I’m getting vulnerable today, you guys, and sharing a letter I wrote to my mission self. As I was reading though my journals from my early days battling mental illness, I felt so sad for that girl. I wanted to reach out and hug her and tell her everything is going to be okay. That’s what I want to do for anyone who is new to this battle. If you are a missionary or mother or student or whatever who is just beginning experiencing mental illness, this is for you. I am with you.

Dear Kearis,

I know you have read a ton of blog posts with “Things I wish I would have known before my mission…” Well, this is a letter for you with things you need to know, things I wish I would have known.

You are so strong, my friend. You have fought through many hard battles. Don’t think about comparing those battles to others’- your trials are given to you because they are difficult for you. They have helped you grow. You have never given up.

You are going to experience the hardest trial of your life on your mission- anxiety and depression. You will develop empathy for others who battle it and feel guilty for the times you thought it might be kinda made up. It will hit you hard, my dear. I don’t know why, but God does. You will survive it.

Please, please be kind to yourself. Practice speaking kindly and compassionately to yourself. Focus on self-care. I know it seems like forgetting yourself and focusing on others is the best thing, but God doesn’t expect that of you. It’s like someone with a broken leg deciding to jump up and help someone move so that he will be healed. It doesn’t work like that. You are going to have to accept that only YOU can take care of YOU.

You will often feel that you are on the fringes of missionary society. You will feel broken, disobedient, and unsuccessful. Dear girl, please remember that that is not how God sees you. He sees you as a warrior and loves you for your intense desire to do good. Please try to love yourself. Others will not understand because they have never passed through this particular trial- you and the Savior are the only ones who understand what you are battling. Let Him guide you in making wise choices for yourself.

I don’t regret not coming home sooner, but you would save yourself a ton of pain and suffering if you be brave and choose to go home. But if you choose to stay on your mission, you will continue learning and making lifelong friends. Sometimes you just have to choose something and go with it, then God will make it happen if it is right.

Kearis, you are so full of goodness. Your desire to serve others and God is incredible. There aren’t many people with as good and pure a heart as yours. Remember the good things you have done and remember that your worth is not dependent on what you do, it is simply there because of whose you are. He loves you. He is merciful and full of grace. He gave you this trial so he won’t punish or condemn you for doing what you need to do to care for yourself. Keep fighting, there are incredible blessings and joys ahead. You can do this.

Love, Kearis

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