This blog is kept and updated by the parents of Elder Gardner to share his mission experiences as he teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Spanish to the people in South Carolina. The blog covers the period of time before Elder Gardner's mission as he prepares to serve and follows him throughout his mission until his return home to Arizona.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Timeout

When a football player gets hurt or injured, they don't really show it. The coaches can tell, and the doctors can definitely tell. He wants to stay in the game. He wants to help his team. But it gets to a point where he is just too hurt. The coaches and doctors have to pull him out of the game. He has to sit out and watch his team for a few games and maybe the season. It just kills that football player because he put so much work and tears and heart into the game, and to have it taken away from him just kills him. But the football player doesn't know best, the doctor does.

So here I sit, writing this letter... At my house. I had a doctors appointment on Monday, about my depression...  They had me take a "depression test" and my scores didn't end up too good. Actually, they were the highest they had ever seen. Usually, a normal missionary/college student would score around 45-55, the lower the number, the less depressed/stressed, and the higher number, the more depressed/stressed. They said that they start to get really worried if your score is over 80, and they get severely worried if it's over 100. My score was 140... After they had received that score, they told me that I had a flight to go home and that I needed to go home to heal. It's like a sickness, and I can't control it. 

Going into the MTC, I was very excited. I wanted to get started on my new adventure and I was ready to learn. But after that first night, I started to become homesick. I had never really been away from home before then, and my family had become very close because of my diagnosis, and it was very hard for me to not be able to talk to them or see them. I knew that homesickness was normal, and I knew that I would get over it, and I did. But I think that the homesickness may have triggered my depression. After about a week and a half, I was able to think of my family and not get down or sad. But I was still feeling sad. I was still feeling gloomy and depressed. It was really hard for me to feel that way, because no one else around me was sad. Everyone was upbeat and excited. I didn't want to be the odd one out, so I just put on a fake smile and went about my way. But that can only last for so long.

I talked to everyone, literally everyone, about how to overcome these kind of challenges. I asked the workers in the gym, I asked the people in the cafeteria, I asked all of my teachers, and more. The answers were all the same... "You need to get lost in the work. You have to forget yourself". I worked harder than ever. I didn't waste a single moment, and I spent hours on my knees. I gave myself to the Lord. I read my scriptures. I went to bed at 10:30, and woke up at 6:30. I planned. I did companionship study, and I wasted no time. I tried to lose myself in the work. I tried to forget myself. But nothing was working, and I had no one to talk to. Everyone in the MTC and my zone that I would talk to had no idea what to tell me. I was just sad. I tried to be happy around people, but once I turned my back, I would just start to cry. I couldn't talk to anyone in my district, and I couldn't talk to my family. I tried to talk to Heavenly Father, but I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. No one, it seemed, could help me. 

The last week in the MTC, I was getting nervous and scared. I was scared for the field, because I knew that I would not be able to fulfill my purpose out there. Not because I wasn't prepared spiritually or physically, but because I couldn't control myself mentally. I didn't even think that I was depressed, I just thought that I was different from the others. I thought that I was just weak. This only made it worse. I felt like I was drowning, and no one was stretching out a hand. No one even knew that I was under the water. No one could hear me. (I'm trying my best to describe kind of what I was feeling, but words can't really describe it). I had fasted and prayed for just a little bit of comfort, just a little bit of hope to know that things would be okay. I never received an answer.

Being home has been hard. It's hard for me, because I know that my little brother and his friends all look up to me, and I tried my best to be such a good example to them. I don't want them to think that I'm a failure, or that I quit. This is just something that I couldn't handle. I tried my very best, I want you to know that. I left it all out there. I went for as long as I could. It kills me to even have to write you this letter.

The good news is that it's not a moral thing. I'm not home because I'm unworthy or because I don't want to serve a mission. I'm just home because I'm injured right now, I have to be taken out of the game. They told me at least 3-6 months. I don't know what the plan is right now, I'm just kinda lost. Really sad. I tried my best to hide my emotions in the MTC and to not show that I was just struggling. It really was the hardest emotional time in my life. I've gone through the whole cancer thing, and that didn't even come close to how depressed I was in the MTC. I don't know why I was so sad. I know it wasn't just homesickness, because if it was, I would feel just fine right now. I'm at home and I just feel the same... So I know it's a real issue. They have me on medication now, and I'm going to stay home for a few weeks until it kicks in. The plan right now, is for me to move down to the valley after I stabilize, and get a job while I do my counseling down there. But that's good, it's a good first step. I will be away from home, I need to learn how to do that. I will also be healing and working. 

I sure hope that you guys won't get disappointed when you read this. That's my biggest fear coming home. I don't want people to get the wrong idea, and be discouraged. You know how much I wanted to serve a mission and how excited I was. I'm just distraught right now. I have been released, but I still act like a missionary. I hope you guys aren't disappointed in me, I really did try my best. I went for as long as I could. They asked me how I was even sane with scores like that. They didn't know how I could even function. It was hard to focus, I'll tell you that much. It was hard to be the only one sad and depressed like that. But I tried my best. I did my best and I went for as long as I could. I just couldn't go out into the field like that. I would not have been able to fulfill my purpose. Just know that this is something that I could not control, or that I did not have a say in. It's just an illness and I have to get better. I hope you understand.