This is a story that very few have heard. My parents, my boyfriend, my best friend, and my therapist. That is it. I have prided myself on being completely open about myself, but this story I hide. It burns inside of my everyday filling my heads with “What ifs” and sorrows. Failure and thoughts of being selfish fill my body when I think of what I had to choose, as if there was any other way.
I was a missionary. I had a calling, I was in the MTC with my companion and district. It was everything I had ever wanted since I was 12. And my mind failed me. My body betrayed me in the moments that I needed it the most. How and where to begin the biggest experience of my life is unknown. But I am trying my best.
I write this because even 6 months after returning, I still can’t think about what happened in those 4 days without extreme emotion filling up inside of me. While writing this I will probably cry, I will break down and want to stop. But I must write this, I must get it out, and I must let it go.
I was called to serve in the Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico mission. I reported Tuesday, September 6th, 2016, 2 days after my sister's wedding. I was ecstatic! My dad had served in Mexico on his mission, and all of my brothers spoke Spanish on theirs. My cousin was on a Spanish speaking mission, and my boyfriend was called to Brazil, Portuguese speaking. Looking at circumstances, everything was perfect. But it wasn't. Leaving was so incredibly difficult.
The night of being set apart I felt so guilty for not being more excited. Waking up that morning, saying goodbye to my family, walking away from my family and getting on that plane was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But from that moment on I would mentally suffer. I had severe depression from the moment I entered the Mexico MTC, even though this is something I had always dreamed of doing. I stopped eating, constantly in tears, having companionship prayers for me constantly. I had anxiety attacks and nights were the absolute hardest, I didn't sleep. For a few days I thought this was just severe homesickness, but I had an impression that it was so much more.
When the Lord put the doctor as my branch President, I knew I needed to speak to someone. He gave me medication and I constantly went to therapy trying to overcome what was wrong with me. At nights I felt attacked by demons, and many didn't believe me, saying there could not be such devils on the MTC grounds. But I was struggling with my own mind.
Finally, after so many prayers, tears, scripture studying and advice from many around me, I received revelation and confirmation that I had to return home for my own health. The hardest part about returning home was having no one around support me in my decision until my mind was made up. They pushed me to stay and 'wait it out'. That if I could just make it to Sunday, I could make it 18 months. But once I told the members of my district that it was revelation from God, they were so supportive and loving. They prayed together for my safe return home and it was so hard to leave these people that had become family in just a few days.
I was only in the Mexico MTC for a week. I arrived Tuesday and flew home Saturday. But those few days forever changed my life Forever. Soon after returning home I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder because of a chemical imbalance in my brain. The biggest and most amazing thing about coming home was the unwavering love and support that came from my parents, my family, and my friends.
I felt ashamed of myself and hated what kind of "category" this would put me in. How I might be judged by those I had just said goodbye to? There were some who did judge and gave their opinion, but those who really mattered to me loved me. I STILL struggle with feeling like an RM, because I was only out for a week. It has been 6 months now. My boyfriend is now serving his mission in Brazil, I have returned to school and recently accepted to BYU. I have learned to better control my mental illness and work on such struggles daily.
One thing I wish I would have known when I came home early is how many would NOT judge me for returning. All I could focus on is that I would be, I never stopped to consider that those around me might have Christ-like love for ME. One thing I want to tell ERM's is to Not feel ashamed. Know that you served God, no matter how much or how little time you were out. You followed God's command to serve and showed him how much you loved him. Consider the story of Isaac and Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It was not until Isaac was on the alter and Abraham had raised his tool did an Angel stop him. Abraham gave it his all and showed complete obedience to God. And so did we, as ERM's no matter the reason of coming home, we got on that plane, left our families to serve our God and share his Gospel.
We have been promised blessing for serving a mission that we are entitled to. I have a testimony that God knew in my heart my wants and desires. I know that he will continue to bless and encourage me throughout the rest of my life. Because of my short time in the mission field I have constantly felt like I had to make up for what I did not do, while I don’t need to feel that way, it has given me the push to be a member missionary and to serve our lord for the rest of my life. I know that Christ’s atonement is for everyone and everything. He helps strengthen me through the moments that I can’t even trust my own mind. He has felt every pain and trial and is with me through everything. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.