TruthSeeker0

Conservative Christian beliefs and mental health

Recommended Posts

This article deals with Conservative Christianity, but is relevant to those who have left it: "Also, over time some religious beliefs can create habitual thought patterns that actually alter brain function, making it difficult for people to heal or grow."

 

https://www.salon.com/2014/11/01/the_sad_twisted_truth_about_conservative_christianitys_effect_on_the_mind_partner/

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for your support
Buy Ex-C a cup of coffee!
Costs have significantly risen and we need your support! Click the coffee cup to give a one-time donation, or choose one of the recurrent patron options.
Note: All Contributing Patrons enjoy Ex-Christian.net advertisement free.

On the positive side, due to neuro-plasticity new patterns can be created in the brain. I'm definitely not saying it's easy to undo this damage, particularly the longer it goes on, but there definitely is hope with the right support system breaking out as well as cognitive behavior therapy to retrain thought patterns. Obviously there are no guarantees, but it is definitely possible to reach a point of complete mental freedom from this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure I would already be there if my family wasn't fundamentalist. I keep having to "have conversations" about this crap because my mother and grandparents just will not let go. It can go months with my mom leaving it alone, and there are definitely methods of boundary setting I've found effective but if I show any weakness she goes in for the kill. I don't believe she does this maliciously, she is actually a very nice person but she is a "true believer" and REALLY worries about my soul. So, if I am in any kind of distress she will often use it as an opportunity to tell me "what you know will help you... turn your life over to Jesus" (that wording alone is so gross.)

 

This leads to a situation where I can't actually be very close with my mother because I can't confide in her if I have any troubles because she'll find a way to bring Jesus into it. My dad doesn't do this so I can talk to him, and most of my family doesn't do this. It's just my mom and her parents. My grandparents it's really to the point where I just don't want to be around them at all. It's unfortunate because they are really nice people and I WANT to want to be around them. But they refuse to respect my boundaries and whether consciously or unconsciously they are constantly playing the "old people" card in the sense that they seem to think they can get away with disrespecting my boundaries because they are old.

I'm sure I'll be sad when they die, but I don't really want a relationship with them because we have nothing in common. Like literally nothing. They are not at all intellectually curious people, and really their entire lives revolve around church and Jesus. They have a much stronger affection for me than I have for them, I don't really know what they base this affection on but it's uncomfortable to be in such an emotionally uneven relationship. And wow, that went more rambly than I intended.

 

If I didn't have these three situations of just constant attempts to bring Jesus into things, I'm nearly 100% sure no aspect of Christianity would bother me at all. I'd be mildly annoyed by Christians but probably no more so than anyone who wasn't raised in the religion.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Cat987 said:

I'm pretty sure I would already be there if my family wasn't fundamentalist. I keep having to "have conversations" about this crap because my mother and grandparents just will not let go. It can go months with my mom leaving it alone, and there are definitely methods of boundary setting I've found effective but if I show any weakness she goes in for the kill. I don't believe she does this maliciously, she is actually a very nice person but she is a "true believer" and REALLY worries about my soul. So, if I am in any kind of distress she will often use it as an opportunity to tell me "what you know will help you... turn your life over to Jesus" (that wording alone is so gross.)

I really understand what you're saying here, because I'm in the same situation myself. I've been extremely careful about what I say about my life, and I say nothing about my challenges. I have a much more distant relationship than I used to with my mother, and I don't think I can do much to fix this, due to the boundary issues involved. I don't think my parents understand that discussing challenges with them doesn't mean that I expect them to tell me what to do, or what I should have done. I'm a grown adult who makes my own decisions, and this can just be really hard for some parents to understand. And I understand that their concern to a great extent is rooted in their fear of what is going to happen to my soul, and it drives their behaviour. Due to that, it's a constant negotiation of where the boundaries are, and having to be firm about them. I feel a great amount of guilt because it has to be this way, but honestly I don't know if there's any other way it can be.
 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

I really understand what you're saying here, because I'm in the same situation myself. I've been extremely careful about what I say about my life, and I say nothing about my challenges. I have a much more distant relationship than I used to with my mother, and I don't think I can do much to fix this, due to the boundary issues involved. I don't think my parents understand that discussing challenges with them doesn't mean that I expect them to tell me what to do, or what I should have done. I'm a grown adult who makes my own decisions, and this can just be really hard for some parents to understand. And I understand that their concern to a great extent is rooted in their fear of what is going to happen to my soul, and it drives their behaviour. Due to that, it's a constant negotiation of where the boundaries are, and having to be firm about them. I feel a great amount of guilt because it has to be this way, but honestly I don't know if there's any other way it can be.
 

