Comments about ‘Many Mormon missionaries who return home early feel some failure’

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LDS missionaries developing strategies to cope with stress

Published: Friday, Dec. 6 2013 8:25 p.m. MST

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Glendale, AZ

Very nice article. Very informative. I loved how it ended and was so happy for Bro. Ulrich.

west jordan, UT

Once as a missionary I was going through a challenging time. I prayed about whether or not I should go see a doctor or a psychologist. I got the following response:

No! Do not go to doctor or psychologist about this. You need to accept yourself the way you are because I do. Quit comparing yourself with others. I don't care how good you are at anything, only that you do your best. No, I will not immediately remove this challenge from you. Have patience and perserverance. More answers will come later.

Spanish fork, UT

I think there are many mission's that are not proselyting mission's

I have many learning disabilities and was not abele to drive or ride a bike how ever I served a
mission In North Carolina.

I can see very many issues that serving a mission can Couse.

I think some times we pre judge missionaries who come home early ?

As others have perversely stated

Sister B
Mesa, AZ

I really appreciated this article and can definitely relate. Thirty years ago I returned early from my mission after serving only only 6 months. Mental health was the reason and it took several months of treatment before I was functioning again. I of course felt like a failure and struggled with feelings of guilt. As the article stated, I felt compiled to plow through & finish college since I hadn't "finished" my mission. Even though my family and leaders counciled me to wait until I was more healthy, I pushed on, and struggled, then failed one of my semesters. I retook the classes and finally graduated.

On another note, I was one of the fortunate ones who was welcomed home early by friendly ward members and church leaders. They were great in helping me find a place (calling) in the ward and providing other ways for me to serve.


My my, we sure have a lot of " arc steadiers" here. I'm always amazed at how many people want to council the brethren on how to run the Lords church.

Salt Lake City, UT

Is it easier for a prospective missionary to decide not to go on a mission or go on a mission and come home early? Unfortunately, the stigma remains for those that do not serve or come home early---"what did he/she do"? Being the father of two boys, one already eligible to serve, but still in high school I often ask myself why did I go? I went in the 80's and I feared more the disappointment of others thinking of "why didn't he go" than for my own purpose. With that said, I hope my boys are strong enough to decide what is good for themselves and not others. Go if you want, don't go for others.

slc, UT

Being a sister missionary that returned home very shortly after leaving, I can testify to how immensly hard it is to coming home early... It was quite possibly the hardest thing in my life, and somehting I think about daily, whether I could have done better, done something differently, of if I did something wrong which lead to my outcome... A lot of the time I think about those questions, neverending and never come up with a real answer... It feels devastating when others talk about there missions and when I think of mine, I feel a little bit left out... I do not want to share, I do not want to think of that time, I have no desire to go to reunions, it honestly was the hardest part of my life, that I never want to relive, as selfish as that sounds...Not many people understand this experience unless they themselves have gone through it.

Ann Blake Tracy
Logandale, NV

RE: andyjaggy

You quoted me: "...when it even led to followup articles titled "When God is Not Enough!"? And I have been suffering the delusion my whole life that God is always enough! Silly me! Instead we apparently need antidepressant drugs which prevent us from feeling the Spirit, rob us of our souls, then lower the level of consciousness leaving our bodies to exist in a Zombie state until death comes!..."

Then you asked: "Do you believe that God is enough that you never need to go to the doctor for illness?"

I have not seen a doctor since I left the hospital dying of cancer 40 years ago. Yes I do believe prayer, priesthood, temple blessings, and laws of health can move mountains and even change DNA - they have worked wonders for me!

"...people often forget [depression] is a physical disease just as much as a broken bone."

Yes, I wrote a 500 page book about depression being a physical illness, usually hypoglycemia or thyroid malfunction. Tragically both are side effects of antidepressants! No wonder research now indicates antidepressants cause long term depression! Forget the low serotonin = depression. Instead it is low serotonin metabolism = depression. Terrible Mistake! Huge Difference!

Logan, UT

I served a mission, however, I wish I would have stayed home and continued with college. I didn't want to go in the first place but ended up going because of extreme family pressure. I developed a depression as a missionary and it carried over when my mission ended. It got to the point where I attempted suicide about 18 months after my mission. I'm doing well now though. I'm happy, active in the church, hold a calling and have great ambitions in life. I don't believe missions are for everybody and strongly object the idea of pressuring someone to go. I was an obedient missionary and held leadership and training callings throughout. The mission just did more harm for me personally than good.

South Jordan, Utah

So many happy and sad comments here. I served a mission in Korea, where it was very difficult at times. I didn't realize how much so, until after I came home. I had two companions and a District Leader who were cracking up and I was sent to babysit, somewhat. Pretty sure they would have come home with the guidelines of today. I definitely saw first-hand the reality of people who were mentally unstable/stressed out. It is a real thing--they were hard workers, but didn't know how to cope for different reasons, with very little compassion or understanding from a native mission president who was just doing the best he knew how. A mission is not a place to gain a testimony (as it was when I was out)--it is physically and emotionally taxing; along with our additional understanding/knowledge of various conditions. Such a fine line between a kid who has been coddled his entire life vs someone with a legitimate illness. I would never presume to know the difference. Pretty sure our job is to welcome, love and support all and let the Savior and the professionals do the rest!

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

When I struggled and even "hated" my mission,
I remeber chalking the days in my mission journal.

