Subject:

LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 12, 2006

Author:

Peter Priesthood


I'm curious, who else among you who served full-time missions experienced mild to severe depression after you returned home from your mission? I experienced full-blown severe depression about three months after my mission due to cognitive dissonance and because I was beginning to sort out the Mormon issues one by one. Then there were several family crises which further worsened my severe depression and my depression became so bad that I had to check myself into a clinic six months after my mission. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and I have been taking anti-depressants since. I have a few more months more to go on my medications, and my day-to-day mood has improved since I stumbled upon exmormon.org more than a year after I returned home from that darn mission.

 

Subject:

depression and prostate problems

Date:

Sep 12 07:10

Author:

lightfingerlouie


I did, and got help for it. It was hard going for a few months.

I also had extremely painful prostate problems, due to the fact I did not relieve seminal pressures as a missionary. The price I paid was very painful and expensive .

The urologist told me I should masturbate, and masturbate regularly. It made me more depressed, and I talked to the psychologist about my dilemma. The psychologist, a BYU employee and church leader, demanded to know the name of the urologist who had given me the admonition (love that word) to relieve my seminal pressures. I would not tell him. He told me "We have ways of dealing with doctors like him."

What a world to come home to. Depression, prostate problems, and conflicting messages. The church demanded the prostate problems continue--and they demanded the name of the urologist who wanted to help me end the painful problem . What a system.

Do any other churches operate like this? It would have been comical if it had not caused me so much physical and emotional grief.

 

Subject:

"We have ways of dealing with Dr's like that"???? What? Horses head in his bed?


Under any reading THAT is a direct threat. I do hope you passed it on to your urologist.

 

Subject:

I was depressed during and after the mission

Date:

Sep 12 09:12

Author:

anon on this


My lowest day was a pday when our district was playing volleyball at the chapel. I was too depressed to play so I was sitting on the sidewalk listlessly watching the others. A huge dump truck pulled into the area to unload some supplies. It started to back up right next to where I was sitting. I didn't move because I honestly was thinking that it might actually feel good for the enormous truck to roll over me and squeeze all the pain and misery out of me.

I lasted about 6 months after I got home before I went inactive and got into therapy with a real psychiatrist who was not LDS and didn't know anything about it. Amazingly, all the prayers for relief from my depression did not work but the therapy and leaving TSCC DID work! Very interesting.

 

 

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 12 09:21

Author:

Crathes


I did not eat for a week after I got home. On the other hand, this was from culture shock and the total and immediate change in life style. I was back to normal in less than three weeks (well, at least as normal as I ever am!).

 

Subject:

Something stinks

Date:

Sep 12 10:09

Author:

NoToJoe


I donít know why but there are a lot of people who struggle with depression or other mental issues while on the mission but are perfectly fine in normal life. I served in Argentina in the early Ď90s and personally knew 5 people who had problems way beyond depression.

It started when our group arrived and the rumor flying around the mission was about an AP who had just finished and gone home and then put a gun in his mouth and ended it all on the grounds of the Provo Temple. (I did not personally know this person but the rumor was everywhere)

Two Elders who arrived with me from the MTC spent four months suffering with extreme guilt and depression because they were not 100% totally perfect in every way. Both of these Elders were shipped off to state-side missions after spending weeks in a mental hospital in Buenos Aires.

I knew another Elder who one day just stopped talking. Not a single word to anyone about anything. After about 3 months he was shipped home.

I knew another Elder who one day just totally lost it and decided that the MP was possessed by the Devil and stormed into the MPs office and attempted to perform and exorcism while the APs had to physically restrain him. He was shipped home.

I knew a Sister who one day decided that she had been possessed by the Devil and just mentally checked out and started speaking irrationally. She was shipped home.

Never before or after the mission have I known anyone who has struggled with these kinds of problems. I can only think it is the extreme guilt combined with the mystical thinking that one is immersed in all day every day. To my way of thinking something really stinks! Why is this such a problem during the 'best' two years when you are doing the Laards verk?

 

Subject:

Re: I remember that suicide.

Date:

Sep 12 10:35

Author:

MishMagnet


I remember when that happened as I was at BYU. It was 90 or 91?? I remember reading about it in the Daily Planet but assumed it was an older guy. I'm quite certain it never said he'd just returned from a mission, just that he had been suffering from depression. Kind of a convenient fact to leave out if you ask me.

My ex-fiance was in the Buenos Aires South Mission from 89-91. He came home quite messed up. He has since also left the church.

