I was called to the Brazil Rio De Janeiro Mission. I served for a period of 2 months (August-October 2009) and returned home on medical release. The day I was to report to the MTC I woke up with a severe head cold; my mom told me I coughed the night before so she was up most of the night going from store to store buying every cold medicine she can find. I never got better with each passing day in the MTC and that freaked me out, I slowly developed depression and anxiety over everything in front of me.
By the time I came home my head cold had become Bronchitis and I had a stomach worm from eating something I can't remember. In addition, the depression and anxiety had become like another person inside my head leaving me a prisoner.
The hardest part of coming home early was how my family would react. My parents said they loved me and backed my decision but my anxiety taunted me the whole flight home. I am the only son in my family and I was the first grandchild to serve. No pressure right? My two sisters weren’t told the whole story to protect them; they didn’t talk to me for weeks upon my return.
I didn't want to talk about what happened to anyone; so my mom took me to counseling with LDS Family Services. With depression and anxiety fighting for control of me, I felt like I was some sort of experiment gone wrong. Nevertheless, LDS Family Services did help me to not feel so alone. I felt completely isolated before. I went to two sessions and decided I couldn’t go back, I felt like my depression was worsening.
My mom honored my decision and took me to a trail near our home and we walked for a long time. As I took each step along this trail, I told her what I was feeling, my fears for the future, and how I was terrified of what others would think of me. For the next 2 months I walked with my mom on that trail and with each step I took I seem to be more accepting of what happened and was able to move passed the trauma of what had happened.
My doctor gave me the strongest anti-biotic he was allowed to give me and I was able to regain my health.
It has been almost 5 years since I returned home. I am still rebuilding my relationship with my sister's but my family have become a big strength to me. I resumed school in the spring and have since graduated with a Bachelor’s in Human Resources and a dual degree in Communication Studies.
I am currently working on a Masters Degree in Human Resources; I will finish in December 2014. I’m considering a Master’s in Professional Communication or an MBA.
My advice to other early return missionaries like me is that the Lord will still use you to hasten the work in another way; you just need to be willing. I have been an EFY Counselor for 2 summers in a row (EFY is an LDS youth program through BYU). I recently got released from a 2 year calling on the LDSSA Council at the Logan LDS Institute of Religion. I am currently the 2nd Counselor in the Elders Quorum in my YSA ward.
Additional advice I would give would be to read Elder Holland’s talk “We Are All Enlisted”. This talk is a call for more missionaries but one section was pointed out to me from a friend who was unable to serve a mission
“We… recognize that there are some who have hoped all their lives to serve missions, but for health reasons or other impediments beyond their control, they cannot do so. We publicly and proudly salute this group. We know of your desires, and we applaud your devotion. You have our love and our admiration. You are “on the team” and you always will be, even as you are honorably excused from full-time service.”
I went inactive for a month after returning home and slowly came back to church and still the Lord continues to bless me and uses me to hasten the work.
One thing I wish I would've known when I came home early is that the person who will be hardest on myself will be me. It’s been almost 5 years and I still get nervous when asked, "Where did you serve your mission?"
I testify that Christ lives, no matter what happens to us he is willing to help us get back on our feet again to continue on the path back to Him; nevertheless, we need to be willing to make the first step.
I have a testimony of missionary work; even though my mission did not work out how I planned it is an honor to wear Christ's name. Missionary work is something each member of the church should be engaged.
The Book of Mormon is the word of God and a record of a people who came many generations before us. I know this to be true to the point I cannot deny it.