Early release from mission

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Old-Timer
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by Old-Timer »

What is help and support for those with mental difficulties? Should there be any expectations?


That answer is complicated due to each person being so unique. My short answer would be the ONLY expectation on the person with difficulties should be a sincere effort, which cannot be measured by others perfectly. Anything else is imposing our own expectations on others.

[Admin Note]: This topic is not one we can handle adequately in a support group, except from a standpoint of what kind of things have worked for us personally. We can share those things in a dedicated post about what has helped us deal with our own mental health issues, if anyone wants to start that sort of thread - but it would need to be focused on issues that impact our experiences and mental health related to staying LDS and would not be "professional" in any way. It simply would be "what has worked for me".
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
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latterdaytemplar
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by latterdaytemplar »

Despite putting on a positive face for my family, fellow missionaries, and investigators, I once was at a suicidal point on my mission. I felt that I was a disappointment to God for not doing well enough as a missionary. This was a result putting up with ZL bullies frequently for months on end; one of them even went so far as to call me repeatedly a piece of "una basura" (a piece of garbage) and "una porquería" (this doesn't really translate, but a "why-ness"; or in other words, "why do you even exist?"). He should not have been a ZL.

The night that I planned to go, my DL called. He was a great friend and said exactly what I needed to hear to put off my plans for that night. He then came over and we went on splits. I told him what I had been planning for that night. I suspect that he told the mission president, because at the end of that transfer I was sent to another area to be paired with a very easy-going companion.

My DL saved my life that night.

Although I am sorry to hear that your grandson came to that point, I am glad to hear that he is doing well and is recovering. I recommend letting him know that you're glad that he's around and specifically reminding him that you love him, because I'm here to tell you that the words "I love you" can be life-changing and life-saving.
"… Behold, we will end the conflict."
—Captain Moroni (Alma 44:10)

Whatever conflicts that you come across in life, they can be beaten. Adopt Captain Moroni's attitude: be of the disposition to end the conflict, and then act on that disposition.
Roy
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by Roy »

Thank you for sharing your experience Latterdaytemplar. I think it shows in a very personal way that life can get better if we only hang on.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Cnsl1
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by Cnsl1 »

We've all noticed more and more missionaries returning early, and while it used to feel like they were stigmatized a bit, it now seems it's a bit more normalized. I always try to welcome them and make them feel good by saying things like, "so great to see you!" and giving them a hug and not asking them why they're back early.

It breaks my heart to hear of missionaries who were and are suicidal. There are some systemic problems the church still needs to address, IMO, but I'm happy that now there are more options for kids who want to serve missions, and somewhat more mental health services available to them.
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latterdaytemplar
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by latterdaytemplar »

Roy wrote: 02 Dec 2022, 13:50 Thank you for sharing your experience Latterdaytemplar. I think it shows in a very personal way that life can get better if we only hang on.
Thank you for the kind, thoughtful words, Roy.
"… Behold, we will end the conflict."
—Captain Moroni (Alma 44:10)

Whatever conflicts that you come across in life, they can be beaten. Adopt Captain Moroni's attitude: be of the disposition to end the conflict, and then act on that disposition.
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PazamaManX
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by PazamaManX »

Arrakeen wrote: 07 Nov 2022, 21:09
Old-Timer wrote: 06 Nov 2022, 20:20 Missionaries now have mental health services available as a standard part of their missions, with MissionPresidents given basic training and guidance to use the services, but they are accessible only to the extent the missionaries are willing and able to ask or their symptoms are visible to others.
This might depend on the mission, but the mental health services available on my mission consisted of one retired counselor for several hundred missionaries who could do a brief phone call once a week and a local member who was a doctor who wrote prescriptions for all the missionaries’ medical needs. I was mostly just handed medication with the expectation that it would fix everything, and the lack of privacy on a mission really made it hard for any sort of real therapy session to take place. Considering how many missionaries I served with also struggled with mental health, it was very inadequate. This was 2015-2017 so there may have been some changes since then, but I think it is safe to say there is a lot of room for improvement.
On my mission (this was back 2013), the mental health services available to me was 5 visits with a counselor at the nearby LDS Family Services office. The content of our conversations mostly devolved into him trying to convince me to stay on my mission.

