On August 23, 2017 I embarked on an eighteen month mission for the LDS Church to Washington State. Two months later I returned home to Utah.
Naturally, I had a lot of people ask what happened and why I was home. For a couple weeks, I lied and said that I was home due to previous physical health condition I had back in high school. I was too ashamed to say the truth; I came home due to severe depression and anxiety.
Every day in the mission field I had strong thoughts and plans for self harm, persistent anxiety attacks, uncontrollable crying, dizziness, and absolute hate and dread for my life.
I received a lot of fall out from those around me. I was told that I was just adjusting to the rules and lifestyle, that I was being dramatic and rebellious, that if I truly did believe in the Church and put in all my effort than I wouldn’t be struggling. I was told that everyone would be better off if I wasn’t on my mission at all.
I saw myself as weak, invalidated, unworthy, and a disappoint to myself, my family and friends, and to God.
I was too scared to get help and I was too scared to go home. I was worried the fall out would be even worse if I had to seek professional help or if I “gave up” and went home. I thought that if I injured myself and was sent home for physical reasons, people wouldn’t judge me as much than if I was sent home for mental health. I was more concerned with what everyone would think of me, rather than my health.
Finally, I worked up the courage to seek counseling. Every week, I met with an LDS Family Services Counselor. I didn’t experience much progression with counseling, but it was a huge step for me! I was finally able to open up about some of the things I felt.
On October 21, 2017 I was emotionally released from being a missionary. Which is an honorable release! Since coming home I have received way more love than I anticipated. I was able to get away from the situation and fully recover. I am glad I served a mission, it put me on a path that nothing else could’ve.
I know firsthand how hard it can be to face the negative stigma in society and in yourself. To truly heal we need to first help ourselves and become our own hero.