In Alma 34 it says, “for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.”
I suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Does this mean I’ll suffer from these trials after I die?
Thank you for asking. I hope that I can say something here that will be helpful. I am sorry that you have to deal with PTSD, anxiety and depression; they are very difficult trials.
Regarding this scripture, it is important to take what is said here in the context it was given. This is Amulek speaking. His general topic is repentance. He says:
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death . . .
So I understand him to be saying you can’t enjoy your sins now and think you will do some last minute repenting and all will be well. When we sin we experience guilt, which is a reminder that we need to change our behavior. If someone also felt depressed because, for example, that person had violated the Law of Chasity, then yes that is a depression that would continue even into the next life until repentance occurs.
However, as you know PTSD is caused by trauma, and often brings with it depression and anxiety. That is likely about the sins of someone else not you, so this scripture does not apply to your PTSD and related feelings. The Lord has spoken to us on the issue of depression through Elder Holland and his wonderful talk, Like a Broken Vessel. I recommend that you read the whole article, print it out and keep a copy close by. Read it again and again. I will just share a part of it here that relates specifically to your question:
“I testify of the holy Resurrection, that unspeakable cornerstone gift in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ! With the Apostle Paul, I testify that that which was sown in corruption will one day be raised in incorruption and that which was sown in weakness will ultimately be raised in power. I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.””
The day will come when you no longer struggle with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Sometimes it can feel like the depression will last forever, but don’t believe it. You will feel peace, joy and freedom from triggers again. I hope that time will come in this life. It has for others I know that have similar struggles. Until then Elder Holland says: “Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.”
I also think you will benefit from Elder Holland’s testimony given here at the end of a CES lecture, and this beautiful song. (The title of the talk was Lessons from Liberty Jail)
Trust in brighter days ahead, Anna, they will come. That is our Savior’s promise.