Submitted by ARJ
This is not meant to offend. I have no experience writing about mental health issues, and I don’t mean to trivialize what I know is a sensitive topic.
In any case, what brings this disclaimer up? We are moving in three weeks. Leaving Boston to be "Utah Mormons" once again. (Use of that term is a joke and not an excuse to derail the discussion!) What does that have to do with going crazy? Not what you might think.
When we moved a little over three years ago, a day before it was
time to leave I sat in our house and looked at all the junk we had and
then a pile of boxes we had purchased to pack and I was unable to
move. I wanted to pack. I needed to pack. I was frozen on the couch.
The enormity of the task combined with the approaching hard deadline
of packing a truck washed over me. To put it bluntly, I had a small
breakdown. I called my wife and told her that I wasn’t able to
function. I am not sure she believed me. She thinks I am prone to
exaggeration, especially when I might be procrastinating. I called my
parents. I broke down and cried, I got very dizzy. In what seemed
like an instant there were there. I know it had to have taken 30
minutes, but I honestly cannot account for that time.
Once they were there things got better, and eventually I was
actually productive in packing. While I can’t remember the experience
in great detail, what lingers is a sense of complete loss of control.
That I couldn’t simply will myself to do what I wanted to do.
This was a frightening thing for me. I had always felt (and
experienced) that short of a physical impediment I could will myself to
do whatever I wanted to. This was strongly tied to my very Mormon
concept of free agency. I am free to act as I see fit, and the live
with the consequences, right? Yet there I was, unable to move, and
experiencing things in a way that was not what I was accustomed to. My
world was suddenly much smaller. I was fragile in a way I had never
What (if anything) does this say about agency? How was my earlier
model inaccurate? Do others feel that Mormons have an especially
strong reliance on the concept of willpower? Does this marginalize
those that have breakdowns or illnesses that are more serious than what