#BeBrave Story #1: Ashley Bennett

Looking back at the last couple years, there have been 
many struggles and hardships. Many family members and 
friends warned us that the first year of marriage would be 
the toughest. We supposed they were referring to the 
transition one must make when leaving behind the single life in 
order to live a better one with an eternal companion. I don’t 
think we supposed wrong, but Heavenly Father had a little 
more in mind for us. 

Only a few months after our wedding day, I began to 
experience frighteningly unpleasant mood swings. My initial 
reactions to almost everything became angry and bitter. These drastic changes in my personality made me feel lonely with no hope of ever returning to my “normal” or true self. 
Prayerfully, Jayson and I decided I needed professional help. 
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety for the first 
time in my life. 

In the October 2015 General Conference, President 
Devin G. Durrant shared, “Christ invites us to do many hard 
things because He knows we will be blessed as a result of our 
efforts.” I have received a personal witness that this is true 
through the mental illness Christ invited me to go through. My 
imperfect but consistent efforts to maintain daily spiritual 
habits have been traded for numberless blessings. 
Nevertheless, before I recognized these blessings it felt 
like I was walking through profound darkness. In an article in 
the February 2016 Ensign, a sister describes almost exactly 
what I went through:

“I prayed constantly for heaven’s help to relieve the 
heaviness in my heart. When the sorrow remained, it seemed 
as if the Lord had abandoned me and for some reason I didn’t 
qualify for His love. This further fed my belief that I was 
unworthy of my blessings. Reading the scriptures also fueled 
my anxieties because each time I came across a verse that 
described what I felt, the passage had something to do with 
sin. I could not figure out what great transgression I had 
committed to deserve such torment, but the scriptural association of despair with iniquity seemed proof of my fallen state.

“Attending church and the temple became really difficult. 
I felt as if I were mocking God with my unworthiness. I 
continued to attend because logically I knew it was the right 
thing to do. One of the few things that held me together 
during this time was the knowledge that my despair 
contradicted all I had been taught through the gospel. I clung 
to the hope that I might still be a beloved daughter of God.”
The prophet Jacob described the basis of this hope in 2 
Nephi 9:50-51:
“Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to 
the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, 
come buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
I may not thirst physically, but I long to quench my thirst 
spiritually. God may not offer actual wine and milk, but His 
word is available to all who will listen. 
“Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no 
worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken 
diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have 
spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon 
that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let 
your soul delight in fatness.”

This is God’s eternal invitation to each one of us, to spend 
our time searching His word so that we may enjoy all that He has. I testify the scriptures are the word of God written by 
his chosen prophets. The Book of Mormon and the Bible are 
testaments of our Savior, Jesus Christ. These Books testify 
of one another and invite us to become more like the Master. 
I may struggle to feel God’s love every time I study the 
scriptures, but this habit will bring me closer to Him and 

In President Durrant’s talk, he asked us to take our study 
to the next level by pondering a scripture each week. He said, 
“…the primary goal is to provide an uplifting place for your 
thoughts to go-a place that keeps you close to the Spirit of 
the Lord”. Creating a positive place for my thoughts to go has 
become vitally important to battling depression, and it can 
help us all fight against the cruel world we live in. 

A couple months ago, I wrote this experience in my 
journal: “That night, many hopeless thoughts and dark feelings 
came over me. I was very scared of the darkness. I started to 
read the Book of Mormon. Jayson took me in his arms and 
helped me calm down. I felt like the Book was the only thing 
that could help me and take away that deep darkness.”
I don’t remember what chapter or verses I read that 
night, but I do recall the immediate peace which came over me 
the moment I started reading. What a tender miracle God 
granted to a suffering daughter. 
In conclusion, I feel I should share a special story about 
some friends of mine. I hope the Spirit will bear witness to each of us of God’s divine plan in our lives through these sacred experiences.

Across the street from our apartment in Ogden lived a 
very skinny and heavily-tattooed lady. Jayson saw her a couple 
times and received a strong prompting to give her a Book of 
Mormon. I didn’t know any of this, but one afternoon Jayson 
and I parked in front of her apartment. She was getting into 
her car, and Jayson told me we needed to talk to her “now”. 
We walked up and introduced ourselves; her name was 
Saundra, and she lived there with her now husband Junior. 
Jayson offered her a copy of the Book of Mormon. She said, 

“I already have one of these.” She then explained she was 
almost baptized and confirmed a member of Christ’s church 
years before, but something happened that scared her from 
going through with it. We told her what time our ward 
meetings were and invited her to come to church with us. “I 
have actually been wanting to go back to church,” she seemed 
confused at this strange coincidence.
 She kept asking us why 
we decided to come invite her? We told her Heavenly Father 
wanted her to come back to His church, because He loved her. 
We followed up with her that Saturday and for many 
weeks after that. One time, Jayson saw her outside and asked 
her again if she would come to church with us. She said, “Sure, 
as long as I can show up like this!” She pointed to her 
mismatched socks. If any of you know Jayson and have noticed 
his sock choices, it will be easy for you to guess what happened next. Jayson assured Saundra that her socks would 
not be a problem and pulled up his pant legs to show his own 
pair of mismatched socks. Saundra called her husband out to 
come and look. She couldn’t believe a Mormon would have such 
crazy socks!
Mismatched socks weren’t the only things that made 
Saundra unique. After getting to know her even better, she 
shared her experiences in drug rehab and her struggles with 
bipolar disorder which causes her severe social anxiety. This 
anxiety kept her from coming to church with us. 

One night, Saundra called me because she was feeling 
really overwhelmed. She was beating herself up about not 
keeping her commitment to come to church with us. She felt 
so silly about her anxiety, and she was sure we just thought 
she was blowing us off. Before this conversation I had never 
presumed to share my mental illness with Saundra, but it 
seemed like the perfect moment. I assured her she was not 
the only one who suffered through this type of emotional 
block. In fact, I was struggling to go to all my church meetings 
because of the depressive symptoms I was going through at 
that time. Saundra was shocked that I didn’t always make it 
to church because of such a similar problem. She expressed 
her gratitude to me as a friend who truly understood what she 
was going through. 

When I was first diagnosed with depression, I did not 
think of it as a blessing. I was confused about God’s choice to give me such a lonely trial. My feelings today are much 
different, and I would like to use the words of Ammon to 
describe them:
“And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed 
upon us? Can ye tell?
“Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, …were in 
darkness, yea, even the darkest abyss, but behold, how many 
of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!

“…Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am 
weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of 
my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, 
many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which 
we will praise his name forever.”

Ashley is a wife and kindergarten teacher. She is the founder of the blog ashworxblog. Her ultimate vision through this blog is to build hope for those struggling with similiar trials of depression and anxiety. One way she finds that hope is through her art which you can check out on her Instagram. If you were touched by Ashley's story in any way I encourage you to check out her blog and follow her on her journey! 

Thank you Ashley for sharing your story! 

 If any of you readers would like to do the same, you can email your story to nickki.opara1@gmail.com 

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  1. I love this. I have WICKED anxiety, and it comes across physically, too, meaning I have to take deep breaths when I'm anxious. Running is a challenge as well. I used to see my father take deep breaths and wonder why. Now I know. Thank you for sharing your brave story.


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