 

 

Yeah I've thought the same thing. I feel awful that it has to be this way but the only other options are: go back to Jesus which is a big FAT NO. Lie and pretend I went back to Jesus (and I'm a really bad liar. Besides I don't want to live like that.) Let them constantly harass me about Jesus and just "suffer through it". They are the ones causing this rift/situation because they refuse to call a ceasefire. And yeah, like you, I GET why they feel this way but this is the unfortunate consequence of the belief system they've chosen to embrace. At ANY time, they could find a less insane version of Christianity and keep Jesus AND have a reasonable relationship with me. But they have made their choice and it is Jesus over me and they want me to fall in line behind a foreign god. Well that just feels like a deep betrayal to me, it's a betrayal of my own values and honestly held views. It's a betrayal of my right as an adult to form my own path as they had the same opportunity. And it's (IMO) a betrayal of all those who came before me before the stockholm syndrome kicked in. All the generations of people fighting to keep SOME remnant of something that meant something to them. I just can't justify following or pretending to follow a foreign occupying spirituality just to keep the peace. Because it wouldn't improve my life. Then they would be harassing me about how "close" I was to Jesus and asking me about church all the time and inviting me to their church. There really is no end to this.

 

It's just like the original conversion bait and switch fundies do. First you  just have to believe in Jesus. Then once you do that you have to go to church and live a "christian life" and do this and don't do that and anytime you mess up compulsively ask for forgiveness. Then you have to increasingly live a more and more holy life and give up more and more of your life to Jesus. And then you have to get more and more involved with church. I mean the requirements on you NEVER end. They only grow bigger and the slavery only goes deeper. So this "all you gotta do is believe" lie is just that. And anyway "all you gotta do is believe" isn't an easy thing. You can't choose to believe something you find absolutely repulsive and idiotic. I can't choose to believe in santa either.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It does get better with time guys. Leaving religion is difficult and the journey often takes years to complete, but it's worth it. So, hang in there. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Geezer said:

It does get better with time guys. Leaving religion is difficult and the journey often takes years to complete, but it's worth it. So, hang in there. :)

 

I agree. It's been 20 years since I left Christianity. The fear part is gone (the what if I'm wrong phase... the residual fear of hell and rapture phase). Most of the anger is gone (occasionally I get riled up again, but for the most part I don't harbor RAGE). Most of it is better/complete. But the fact is, the issues with my family won't end until they leave this world. (I didn't want to say until they die because that sounds like a threat Ha! It's not! I love them). There are only 3 family members who cause a consistent enough problem to be concerned with. 2 grandparents (both in their late 80s), and my mom. Obviously I don't want any of them to die, but realistically the only way they are going to completely stop bothering me about Christianity is when they are gone. Sometimes boundary setting with my mom works, but it's like training a short attention span dog and running out of treats. My grandparents are a lost cause, but they are old. And frankly that crap is really on me because I should have just kept it to myself. Though I don't think that would have worked because no doubt my mother would have told them.

 

The unfortunate reality is... if there are real hardcore fundies in the mix of your life that aren't just friends you can drop, but family, and close family at that, there are certain aspects to this that "never get better" and certainly not with time, unless we're just waiting out their life expectancy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Geezer said:

It does get better with time guys. Leaving religion is difficult and the journey often takes years to complete, but it's worth it. So, hang in there. :)

Also, I would have liked your post but apparently there is a like ration. I didn't know our emotions were rationed here. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Cat987 said:

 

Yeah I've thought the same thing. I feel awful that it has to be this way but the only other options are: go back to Jesus which is a big FAT NO. Lie and pretend I went back to Jesus (and I'm a really bad liar. Besides I don't want to live like that.) Let them constantly harass me about Jesus and just "suffer through it". They are the ones causing this rift/situation because they refuse to call a ceasefire. And yeah, like you, I GET why they feel this way but this is the unfortunate consequence of the belief system they've chosen to embrace. At ANY time, they could find a less insane version of Christianity and keep Jesus AND have a reasonable relationship with me. But they have made their choice and it is Jesus over me and they want me to fall in line behind a foreign god. Well that just feels like a deep betrayal to me, it's a betrayal of my own values and honestly held views. It's a betrayal of my right as an adult to form my own path as they had the same opportunity. And it's (IMO) a betrayal of all those who came before me before the stockholm syndrome kicked in. All the generations of people fighting to keep SOME remnant of something that meant something to them. I just can't justify following or pretending to follow a foreign occupying spirituality just to keep the peace. Because it wouldn't improve my life. Then they would be harassing me about how "close" I was to Jesus and asking me about church all the time and inviting me to their church. There really is no end to this.

