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Anxiety Relapses.


Llwellyn
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Every few months, I start to feel a nagging anxiety that makes me suffer and makes me want to crawl into bed in the fetal position or take a long hot bath.  The anxiety is a feeling of dread and impending doom.  Also, it is a feeling that I am threatened or may be attacked.  It is a vague sense that I am wrong, I am doing something wrong, and I might be undone because of my wrong.  These experiences are not common, and they have been gripping me less frequently than in the past.  They have been coming to me after longer and longer intervals.  But still, they return -- and I write today because I am currently feeling it.

 

I blame this anxiety on my religious instruction.  Growing up in a "christian household," I was taught the theology that Jesus died as a propitiation, as an atonement for sin.  This was necessary because "the wages of sin is death" -- which is another way of saying that God has a punishment for the violation of the moral law.  These sets of thoughts were terrifying for me.  Mulling them over in my mind really worked me into a hole:  "We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"  Hebrews 2:1-4.

 

These teachings really got me worked up.  And even now, approximately seven years after my deconversion, I have anxiety relapses occasionally.  The anxiety makes me want to lock myself away and cry.  It also makes me want to "act out" in order to not be so afraid going forward -- to do things that would provoke any cosmic recompense that may be hiding in the background, threatening me.  By inviting the "wrath" that will never come, I can stop being so afraid and miserable.

 

Can anyone relate?

 

Anxiety.jpeg

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I can relate with part of this. I don't believe it is because I was raised as a Christian, because 1) I've never worried about hell my entire life, and 2) my mother tells me that even as a small child, I always wanted to please people. I think I was just born this way.

 

I don't like for people around me to be unhappy or unpleasant. I tended, as a teenager and young adult, to "fall" for girls with issues, and wound up marrying a woman who was (and is) clinically depressed. And even though she had problems before I ever knew her, I sometimes think I am to blame either for not helping enough, or for perhaps being an enabler. Logically, I know I cannot do much for her, yet as humans we really cannot help constantly trying to figure out what to do next. For me, that means trying to figure out what I'm "supposed" to be doing. That results in my having always acted based on where the most external pressure (real or imagined) was pushing me. I very seldom have done things because I personally wanted to, almost always acting in thenwaynthat I think is expected of me.

 

And that's actually, looking back, the reason I "obeyed the gospel". I was not motivated by a strong belief in Jesus and my need to be forgiven of sins. I just went forward that night because, frankly, my younger brother did, and I realized that I had probably waited longer than people thought I should.

 

I really want to change my nature to some extent, but I don't know how to go about it. Dwelling on it certainly doesn't help!

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I'm coming off about 3 weeks (or is it 2.5? something like that) of pretty crippling anxiety. I've gone through most of the motions of going through life, but I've been very unproductive. I can't sleep either; I'm too afraid of the nightmares, sometimes my mind thinks that I should stay up until I get something done, and other times my body is just so worked up that I can't relax enough to fall asleep (to the point of being pulled into full awakeness by full-body painful muscle spasms). But the last few nights, though I've slept lightly, I've actually slept through the night. And I enjoyed some social time yesterday, and allowed myself to feel happy about it and loved.

 

I know that it's somehow related to "self-esteem", though that term makes me nervous. I was convinced that I was incapable of doing anything well, and therefore couldn't get up the urge to even try. I was afraid of people, afraid of rejection, because I assumed it was inevitable. And if rejection didn't happen, they I was sure I was going to fuck things up and make life miserable for everyone else. They'd all be better off without me....

 

A lot of mine is due to having very authoritarain parents, which they thought the bible told them they had the right and obligation to be. Even in my late teens, I wasn't allowed to handle my own time management or have any unapproved opinions. My life was micromanaged, and any deviation from what they wanted me to be was met with mocking or anger. I think maybe it's even PTSD level, becuase I've been having recurring flashbacks of the same event (seriously, what parents screams and screams at their kid for hours after the kid has tried to escape and is curled up on their bed sobbing? While the other parent just sits there and watches and occasionally tries to "moderate" the "discussion"? All I did was finally say something quick and snarky after they'd spent a week or two telling me how much of a bad person I am for getting depressed and unable to practice music after an audition went spectacularly poorly). I'm getting hit with wave after wave of anger for years worth of, well, I guess it was emotional abuse. I learned to repress it, to blame myself, becuase speaking up would only make things worse. It's caused me a lot of problems relating to my peers in healthy ways. So now, I have to go through all the anger I should have felt back then. It sucks. I really wish this stage would end quickly so I could move on to "doing something productive to fix the current problems". Instead, I'm constantly sick to my stomach, can't sleep, and hate myself and my life. I'm scared of what's going to come next, but I know I'm going to need the anger to fuel the standing up for myself, so it would be counter-productive to just repress it again.

