was thinking about how I didn’t want to live. And sometimes started thinking as I was running that I could just easily throw myself onto this traffic right here.

And things like that. And knowing there’s some pills in the closet, if I could resort to it, one of the evenings my husband has gone. I didn’t really process that I had gotten to that point. I was actually idealizing that but the main moment was and knowing sometimes these hard things happen late at night.

I’m already in a fit by the first thing in the morning. So by noon day on one of these mornings, after my husband and I had a hard fight and me being so overwhelmed. Summertime’s really busy too and the stress of COVID. But I felt like I wanted a release. I wanted a release. I was wanting to grab my knives and do something about it.

And I wasn’t going to do it lightly. I wasn’t going to just cut. But I could tell that promise came back to my mind and I called my mom and I rode my bike because I didn’t feel like I didn’t feel like having my husband help me at that time. As much as he is actually a big strength to me and I love him and we are strong now, it was hard to. So my mom, she said, have Brady take you. I’m like, I don’t, I can’t with Brady right now. It’s really hard. And so I rode my bike to the instant care down the road real quick and just sobbingthe whole way. My mom’s staying on the phone with me. And she talked to them on the phone and then from there they admitted me to the psych ward. So I was able to get some more help there. 

[00:11:56] Darla: So you go to the psych ward. What was that experience like? What did that look like? How long were you there? I’m just really curious. It’s not something that people talk about. So I’m really curious if someone else is out there struggling and feels like that might be something that could help them, what did that look like? 

[00:12:12] Laura: It was scary. You have to have a roommate and my roommate was a homeless woman in her fifties. And very sweet, very low self-esteem. And just seeing these people that are just like me, you’re just all the same at that point. A lot of homelss but you’re all the same and they’re actually quite a few young 20 year old kids in there that remind me of my cousin. And so I had a lot of love for them, but I just really had to focus on myself, actually try and get myself out there as quick as I could too at the same time because it’s not comfortable. And you feel it’s a very sterile environment. You feel you feel like a bother sometimes to the people get jaded, but I did gain some knowledge that I needed to switch my medication and that I needed to do some more fierce therapy for myself and all the things I’ve gone through in life and tend to take on and give myself more help and be more proactive in voicing what I need for my needs as a mom that was overworked at home.

And I after that came home and it was the summer to begin the experimenting of what was my next medication. So things did not get better, honestly. And I had to keep trying different medications and that was a roller coaster and the side effects that come with it felt like PTSD at night with my nightmares, that some of the medications would give me., I’m like, I don’t want to go to the movies tonight.

That’s what it felt like going to bed as much as I needed sleep. It was like going to a thriller show. And like I got off that drug went onto another. I could not figure it out what was going to work for me. And it felt like a lost cause. And it was so unsustainable for a family life and my husband having to go to work overnight for two days straight.

There were some nights where I got help, but it quickly, quickly just tried to get back and keep doing some of my normal patterns of not giving myself the help I need. And I’m saying it’s fine. Or even teaching my husband that I need more help. Being married to a firefighter as his strength, his emotional he’s not as stimulated and sensitive in that way because he is he’s around that people all the time. That’s his strength, actually, he would be so burnt out if he was. We always laugh about how I would never last two minutes in his job. It’s a drain. But then him having to see with his wife that there needs to be that sensitivity and it needs to be that patience. And he now is his whole story to what he’s had to go through now.

It’s how beautiful it is as he goes on a lot of psych calls that he is actually one of the guys, of all the fire guys say he’s one of the most patient and compassionate with them. So anyway I eventually things got really bad and it wasn’t good. There was no end in sight. So we decided I was going to go to a facility for a month, which was One of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Having to leave my family that for that long being so scared about going into a facility with people I don’t know. And was it even gonna work? All the money involved with my insurance, things like that. So that was really hard. 

[00:15:40] Darla: And I know we talked to before and I always have guests tell me a little bit about their story and write some things.

And so much of what you wrote was about Christ. Some of the things you wrote where Christ was the missing piece and he was a balm to your broken soul. At what point in your story did you realize that you needed to invite Christ in? When in your journey where you really able to invite Him in and let him be that missing piece? 

[00:16:05] Laura: It was slowly. It was a gradual sunrise, I guess as Elder Bednar talked about before. There would be moments where I would pretty much have those divine downloads.

I don’t know if anyone’s had that experience or I just couldn’t stop writing, couldn’t stop thinking And my mind was spinning about how much beauty there is and the atonement, what He’s done for me. And definitely when I started feeling better, it was beautiful to see and see how much I would take for granted in the past.