 

It's just like the original conversion bait and switch fundies do. First you  just have to believe in Jesus. Then once you do that you have to go to church and live a "christian life" and do this and don't do that and anytime you mess up compulsively ask for forgiveness. Then you have to increasingly live a more and more holy life and give up more and more of your life to Jesus. And then you have to get more and more involved with church. I mean the requirements on you NEVER end. They only grow bigger and the slavery only goes deeper. So this "all you gotta do is believe" lie is just that. And anyway "all you gotta do is believe" isn't an easy thing. You can't choose to believe something you find absolutely repulsive and idiotic. I can't choose to believe in santa either.

 

 

You could do what I did when I initally came out. I wrote a letter to my parents and basically told them if they want to keep having an honest, open relationship with me, then emotional abuse (telling me I was going to hell etc) wasn't going to be part of it. Of course the unsaid message was that, if they started that, we wouldn't have a relationship. And they have largely stayed away from it (they don't say things to me directly but they conveniently put it in conversations I am listening to). Believers just don't understand that this is emotional abuse.

"All you gotta do is believe" was never an option in my church. If it was, I would have pretended much longer. But extreme fundamentalism doesn't provide that option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Geezer said:

It does get better with time guys. Leaving religion is difficult and the journey often takes years to complete, but it's worth it. So, hang in there. :)

I know. It's much better even 1+ years removed from it. It's just that I'm not known for my patience, and I'd like it it to just happen now, dammit. :P

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

. But extreme fundamentalism doesn't provide that option.

 

That's true.

 

It's been 20 years. I think we are well past the letter writing stage. That would seem weird now. On the plus side, I can actually talk to my dad and brother and husband about my actual beliefs. So there is that. But I have set boundaries with my mother. And I agree with you that they simply don't recognize or understand this to be emotional abuse because they can't understand what the experience of it is from our perspective. I mean if I was trying to convert her to the old gods she'd get it, but I'm not going to be a spiteful asshole just for the sake of it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I developed severe anxiety and depression due to the years of believing the nonsensical insanity that was the rapture, hell, signs, what to think and what not to think, how you should think, etc. 

 

Ever since I was taught those things at the age of 8 I had lived my life in constant fear, praying, blocking my own critical thoughts, and asking for forgiveness for uncontrollable thoughts that may insult God; as a result I developed poor thinking patterns that lead to me at the age of 13 forming a severe case of chronic anxiety and depression where I had panic attacks from the feeling of being trapped in my own existence and made suicide attempts to "escape" from my existence.

 

I am now 17 and still recovering from those horrible memories of my experience but I still suffer from poor thinking patterns and am at high risk of anxiety and depression, my family (who also love me) blame the anxiety and depression on me and claim that I was not a "true" christian; no matter how much I reason with them and how strong my arguments are they simply jump onto the defensive bandwagon and then later pray for my supposed unsaved soul.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, HoneyBib said:

I developed severe anxiety and depression due to the years of believing the nonsensical insanity that was the rapture, hell, signs, what to think and what not to think, how you should think, etc. 

 

Ever since I was taught those things at the age of 8 I had lived my life in constant fear, praying, blocking my own critical thoughts, and asking for forgiveness for uncontrollable thoughts that may insult God; as a result I developed poor thinking patterns that lead to me at the age of 13 forming a severe case of chronic anxiety and depression where I had panic attacks from the feeling of being trapped in my own existence and made suicide attempts to "escape" from my existence.

 

I am now 17 and still recovering from those horrible memories of my experience but I still suffer from poor thinking patterns and am at high risk of anxiety and depression, my family (who also love me) blame the anxiety and depression on me and claim that I was not a "true" christian; no matter how much I reason with them and how strong my arguments are they simply jump onto the defensive bandwagon and then later pray for my supposed unsaved soul.

 

I dealt with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks from Christianity. You may have a predisposition toward anxiety and depression that Christianity merely made worse. However, this will get better. As you get more confident in your non-belief. Are you speaking to someone and dealing with your anxiety? I find both yoga and exercise extremely helpful for me. I think it's also tough because of your age and still living with your parents (I'm assuming). I'm really sorry about the situation you're in right now.

