To all of the beloved fans of the Worlds Without End series, I want to give a heartfelt apology for the delay in the release of The Prophecy. Originally, I had promised the release of the book on Christmas of 2013. I began the project well, writing every day and on schedule. But then something changed last summer.
Before I get into the details about what happened in the summer of 2013, let me give you some background about myself. For over 20 years now, I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety. This has resulted in three suicide attempts and three long-term stays in the hospital. Other than these attempts, I have been able to keep the anxiety and depression at bay a lot of times. However, something happened last summer.
The summer of 2013 was going along okay. However, I was dealing with the crushing anxiety of returning to my job as an assistant principal, a job I despised. As an assistant principal I dealt with negative issues all day every day. To say the least, this is certainly not a job that someone with depression and anxiety should have. Nonetheless, it was a job, and I needed to feed my family. As the summer months rolled by, my anxiety and depression worsened.
Consequently, I resigned from this position just a few weeks after school started last year. Many would think that this would have eased my anxiety, and I thought it would as well. Unfortunately, it only worsened because now I had to find another job. I didn’t particularly want to stay in public education because of where the education system in America is headed. Even so, this is what I got my degree in and it was the only thing I knew how to do. Needless to say, my writing and creativity took a back seat as the gaping hole of my depression and anxiety deepened.
In November 2013, an opportunity came to student teach Seminary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was the first time in a long time that I was excited about my future. Moreover, this was my ticket out of public education. So from December 2013 to March 2014, I woke up at 4:30 each morning, so I could teach my class at Skyline Seminary from 7 to 8. After each class, I would then go back to work as an assistant principal. Because I was arriving late to my job each day, I had to use all of my sick days.
Nevertheless, I was still hopeful because I was doing a good job teaching seminary and receiving good evaluations. When the time came in April for the Church to decide upon its new Seminary teachers, my name was recommended. I was excited and nervous because I had been told that I was doing such a great job. But a job still wasn’t guaranteed. Unfortunately, my name was passed over.
Needless to say, I was crushed and still feel the sting of that rejection today. What’s more, any confidence I had in myself was washed away. Even the confidence I had in teaching was destroyed. So much so, that I asked for my release from my calling as a Sunday School Teacher. I even felt, and still struggle with the feelings today, that God, Himself, rejected me. My confidence in my writing has been affected as well. There are a lot of times where I will just stare at the computer screen when trying to write The Prophecy or a blog post and nothing will come to mind.
After being rejected, suicide consumed my thoughts. However, I knew I had to keep going because my wife and children depended upon me. Eventually, I accepted a great opportunity to teach and coach at a high school in Idaho Falls, a job I am eternally grateful for. Nevertheless, I am extremely nervous in returning to the classroom and the basketball court because of my lack of confidence.
This summer has been one in which I have been trying to put any semblance of confidence I have left back together. The struggle has been difficult, especially with dealing with another suicide attempt and hospital stay. Some days are better than others. But one area I have struggled in is my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Even before I suffered from depression and anxiety, I never felt that I measured up as a member of the LDS church. I have always dreaded going to church because I knew I didn’t belong there. I am just not good enough to be Mormon.
Do I believe the Church is true? Of course I do. But therein lies the problem. It is a Church where a lot of members feel left out because they are just not good enough. And guess what? I am nowhere near perfect. In fact, I am as far as one can be from being perfect. This has been my dilemma all summer long and for most of my life, trying to find out who I am. I know I am a child of God. But how can God even know who I am? How can He know me when there are billions of other children to worry about? Not to mention, His children on other planets.
Now before you go and criticize me for the pity party and the error in my thinking, I realize that these are lies that the adversary is telling me. Moreover, the Church does not require perfection, nor does our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Even so, these are the feelings I deal with on a daily basis. A lot of times, these feelings overpower rational thinking and become so overwhelming that I can’t even function. This is depression and anxiety at its core. A lot of people who don’t suffer from these monsters don’t understand. Their thinking is to just snap out of it or think more positively. If only it were that easy?
As a result, I isolate myself, which includes not going to church. I also understand that the more I miss church, the more I am feeding my social anxiety. But like I said before, there are times when the depression and anxiety win and times when I win.
As I try to pick up the pieces of my life after what was and still is probably the most trying time of my life, I try to find time to write. Writing seems to be what gets me through the tough times besides my family (I’m still struggling with my trust in God). But even writing at times has been a source of frustration for me because the creativity has disappeared.
As the days come and go, I try to write a little more. But it’s a slow process. Please bear with me as I deal with these struggles and try to find who I am. Again, I offer my heartfelt apologies for the delay in The Prophecy. Hopefully, you will understand why there has been a delay after reading this post. Eventually, The Prophecy will be completed.
Shaun F. Messick