JKing

My son returned home from his mission, but he hasn't been himself. Have you had this situation ?

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Hi, my oldest son returned from his mission 4 weeks ago and I think he has been sad ever since he came home. He barely celebrated Christmas with us and he has hardly left his room since being home. Whilst he was still on his mission I had a feeling that something was wrong with him, he very rarely wrote to us after the first year of him being away, and when the rule changed so he could phone us every week he emailed saying he wouldn't be doing that and he wanted to finish his mission the way he started it. I emailed him most weeks and he only emailed us 4 times in the last 6 months of his mission. Then a few weeks  before he was due to come home, he told us he had decided to extend his mission for 6 weeks. 

My husband says it is quite normal for a returned missionary to feel that way and that he felt the same. Although, I remember when my husband returned and he may have been upset without me realising it but he was nothing like the way our son is now. Do you think it is normal behavior? He hasn't even gone to church since he has been home and that isn't like him at all. If it is normal how long do you think it will last? 

Also, I am slightly concerned something happened to him on his mission. Is there someone my husband or I can talk to, so we can find out? 

P.s I am not a member but my husband is 

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That is not normal.

Feeling out of sorts is normal-- you did just move continents after all.  But not practically shunning your family and being THAT isolated.   In fact, most missionaries are required to write their families weekly.    Honestly, I would suspect a mental health issue.  

Have you asked your son what's going on?  Does he have any future plans?  

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1) When one goes from having 100% of their time used up in good work to having all their time free, it creates a void.  The available opportunities can seem unworthy (by comparison), leading one to doing nothing, which creates unhappiness while at the same time being addictive.  He needs good things to do - or even "not bad" things, so he doesn't get in the habit of emptiness and idleness.

2) If something bad did happen, he needs to feel safe before he'll be able to reveal it to you (or someone) and work through it.  You need to figure out how to help him feel safe, like he's loved and accepted no matter what.

IMO, going from mission to never attending church is indicative of a problem.  Withdrawing from family is indicative of a problem (unless said family are already dysfunctional or he feels it's not safe to open up to them).  This casts doubt on his reasons for extending his mission - was it to stay for a wrong reason?  Was it to avoid coming home to a situation that makes him uncomfortable?  Or....?

I'd say some honest and loving conversations are in order where you or his father or someone else he trusts mostly just listens.

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8 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

That is not normal.

Feeling out of sorts is normal-- you did just move continents after all.  But not practically shunning your family and being THAT isolated.   In fact, most missionaries are required to write their families weekly.    Honestly, I would suspect a mental health issue.  

Have you asked your son what's going on?  Does he have any future plans?  

He definitely didn't write to my husband and I every week. I have tried speaking to him but he wont respond to me. When I asked him why ye is spending so much time in his room he said he was tired. My husband said missions cannot exhausting but it has been 4 weeks. 

He was meant to be starting college classes from Monday but he said he wants to wait until next semester now. 

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11 minutes ago, zil said:

1) When one goes from having 100% of their time used up in good work to having all their time free, it creates a void.  The available opportunities can seem unworthy (by comparison), leading one to doing nothing, which creates unhappiness while at the same time being addictive.  He needs good things to do - or even "not bad" things, so he doesn't get in the habit of emptiness and idleness.

2) If something bad did happen, he needs to feel safe before he'll be able to reveal it to you (or someone) and work through it.  You need to figure out how to help him feel safe, like he's loved and accepted no matter what.

IMO, going from mission to never attending church is indicative of a problem.  Withdrawing from family is indicative of a problem (unless said family are already dysfunctional or he feels it's not safe to open up to them).  This casts doubt on his reasons for extending his mission - was it to stay for a wrong reason?  Was it to avoid coming home to a situation that makes him uncomfortable?  Or....?

I'd say some honest and loving conversations are in order where you or his father or someone else he trusts mostly just listens.

Do you think someone on his mission will know if something happened to him? Perhaps my husband or I could contact them 

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Just now, JKing said:

He definitely didn't write to my husband and I every week. I have tried speaking to him but he wont respond to me. When I asked him why ye is spending so much time in his room he said he was tired. My husband said missions cannot exhausting but it has been 4 weeks. 

He was meant to be starting college classes from Monday but he said he wants to wait until next semester now. 

I think you are right-something happened to him on his mission. This isn't normal. I have friends who have had kids serve missions and I don't think any of them acted this way when they came back. 

I'm so sorry @JKing . This must be heartbreaking. You are in my prayers. So is your son. 

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1 minute ago, JKing said:

He definitely didn't write to my husband and I every week. I have tried speaking to him but he wont respond to me. When I asked him why ye is spending so much time in his room he said he was tired. My husband said missions cannot exhausting but it has been 4 weeks. 

He was meant to be starting college classes from Monday but he said he wants to wait until next semester now. 

This screams of a mental health issue. 

Just now, JKing said:

Do you think someone on his mission will know if something happened to him? Perhaps my husband or I could contact them 

If you have his mission president's or recent companions contact information you can talk to them.

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45 minutes ago, JKing said:

I emailed him most weeks and he only emailed us 4 times in the last 6 months of his mission.

Q: Though very limited, how were his 4x emails toward the end of his mission? Upbeat & positive? Depressed & negative? I would imagine if you were to go back and reread those 4x emails, you may be surprised at what you might notice now.
Q: What reason did he give for extending his mission?
Q: May seem odd, but did he ever make mention of a 'special' girl OR 'extra special' family on his mission?

