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


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4 hours ago, JKing said:

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. 

I have a few friends that had faith crises on their missions. That could be the culprit?

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43 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

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.  

My brother was quite isolated but yeah I think he did write emails to my mom most weeks. He was a bit weird though because he came home and immediately broke up with his gf he had been writing to for 2 years 😂 and he was genuinely quite sulky 

Edited by Junior
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6 hours ago, JKing said:

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?

If something really bad happened, and 'he told the Mission President', you would have heard.

5 hours ago, JKing said:

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.

So, no reason "why" he wanted to extend his mission? I simply ask because if he was having actual problems during his mission, why did he request to stay there longer?
Perhaps the actual problems or people he is trying to avoid are at home or in his ward? Who knows?

3 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

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

17 hours ago, zil said:

he needs to belong, to feel safe.

Until then, it is a guessing game. Mental health, avoiding people at home/ward/past girl friend, faith crisis, abuse... is guessing only.

IF you feel your back is against the wall you can always talk with the Stake President. Your son should have had an exit interview with him when he returned, plus he is local. He can not only give you advise, but help if there needs to be contact with the Mission President or better his last companion.

Best Wishes to you @JKing

Edited by NeedleinA
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13 minutes ago, JKing said:

@Jane_Doe I am slightly confused regarding him not getting medical assistance. Wouldn't someone have been there who he could speak to? I am not criticising the people on his mission at all. Perhaps he is just missing it.

Yes, there were many people he could of spoken too, including doctors and getting referrals for professional counselors.  But if he choose not to, then that makes giving help all the harder.  

Just like now.  He needs to speak.

Edited by Jane_Doe
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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that sometimes people don't get along with their families, don't want to talk to them (my family gossips and twists things to no end--so I say the bare minimum) and may not have mental issues at all--it drives me crazy that my family now suspects I have issues just because I don't like them (the church is really great at screening those out and making sure companions say something--I believe in the old handbook before they just barely updated it said that mission companions would face church discipline if they didn't report it, plus most of those people don't want to extend their missions).  He may love the gospel, but just not want anything to do with his home ward (I can't stand my home ward knowing all the things my mom has said about me over the pulpit--but I am totally active/devout, however if I was visiting I might just come up with an excuse not to attend that Sunday--awful I know), and be planning on being fully active once he moves out.  Digging into this may cause him to resent you both even more (great they never let me grow up/figure things out on my own/they still think I'm I kid).  While it's possible that your child was disappointed with how few people he helped convert and is feeling like a failure and doesn't want to talk to his family or his ward for fear of that question (my husband hated his mission and doesn't like to talk about it because of that, but he didn't take it to the extreme your son did or extend his mission in hope that maybe he could baptize someone), it also could be a parent-child struggle and your child is probably perfectly healthy.  Instead ask your husband how many details he shares with others at church on his son or if he gossips about others in front of your son (leading him to believe no secret is safe), and if you both are only treating him like a pseudo-adult--he seems to be acting like someone who wants space, chances are he wrote lengthy letters to other people, especially friends outside of the ward.  A mission companion, not the president, is the best resource here.  If they are tight-lipped, suspicious, or acusatory, you can bet your child isn't putting his family in the best light.

Edited by Sort-of Young Mom
Just something else I thought of.
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1 hour ago, Sort-of Young Mom said:

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that sometimes people don't get along with their families, don't want to talk to them

4 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Perhaps the actual problems or people he is trying to avoid are at home or in his ward?

We did mention it, but glad you also mentioned it too.

1 hour ago, Sort-of Young Mom said:

 A mission companion, not the president, is the best resource here.

4 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

contact with the Mission President or better his last companion.

Same page on this one, if it is really needed.

We have a recently returned missionary who works for us. One of our seasonal businesses is technically closed right now, but we keep him employed earning money to go off to BYU-I in spring. He is the only active member in his family. It truly was the hand of Lord helping this young man get out on a mission without family support. His limited interaction with his family, with whom he lives, is being asked by his parents for rides home from the bar (designated driver) every other night. It is sad.
So we support him even more because of it.

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23 hours ago, JKing said:

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 

So, I have read most of the responses here and they all seem to be helpful, however, they sound speculative in nature. No-one here can make any types of assessments as to whether or not your son has a "mental illness". Does he display symptoms that could lead one to believe that he is depressed, sure! But I am not going to diagnose it because I am not trained NOR have I spoken to him in person. 