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I've had GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) since I was a teenager. I used to have it really bad, and I think xianity was partly to blame for it. Even though it claims freedom in charist there is so much pressure and guilt placed on the believer. I still occasionally have flare ups, but since it's something I've learned to deal with for years, I can usually handle it. Now, I rely on myself to process the panic/anxiety, not god so I'm not even more anxious when it doesn't go away, and I think I've done something wrong and god won't listen to me.

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I have anxiety and OCD. It's so bad that I had to re-convert but I'm slowly returning to agnosticism.

 

It seems you fear divine retribution. I get anxiety about that and karma. I know how it feels.

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My heart goes out to each of you. Mine is depression, not anxiety. I have a "melancholy" personality. It's a low level depression that never completely goes away. I've finally just accepted that that is who I am. I have had deep depression and believe me I'll take the trade off.

 

I don't think we are that much different than the general public in the mental health area. Reality is a tough thing to behold and we have had the courage to stare it in its eyes. We are now responsible to ourselves to make reality manageable. We have some help in this modern world. such as psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. Plus nature has given us a brain that has defenses to mental problems. Still it's something I (we) have to work on continually. bill

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I relate to all that more than I can explain. I existed for years in utter terror that I was going to do something that would make God punish me, or that He would punish me because I needed to learn an important lesson. However, post-deconversion, I'm a million times better. You aren't alone in this, Llwellyn, and it doesn't have to be a permanent condition for you, either. We're here for you.  

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I have two very unrelated responses, so bear with me.

 

First of all, the logical part: You quoted Hebrews, which was written by Paul. He was a manipulative cult-creator, nothing more. Do some quick searches online about him, and you'll find plenty of reasons to hate him and everything he said. About two years before I de-converted, I started to get suspicions about him, and that's when I started reading about it. It all made perfect sense. I was willing to remain Christian, but just ignore any of his New Testament writings. Have you heard of the Thomas Jefferson Bible? He did the same thing -- took out all the Paul crap. So I am not alone in this. I was a lay reader of scripture in my church on Sundays mornings, but I always turned down the weeks if I would have to read from Paul. Maybe if you attack this anxiety of yours from this angle, some of it will logically fall away. Just an idea.

 

Second, the physical part: From your avatar you look like a young woman? You could have some imbalances that allow this to flair up at weak physical moments. Not trying to get too personal here, but consider this: Have you been on oral contraceptives? I can tell you from 13 years on those, that they can deplete other hormones such as progesterone. (I blame my post partum depression on this, when coupled with over a year of sleep deprivation with the baby -- not a good combo when you're as old as I was ... 34, yeah soooo old, lol.) Do you get worse the week before your period? That is when progesterone is naturally lowest, so you are vulnerable to emotional crap like you are describing.

 

On top of the female hormones, there are so many vitamins and minerals and natural oils that our bodies need to function properly; you are young enough to have grown up in a time where our food supply has been both tainted and depleted in the interest of mass production. You might not have the stores of microscopic good stuff in you that you need, that some of us older folks have from our younger days. (Yeah, I'm only 42, but still...)

 

So... what can you do about this physical part? Well, you could become a nutrition freak like me, lol. Sink tons of time and money chasing every avenue. No, don't do that. However, if what I have said here resonates with you in any way, I recommend that you consider a book called, "The Triple Whammy Cure: The Breakthrough Women's Health Program For Feeling Good Again in 3 Weeks." Read the descriptions on Amazon and see if you think it applies to you. Many of the chapters apply to older women, so you only need to read about 3 of them. Easy peasy. The three whammies for women are stress, hormones, and sleep. I followed the regimen, and a light switch came on in my brain after 5 days. Remarkable! The main setback is that there are lots of supplements to feed your brain, your hormones, and your body. That gets expensive, and can be a lot to choke down every day. However, it is worth the hassle if you find the relief I found. I have since scaled way back on it now after several years, and I know what pieces make the biggest difference for me. I'm not a doctor, so take my advice for what it's worth. As a woman, I feel the urge to share with other suffering women whenever I can. I hope this helps in some way.

 

Lastly, consider your weakness: Christianity has embedded you with scary thoughts. So many of us are in your same boat. The problem is that whenever we get stressed or weak or tired or faced with rough patches, our bodies and minds weaken enough to allow the old wounds to rear their ugly heads. Defenses down, hidden drama up. When I get stressed, the muscles around an old (but minor) car accident injury get crazy sore again, and I have to work hard to relieve them. I hope this makes sense... I'm trying to say that it's natural for your old "injuries" (in this case, Christian fear theology) to pop up. Recognize it for what it is.

 

Wow, I have rambled on! I believe what you are facing is emotional, logical, physical, and downright all-encompassing, dammit! ... so attacking the problem from various angles may be necessary.

 

I hope you find relief, my dear. I'm rooting for you!

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