Wednesday, August 5, 2009
A few years ago, while on my mission, something in my heart started to change. I felt dead inside. I came home, and tried to be the person I thought I was supposed to be. But I continued to feel unhappy and lost and apathetic, and less and less desire to be around other people.
After a particularly confusing and emotional week recently, I went on a bike ride and ended up stopping at [my aunt and uncle's] house. I started to cry as soon as [my uncle] invited me in. I hadn't really intended to go there, but there I was, and I felt maybe he could help. We talked about several things, and I finally asked him about the history of mental illness in our family. I felt comforted after talking with him, that maybe there was more to my experience than just over-indulging in self-pity.
Two days later, I met with a therapist at the University of Utah. This was something I'd wanted to do for a while (and had talked to [my social worker cousin] about two years ago), but never felt I really deserved or could afford. Fortunately, it is much more affordable for university students. Anyway, the intake counselor and my assigned therapist both said that my symptoms indicate depression. That seems unreal, or exaggerated. Part of me still thinks I am just making this into a bigger deal than it is. But I know, if only because of my shizophrenic missionary companion, that mental illness is real. I know I want help. And my counselor has been so compassionate and supportive.
It's only been a month or so, but the weekly sessions are a highlight of my week. It has been such a relief to talk about the things I feel without fear of judgment or criticism. As a result, I have felt more desire to be open with you about my decision not to attend church.
I understand that this will be disappointing to you. That is hard for me to swallow, because I don't want to be a disappointment. But I hope you will try to understand that I am still me, and I still have good desires, and I think I am a good person.
I am not angry with God. I feel he has continually supported me and blessed me and comforted me and guided me and given me great opportunities to learn and grow. I don't feel that he is punishing me. As I walked out after my first visit with a counselor, all I could do was offer up my gratitude and marvel that he would help me.
I still believe many of the same things. I want to live a clean, moral life. I want to love my brothers and sisters. I want to do good and be better.
But right now, when I go to church, I do not feel good feelings. I don't like many of the people there, I don't agree with the things they say, and I don't like how I feel when I'm around them. I know exactly what you're thinking when I tell you this. I know what you want to ask me to do. You think I should be humble. I'm sorry. I am choosing another path right now.
You probably don't want me to feel pain or lose the blessings of membership in God's kingdom. I am asking you to let me choose. Please, let me choose for myself.
I love each of you and hope you will understand.