I can share with you what my own experience was and then you can decide if my experience and what I did is something your son could do as an alternative. he needs help or if this is a passing thought.

Firstly, I commend you for wanting your son to be whole and healthy and happy, like any loving and caring mother would. Missionary service is a really wonderful and rewarding experience one that gives back even days, weeks, years later. However, it's not easy to re-adjust once the mission is finished.

A missionary Elder (or Sister) is endowed with the power of God himself to preach and touch the hearts of those they come in-contact with. That power can be felt and it is ever present in a missionary's life (so long as he/she is following the commandments and mission rules). With that power, a missionary can see how the Gospel, when being taught by the spirit, changes lives and blesses those who accept the message of salvation. Once the missionary is released, the Endowment he had for two years is no longer there and in most cases, not having it is a real feeling of "loss" and can be challenging to overcome. Most missionaries have a well established support system and even then, they struggle. However, if the missionary is focused on his future, He(she) must be involved and active in anything that gives them purpose. But I m sure you already knew that because that's the normal reaction for anyone going through some sort of grief process. 

I remember thinking to myself about how much I longed for my Grandma and my Aunts to hear the gospel and pray to God about its veracity. I then had a special experience about four months after I had started my mission and although at the moment it was very scary, later I realized that it was my Grandma coming to say goodbye. I remember doing my personal study (missionaries have a strict schedule to follow every morning and one of the hours prior to leaving the apartment for the day is to study the scriptures) and while I was reading my scriptures, I felt a sens of deep sadness. The kind of sadness that makes one sob uncontrollably. My companion saw me and was concerned and I couldn't explain what was happening. Suddenly I realized that perhaps my mom had passed away. Soon after I had that thought, I offered a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me accept His will regardless of whatever had happened. A few weeks later it as mother's day and I was praying that my mother would answer the call. After I dialed the number it rung a few times and then I heard my mother's voice. I was so relieved and at the same point confused. After a few minutes and greetings she had informed me that my Grandma had passed away. At that moment I felt at peace and I knew that she had come to say goodbye to me. I prayed to Heavenly Father that I needed Him to send missionaries to her right away because I was going to do her Temple Work as soon as I was back at home. Soon after I came home, I went to the temple and id the work for my Grandma and it was a wonderful experience. I have no doubt that she accepted the ordinances and is happy with her decision.  

I am not sure as to why you aren't a member of the Church or if you are but not active, nevertheless, I can see your son wanting desperately to share the gospel with you the way a missionary does and if you have resisted to learn more about the Gospel before, he might be having an internal struggle because he wants the Best for you. If you at some point decide to take the discussions, please involve him in the process. I am going to be bold and say this, it will be a much better experience of you at least learn and take the discussions now, than after you're gone through the veil. Eventually, if you decide not to take the discussions now, he will do the work for you after you're there. However, please do now that whether you do it now or then, you still have a choice and regardless of how your son feels or your husband, you are loved by God. 

Another aspect about being a returned missionary, is the fact that usually the bishop of your Ward puts the young man to work (a calling in the ward) and he might want to take a few weeks to "re-charge".

Regardless of whatever the reason is, do not dismiss your gut-feeling and keep the lines of communication opened. He needs to talk to your husband, and he needs to talk to his bishop. He needs to get active and go to school or get a job. 

One last thing, upon finishing a mission, the mission president does one last interview and in that interview, most times, the mission president extorts the missionary to find a young lady to marry and not to take too long in doing so. It is a good advise however, it is definitely something that could be intimidating.

Hope this helps and gives you an idea as to what he might have gone through. 

To finish, I would like to share with you AND YOUR SON, my testimony: I know without a shadow of a doubt that your son was called of God and that he had God's blessing to testify on His behalf. I know that the gospel is true and it's real. I know that the Book of Mormon changes lives and I know that it is the true word of God. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He is the head of His Church. I also know that God lives and loves His children. He has living angels and some of those are called "Missionaries"! Most of the future is uncertain, but I know that if we live by the Word of God, that uncertainty will turn into Happiness. In the Book of Mormon there is a verse that gives me hope for the future: Mosiah 2:41


41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

I share this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Edited by Xavier
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Guest Gallant Pioneer
8 hours ago, Fether said:

I have a few friends that had faith crises on their missions. That could be the culprit?

This was my thought also, the kid might have been challenged and he's came across some material/questions that have rocked him slightly hence the wish to extend his stay, as a means to reestablish his testimony etc. 

