Alex Wittingham is a Utah resident, lifetime member of the LDS church, student, returned missionary (New Zealand), football player and son of University of Utah head football coach, Kyle Wittingham and his wife Jamie. Following his missionary service Alex began playing football as a long snapper on the U of U football team. Alex loved his mission, had wonderful companions and a supportive mission president. However, he returned home early following 15 months of dedicated service. The reason for his early release was a combination of anxiety, depression and OCD tendencies.

  • 5:02 Recognized some OCD tendencies by age 12 but assumed it was normal and didn’t have a name for it. There was no dramatic increase in the intensity level until his missionary service when feelings of anxiety were exacerbated without the relief valves he enjoyed before his mission (movies, being with friends).
  • 9:04 Alex discusses his decision to serve a mission and feeling a lack of confidence as he tried to envision himself as a missionary. Was nevertheless overjoyed in being called to serve in New Zealand.
  • 11:40: MTC experience brought on added anxiety, notwithstanding wonderful and supportive fellow missionaries who helped him cope.
  • 14:00 Arriving in New Zealand and facing new realities: contacting strangers. Obsessing over scrupulosity, even though he had done everything necessary to render himself worthy to serve prior to entering the mission field. Being OCD and living in a world of spartan obedience to rules.
  • 18:45 His anxiety and other issues came and went in phases during his missionary service. Opening up to his family in P-day letters was therapeutic.
  • 21:00 Confiding in empathetic companions and his very supportive mission president. Referred to LDS Family Services in New Zealand.
  • 23:15 Turning point—beginning to feel at peace regarding the value of his missionary service and the likelihood of an early departure.
  • 26:10 Returning home; weekly counseling continued; coping and managing; useful medications and learning new coping skills.
  • 27:50 Being supported by family and close friends through any feelings of “stigma.” “Your mission is between you and God.”
  • 29:40 The role of his loving stake president and his reassuring bishop in helping him get re-integrated into the ward family.
  • 31:00 Concluding thoughts: Alex is glad he served and loved his mission. It was life-changing and not a mistake. It had not occurred to him, prior to his mission, that he suffered from anything out of the ordinary. He’s glad there now seem to be more pre-mission questions regarding mental wellness. He wonders if leaders recommending candidates for missions should obtain the view of the youth’s parents about any possible emotional or mental conditions that would impact on the ability to serve.
  • 36:12 Why Alex suddenly chose to tweet about his experience following the suicide of a popular singer—desire to help someone else. Describes response to his tweet and a related article in a local newspaper.
  • 38:50 Words of encouragement to fellow sufferers—You are not alone. There is support in the form of angels on earth. Don’t be afraid to reach out and accept help.


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