Emilie Neu - Louisiana, Baton Rouge Mission (Spanish Speaking), Depression and Anxiety

" ...my relationship with my Heavenly Father is the strongest it has ever been...I am now a Young Church Service Missionary at the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City. I have the amazing opportunity to work with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on their media team... I have learned so much from them and have grown so much because of their examples and the light that shines in them."

 Emilie (left), with Sister (Blank) at the Mexico MTC

Emilie (left), with Sister (Blank) at the Mexico MTC

My name is Emilie Neu. I was called to serve in the Louisiana, Baton Rouge Mission Spanish speaking. I entered the Mexico CCM (MTC) on Sept 20, 2016. I was so excited! I am the baby of my family and the last one to go on a mission.

When I got to the CCM, I found out that my companion was the girl that I had sat by on the plane, and we were going to the same mission. We got along so well! We loved playing volleyball and talking and we had an awesome time together.

About a week into the CCM I was called in to have a meeting with the counselor there. In my mission papers I had marked that I had faced some depression and anxiety issues in the past and this meeting was going to be a little check up to see how things were going. I had never thought that my depression was that bad. However, the counselor thought otherwise. After seeing a few scars and hearing about some things I did, he decided it would be best to put me on Prozac. So he did. They upped my dose each week and I was doing pretty well.

This continued until one day, when I just felt awful and gross. I was dizzy, nauseous and didn't want to do anything. I went back to the doc and he found that I had contracted an intestine infection. So he gave me some meds and told me that I should feel better in a couple of days. A couple of days went by and I felt the exact same. So I went back and after a couple visits to a lab they figured that I was having a bad reaction to the Prozac. They decided that I should go off it.

 Emilie (far right), with her District at the Mexico MTC

Emilie (far right), with her District at the Mexico MTC

If you've ever been on Prozac and were told to go off, you’d probably know that you’re supposed to ween yourself off. I didn't know that and they didn't give me that piece of information,  so I just cold-turkeyed it. Not a good idea. Instead of just feeling gross I became dangerous to myself. I was scared and I didn't like it.

I went back to my counselor and told him what was happening. He told me that I had to go home to figure this out. There was no option for me. There was no “You can try and see if it gets better over time”. It was a "You're done. You're going home."  I was devastated. I hadn't even reached the field and was already being sent home. How could this happen? A couple months before that, Heavenly Father had given me a very specific prompting that I needed to go on my mission. So I followed through and this is what happened?   

I found out that I was leaving on a Monday and I left the next day. I had one hour to pack everything and say goodbye to my district. That was probably the hardest part. We had become such good friends and I loved them dearly. My companion and the 2 other hermanas from my district helped me pack and we spent the last hour talking and crying. When it finally came time for me to leave I had to get into a van, by myself, without my companion, and with a driver who didn't speak English. As I drove away, I looked out the back window and watched as my companion got smaller and smaller until we rounded a corner and she disappeared altogether. I sobbed all the way to the airport.

When I got home, I hated myself. I felt like I had let my family down and I had let my Heavenly Father down. I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't good enough. But I kept telling myself and others around me that Heavenly Father had a plan and that I trusted what He was doing. At first I didn't  believe it. It was just something I said so people wouldn't pity me. I love my family and all, but they didn't understand what I felt, and they had no idea how to help me or take care of me. For months, they walked on eggshells around me. They were scared that if they said or did something wrong I would fall apart. It felt like I would never get out of this hole that I was in. I so desperately wanted to get out and be myself again.

After a couple of months, I got an email from one of the Elders in my district and found out that he had just come home. I was heartbroken. He was such a strong missionary and I knew he was going to help so many people out in the field. From that day, we started talking and checking up on each other. For once, I felt like I wasn't alone. As sad as I was that he was home, I was happy to have someone who felt a little like me.

Now, it has been a year and a month since I came home. I'm not perfect and I still feel ashamed when talking to people about my experience, but I am happier and I actually hang out with people now. Most importantly, my relationship with my Heavenly Father is the strongest it has ever been. It has been a very painful and long road but I see now a little of what He had planned for me. I am now a Young Church Service Missionary at the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City. I have the amazing opportunity to work with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on their media team. The people I have met there are so unique. They are kind, loving and accepting of everyone and their faults. They don't judge you, they don't care if you came home from a mission early or if you were excused from one for whatever reason. They just love you for being you. I have learned so much from them and have grown so much because of their examples and the light that shines in them.

 Emilie (right) serving as a Young Church Service Missionary at the Church Office Building

Emilie (right) serving as a Young Church Service Missionary at the Church Office Building

This road isn't an easy one to go down. Being an early returned missionary is a badge that I hope not too many people have to put on. But if they do, they can still become some of the strongest people. We could take this experience and treat it as a curse and let it drag us down, or we could turn in into a blessing and use our experience to help others. I'm still working on opening up about my experience but the more that I have shared with people the more comfortable I feel about sharing it. I want to help people who go through this experience so they don't have to feel like I did. I don't want you to feel alone, or worthless, or not good enough. Because none of those are true. You are NEVER alone. You ARE worth everything and you ARE good enough. I promise that Heavenly Father has something amazing planned for you in the future. He loves you so much and so do I. I've never met you, but if you're reading this, that means that you've been through something hard or know someone who has. You are not alone. Reach out. Ask for help. People love you and want to help.

 Emilie (far left) serving as a Young Church Service Missionary at the Church Office Building

Emilie (far left) serving as a Young Church Service Missionary at the Church Office Building

I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of us. If we surrender ourselves to His will, we’ll become the best we can be and we’ll be able to help those we come in contact with. If something doesn't go the way we planned, trust that God has something even more amazing in store. I love this gospel. I love my Savior and Redeemer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.