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How Family Services Counseling Gave This Returned Missionary Tools for Her Anxiety

Through meeting with a therapist, Angie Vega learned much more about herself and especially about God’s love for her

Sister Angie Vega stands in front of flower fields during her time in the California Ventura Mission in July 2020. Photo provided by Angie Vega, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

This story appears here courtesy of TheChurchNews.com. It is not for use by other media.

By Mary Richards, Church News

Angie Vega, from Houston, Texas, has suffered with major anxiety since she was 11 years old.

“I knew something was wrong when I realized it wasn’t normal to constantly worry about everything every minute of the day, or that it wasn’t normal to feel panic when there was no sense of danger around,” she said.

She didn’t know anything about mental health and neither did her parents. Thus, she spent many years undiagnosed and spent most of her teenage years suffering in silence.

At 18 years old, Vega saw her first therapist — who diagnosed her with an anxiety disorder.

“I spent many years feeling a lot of shame around this, but despite that, I still sought to accomplish my goals,” Vega said.

Angie Vega takes a picture at her graduation from BYU in April 2023. Photo provided by Angie Vega, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

She was called on a full-time mission to the California Ventura Mission, which she called a “beautiful little paradise on earth.” But her time there would be cut short before her 18 months of service — not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on missionary work, but because of its impact on her.

“I couldn’t function anymore and decided I needed to go home to take care of myself,” Vega said. “This was a very difficult decision, but I felt it was best.”

During this time, her bishop referred her to a therapist at Family Services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Church leaders created Family Services to be a resource for local leaders responding to the social and emotional needs of members. Professional counselors who work with Family Services are aligned with gospel principles, and they use a solution-focused therapy model to focus on issues that interfere with the ability to make and keep sacred covenants.

Through meeting with her therapist, Vega learned much more about herself and especially about God’s love for her. She didn’t realize she had gone through most of her life feeling broken, while constantly seeking validation through academic achievements and “always yearning for the next thing to fulfill something that was impossible without Him.”

Angie Vega is pictured in May 2024. Photo provided by Angie Vega, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Besides Family Services resources, the Church has a self-reliance course called “Finding Strength in the Lord: Emotional Resilience,” which has been helping participants build more emotional resilience — the ability to adapt to challenges, change thinking patterns and increase positive emotions, all while moving forward with faith in Jesus Christ.

Other resources from the Church include courses for strengthening marriage and families and the self-reliance program.

At first, being home from a mission was difficult for Vega — she felt lost and alone. But the Family Services therapist helped her feel more hope, and she was able to learn tools that she still uses today to help her with her anxious thoughts. She graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2023 and works full-time in Salt Lake City.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today without the Savior, I felt Him closer than ever during this dark time,” Vega said. “I still hold to His promise today that one day I will be made whole again.”

Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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