Actress and singer, Sandra Turley, from Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was 13 years old when she first saw the musical “Les Misérables,” and dreamed of the day when she would be on Broadway performing in the musical herself. That dream became a reality and she starred in the role of Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway in New York City for more than 1,000 performances and was also part of the original closing cast. She was also invited to play the role of Cosette in the Shanghai, China premiere of Les Miserables alongside Broadway star, Colm Wilkinson. She also performed the part of Ariel in Disney World’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”
Sandra is a recording artist for Shadow Mountain Records having released two albums “Sandra Turley: On Broadway” (produced by Tyler Castleton, 2012) and “Inside My Soul” (produced by Kurt Bestor, 2014). She also performs in select cities across the nation as a presenter for Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women and Time Out for Girls events.
In the midst of all the success she has obtained from her theatrical performances, there was yet another voice inside of her that needed to be set free. Shortly after the birth of her and her husband Josh’s third of four children, she began experiencing the imaginable – anxiety and depression. She is now ready to talk openly about her experiences and offer ways of finding help and hope. She describes her experience in a 15 December 2015 Deseret News article, “I just remember bawling my eyes out. And I’m a naturally happy person, but I was in a state of unhappiness. I needed to be a better mom because I was alternately angry, sad and frustrated. I couldn’t give them what I wanted to. I knew I had capacity to be loving and kind, but I was struggling.”
However, it wasn’t just classic depression that Sandra was dealing with. Recently while performing overseas with Time Out for Women, with an audience looking on, she found herself suffering from an episode of hypothyroidism which unfortunately escalated into a full panic attack and she soon found herself on her back looking into both familiar and unfamiliar faces. About the occurrence, she recalls, “Even though I knew it was an anxiety attack, I thought I was going to die. My brain was spiraling to a dark, scary place. I thought, ‘Will I ever see my kids again?’”
Through the years, she has visited doctors to help her with her depression and anxiety. The first time that an antidepressant was prescribed for her, she did not get the prescription filled thinking that she could overcome the situation on her own. She now admits that at that time she couldn’t face taking the medication. She thought that she was just sad, and that everything was going to be all right. Six months later, she returned to her doctor and asked to try again. She recalls, “It took me a while, but I realized I needed it. I finally accepted that medication would help me return to my full capacity. And the effects were almost immediate. I wanted to scream from the rooftops!”
Speaking about her anxiety and depression, she commented, “Mental hurt is not a weakness. We’ve got to stop thinking of it that way and to really talk about it. Covering it up or calling it something else is not helping. There’s a perception out there that getting help somehow masks the problems or makes us numb. Not so. Correct medication does not cover up sorrows; it allows us to find our thoughts again. It helps us be us again.”
According to the Deseret News article, Sandra offers advice to anyone who may be suffering with anxiety, depression, or both. She says, “Turn to God first. We need clarity from the heavens. Just ask. Ask for love, ask for peace. Talk to those you trust most. Parents, spouse, kids, there is a reason you love and trust them. Then get to the doctor and lift your head above the water.”
She further commented, “I’ve learned that my faith is separate from my mental state and that my faith is stronger than any weakness in my body. My faith keeps working even in times of weakness.”