 

Subject:

It took me about a year to adapt to normal life

Date:

Sep 12 10:44

Author:

Primus


It was hard. I felt out of sorts. Everything was just weird. My companion though from the MTC had an unrepented of sin when he went into his mission. He confessed to MTC President, who let him continue on his mission, but the guy was never the same. It got so bad he was sleeping each night in his full suit, and would tract from 8 in the morning until 9 at night. NO OTHER type of work or rest. His companions needless to say wanted to kill him. Talking to him was weird too. He acted like the most 'spiritual' guy. Everything he said sounded like it had to be some profound prophetic thing. He NEVER just let loose or slacked off. Even the HARDCORE missionaries who worked hard were afraid of being with him.

You basically didn't know if he was about to snap and go postal.

 

Subject:

My mission companion committed suicide...

Date:

Sep 12 11:55

Author:

Fallible


just a few months after returning home. We served together for a few months as ZL's. He was from California and was released sometime in '78. I tried to find out the reason why but never could.

There was another Elder in the mission (England) that was so depressed that he stayed in bed till noon every day. He would have been sent home if he was from the U.S. But he was from Wales and they wanted the local missionaries to complete their missions and go on to become local leaders.

 

Subject:

This happened to my nephew

Date:

Sep 12 12:14

Author:

NAZnevermo


He was on his mission in VA. He had a huge amount of depression. He would send letters home to his mom, my SIL, that told her how he just wanted to die. He could barely function and he too was sent home early.
When he came home he had night terrors and was medicated for quite awhile. He has since left the church and is an amazing young man now, married (not LDS) and two beautiful children... I just don't get it?!!

 

Subject:

I'm wondering.....

Date:

Sep 12 12:37

Author:

Hotwaterblue


....was it the "Mission" or "Home" that created the depression?
If the mission field isn't very friendly, i.e. hard tracting, few if any conversions, poor companionships, etc. etc. writing 'HOME' can be awful. Always not telling the truth, covering up, making things up. The problem was all at home.
Then you get home and frankly it's just as bad as it was before you left.
Disfunctional Mormon families are to blame for many things. Even a below average mission experience can be made worse by the expectations of the family.

 

Subject:

I wonder if it isn't expected?

Date:

Sep 12 13:11

Author:

AtT


I never served a mission, served my country instead so I can't relate directly to this thread. But once when I was living near Kirtland Ohio, I was pre-assigned a HT companion who was returning from a South American mission the next week.

When the EQP told me about the assignment, he cautioned me that it was likely that Elder X would be depressed and might go inactive after arriving home. He counselled me to take the lead and make sure I got Elder X immediately involved in the HT assignment. Sure enough, Elder X was depressed and he stopped coming to church within 3 months of his return. I couldn't figure it out at the time. But it does seem like the EQP had dealt with this before to have been able to predict it.

 

Subject:

my brother in law left his mission early because of severe depression. n/t

Date:

Sep 12 13:22

Author:

herswansong


 

Subject:

"The Brethren" have got to know (1 cuss word)

Date:

Sep 12 13:32

Author:

king noah


They must know how damaging these missions are to the mental states of the young missionaries. I saw a way higher percentage of depressed people than in everyday normal life. I suffered from depression while I was on the mish. The constant guilt and pressure from on high. We could never do anything like communicate with our families by phone..that didn't help the depression at all.

When I got home, I felt like a huge weight was taken off me and that I had freedom. (Imagine William Wallace saying, FREEDOM!") I immediately went inactive and felt mentally healthier because of it.
F*CKING CULT!

 

Subject:

My LDS therapist was useless...

Date:

Sep 13 02:05

Author:

Jon-D


I was so depressed by my mission that I had to go and see a therapist. My mom found an LDS therapist for me in some small town in Virginia, but he was such a TBM that he wasn't able to help me at all. I did continue to take medications, but what really relieved my depression was participating in discussion boards like RfM that dealt with Mormon issues head on instead of beating around the bush and sugar coating issues like in the mainstream Mormon Church. What ultimately healed me was coming to terms with my unhappiness in the Church and and with its doctrines and finding other like-minded people on discussion boards like this. Thanks RfM!

 

Subject:

I got in an argument with my Psychiatrist about the cause of my depression.