Edited by NeedleinA

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Just now, JKing said:

Do you think someone on his mission will know if something happened to him? Perhaps my husband or I could contact them 

I have no idea, but I don't think going behind his back is a good way to earn trust.  But @Jane_Doe and @MormonGator probably know better than I.

Honestly, I have no experience here, except, I suppose, from his point of view - I have no children, nor experience with anyone else's.  I just know that when I withdraw, delay or stop good things (like starting college or attending church), feel emotionally exhausted and just want to hide in isolation 24x7, it means I feel crappy about who and what I am or like I have nowhere to belong, and don't feel like I can trust the people from whom I am withdrawing enough to tell them the truth of what's bothering me.  You have to find a way to help him feel like he belongs, regardless of anything he did, anything anyone else did, what he thinks or says - he needs to belong, to feel safe.

And yeah, depending on the source of all this, he may need a professional to help him through it - whether that pro is a therapist of some sort or a priesthood leader probably depends on details we don't know.

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5 minutes ago, zil said:

I have no idea, but I don't think going behind his back is a good way to earn trust

While @zil raises a good point, I think in this situation, it is appropriate to ask the former mission president, or mission companions. Simply because his behavior is very concerning and might indicate something serious.

It's the same thing with checking your boyfriends phone if he's always working late, coming home with lipstick stains on his shirt, smelling of perfume, etc. I'm not trying to be funny-as a general rule i think privacy is vital to a relationship, but some circumstances make violating it acceptable or at worst, the "lesser evil". 

Edited by MormonGator

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I'lll tell you what is normal: returned missionaries hitting roadblocks in their life plans, getting anxiety over making life decisions, becoming dissapointed or fearful about their current level of spirituality/conversation. Even ceasing to go to church and becoming less active for a spell is, unfortunately, very normal.

But this, this is not. These conditions your son is exhibiting are like vomiting blood when you think all you have is the flu. These are major red flags. I hate to cry wolf, but it sounds like sexual abuse could've been involved. Either that, or he's made a major mistake that's been eating him from the inside out.

Edited by Moonbeast32

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Yes, it's normal, though on the extreme end of normal. Missionaries often feel morose and a bit lost when they come home.

Your son should not be spending his time alone in his room. If you can, draw him out into family and other social activities. His current behavior insures that he'll remain unhappy for the immediate future.

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I take it back. I missed the "no Church" part. Something is wrong here. Talk with your boy, and consider encouraging him to talk with his bishop or elders quorum president.

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I'm normally very slow to wave the "mental health" flag, but in this case I agree with Jane_Doe. Something's wrong. See if you can find out what.

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11 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

If you have his mission president's or recent companions contact information you can talk to them.

I do have an email for his mission president, my husband thinks we shouldn't bother him though because if something bad did happen then we would have heard. What do you think I should say in the email?

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11 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Q: Though very limited, how were his 4x emails toward the end of his mission? Upbeat & positive? Depressed & negative? I would imagine if you were to go back and reread those 4x emails, you may be surprised at what you might notice now.
Q: What reason did he give for extending his mission?
Q: May seem odd, but did he ever make mention of a 'special' girl OR 'extra special' family on his mission?

2 of his emails were wishing me and his dad happy birthday, they just said Happy Birthday. 1 email was him telling us he was going to extend his mission and we wouldn't hear from him for the last 6 weeks. The other email was blank but he had attached a picture of himself, because I had asked him in a few emails to send me a picture of himself, because he opted not to Skype us on Mother's day but to phone instead so I was worried then why he didn't want us to see him, so I asked him to send a picture of himself so i could see he was okay. 

His emails were always really brief, I cant think of anyone specific who he mentioned. Although, that didn't concern me because he has always been very private and likes to keep things to himself. 

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If my son was having mental health problems on his mission, would he have been given medical assistance whilst on his mission? My husband said when he was on his mission, being sad was just put down to being homesick. But that was so long ago when my husband was a missionary. 

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@JKing , if no one says anything, health problems can't be treated.  And it sounds like your son is doesn't say anything at all.  There are EXTREME red flags here.  So it's time to play the mom-card and say something.  Tell his mission predisent what you told us and ask for any insights.

 And most of all, talk to your son.  He needs to speak.  

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47 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

@JKing , if no one says anything, health problems can't be treated.  And it sounds like your son is doesn't say anything at all.  There are EXTREME red flags here. 

 

I meant wouldn't someone have noticed he was having problems, without him saying anything?

 

48 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

 And most of all, talk to your son.  He needs to speak.  

He won't open up to me. 

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When my brother came home he wouldn't open up to me at first, but I found out he struggled to readjust because our family dynamic changed with me moving out and having a baby. 

Edited by Junior

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2 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

@Junior, why are you responding as @JKing ?  I'm confused.

I didn't sorry I meant to reply to you saying someone would have noticed even if he hadn't said he was sad. Then tell @JKing  my brother had a similar reaction. I didn't mean to quote both in the same message

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1 minute ago, Junior said:

I didn't sorry I meant to reply to you saying someone would have noticed even if he hadn't said he was sad. Then tell @JKing  my brother had a similar reaction. I didn't mean to quote both in the same message

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Just now, Junior said:

I didn't sorry I meant to reply to you saying someone would have noticed even if he hadn't said he was sad. Then tell @JKing  my brother had a similar reaction. I didn't mean to quote both in the same message

The extreme isolation JKing is describing goes well beyond the normal returned missionary blues, and sounds like it actually pre-dated him coming home for months at minimum.  

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