 

I still strongly remember when I first left Christianity and the residual rapture and hell fear. It took a while to work through but it really does get better. I found it helpful to just keep studying and "deprogramming" myself. Jesus Never Existed was a website I found extremely useful. Not sure if I discovered that when I was deconverting or sometime after, but there is a bit of time where you will ocassionally feel the need to reinforce your new views. These times get fewer and farther between as time goes on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, VerbosityCat said:

 

I dealt with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks from Christianity. You may have a predisposition toward anxiety and depression that Christianity merely made worse. However, this will get better. As you get more confident in your non-belief. Are you speaking to someone and dealing with your anxiety? I find both yoga and exercise extremely helpful for me. I think it's also tough because of your age and still living with your parents (I'm assuming). I'm really sorry about the situation you're in right now.

 

I still strongly remember when I first left Christianity and the residual rapture and hell fear. It took a while to work through but it really does get better. I found it helpful to just keep studying and "deprogramming" myself. Jesus Never Existed was a website I found extremely useful. Not sure if I discovered that when I was deconverting or sometime after, but there is a bit of time where you will ocassionally feel the need to reinforce your new views. These times get fewer and farther between as time goes on.

I am currently seeing a therapist every couple months, the problem is my mother is also present which makes it harder for a one on one conversation with the therapist because my mother gets defensive about her religion, at least my therapist seems to understand that the religion I used to believe in had a major component in me developing anxiety and depression.

 

I am also hoping that one day I will successfully deconvert my mother where she can be an atheist/agnostic too and see all the nonsense that she-too believed in and  realise that the chronic anxiety that she also suffered herself as a teenager was not because she was a "bad" christian but because she is a christian.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, HoneyBib said:

I am currently seeing a therapist every couple months, the problem is my mother is also present which makes it harder for a one on one conversation with the therapist because my mother gets defensive about her religion, at least my therapist seems to understand that the religion I used to believe in had a major component in me developing anxiety and depression.

 

I am also hoping that one day I will successfully deconvert my mother where she can be an atheist/agnostic too and see all the nonsense that she-too believed in and  realise that the chronic anxiety that she also suffered herself as a teenager was not because she was a "bad" christian but because she is a christian.

 

Insist that your therapy sessions exclude your mother.  You are the patient.  Your mother is not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, HoneyBib said:

I am currently seeing a therapist every couple months, the problem is my mother is also present which makes it harder for a one on one conversation with the therapist because my mother gets defensive about her religion, at least my therapist seems to understand that the religion I used to believe in had a major component in me developing anxiety and depression.

 

I am also hoping that one day I will successfully deconvert my mother where she can be an atheist/agnostic too and see all the nonsense that she-too believed in and  realise that the chronic anxiety that she also suffered herself as a teenager was not because she was a "bad" christian but because she is a christian.

 

 

It would be nice if she could deconvert too, but I wouldn't hold my breath about that. I was around 19 when I deconverted and I had this idea that since I had figured this out it was just a simple matter of showing my family the same information I'd learned and they would leave, too. But it just doesn't work that way. Also, while people DO leave later in life, the longer someone is a christian (or any religion or ideology) the more firmly entrenched they become in that system and the less likely they are to be willing to question what they were taught.

 

I'm no therapist and of course I don't know the laws surrounding this, but doesn't a patient have the right to see a medical professional WITHOUT their parent present even if a minor? If not, when will you be 18? because this business of your mother tagging along into your therapy sessions is whacko. Unless it's specifically family counseling you can't make any real progress if you can't be open without your mother flipping out and making it about her. I remember briefly seeing a therapist in my late teens and my mom didn't go in with me. (Though I may have been 18 or 19. I don't remember so that might be why. Still, it seems incredibly intrusive. I can understand a parent wanting to be aware of what is going on with a therapist but they should interview them, determine if they feel comfortable with them and then give you the space necessary to work on your issues.)

 

re: your mothers anxiety as a teen, if she had more anxiety as a teen than now, and you have more anxiety as a teen, yes I agree that Christianity can be a MAJOR factor in it. But another thing you're dealing with right now is your reproductive hormones working themselves out. That can be an intense time. So there could also be a hormonal balance factor at play here also. I would look into all potential inputs. Anxiety and depression are often multi-factoral and the more factors you can figure out and address the more full the recovery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, sdelsolray said:

 

Insist that your therapy sessions exclude your mother.  You are the patient.  Your mother is not.