I felt like I was in "prison", marking the time.

Then - one day in my reading --
I found comfort by the words of the great missionary Paul, the Apostle...

Are we not prisoners in Christ?

It changed EVERYTHING,
because I felt like Paul was writing the very same same thing in HIS mission journal.

The miracle was that was the key that I needed that unlocked my heart, and changed my whole attitude.


Missions are challenging, demanding, and relentless. Missions are a blessing because they prepare for college, marriage, family, and professional preparation. A mission is a way to help a young person adapt to what life is about. God made this mortal probation tough. It was meant to try us to our very limits and give us intense and purifying experiences. It was meant to help us use our agency to come to God. A mission isn't for everyone but if you want to have an experience that helps set a positive pattern for the rest of your life, a mission has few comparable peers in helping a young person. Mental toughness and endurance are key characteristics that come from knowing one has been through tough times and has kept it together. We aren't born with that kind of toughness. We have to live and prove it to ourselves that with the Lord's help we can do anything. We can't shelter kids any more. Today's world isn't easy. The pressure is getting turned up. What if we have another great depression or world war? Who will fall apart? Who will survive?

Salt Lake City, UT

If you don't understand "anxiety" and "depression", just keep your opinions to yourself on the subject and count your blessed stars. It's real, mostly genetic, treatable but, at the time, devastatingly difficult. Some of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and successful people in this world have struggled publically and privately with these illnesses.

The next generation of Mormons are going to deal with this issue better than previous ones. The whole notion that the Gospel is "doing more, never saying 'no' to an assignment, perfection in this life,sin is always shame, life is always black and white, obedience only saves me, there is only one way to live a life" is slowly giving way to more "awareness, compassion (including self-compassion), saved by grace after all I can do, and mortality is not a constant emergency" way of doing things.

Provo, UT

Missionary schedule is terrible.

Harwich, MA

I spent 20 months of my missionary experience in a leadership position. Including 8 months in the Mission Home.
You cannot imagine when you watch 165+ elders from the vantage part I had what problems they deal with. If I went into detail I couldn't get it past the editors.
Needless to say, a mission sometimes, for some young men isn't what it's cracked up to be.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

I sometimes wonder if all the coddling and "positive re-enforcement" these kids have grown up with:

No child left behind,
My little Johnny wouldn't do that,
bribes of "I'll buy you a car when you get home"...

Along with the lies that it's not "them",
that everything bad in life is due to some "chemical imbalance",
and not as a learning or growing experience...

sets these kids up for unreal expectations.

And NO,
We are not a bunch of cookie-cutter Mormons.
not everyone is cut-out to be a Missionary,
and not everyone is cut-out to be a prociliting Missionary.

The church used to send "Missionaries" out to settle towns, go to medical schools, and even grow silk worms.

Potsdam, 00

@ defender TWIN FALLS, ID "My my, we sure have a lot of " arc steadiers" here. I'm always amazed at how many people want to council the brethren on how to run the Lords church."

If you noticed to evolve into more complex understanding, we must have time to exchange opinion. How would Moses have loved it, after coming down from mountain high having talked to the Lord, that his people would have had interest in the plates and pondered about their meanings.
The Brethren too have to study things before they can ask the Lord, see DC 9.

If we could cut out the flow of thoughts about this gospel, we would deny our faith, that is to rely on our gifts to develope devine understanding and meaning. We would be left in the dark. You misunderstood Alma 32.

If I could help missionaries to understand that blind work on their missions is just 1/2 half of the deal. To reach out to people, you must come to understand people.
That all requires deep thinking and communications with others.We are seeking truth, not to tell them how to run anything. Understanding people takes out all stress.


Often I agree with your comments, but you're inserting strawmen here.

Unreal expectations?
Such as: "it was the best 2 yrs of my life,"
Without EVER discussing the reality of the mental, spiritual, emotional and physical trials and tribulations. Or, the fact that despite the many church meetings and lessons you've sat through where someone spoke of a miraculous event, (everything from finding a lost diamond ring to being cured of cancer) reading the scriptures, following the commandments and constant daily prayer may not cure/fix/alleviate your suffering.

Insert straw-man arguments.
What does "no child left behind" have to do with missionary work?
Who says or is teaching that "everything bad in life is due to some "chemical imbalance?" or that those who suffer from chemical imbalances don't have to learn and grow?

I would agree if anyone is "bribing" their son/daughter with a car in order to get them to go on a mission that is seriously screwed-up.

A majority of missionaries come from UT and ID. Is coddling a common problem in these states?

Provo, UT

While serving in Switzerland, I had a companion who was just miserable. He was so homesick and unhappy. I did all I could do to help him see the good in everyone and everything. It was exhausting. I loved him dearly but he eventually decided to go home. It was a good decision for him. I am not one who thinks all young men should serve. It truly needs to be an honest desire and it makes life so much better for companionships if both are fully engaged. He wrote me later thanking me for being so good to him and then stated that he regretted going home.

Salt Lake valley, UT

@Truthseeker2 "A majority of missionaries come from UT and ID. Is coddling a common problem in these states?"

I think that any boy or girl who goes on a mission without wanting to go is being coddled. No missionary should go unless he or she really wants to go. If the person doesn't want to go, the family, ward, or other social groups should do what they can to help him gain a desire to go. I think that bribing and social pressures are not the way to have this influence.

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