I don't know what improvements/changes they've made since my mission for therapy/counseling, etc. I applaud what they've done as far as rule changes for missionaries. Had they had those in place when I was on mine, I may have had an easier time.
Watcher wrote: 08 Nov 2022, 11:37 I could use some pointers (perhaps volumes of suggestions) as to how I could be more of a help and comfort to those in need of comfort.

...

What is help and support for those with mental difficulties? Should there be any expectations?
For me, and I imagine for others, expectations were exactly the problem. Growing up in the church, I was no different than any other young man hearing that I needed to prepare for and serve a mission. Those who didn't go or came home early were talked about and thought of negatively. Even those who decided to serve in the military instead of a mission were looked down upon by people in my ward.

Knowing all of this while I was out on my mission put me in the difficult position of continuing to suffer emotionally or coming home early and being thought less of by the only community I had known in my life up to that point. The solution my mind went to was hurting myself just bad enough to get sent home. Breaking my leg is what I had seriously contemplated and actually tried a time or two (no one knew about those attempts, so the criticalness of my mental state was not known to anyone, but me). That way, I thought, I could at least say I was sent, rather than chose, to come home. Thankfully for my leg, my new mission president had been talking to Salt Lake about what he should do (he did know that I was having a hard time at least) and they said to send me home for mental health reasons.

As for what can be done to support people who have those difficulties, the practice I've adopted is that I do not try to sway anyone one way or the other. I won't encourage someone to go, because that is what led to my difficulties. But, I won't tell someone that they shouldn't go either, since I know that there are many who have had good experiences and loved their mission. I simply support someone in whatever their decision is, and encourage them to be sure they are doing something because it is what they want to do, and not what other's want for them.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Watcher
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by Watcher »

PazamaManX wrote: 08 Dec 2022, 11:24 .....
Watcher wrote: 08 Nov 2022, 11:37 I could use some pointers (perhaps volumes of suggestions) as to how I could be more of a help and comfort to those in need of comfort.

...

What is help and support for those with mental difficulties? Should there be any expectations?
For me, and I imagine for others, expectations were exactly the problem. Growing up in the church, I was no different than any other young man hearing that I needed to prepare for and serve a mission. Those who didn't go or came home early were talked about and thought of negatively. Even those who decided to serve in the military instead of a mission were looked down upon by people in my ward.

Knowing all of this while I was out on my mission put me in the difficult position of continuing to suffer emotionally or coming home early and being thought less of by the only community I had known in my life up to that point. The solution my mind went to was hurting myself just bad enough to get sent home. Breaking my leg is what I had seriously contemplated and actually tried a time or two (no one knew about those attempts, so the criticalness of my mental state was not known to anyone, but me). That way, I thought, I could at least say I was sent, rather than chose, to come home. Thankfully for my leg, my new mission president had been talking to Salt Lake about what he should do (he did know that I was having a hard time at least) and they said to send me home for mental health reasons.

As for what can be done to support people who have those difficulties, the practice I've adopted is that I do not try to sway anyone one way or the other. I won't encourage someone to go, because that is what led to my difficulties. But, I won't tell someone that they shouldn't go either, since I know that there are many who have had good experiences and loved their mission. I simply support someone in whatever their decision is, and encourage them to be sure they are doing something because it is what they want to do, and not what other's want for them.
Thank you for your response.

When I arrived in my mission, I was sort of a rising star. My first mission president and I got along great. He would call me a couple of times a month just to talk and I was quickly made a district leader under him. My second mission president and I did not get along very well; until much after both of us were released and he became a general authority. Part of the problem is that I very much disliked being a mission leader (Actually I do not like being a leader of anything anymore than I enjoy being told what I must do).

