My two months at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, were some of the hardest months of my life. Not because of the constant discipline and study, not because of the isolation from the rest of the world, not because of the new language in which I was being immersed. They were difficult because I was highly anxiety ridden with personal issues that I didn't understand. So much so, I could hardly eat. And when I did manage to get something down, I almost always threw it up. I spent many long days shaking in a cold sweat and feeling weak and dizzy, unable to focus on my studies or those around me, and running to the bathroom.
I believe that I had been suffering from an anxiety disorder since my early teen years and being in the MTC magnified it. The thing is, as I tried to figure out what was triggering it there, it always came back to the other male missionaries that were in my district. Spending almost every hour of the day with these five other guys and going through such intense experiences with them made me feel very close to them, very quickly. There were a couple that I especially admired and liked being around, and way back in the back of my mind, found attractive. The ironic thing is, even though I liked being around them, I couldn't, because it would intensify my anxiety and nausea so much that I was unable to function.
After a few weeks of digesting almost nothing, I knew I had to act, or my health would be in jeopardy. However, I was afraid to ask for help because I worried that they would send me home, which would be the biggest disgrace ever, in my mind. I truly wanted to go to Peru. Finally, I gathered up the courage to talk to one of my teachers about my anxiety without really disclosing the full truth. Much to my relief, she managed to get me an appointment with a church psychiatrist. After I explained as little as possible to him, he prescribed me a medication that I never wanted to admit was a tranquilizer. But the relief and hope that I might be able to continue my mission made it worth it.
And tranquilize, it did. In fact in turned me into a zombie of sorts, but I didn't care. At least I was able to eat and feel better, even though I struggled to stay awake all day long. I could fall asleep instantly at any time or place, which I had never been able to do before then, or since.
Thanks to modern medicine, I was able to leave for South America at the end of May, 1988. The tranquilizers in my possession and the experiences that awaited me in Peru far overshadowed my preoccupation with other guys. Yet there were times that my feelings surfaced, reminding me that I still wasn't cured, leaving me uneasy, uncertain, and afraid.