ST. GEORGE — When one woman realized she could use her anxiety and depression for good, she poured her feelings into a book — one that she hopes will change lives.

Anabel Munoz is the author of “Things I Couldn’t Say Out Loud,” Poetic Reflections on Mental Health and Personal Empowerment, St. George, Utah, Jan. 7, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“My book is about mental health issues,” Anabel Munoz said. “It’s about healing and self-empowerment. So it has a mix of everything. I put my heart in that book, and it really is things I’ve never said out loud.”

Munoz said she’s struggled with depression most of her life. At a time when she was actively in therapy and doing what she was told was the “right” thing to feel better, she continued to feel the same.

“I got to the point where I was like, OK, I need to try something different that I’ve never done before, otherwise, I’m going to stay here in this place,” she said.

With a love for creating and the need for an outlet, she began writing poems. Each poem she wrote explained how she was feeling and the different experiences she had been through. A year and a half later, she self-published her poetry in a book titled “Things I Couldn’t Say Out Loud,” Poetic Reflections on Mental Health and Personal Empowerment.

That was Oct. 2023, and while she said the process to self-publish was harder than she anticipated, it’s also been equally rewarding. She feels uplifted every time she receives messages of support letting her know how her words have touched others.

“Things I Couldn’t Say Out Loud” by Anabel Munoz is pictured, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Anabel Munoz

 “I’m not really good at expressing myself and my feelings,” she said. “I’ve always been the person that keeps everything inside, which is not healthy at all. But I felt while I was writing, I found healing, as well. I was just letting everything out.”

With a personal story behind each poem, she said the most impactful one is the story behind “Miracle” — a tribute to a woman who came into her life unexpectedly and changed everything.

It all began when Munoz moved to Utah seven years ago from Chile to study at the English Language Center (ELC) at Brigham Young University — a place foreign exchange students attend to learn English. After completing one semester, she realized her time in the states was over due to a lack of financial means. Her student visa only allowed her to work 20 hours per week, which was a far cry from the money needed to cover her tuition and living expenses. 

A friend of hers suggested they do a vacation to Las Vegas before she made her journey back home. She planned to stop in St. George to visit a friend and took a shuttle from Orem to Southern Utah.

As she boarded the shuttle, she noticed an elderly woman and the two shared pleasantries. When the shuttle stopped at a gas station, she helped the woman to the restroom and the two began chatting. Munoz told her how she was in Utah studying from Chile and was on her way home due to a lack of funds.

Anabel Munoz spends time with Kay Davenport, a woman who paid for her BYU college career and housing after meeting on a shuttle to St. George, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Anabel Munoz

The woman looked at Munoz and said she could help her. She didn’t think anything of it at first, and the women continued to talk to her between bathroom stalls. Upon exiting the bathroom, the woman was again by her side. 

She learned that the woman’s name was Kay Davenport and she donates funds to international students at BYU to help pay for their studies. The pair then boarded the shuttle and sat in different areas. The woman began writing notes and passing them to her. Munoz initially thought it had to be too good to be true.

“And she said, ‘What if I told you that I can pay for your studies and your housing if you stay? Would you stay?’ And I said yes. The notes kept coming and the next thing I knew, there was a $3,000 check,” she said.

The funds allowed her to fly home for three months, apply to BYU, and return. Davenport went on to pay for the entirety of Munoz’s years in college along with her housing. They became close friends. A year ago, Davenport passed away.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Munoz said. “But it was real and it happened. It was a miracle. That’s why the poem is called ‘Miracle”.

Other poems include tributes to both her grandmothers who have passed away.

Anabel Munoz reads her book “Things I Couldn’t Say Out Loud”, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Anabel Munoz

Munoz said depression has been quite the journey and is something she actively struggles with. But she now has more resources to help her cope and has learned to not bottle up her emotions. When she begins to feel anxiety and depression, she doesn’t fight it the way she used to but instead chooses to accept it — something that may seem simple, but has significantly changed her life.

She hopes her book will help others who may be struggling, and plans to write more books in the future.

Purchase “Things I Couldn’t Say Out Loud” on Amazon. For more information on Munoz and her book, follow on Instagram.

“I know so many people struggle with mental health issues, and this can make them feel hope or find that motivation they need through even one poem or a few words,” she said. “That’s my hope. So they know they don’t have to disappear or end their lives.”

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“Things I Couldn’t Say Out Loud” by Anabel Munoz is pictured, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Anabel Munoz

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