I saved and paid for my mission, and I did not like spending my time (and saved money) dealing with other missionaries. I thought I was called to teach non-members. When I was asked how many missionaries served in my mission – I would answer, “About half of them.” I did not dislike those having difficulty – I just did not want to spend my time with them. As my own sons became of age – I encouraged then to prepare but to go must be 100% their decision. One son chose not to serve a mission – to this day he says it is because I did not tell him to. It is odd that he is the most active in the church of my sons.

I do not think that much on if someone was a missionary or not. I also try to help anyone that indicates to me that they want help. I do not know how to deal with someone that accepts a calling – or any position (church or otherwise), then says nothing, does not seek help to complete a task or puts minimal effort into what they should be or said they would be doing. My wife can motivate people – but I do not motivate very well. I will never be a bishop and it does not bother me at all. I am impressed with those that can comfort at such times. My wife tells me that I need better filters.

I am grateful for those like yourself that can connect and have true sympathy with struggling missionaries – or others. Sometimes I feel like the odd one out at church. I do not understand why those that struggle - do not connect. I had a friend that said that they were in a ward that was hard to make friends – I suggested that he tell everyone that he was going inactive so that he would be fellowshipped and befriended. I think I am more of a problem at church than you.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by SilentDawning »

catlady wrote: 05 Nov 2022, 18:26 Two weeks ago on Monday our grandson who was serving a mission in Arkansas decided to take half a bottle of Tylenol and ended up in the hospital under suicide watch. His parents were notified and they flew out the next day. He had been out for about 7 months and this all came out of nowhere. Every email and weekly phone call was totally positive and he was always happy. He was very well prepared for his mission and it was completely his decision to go. But apparently he was stuffing emotionally and didn't know that it was o.k. to say something about it. Nobody saw this coming not even the mission president. We were all waiting for his email to come that day when my son in law got the phone call from the mission president. We were all in shock. Now, 12 days later my grandson is back home. He's been cleared medically and will continue therapy sessions. I really don't know where I'm going with this post..I just wanted to tell someone. Family members are very supportive and I hope friends and ward members will be also. Fortunately there is a lot less stigma attached to mental health issues than there used to be but it is still a hard thing to go through.
@Catlady -- has it been established what caused him to take the 1/2 bottle of tylenol? If so, is it something you feel you can share? I am very interested in knowing what the cause might have been, particularly since all indications were that he was happy.

When I was on my mission, my biggest problem was lack of self-esteem. I took challenges to my leadership really hard, and personally as if it was all my fault. I suffered from personalization, taking everything as an afront to me personally. Counseling helped me see that it was due to problems with other people and that conflict when in leadership is inevitable.
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catlady
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by catlady »

SilentDawning wrote: 14 Dec 2022, 11:13 @Catlady -- has it been established what caused him to take the 1/2 bottle of tylenol? If so, is it something you feel you can share? I am very interested in knowing what the cause might have been, particularly since all indications were that he was happy.

When I was on my mission, my biggest problem was lack of self-esteem. I took challenges to my leadership really hard, and personally as if it was all my fault. I suffered from personalization, taking everything as an afront to me personally. Counseling helped me see that it was due to problems with other people and that conflict when in leadership is inevitable.
As far as I know my grandson was suffering from depression/anxiety. I know this is a vague answer and I'm not sure what triggered the tylenol episode. I do know that his 2nd transfer was to a very small town in Arkansas (3,000 population) and it was difficult to find people to talk to and P days were boring to say the least. It was opposite of his first area (Memphis, Tennessee) where there was always lots going on and he could go the the church meeting house every P day and play basketball with other missionaries. In the 2nd area there was just a small branch and no place to play ball. Plus the the only other missionaries there were sister missionaries. As I mentioned before he didn't think that it was o.k. to talk about his emotional struggles. My grandson got along o.k. with his companion even though they had nothing in common and he didn't have problems with church stuff (as far as I know). Since coming home he's been attending counseling sessions and is in a good place now.

Thank you all for your comments and your concern.
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Re: Early release from mission

Post by Old-Timer »

I am very glad to hear he is doing well.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
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