Courtney Rich was jokingly referred to by her family as “president of the happy club," so when she first experienced depression after her parent’' divorce in high school, the depression was thought to be situational. However, it was actually only the beginning of what has now been an 18-year battle with depression.
In the middle of her struggle, Rich prayed to Heavenly Father for help, yet she never got the “sign” or “big moment” that she wanted. It was not until she attended a women’s conference that she received an answer.
“It wasn't until the last day, nearly the end, and I can't remember what they were talking about, but it so clearly came to me: ‘Courtney, there is a place for you. There's a place for everyone. We need you.’ No one said that. It was just that was literally like I wrote it down in my notebook,” she remembers.
Rich finds joy and fulfillment through her relationship with Christ as well as an unlikely outlet: baking cakes. Rich now has a successful business where she teaches others to bake cakes from scratch.
In this week’s episode, All In host Morgan Jones talks with Rich about her battle with depression and her commitment to building her relationship with Christ.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: Courtney, can you kind of just walk us through a little bit of what that battle was like for you? And then we'll talk about some things that have helped.
Courtney Rich: Yeah, it was a constant battle. And there were like I said, I think for years, I really was like, how do I fix this? How do I fix this? And there'd be days that you just couldn't, I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't muster up the strength, physically, mentally, emotionally. I think the hardest part for me during that time, and it was many years, just on and off, was figuring out and finding my relationship with Heavenly Father. Because I felt like a lost sheep so often, and I would pray, I would cry out to Him and just ask for like, a sign like, "Let me know you're there and that you see what I'm going through right now." And I wouldn't feel anything, and I would feel lost and I would feel like prayers weren't being answered. And I can look back now and we can talk about this too, kind of more in the years just recently how I've kind of discovered Jesus Christ, had my moments with Him and found my relationship with Him. And it's taken a really long time of my life, but I wasn't really looking for the tender mercies. I wanted a big, "Courtney, I'm with you," moment. I wanted to feel Him, I wanted a miracle, I wanted Him to fix me. And it wasn't until actually like three years ago, I'd had a really bad moment and a really bad panic attack. And I had been talking to my dad about it and telling him what was going on that week. And he said, "Well, Courtney, what can we do to fix it?" And in that moment, it just dawned on me, it was like a light bulb, and I'm in the car talking to him and I said, "Dad, I don't think we can fix this. I don't think it's something that can be fixed." I said, "I think I have to learn to manage it." I have to learn to live with it and be my best self with it, to recognize it, to understand, like, what to do, when it happens, and when those moments occur, and how to, hopefully, you know, make sure that there's not too many of them when I can. And so, you know, kind of just figuring out more of that. But then at that same time, I was kind of going through, like losing myself in the gospel in the sense that because I felt—I think the hard thing too, in the moments of, like a really bad kind of moment of depression or a week or a month or whatever, however long it may last, there's a lot of guilt, or at least for me there was. Where I felt like I shouldn't feel this way. You know, I have all these great things and when things are good, they're really good, right? And I have all these blessings I should be grateful for.
Morgan Jones: So you feel like the depression is like, a sign of being ungrateful?