Op, It really is guess work at this point but purely based on nothing more than my personal experience of people.. Could help just to let him know you're there for him and take a step back.. Sometimes trying to pull someone back ends up pushing them away. It's one of these weird things in life. 

You've done a good job in noticing. Continue to be normal around him. Invite him out and do his washing or whatever, show him kindness and charity and he'll come round.

Sometimes young guys just need a little time to square things up inside. 


Easy for me to say but try not to worry, if he sees that he's having that affect on his family he might feel guilty. 

Give him a little time, he's had his horizons broadened of late. 


I wish you and yours well. 

Edited by Gallant Pioneer
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Perhaps it was awkward talking to his parents because he was a missionary and he didn't know what to say?  Did you have a talk with him about what you feel comfortable discussing and what you didn't?  Maybe he was scared President Gordon B. Hinckley asked missionaries to stay on topic in their letters and focus on the work.  But that shouldn't have affected him talking to his father.  Since you say you are Baptist, I'm guessing you have a whole set of beliefs and are not an investigator or less-active--so it may have been really weird for him.  Yes I have different beliefs but don't feel guilty about following what you feel is right I am not blaming you for that, and it's pretty shallow if he doesn't respect your different faith.  Now for the ward avoidance: did he speak a foreign language and is afraid people may want him to perform?  Does he fear people setting him up for dates?  Anyhow, this is an alternative speculative theory, but if my last post was more spot-on (parent problems) then I love Gallant Pioneer's approach to the problem. 

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3 hours ago, Sort-of Young Mom said:

Did you have a talk with him about what you feel comfortable discussing and what you didn't?

Both accounts @Junior and @JKing have been banned.
The 'mom', the 'son', the 'mystery silence', the whole story... was just that... probably nothing more than a story.
Despite the story, perhaps there are still little nuggets of advice on the thread that future readers can glean from it, starting with being honest.

Edited by NeedleinA
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Guest MormonGator
4 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

Despite the story, perhaps there are still little nuggets of advice on the thread that futures readers can glean from it, starting with being honest.

Perfectly said. 


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I just stumbled across this post, and even though it's a little old, I just want to share a few thoughts from my family's experience with my brother.

  • He was a super charismatic, popular, high school athlete prior to leaving on his mission.
  • During the mission, his letter writing became sporadic and often were difficult to understand.
  • My parents were concerned and did contact the mission president a few times, but the mission leaders raved about his work ethic and dedication. Of course, not knowing him before the mission, it was impossible to expect them to detect gradual personality changes. All they could measure was what they saw, which was a hard working missionary.
  • When he got off the plane, he wouldn't talk to us, sticking to the mission routine until he was officially released.
  • When he did start talking, his speech was "mumbly," and his demeanor was "off," like just kind of awkward and unbalanced. But, he was filled with gratitude for the mission and expressed a strong testimony and did seem happy. He was just very different.
  • Long story short, he has a mental illness. My parents prayed, researched, talked with counselors, and all sorts of daily effort to this day (30 years later) to understand him and help him. To this day, he has not "received treatment," or been willing to accept that anything is wrong with him. And I'm glad.
    • It is common for mental illness to "manifest" during the young adult years (mission years)
    • Mental illness is often "triggered" by new and/or stressful experiences (serving a mission)
    • Nothing "bad" happened to him on the mission. There is no one to blame.
    • The mission president could not be expected to detect that something was wrong.
    • Mental illness is not a clear cut thing that can always be "treated." Much of what we consider treatment serves the general population, to make us more comfortable, than it serves the individual who is afflicted.
    • It has been super helpful for my parents to receive mental health support from counselors, even though my brother refused to seek treatment.
    • God is in the details of our lives. His tender mercies have been shown repeatedly over these many years to my parents and my brother as he continues to live his life. There have been many many trials. But, that's what this life is for - to navigate trials with faith and be built into better, stronger versions of ourselves each time. 

I joined this forum with the sole purpose of commenting on your post because your love and concern for your son really struck my heart, and all of the emotions from that time in my family's life came flooding back. I wish there was a simple and clear cut "here's what you do" kind of answer. But, I've come to accept that this is part of "the plan" for my brother's life. He amazes me, and I'm grateful to learn from him, and to be able to appreciate the complexity of mental health afflictions because of his experiences.

Edited by Momofalltrades
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Guest MormonGator
5 hours ago, Momofalltrades said:

I joined this forum with the sole purpose of commenting on your post because your love and concern for your son really struck my heart,

that's really beautiful and kind of you my friend. 

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