I served in the Washington Federal Way mission for six months, then was medically released for depression. The six months on my mission were the best, worst months of my life.
It all started when the age change announcement came. I KNEW that I needed to go on a mission. I prayed and fasted, and it just felt so right. So, I proceeded to turn in my papers. I was diagnosed with depression when I was sixteen, so I knew that it might affect where I served. I was surprised when I received a call to the Washington Seattle Mission (which later split). I had absolute faith that the Lord needed me there, even though the environment is not the best for people who struggle with depression. So in April of 2013, I departed.
On my mission, I learned for the first time in my life about the enabling power of the Atonement. There were days when the only thing that got me out of bed was my faith in my Savior. I knew that He was on my side, and that He could help me. I prayed like I never have during those six months and turned to the Lord. The last week of my mission was the hardest of my life. I was at rock bottom. I was at a point where I couldn't tell the difference between my thoughts and the depression. I couldn't function, couldn't sleep, couldn't do anything. At night I would lay awake and sing, "The Lord is My Light" to myself over and over again. The Lord indeed is my light, and I made it through because of Him.
I made the decision on the plane home to be very open about my story and why I was coming home. I had my bishop announce over the pulpit that I was medically released because of depression. I have had some incredible opportunities to serve because I have been open about my depression. I have been approached by many people who confess to struggle with depression as well.
It hasn't always been easy to be open, however. I am currently attending school at BYU, and there is definitely a stigma surrounding early-return missionaries. I always get "the look" when I tell people that I served a mission, and yes, that I am nineteen years old. I then explain the medical release which leads to an awkward situation no matter how well I explain it. But, I have been blessed to make many new friends who accept me, depression and all.
I know that I was meant to serve a mission, even if it was only a six month mission. I know that I am meant to be home right now, sharing my story about depression. I know that God is so aware of each of His children and loves them immensely. I know that He is especially aware of us "early return" missionaries. He knew how long we would serve when He called us, but He still called us. He has such great faith in us.