The following is a letter from my good friend Kristan Whitney. Kristan was called to serve in the Marshall Islands mission and was given an honorable medical release before her expected eighteen months were up. I asked her to share her thoughts about her experience and what she would like others to know about life as an early-returned missionary. Here is what she said…
Before my mission I was aware that there was a stigma, however slight or prominent it may be, for missionaries that returned earlier than the expected time frame. I didn’t give it much thought. Despite knowing a few people who had returned from their missions early, it was never something I expected to happen to me. I was prepared. I knew what to expect and how to cope…or so I thought.
It was happening before I knew it. Only days after leaving the MTC and coming to my new area I was struck with an overwhelming depression. I thought it was homesickness. I had been told that this was normal for every missionary during the first month or so. But mine didn’t go away with time, and it steadily grew worse. Later I would be diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression. After my therapist could see I wasn’t making progress, he and my mission president decided it was time for me to go home. I had served for seven months.
Austin Wrathall is the writer of the weekly blog Provo Mormon Dude, which examines life in Utah Mormon culture. Austin was born and raised in West Jordan, Utah and is currently attending BYU pursuing a degree in Social Science Teaching. Besides writing, Austin’s favorite pastimes include swimming, playing Angry Birds, and doing anything that involves Star Wars.