Just the normal clear-minded day and how that was beautiful. There’s just no explanation for how something so deep and dark could be lifted. And he was that missing piece. And maybe I’ll talk about that too, with that mistake, I always think of it. I was coached this way by a wonderful woman that helped me so much.

Everyone has a hole in their heart. Actually, God made us that way and how all of us humans dealt with it a lot of times is fill it. We just pour buckets of money or buckets of time and social media. And for some people pornography, whatever it is. Buckets of time and money into being so religiously clean eating and working out a lot as well, over years and years that it was going to finally complete me and complete that whole, but it just goes into a dark abyss. It’s not the forever end all plug that’s going to heal that hole. And I’m grateful for this blessing of going through all this because it made me finally use Christ. It’s so sad that it has to get to that point for a lot of us. It was what I needed to learn. And He’s the one that fills that hole forever. There’s nothing else you ever need. 

And now it’s, my mind is forever changed in the way I see life. When you finally get to those points where you don’t want to live, it’s just so different. And when I’ve seen people, someone that I loved, passed away that way and my kids having to go through that month without me now, too.

It’s finally seeing them again. And it’s never the same when you have Him in your life. 

[00:18:13] Darla: That’s so beautiful. I love that. I know you talked about this happened just over a year ago and you’ve had some other things come up with eating disorders and that’s helped you to turn to intuitive eating and things, but what do you do in your daily life? As lots of women can relate. You’re a busy young mom; your husband’s gone a lot. What do you do in your everyday life to just stay connected to Him to keep that? Sometimes we have these really hard struggles that bring us to Him, but then we get back to everyday life and maybe it’s a little bit harder to stay connected.

So does that make sense? What are the practical things like? What do you do to stay close to Him and to keep that relationship strong? 

[00:18:51] Laura: I’ve been meditating for about two and a half years. I’d say that as a part. It’s a bunch of different things really. My mom has also gone through depression and things, and she’s always talked about, depression is like running through a muddy field.

You could do it, but it’s really hard. And then she will say, and then this is what you do. It’s a puzzle. Like you have to fit in all those that pie. And it’s not just one thing, but together it’s a beautiful thing and meditation helps me. But it sounds cliche. It’s just still messy to feel those divine downloads, like I had mentioned, which don’t always come down in that download form, which I love those moments. Every time they come I get some answers. I get some relief and as I finally surrender to Him. I call it my holy time. I just have holy time every day where I ponder, meditate, pray, and then study. And and then with being a young mom, sometimes that is about 20 minutes where I meditate and lay down my cushion here. I’ve made this section in my closet.

I don’t have a walk-in closet, but I even pushed all my clothes to one side. One section over here is where I go and have a container of safety for me. 

[00:20:02] Darla: I think that’s so great that you recognize that you needed that. That’s great. 

[00:20:08] Laura: Yeah. God helped me. I remember one day just having that feeling like I can do that in that corner right there. It’s possible.

And then five minutes to pray and 10 minutes to study. And I’ve definitely been trying to write down things that come to my mind, whether just a paragraph or a whole page, just something or even a sentence. And I’ve been able to go through a lot of these little notebooks. It’s not perfectly done. It’s just thoughts. And it’s processing and processing slowly. It’s small and simple things. Of course, with podcasting and as we connect with these people online, I’ve had a lot of mentors that don’t even know me like Brooke Snow or Monica Packer things like that.

And, Brooke talks about small and simple things have always, as she’s shedding more of that light on there, it’s really helped me realize this is a divine principle. I am slowly going to heal with small and simple steps. So it’s possible with this holy time every day. 

[00:21:07] Darla: That is such a good practice.

And I think your story illustrates well, I’ve had other guests share similar things in it. It always makes me think just try something and see what works for you. Here’s somebody else’s idea and try it out and then you might tweak it. That little corner in your closet and you might move that somewhere else later, but for right now, that works for you.

And so it’s just a matter of finding what works and find your little, I like, what did you call it your holy time? 

[00:21:32] Laura: Holy time. 

[00:21:33] Darla: I love that. That’s so great. I think you shared so beautifully that Christ is the only one who can fill that hole and I just, I think that your story illustrates that so well, and that it’s not over your, story’s not over. You’re still walking every day, trying to be close to him and to let him be everything for you.

So I love that. You’ve shared that just to wrap up, is there anything else that you felt on your heart that you wanted to share in this episode? 

[00:21:59] Laura: We didn’t have as much time to talk about the eating disorder thing. So I guess I’ll just summarize and talk about why I really feel passionate about it.

And we talked about this a little bit before through a midst of all this, I went through with the eating disorders as well. I was just in survival mode, but never in a cognizant state to where I can really realize I had eating disorders of the orthorexia.

