My story is a little different.
In puberty, I began to hallucinate and have psychotic symptoms. This was before mental health was taken seriously so I had zero treatment besides people unhelpfully pointing out that all my peers managed to not be psychotic. I did my best to hide things but it just got worse and worse until at 16, my parents just couldn't take it anymore. They sought help from the bishop. The bishop treated me like I was rebellious, obviously on drugs, definitely sleeping around, and possibly worshiping Satan. (Because this was when that was a thing.)
Now I know some people reading this will say, "But that's just one bishop." Yes, it was. Let me make this clear that the vast majority of my Young Women leaders went out of their way to make me feel loved (though they didn't understand the mental health thing.) My seminary teachers told me that they believed in me. I was surrounded by LDS adults who did not believe I was bad. In fact, the next bishop told me, "Nuts to him!" and signed my BYU endorsement.
But that's the problem with Mormonism. Even those supportive leaders were teaching me that the bishop had special insight, was in charge, and in essence a soothsayer - one who tells truths that others can't even perceive. So yes, even if the numbers are weighted in the positive direction, it only takes ONE man. It's set up that way.
I knew what he said was completely off the mark. But it made me wonder what I was doing to project such bad vibes. I wondered if I was so lazy and careless that I might as well be a junkie. I wondered if I thought too many lurid thoughts and I might was well be sleeping around. I knew that even though I read my scriptures, prayed, and spoke nicely, most of the time I certainly wasn't close to perfect. Maybe the bishop just saw how horrible I was really.
In the years that followed I had a string of very abusive, dysfunctional, and manipulative romantic and friend relationships. In every one I would see red flags, feel them disregard my boundaries. But I would tell myself that chances were that I was just bad and dysfunctional and they were normal. I mean, look at my track record! Every time I even started having symptoms I would engage in self-destructive behaviors. This just attracted more abusers, feeding the cycle. It took so many years for me to trust and care about myself and live life as a balanced, healthy, functional individual.
When I tell people this story, sometimes they ask me why I would blame a bishop for everything. Let me be clear - I don't. He didn't give me the bum genes (schizophrenia runs in my family.) He didn't create the atmosphere and culture where mental health was poorly understood. He didn't make the structure and culture of the church. He didn't even know it was wrong for him to spout off his untrained mouth. But his ignorance didn't make the situation any less abusive.
I also will object to anyone telling me I'm not taking responsibility. I was given no treatment before I was 18, remember? I had to ask what an "intake" was when I first went in to therapy. I had to pay for psychiatric treatment as a low wage earner in a time before health insurance covered it. I spent the hours in cognitive behavioral therapy to re-build my self-esteem. I spent even more time practicing meditation and other stress-relieving practices. I always knew that having a positive outcome rested mostly on me.
I often hear that I should have been mentally strong enough to understand that he was untrained and to discard his condemnation. Yes. And I went out and did exactly that - it just took years, money, maturity, therapy, and hard mental work. Those were things I didn't have access to at age 16. No one had prepared me to defy a bishop.
I'm not telling this story to shame or condemn him (though I'd love it if he were more sympathetic to mental health issues now.) I tell this story because it illustrates how the entire structure of the church is set up so that one cloud can overshadow the whole sun. I care about this because there are many adults who loved me in my darkest hours. They have children and grandchildren in this church. Tomorrow it might be them. If anything I say can make someone stop and think about the power we give the leadership, I will say it.