I would be lying if I said that coming home early from my mission didn't cause me to feel like an absolute failure. I would be lying even more if I said that I wanted to go back out. Unfortunately, coming home early and not wanting to go back are seriously frowned upon. I felt like I let so many people down and believe me, I never would want to hurt or let anybody down.
I don't use my depression as a crutch. I hate the fact that I have to be on medication to help me function. For so long, I have felt as though depression and anxiety have been looked down upon and unless you've experienced it in some way, it's very hard to understand. Elder Jeffery R. Holland has helped those with and without depression close the wide gap a bit. His talk "Like a Broken Vessel" was both healing and helpful to all.
To get back on track, I began to feel my anxiety and depression more and more on my mission beginning the fourth month in. I ignored it, played it off, and tried to cope in different ways. I finally got to a point where I felt like I should get back on medication. I had an interview with my mission president and decided to delay the medication because missionary work is hard and even Ammon and his brethren felt depressed and sorrowed at times.
But after another transfer and in a new area, my feelings got stronger and I got weaker. I felt like a mess. I felt absolutely crazy. Was this brain even mine anymore? I couldn't tell. My perfectionist side took over and I was on autopilot for a long time. I wouldn't/couldn't take breaks. I didn't want to stop because I couldn't let down the Lord, my mission president, or myself. I was NOT a failure. But eventually, even after counseling and beginning medication, I made the decision that going home was best.
I don't know if anyone will understand the process it took to come to that decision. It was painful. It was discouraging. I had come to love all of the people I was working with and spending time with. I loved the ward and the people I had come to known. And I felt like the most selfish person in the world deciding to come home. I had failed these people. I had failed Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I had failed my mission president and his wife. I had failed myself.
But that was when I had felt the most peace. Instead of pretending to be happy and walking through each day as someone I didn't feel I was, I could go home and cope with this emotional and mental disability in a way that would help me function better.
That didn't take away the guilt, the anger, the regret, and the hurt. For months, even more than a year, I was angry at myself. I was hurt that I had cut close relationships short. I was jealous of the missionaries who finished their missions and served in the areas I had been in with so much success and friendship. I love those people! I wanted to be there for them, to be able to help them and serve them in anyway, and I had failed.
For months I watched as people I had served with came home and loved their missions so much. They wanted to go back. And I couldn't even fathom going back. I missed the people. I missed being able to serve them and love them. But I didn't miss the anxiety, the overwhelming work, the exhaustion.
For a long time, I struggled even wanting to be part of anything to do with my mission.
But then, I found some healing. And I don't fell guilty or angry. I still feel sad. I still feel like I missed out on loving people and helping them. But I found forgiveness for myself. I found healing with the Savior. And that came through sitting in the temple, imagining I was in my mission giving my testimony at a departing devotional.
In my mind, I invited all those that I thought I had failed, all of those that I had come to love, and those that I needed to ask forgiveness from. The Savior was there. My Father in Heaven was there. My husband of a few months was there. My mission president and his sweet wife was there. And I told them how sorry I was. How much I wished that I could've been more true to who I knew I was while I was there. But that I knew this was God's plan. Because on the flip of everything, I saw tender mercies that confirmed that I was to be at home. That I was needed back home for certain things.
I bore my testimony. I told them I loved them. And I asked for forgiveness.
And I haven't felt a sliver of guilt or a bit of failure since that moment.
I still love every single soul that I met while on my mission. And while at times I am embarrassed of how everything happened and the state of my mind while I was there, I know I did what I could.
And if any of you reading this struggle with anything close to what I have described, you must know you aren't alone. There is healing and forgiveness, even if the forgiveness is for yourself.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you.
And with them, You can NEVER be a failure.