Date:

Sep 13 03:33

Author:

jarjeff


I got really depressed on my mission while I was stuck with a backwoods-Arkansas on-leave-from-the-US-Army IQ-of-40 companion. At the same time I got letters from both my parents telling me they were separating. Then that same month my girlfriend sent me a letter telling me that she was dating some other guy quite seriously. Needless to say bringing people to christ wasn't what was on my mind! I got to the point where I found it difficult to function. So I called the MP and said that I was very depressed. He sent me to the unofficial mission shrink. I told the guy that I was unhappy because of my situation. He told me my synapses could use a greater concentration of seratonin, and then I'd be just fine. I told him that was crap and that I was depressed because I was being forced to live in horrible conditions. Anyway, I started taking Zoloft or Paxil or something and I saw no improvement. A few weeks later when I was trying to sleep late one morning, my companion threw water on my face to try to get me to start moving. So I punched him in the side of the head. As you can imagine he didn't like that too much, but I was bigger than him so he didn't try to retaliate. I called the MP again and told him that my comp needed to be transfered or I was quitting. Pres was actually pretty good about it. He didn't even tell me I shouldn't have hit him. So over the next few days I got a new companion, my girlfriend called(!) me to tell me she was no longer dating this guy and that she was still going to wait for me. And guess what? I wasn't depressed anymore! I also didn't do a whole lot in the way of missionary work for the remaining 3 or 4 months of my mission, but that's another story.

I married my girlfriend 3 months after I got home, and my parents ended up getting divorced. I've never again suffered from depression since I got home over 6 years ago.

In retrospect a lot of my mental problems before and during my mission were caused by cognitive dissonance and the stress that comes form living a 'double' life (at least intellectually). It makes me SO mad to think back on all the ways that I was screwed up as a teenager because of my 'beliefs'.

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 13 03:37

Author:

Fedelm


My TBM ex had a friend who committed suicide shortly after getting back from his mission. From what I heard, the RM definitely had depression and was seeing a LDS "therapist."

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 13 04:32

Author:

GT


I went on my mission to escape reality, I thought that I could hide for 2 years and that meant that I wouldn't have to live on my own, or support myself. Also, I didn't believe the religion. I had read so much "anti" mormon lit that I couldn't. Well, after being there for some months, I couldn't escape all the weird stories told by all the mormons around me testifying to the truthfulness of the church, so eventually I was brainwashed into believing because I had no other way out. After I committed myself to the mission, I began taking things too seriously and actually believing in Mormonism, which is against my nature. Within a month or so of being with a super TBM hardcore missionary, I lost it and thought I was seeing angels and demons, thought I had special powers, etc.

They sent me to LDS social services but the psychiatrists there in an understated way said it was my fault for going on the mission and not believing. One even said that he would meet me at the judgment day, meaning I was going to hell. Since then, I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and spent time in a mental hospital. Now I take pills. But I still wonder if my diagnosis was based on things that happened on the mission and that could've been avoided had I not gone.

 

Subject:

Sounds like the mission pushed you over the edge.

Date:

Sep 14 17:18

Author:

KonaGold


Based on what you said happened when you "lost it", and based on your subsequent diagnosis of being bi-polar, my best guess is that you do in fact have a chemical imbalance and that you need the meds to correct that. The stress that your mission caused brought your problem to a critical point, but I also suspect that if the mission had not done that then something else later in life would have caused you a crisis. So it is really good that you were diagnosed and are now taking the meds. That should allow you to live a "normal" life (whatever that might be -- I am no expert on that topic).

 

Subject:

Re: Sounds like the mission pushed you over the edge.

Date:

Sep 15 01:11

Author:

 


It indeed sounds like the mission pushed this poster over the edge, but with all due respect, the rest of this "best guess" sounds like an insensitive speculation - which belittles the extent of the injury caused by environmental factors, blaming it on some "inherent defect" within the person (a "chemical imbalance" you alleged long-distance) which "would've happened later one way or the other".

It is *healing*, reempowerment and regaining control over one's life, not "pills" that allow one to lead normal life.

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 14 15:28

Author:

peteywheatstraw


I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one. After one month in Peru I think I had a nervous breakdown. the combined pressure of having to learn everything from the language to what I was suppose to do with all the expectations drove me over the edge. I spent three days in bed not really knowing what was wrong with me. After i finally coaxed myself out of bed I was like a zombie walking around the dirt streets.

After that little episode it was a constant struggle to do anything. the only way I could cope was finding pleasure in simple things. I would drink coke like a champ and watch a little tv here and there. Looking back on it all, breaking the rules are my fondest memories and the only time I really had any fun. After I got back I went through depression all over again. At the time that I passed through this hell I didn't even realize what depression was. In retrospect, I understand better what I was feeling and why.

Depression is still a struggle for me. How much of a role the church plays in it I don't know but it definitely has contributed to the problem.

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 14 16:06

Author:

sal


I think it was the extreme guilt that led to my mission depression.

Combine promises from leaders and the scriptures that righteousness = baptisms with the horrible conversion rate in Germany and you have a dangerous cocktail. They had me convinced that it was because I was breaking a few piddly rules or because I had not fully repented of pre-mission sins that I wasn't baptizing anyone.

I turned into robot-white-handbook-monster for a few months of perfect obedience and confessed the most ridiculous things to the president, but to no avail.

