I am in the middle of trying to figure out why this all happened, so this may not be as uplifting as some of the other stories, but I want to share my experience.
I was always at the top of my class, both in school and in church (If there is a top of the class in Sunday School, that was me.) I am an Eagle Scout and have earned the Duty to God award. I thought I was a Mormon superstar, the child that every parent wish they had. However, in high school I was diagnosed with MDD, and this led to struggles with medications, thought training, and other coping methods. These helped some, but I often felt alone and useless. I hoped that by serving a mission, I would be able to finally overcome this trial and become Supermormon again.
When I first tried to submit my papers, I failed the OQ Analyst test (a questionnaire that gauges mental health). My bishop counseled me to pursue other options, like maybe a service mission. But I wouldn't have it. I had an older brother with depression serving a mission, and he was able to cope. I had been promised that I would serve a mission in my patriarchal blessing. And I couldn't see myself not serving a mission because I honestly believed I was capable.
I waited for a few months, then tried the OQ Analyst again. This time, I passed. Apparently, that was good enough, and I submitted my papers and was called to the Washington Kennewick Mission.
As the countdown clock kept ticking, I started to feel on edge. My mind would race, and I couldn't calm down. I later learned that these were symptoms of anxiety. I got angry easily, then felt depressed that I had slipped up. Still, I hoped I would be given the strength to overcome while on my mission.
When I entered the MTC, things didn't get better. I couldn't concentrate on what we were studying, and I frequently cried throughout the classes. My MTC teacher talked about ways to deal with stress, but that only made my anxiety worse, because I could only think of the ways I had dealt with stress that I could no longer use.
I hate to admit it, but it was in the MTC that I first thought seriously about attempting suicide. I knew that my family was counting on me to serve faithfully for two years, and that I would disappoint my six younger siblings that were all planning on missions. At the same time, I couldn't see myself ever succeeding in the missionary environment, and I didn't know how much I could take before I cracked. So I thought that suicide would be the only way out. At one point, I scared two elders in my district when I asked to borrow a knife, then looked at it with a crazed expression in my eyes. Luckily, one of the elders snatched it away.
I was able to sing with the priesthood choir in the October 2014 general conference priesthood session. This was definitely the high point of my mission. I remember standing after the closing prayer as Thomas S. Monson was leaving, and I thought to myself, "We've got your back. We're supporting you with everything we have." It was very emotional for me, and I will treasure that experience always.
But the struggles continued. I had been meeting with a counselor, and he also suggested that I go home. I had received a priesthood blessing from my zone leader in hopes that I would be given strength, but I was told that I may not finish my mission. All of these were teeming in my mind, and as I boarded the plane to Washington, I had no idea what might happen.
The mission field was a refiner's fire. For me, it was hell. Everything I had worried about proved to be worse than I thought they would be. My companion wasn't very obedient, and he didn't push me to be obedient either. He didn't understand what I was feeling, and he flat out told me he didn't believe in mental disorders. We didn't exercise in the morning, and our companion studies were a joke. We hardly ever did a segment from the 12-week program. I felt completely hopeless. Not only was I struggling with depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies, but now I didn't have faith that we would be helped because of the lack of our obedience. On a few occasions, I suggested to my companion that we make a few changes to be more obedient. He rudely told me that he did missionary work his way, and that I shouldn't tell him what to do.
Tracting and street contacting were the worst. I could barely drag myself to the next door, knowing the imminent psychological slaughter waiting there. I couldn't take the thought that everyone thought we were deluded and annoying,. I wanted to get my hopes up and show my faith, but every time I tried, my hopes were shattered.
The worst night of my mission came when we were at a member's house. The husband was a recent convert and still had problems with language and crude humor. It was supposed to be an hour dinner visit, but I sat there for three hours, listening to my companion talk to this member about vulgar television shows, violent video games, and other inappropriate things. I couldn't take it. I knew this was so wrong, and I felt so angry that my companion didn't think so. So I snapped. I started whispering crude things under my breath. After we finally left, it hit me just how bad of a missionary I was. I had failed God and was better off dead. So I attempted suicide. It didn't work, and I was thinking of getting more drastic when something told me to talk to my companion. I did, and afterwords I managed to make it to bed without getting more violent.
I told a counselor what had happened, and he told my mission president, who talked to the mission department, and they collectively decided to send me home. I felt cheated. If I had been given an obedient trainer, I would have never been pushed that far, But my mission president believed I was the problem and that I needed to get fixed before coming back, so he didn't listen to me try to explain. He shipped me home and said to come back when I was better.
I am not going back. Through multiple answers from God, I know that my work in Washington is done. But I still don't know why I went there at all. Why did I end up in a mission with the companion and mission president worst-fitted to meet my needs? I don't know how I might have served had the situation been different. Since being home, I have started going to BYU again, but it is hard seeing everyone so excited about missions when I am completely disillusioned to missionary work. I barely can sit through church without crying or getting angry. I have attempted suicide twice since coming home, but after a change of medication, I am managing to avoid that course of action now. But it is a daily struggle.
I don't know what I was supposed to learn, but I have a lot more compassion for those who cannot serve missions or come home early for any reason. I know God hasn't completely abandoned me, though I don't have any idea what He has in store. I know that through my mission, I was able to partake of a very small portion of the pain Christ suffered in Gethsemane. I had taken my cross and followed Him as far as I could before collapsing. I know He loves me for my sacrifice, and I know He will one day embrace me and say that I was good enough. So even though I don't understand, I have faith that one day, this will all be made right.