I've been putting off telling my story. The pain and heartache felt everyday is sometimes just too much.
During my senior year of high school I had a prompting that I needed to change my life around. It wasn't something simple like 'I need to stop doing this' it was a 'I need you to leave here and start over'. I never knew what this would lead to but I followed this prompting and pack up my things and moved from Texas to Utah. My first few Sundays here my new bishop had asked my thoughts on serving a mission because I was 18 and turning 19 within a few months. My response was always "I don't want to serve a mission." and that was always the end of the conversation.
A year later, I found myself sitting around a bonfire with ward members. One of my bishopric members turned to me and asked "So Sister Johnson, when are you going on your mission?" "I'm not going on a mission." and at that moment, I felt something deep inside myself saying "you know that's the wrong answer." That next morning I started my mission papers.
It was a hard process, but very exciting. I wasn't telling my parents what was going on and that made it a little more fun. The week I was supposed to turn everything in however, i fell off a bicycle and broke two of my front teeth. That meant I had to tell my parents that not only i had to see a dentist now but, i also have to get my paperwork done again. My little secret i had been hiding from them, they already knew cause they had a feeling.
June 6th, 2014 a pretty white envelope arrived in my mailbox. When I saw it, I was overcome with a feeling of 'going home'. I thought that was the weirdest thing until I touched it and knew I was being called to go back to Texas. That evening when I opened my call. I had exactly 2 months until I reported to the MTC. "report to the Provo MTC August 6th, 2014" Okay, that's perfect, however I then felt 'I need you to trust me. You wont be serving a full 18 months'. I never wanted to listen to this feeling. I didn't think it should be right and so i just pushed it to the back of my mind.
When I entered the MTC life was great!! I loved every single second of it. Especially the people I served with! It was a very strong spiritual high and I never wanted it to end.
When I flew into Fort Worth, I knew my time was a ticking bomb. I enjoyed it though. My first area was just a few hours north of my hometown and everything just felt like home. It was wonderful. After a few weeks, I started getting sick. My prayers were getting longer but i still couldn't find food that i could eat without being in sever pain. There was one night after a baptism that i was in so much pain that we went back home and i was in bed by 630pm.
After those two transfers, I was transferred north and was now apart of a trio. I loved the two new sisters i was serving with. It wasn't easy having to explain to them everything i was facing, but luckily one of the sisters had experienced the same things i was. She gave me the hope i needed to make it though most days. It was during that transfer though that things became a lot harder on a mental level. I stopped talking as much, slept more, couldn't get myself to participate, and I knew i needed help but i refused to ask for it. My companions helped me through this by contacting my mission president and i started seeing a councilor. It helped the first time, but after that I felt i was going downhill and nothing was getting better. I was done and I didn't know what to do. Then transfers came and I knew this was going to be my last.
I got to my last area and nothing felt right. I didn't feel like i belonged there. I prayed and prayed to feel connected to this area and the people. All I ever felt was a void, a 'I'm not supposed to be here anymore." I didn't understand this, nor did I like it. All of my thought each night started turning suicidal. At this point I was scared of losing my life.I informed my mission president of how I was feeling and what was going on and at this point I told him I was scared. He would call me and we would talk for awhile and then everything would be okay. As my life became darker, I was in constant contact with him and his wife. The next thing I knew I was on the phone hearing "Your mission has come to an end. It's now time for you to go home to get better." That next afternoon I was on a flight back to Salt Lake City.
I served for 5 months. I've now been home for just over 5 months and its been the hardest time of my life. I didn't know how to adjust to normal life with all the health things going on. I didn't even know how to face those that I loved. I became really good a placing a smile on my face and saying "I'm doing just fine" when in reality I was the farthest thing from even being ok.
All those thoughts and feelings were still racing around my mind and because I wasn't on a tight schedule anymore I had a lot of time to think. I knew I needed help, however I refused to admit it and find it..
Now, after 5 months, I asked for the help I knew I needed. I see a therapist weekly and am on medications that have allowed me to feel like myself again. It's still not easy because I still have days where I feel like a complete failure, or hate God for things I've been though, or don't even know if I believe in God. But one thing still stands, I'm still here.
If there was one thing I wish to tell those returning early, please don't be afraid of asking for help. Asking for help does not mean you are weak, but that you are strong. And that everything will be okay. Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day but it will be. I always have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day.
I know through this experience that God lives. I know He loves me and had never left my side.