 

 

See, this is my thought on that issue as well, but she's 17 so I'm not sure about the legalities of it. Her being a minor, her mother may have a legal right to be present.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an article about this type of issue: https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar02/confidentiality.aspx

 

Of particular interest to me is this: "As a child grows into adolescence and adulthood, the surrounding zone of privacy should increase, thus making room for a more defined sense of self and a greater sense of autonomy. A paradox thus arises: Good clinical treatment may require what the law generally refuses, that is, a zone of privacy. "   

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, VerbosityCat said:

 

 

See, this is my thought on that issue as well, but she's 17 so I'm not sure about the legalities of it. Her being a minor, her mother may have a legal right to be present.

 

In some jurisdictions yes, in others no.  Regardless, she should insist her therapy sessions exclude her mother.  It would be a start towards drawing the boundaries that eventually need to be put in place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, sdelsolray said:

 

In some jurisdictions yes, in others no.  Regardless, she should insist her therapy sessions exclude her mother.  It would be a start towards drawing the boundaries that eventually need to be put in place.

 

At least a part of the appointment. Like maybe half of it. And I agree with you. I mean I don't know how far off she is from being 18, but it's less than 12 months and that's a very short period of time in the grand scheme of things. Whatever legal rights her mother may have in this matter, she should consider the possibility of pushing her daughter away by insisting on enforcing them.

 

When I first turned 18, my mother and I had a VERY rocky few years because she'd smothered me so much and was so overbearing and controlling (She wasn't trying to be harmful but she was still... wow. Did not understand boundaries. She's better now, but part of that is because she has no legal choice in the matter. "My 40-year-old daughter won't do what I say or follow my religion whaaa" doesn't get much sympathy points) Eventually we worked our way back to a semi-decent relationship, though there is a level of closeness we can never have because of her insistence on squishing Jesus into the middle of us, but that's her choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, HoneyBib said:

I am currently seeing a therapist every couple months, the problem is my mother is also present which makes it harder for a one on one conversation with the therapist because my mother gets defensive about her religion, at least my therapist seems to understand that the religion I used to believe in had a major component in me developing anxiety and depression.

 

I am also hoping that one day I will successfully deconvert my mother where she can be an atheist/agnostic too and see all the nonsense that she-too believed in and  realise that the chronic anxiety that she also suffered herself as a teenager was not because she was a "bad" christian but because she is a christian.

The fact that the therapist is OK with your mother attending the sessions with you, particularly when she is aware of the effect that your beliefs had on you, speaks volumes and is a red flag. The therapist should insist that your mother not attend the sessions, as YOU are the one getting treatment. This is a very basic boundary violation issue. I would look for another therapist, as this one doesn't seem competent at all. Also, your job isn't to deconvert your mother, it's to take care of yourself now.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/13/2018 at 12:17 AM, TruthSeeker0 said:

The fact that the therapist is OK with your mother attending the sessions with you, particularly when she is aware of the effect that your beliefs had on you, speaks volumes and is a red flag. The therapist should insist that your mother not attend the sessions, as YOU are the one getting treatment. This is a very basic boundary violation issue. I would look for another therapist, as this one doesn't seem competent at all. Also, your job isn't to deconvert your mother, it's to take care of yourself now.

Many Xians either have no understanding of boundaries, or actively seek to violate them. I've found this to be particularly true of evangelicals who are imbued with an attitude of "I know what's good for you better than you know what's good for you". Being taught to ignore boundaries, it's difficult to realize how badly they've been transgressed until many years later.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, DestinyTurtle said:

Many Xians either have no understanding of boundaries, or actively seek to violate them. I've found this to be particularly true of evangelicals who are imbued with an attitude of "I know what's good for you better than you know what's good for you". Being taught to ignore boundaries, it's difficult to realize how badly they've been transgressed until many years later.

Yeah if @HoneyBibs therapist is xtian this is very likely going to be the case... It makes no sense at all to have a therapist who still subscribes to those beliefs

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

Yeah if @HoneyBibs therapist is xtian this is very likely going to be the case... It makes no sense at all to have a therapist who still subscribes to those beliefs

 

I think she said the therapist was secular, but given that the mother may have the legal right to be there given that her daughter is still a minor, the therapist may feel too intimidated to try to draw boundaries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now