Courtney Rich: Yeah. Yeah, like and I just felt, and I couldn't even help it. I couldn't even say to my mom—my mom would ask, like, "Well what do you think triggered it this time?" Or "What triggered that panic attack? What triggered this bout of depression?" And I would just say, "I don't know." Sometimes I could tell you, sometimes I would be like, "I think it might have been this." Or I think there was a lot of stress going on because I always write things down and I try to keep track, try to figure it out, right? But there's a lot of times I couldn't and that's what was like so discouraging. And I just felt like lost in those moments. And because I just didn't have answers for myself or didn't know quite what to do, and I just felt like other people would look at me and say, "Oh, you've got two great healthy kids, and you're healthy, and you're working, you got a great family," and I shouldn't feel this way. And so it's like those moments of guilt and that's when the adversary could seep in and make things even worse, you know, and bring you down the rabbit hole of, "Well, you're doing this to yourself. This isn't a real thing., you're worthless." And all the other negative thoughts and take you down a really bad path. So it was a really kind of vicious cycle. And it's hard to feel the spirit in those moments, or it can be, I noticed. But it's also the moment too, more recently, that I can feel the spirit the strongest now. And I think it was a difference how I was like, in my relationship and how I going about it with Heavenly Father. Because I think for so long, I was just like, "Come to me, come to me." And I wasn't going to Him enough. And the same time that my dad said, "Court, what can we do to fix this?" I was kind of going through a faith crisis. And I've always, you know, would say that I've had a testimony of the gospel, and have always, you know, felt that it is true, but about the same time like three years ago, I was just feeling like, "What's my purpose?" And I had started my Instagram account, I was starting to teach people, I was starting to share a little bit more about myself on social media. And I just was thinking, "Well, do I start to share about the gospel? How do I feel about the gospel? Like, where's my place here? Do I even feel like I have a strong enough relationship with Heavenly Father to be able to share him in any kind of way with people?" And I had that comparison game at church like, I'm no scriptorian, I don't know how this works and I don't read my scriptures like that, and all of a sudden feeling like "Well, maybe I'm just not right for this church," right? Like feeling like if I'm not doing x, y, and z the way that someone else was doing x, y, and z, should I be here? Should I be doing this? You know, and I just came to a place of like desperation, where I was like, "I've got to figure this out for myself, for my family, mostly for myself, you know, to know like, I need to have that relationship with my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ."
And about that time a couple of months later, I got an invitation to go to kind of an intimate women's conference for church and that's where I think you and I first met actually.
And I went with a lot of questions, a lot of self-doubt. But the challenge going into that couldn't have been more timely for me, was to really get to know the Savior. And if you remember, we were given all the scriptures and an outline for the summer to read all the scriptures related to Jesus Christ. And just go through the topical guide, right? And go through all the scriptures related to Him. And so I took on that challenge and I prayed at the beginning of that summer, and said, "I will do everything you need me to do. I am giving you my all because like I need this from you. I need to know that you're there. I need to know that you see me when I'm going through these moments of trial and I don't feel you, I need to know that you're there. And I need to know kind of how to move forward with what I'm doing in life as a mother and a business." And just, I don't know, I felt all out of sorts. And so I just, I needed guidance. And so I did. I followed the challenge and I went to that conference and there were moments that I just felt like, "Wow, every speaker is talking about butterflies and rainbows and I've never had that kind of experience." And again, this feeling of "Well, no one's talking about the hard stuff. Did you ever have a time that you prayed and you didn't feel like you had an answer and you didn't feel comforted right after? Is that just me? Am I the only one?" That's how I felt there. And it wasn't until the last day, nearly the end, and I can't remember what they were talking about, but it so clearly came to me. "Courtney, there is a place for you. There's a place for everyone. We need you." No one said that. It was just that was literally like I wrote it down in my notebook. And I just went home with this spirit of, "Okay. I'm not perfect." I'm so far from I think what I thought the ideal church member was, but it was just that I got that answer. There's a place for you. And I thought, "Okay, I'm gonna stick with this for a second, you know?"
And since then, because I felt that spirit so strongly and did feel Him in that moment, it's just really helped me to realize that my relationship with the Savior is so important. And since then in the last three years, I've really tried to draw closer to my Savior. And not even so much like reading the scriptures from front to back, but literally just learning about the Savior and I loved "Come, Follow Me." David and Emily were just recently talking about looking for the Savior's hand in all the stories throughout the scriptures and like hopefully, being able to relay that into our own lives and see His tender mercies in every day of our life. I think just in the last like couple years, all of a sudden, my perspective has changed and even though the trials haven't changed, because I'm looking more for the Savior's tender mercies each day, even if they're not related specifically to my trial and what I'm going through, or in a moment of a panic attack or something, that I can still know that He's there. And I can feel Him and see Him because I'm looking in a different way now.