Everyone Needs Help Sometimes

When I came home from my mission, I was visited by a sweet family in my ward. They talked to me and let me know that I was loved and supported. Then, they went out of their way and gave me several books, one of them called "The Writer's Devotional" by Amy Peters. They knew that I love to write and use it as an outlet. I was flipping through this book today looking at the different writing prompts it offers. One of them is: Everyone needs help sometime... This prompt in particular struck a chord with me. Why? Because it is a known fact that is often never admitted to.

People don't like asking for help. For some reason, asking for help has become associated with weakness. Admitting weakness is intolerable in the society that we live in. We make sure to always put on a good face. We slap filter after filter on our pictures, trying to make ourselves look unrealistically good. When someone asks how we are, without thinking we reply "Good!" We live in constant fear of others finding out that we aren't actually perfect. (gasp)

To me, when we don't admit weakness, we are implying that we don't need help from God. Okay, that's a bit extreme, but think about it. If we are perfect and lead perfect lives, why in the world would we need help from God? Pretending to be perfect is a form of pride. We are supposed to have weaknesses and trials because these help us learn that we need God, and that we can't trust entirely in ourselves.

Ether 12:27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Everyone needs help sometime. Everyone falls short. Everyone has bad days. Because we live in such a self-centered, perfectionistic world, weaknesses like depression and other mental illnesses aren't accepted. They are looked down upon, misunderstood, and mocked. I wish that we lived in a world that instead of glorifying fake perfection, glorified those who fall down and get back up again. Maybe then we would be less likely to turn our nose up at the weaknesses of others and beat ourselves up for our own shortcomings. Everyone needs help sometime, and that's okay.


Q&A (part 2)

[Before I start ANY of these Q&A posts, I need to make a quick disclaimer. I am in no way a professional. I don't have a degree in anything, nor am I qualified to make a diagnosis, etc. The way I'm going to answer these questions is based purely on opinion and personal experience. Please don't take my opinion to be an absolute answer. Take it as a suggestion.]

Q: How can you tell if someone REALLY came home for a legit mental illness, or if they are just using it as an excuse?

A: This is a tough one for me to answer. With mental illnesses, it is really hard to see the physical manifestations of the illness. With a broken arm, you can see the cast. After a surgery, you can see the stitches. With mental illness, often the people who suffer with it become very good at hiding their symptoms. I guess my answer to this question is: It doesn't matter. If any missionary came home early, whether for a legitimate mental illness or not, they just need love and help. In my opinion, it doesn't matter why a missionary came home. They need love, help, and support. So when you meet an early return missionary, give them the benefit of the doubt. Support them and love them. You have no clue the kind of difference you can make if you choose to love them.

Q: How do I explain my own mental illness to those I care about so they'll have a better understanding? My family is great, but I'm more concerned about new relationships or future relationships (such as a future spouse). It has been a problem in relationships before, and some of the time due to the general public's misunderstanding of mental illness and their ability to deal with someone who suffers from it.

A: I've worried about this too. I, too, have had problems when it comes to relationships and my depression. Someone who doesn't struggle with a mental illness will never be able to fully understand what it feels like. That can cause problems when a person who struggles with a mental illness turns to a loved one for empathy and support. Honestly, I don't think there is one good answer for this question. Every relationship is different, but what works for me is being upfront and honest with my significant other about my issues. Every guy who has dated me would probably say the same thing: It's a challenge. Dating me is a challenge. But every relationship has challenges, and the ones that work are the relationships that include effort.

As far as explaining mental illness goes, I like approaching it a few different ways. I usually start out with the scientific facts, for example, "Mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain." I do my research and try to explain what I understand of that research. After a logical approach, I just explain what it feels like and how I cope with it. It's up to you, though. Try different approaches, see what works best.

Q: How do I help others see that not all early returned missionaries and late leaving missionaries are due to testimony/worthiness?

A: I don't know if anyone can make anyone see this fact. We all need to learn how to not judge and condemn people so quickly. Even if a missionary came home early or left late because of worthiness or testimony, is it up to us to condemn them? When the woman accused of adultery was brought before Christ, he didn't condemn her but urged her to "sin no more." He showed love and compassion...can't we do the same? Anytime a missionary struggles, we should do our best as followers of Christ to support them and love them, no matter what.

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