I found out the truth when I went to the mission office and was in charge of submitting the baptism forms to the area office--no-one was baptizing. The average for my mission was under one baptism per year per elder.

The field was not white and not ready to harvest. Too bad it took so long for me to figure it out.

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 15 00:31

Author:

G. Michael Pace


I was a missionary in Brazil, '64-67. Perhaps pressures then were less than now because RM clinical depression was either rare or kept hush-hush.

However, in 1989, I plummeted into clinical depression and had to be hospitalized. I was trying to meet the challenges of my patriarchal "blessing", and believed I had failed as a father, husband and Mormon. I wanted to die, and was close to suicide before I found real help outside Mormon ignorance.

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 15 01:08

Author:

sum1


I participate on a forum where there are a lot of devout mothers of LDS missionaries. I am amazed at the naivety of the moms of knowing what life is like for their missionary sons/daughters. The expectations of family, I think, could definitely be unbearable.

 

Subject:

I remember overdosing on the Prozac they prescribed me

Date:

Sep 15 01:28

Author:

Nitty


I struggled with depression all through my teenage years, and was very suicidal. This was partly because I knew how much God hated me. I really shouldn't have even gone, but the Brethren said every worthy male should go, and if I didn't God would hate me even more. So I went to Tijuana, got so suicidal that I just up and left on a bus back to the U.S. after only a week. Those months I was home were the roughest times I've ever had. Thank goodness I had a good non-LDS friend who told me I was still a good person.

I should have stayed home after that, but everybody told me to go back. I was just told what a quitter I was, and how I needed to go back out. I really wish I hadn't, but I gave in to the peer pressure and my fear of disappointing God and went back out to Riverside, California.

Of course the depression followed me and I told the Mission President I was thinking of suicide again, so he sent me to an LDS psychiatrist who gave me several different anti-depressants over a span of a couple months. I remember towards the end of my mission I was prescribed Prozac and was told to take one a day or something like that, and I remember taking like 5 or 6 one day just because I didn't care anymore.

I knew that if I went home early, my life would be a failure, and that I would live in shame the rest of my life in the LDS church. Last year when I discovered the church wasn't true, I did slowly start to become happier. Right now, I'm more stable emotionally than I've ever been in my life. Though that has been balanced by my wife (pregnant with our first child) asking for a divorce unless I pretend to keep believing in the church for the rest of my life. This is what our Bishop and LDS Family Services Marriage Counselor have recommended.

I sure wish I had never been brought up in this religion, and that is why I can't commit to pretending to believe in it for my future daughter. I guess I'd rather not see her as often and be honest with her, than be with her all the time as a deceptive father. Though I will admit this decision has been a very difficult one for me.

The church doesn't give shit about families.

 

Subject:

Re: I remember overdosing on the Prozac they prescribed me

Date:

Sep 15 05:27

Author:

GT


I'm sorry about your predicament. But with mental illness, I've found that staying out of the church is the best thing and not trying to pretend or force yourself to believe. Everytime I do, I run into the same problems again. Having to stretch your mind around all the blatant falsehoods in the church is very stressful. Plus, in my case with bipolar disorder, I seek out the very supernatural in the teachings of the church. In that, I am somewhat happier because I believe that God will provide for my needs, set me up with a wife, set me up with a good job but it's deceptive because nothing comes in this life without effort. You end up believing one day you will receive all the things you want if you are righteous, but in reality that's not the way life works. For me, I would end up twenty years from now saying where is everything the church promised me?

 

Subject:

Re: LDS Missions and Depression

Date:

Sep 15 09:45

Author:

Shadowofadoubt


I saw several examples of what I now understand must have been manifestations of extreme depression from other missionaries, both elders and sisters. And I also believe that I was more or less mildly depressed the whole time. I was already starting to doubt the MORG and that, combined with unconfessed "sins," meant that I lived in constant guilt, and the feeling that I was letting down the church, its leaders and my parents. In the latter respect, I was also pretty much working through the idea that this would be my final act of filial obedience/sacrifice (which it was, as I kind of went off the deep end shortly after my return). So in a sense, although I hated my mission I also did not want it to end because I dreaded the hurt and pain I was going to cause when the showdown about that arrived. No-one knew any of this as it was all internalized and I'm sure I seemed as happy, friendly etc. as any other mish (and it's terribly sad when I now realize that many others must have been suffering just as much if not much more than me). Also, amazingly despite the foregoing,I was a fairly dutiful missionary for the MORG, spouting the party line, working the hours etc etc. I suppose I was sufficiently brainwashed that doing anything else just didn't seem like an option at the time. So, yeah, I was pretty F'd up.

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454 Depression and Mormon Missions

 

 

 

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