I was bingeing about two to three times a week for a solid year. I just didn’t know it. And I would feel sick trying to mute my feelings. But that’s where I needed to heal that piece. And I know for many women we’re at war with their body and Satan wants us to stay there because he knows in these last days, if women are still fighting internally with themselves, how else are they going to be able to fight these out and external sources that are going to come in the form of her kids, the last days, events that happen, marriages that could be compromised and financial troubles. It just makes it that much more harder running through that mud.

And that bondage of being at war with her body. And I found that peace in intuitive eating, as a tool, of course, God is the one that ultimately helps me know what to do, but he helped me understand this wonderful, beautiful tool that is the backbone, honestly, of many eating disorder centers.

And I went to my eating disorder center outpatient program a few months after I came out of my treatment program and was able to find that healing that last more bit of healing, of course, it’s still always works in progress, but I’m feeling like a new creature now, and that could have never happened if I was still caring a lot about all the things I needed for looking well and doing well.

And diets that I had tried. I was raw vegan. I was dairy free because my daughter was lactose intolerant with nursing. And then I just kept going in the means of trying to lose weight. And we really have a lot going on with our bodies as women. And intuitive eating was really helpful as a tool for that.

And to really find that body acceptance, not just work on body positivity, but believing that our body is good no matter what it looks like, not just that it finally looks good and I’m happy with it now. So I think it’s across the board women everywhere they’ll have that. And I just have such a soft spot in my heart for that cause I know how that feels. And now I’m free of that in Christ’s helped. 

[00:24:31] Darla: Yeah, I love that. I love that you can give that credit to Him. He really can heal us and He’s a healer and can help us to go through these hard experiences that we all are going to face no matter what they are, that we can do it with Him.

So that leads me to my final question that I want to ask you. And that is how have you seen and felt the Saviorin your journey on the covenant path?

[00:24:54] Laura: When I finally surrendered to Him, there was no other way. He is the only way. I, and I said it before with you, when I was finally hungry for Him. Trials are beautiful in a way because they finallymake us hungry in the sense of Christ. And I like to think of it as that sense through this health coaching thing too.

I am hungry cause I wouldn’t eat as many calories as I should have and I was so depleted, but really I needed Him. He is my spiritual nourishment. And I feel like on those days where I’m like, how am I going to do it today? I could tell something’s a little off with, I’m still working through this medication.

And I would go through medications or I prayed and I’m like, this feels right. God leads me along. And so we try the next one with my psychiatrist. And Christ has felt all that. He knows. And when I see Him someday, when we all see someday, He’s going to know exactly what we’ve gone through and we’re going to be able to pick up from where we last left off together, as it is a relationship to help out any others to know that He is also the only way for them as well. 

[00:26:09] Darla: So well said. I’m totally feeling the spirit of that. And I think that Christ doesn’t waste anything, no matter what we experience, even if it’s our own choices that lead us that way. It doesn’t matter.

He can take anything and He will use it to help us to become and to turn us to Him. And I really think that’s so much about what our journey on the covenant path is about, is to become and to be who He wants us to be and become closer to Him. So beautifully said, Laura, I am just so grateful that I was able to meet you and thank you for taking the time to share your story.

[00:26:40] Laura: You’re welcome. It was an honor, honestly, my pleasure to be here. 

[00:26:45] Darla: If people want to find out what you share and what you teach about, where can they go and find you?

[00:26:51] Laura: Yes, I’d love to be any help. I am @lauracragun on Instagram. That’s my Instagram handle. is my website. And you can also just email me at 

[00:27:07] Darla: And I will put all of that information in the show notes for anyone who would like to reach out to you. But thank you so much. I just appreciate it.

This has been great. 

[00:27:15] Laura: You’re welcome. Thank you, Darla. I love what you do here.

[00:27:18] Darla: And now here are this week’s journal questions. Laura described a beautiful imagery of how God made each of us with a hole in our heart. She shared how she realized that Christ was the one who could fill the hole in her heart. What part of your life feels like a hole or something is missing? How can you invite the Savior in to be the missing piece to fill your hole? 

What are the daily practices you have in your life that help you feel connected to your Heavenly Parents and Jesus? Laura calls the time she spends in the morning in meditation, pondering,, prayer and journaling her holy time. How can you create your own holy time and space for the divine each day? 

Laura expressed that she knows the Savior understands what she’s going through. Jesus knows you, and he knows how you feel no matter what struggles you face. I was recently visiting my daughter’s ward and her bishop said something I had to write down. He said, “He knows what it feels like for you to be you.” Ponder on this truth. Jesus knows what it feels like for you to be you. Record the thoughts that come to your mind.