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Religion And Mental Health

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Wow, this is a really good (but heartbreaking) thread. As for me, diddo to almost everything above. While a Christian I went through the whole shabang. Depression, panic attacks, ect. ect. I had fairy good self-esteem when I went to my grandmother's liberal quaker church. It was when I started hanging with the pentecostals that things got really bad.

 

On my mother's side of the family (who are all pentecostal), every single person has some kind of mental health issue. My grandmother was raped by her father when she was 6 years old. She was married off at the age of 15 to my grandfather. My grandfather would get drunk and beat her severely in front of her children. After a few years of this she walked down to a river, where she had resolved to kill herself by drowning. She said at this point Jesus appeared to her and said, "Put your life in my hands". Ever since then, she's been a faithful church woman.

 

I feel sorry for her. So I wouldn't try to deconvert her unless her beliefs were causing her serious pain. Obviously, being treated like a man's toilet her entire life pushed her to the edge. And she had to believe that someone loves her purely and unconditionly in order to keep going. I know the only reason she wakes up in the morning is because she thinks, "Jesus loves me".

 

Even though her intentions were good, the damage she did by indoctrinating all her children into

fundamental holiness pentecostalism are huge. All her daughers had "arranged" marriages, and are divorced today. My mother lived a reckless and promiscuous lifestyle until she was in her 40's in rebellion of her extremely strict upbringing, causing extreme damage to my immediate family. Two of my uncles ended up being child molesters, and I think two might have some mild form of mental retardation.

 

You look at people like that (my grandmother) and it's easy to think that they are all a bunch of monsters. I try to remind myself that they are trying to meet extremely deep unmet needs, and have some compassion and understanding.

 

I agree with several of the above points. Especially the fact that most fundamentalists don't plan for the future. Who needs to put away money for their kids' college education, the rapture's coming! Who needs life insurence, the rapture's comings! Who needs to invest in buying a house, the rapture's coming! Is it any wonders Christians are on the lower half of the socio-economic scale.

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.......Is it any wonders Christians are on the lower half of the socio-economic scale.

I hope you're not counting the Christian "leadership" in your calculations. Because owning thousands of acres of land, mansions, billion-dollar TV stations and diamond mines in Africa doesn't sound like the "lower half of the socio-economic scale" to me. :wicked:

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Many of us will never quite leave, you never really "get over the pain", it just subdued with time. Unless you find something to fill that hole, it will remain patched over with just bandaids.

 

The impossible expectations and dreams we bonded with in our childhood do not suddenly go away. Many will live with the psychological trauma of being lied to and bonding to unreal expectations based on those lies the rest of their lives.

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On my mother's side of the family (who are all pentecostal), every single person has some kind of mental health issue. My grandmother was raped by her father when she was 6 years old. She was married off at the age of 15 to my grandfather. My grandfather would get drunk and beat her severely in front of her children. After a few years of this she walked down to a river, where she had resolved to kill herself by drowning.

 

Wow, Variable. That's the story of my grandma too. I don't know if she was raped by her father, but she did run away at 13 with my grand father, who was so evil that ended up being murdered. My grand ma became a very zelous christian when she was in mid-age. Now, she is dead, but her five children, 40-something grand children, and 25 or so grea-grand children are all fundys.

 

Most of my relatives are both neurotic and fundamentalist christian. How is that for mental illness affecting an entire family hah?

 

Thank "god" I live in North America. Most of them live in South America, far, far away from me.

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I have major depression and take meds faithfully to stay balanced. With me, religion was not only for fighting the sadness but for getting the love I couldn't get elsewhere. God was supposed to be a "father" that loved you unconditionally (yeah, right) and provide for me.

 

My own father, who never did much for me anyway, disowned me, ironically using my going to church (He was a Jehovah's Witness) as an excuse. He even blamed his drug relapse on me, saying God couldn't bless his household if someone like me was there. My mother and I were never close and the only "help" she gave me when I told her I was suicidal was, "You know you'll go to Hell if you kill yourself." I've had romantic relationships ruined because "God" got in the way and I wasn't good or holy enough for them anymore. In fact, I began to notice the more religious the people close to me were, the less likely they were to love me back. Strange for a religion that's supposed to be about love. :shrug:

 

My depression got worse and feeling like I was all alone on Earth, the only escape was to go to heaven as God would have to accept me. So I attempted suicide. However, I threw up the pills and called an ambulance. The straw that broke the camel's back was when one of the parametics told me I would go to Hell if I killed myself. My total deconversion started at the very moment he uttered that phrase. Here I was, with an I.V. in my arm and going to the ER (and a long stay in a mental hospital) and that's all the "loving" advice he could give me?

 

I think emotional neglect contributes to alot of mental problems and the reason why mentally ill people turn to religion is to fill that emptiness. Yet what happens is the rules, demand for perfection and subsequent guilt not only don't fulfill these needs but create worse problems. So you then have a total nutcase who would've, at least, turned to a psychiatrist if Christianity didn't frown on it so much.

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Guest Lost in Translation

Quite frankly christianity's appeal is escape from this world to a better place.

 

It think this is why the Christian life seemed so appealing to me. I was emotionally abused by my stepdad and mom and was extremely moved to be around people who seemed so kind, loving and giving. I think I started to feel that I was worth something in god's eyes, which was good in a way.

 

It also lead me to an extremely arrogant state, however, that turned-off most unbelievers. I still needed to "put down" others to feel better about myself.

 

Being a Christian helped me to justify my arrogant behavior, "Those people are of the world, anyway!" and it prevented me from really looking at my own issues, e.g., - maybe there is something about ME that turns people off.

 

But Christianity never completely got rid of the low self-esteem. I still got depressed and my friend who helped convert me said, "You really shoudn't be so depressed - you're a Christian now". I felt horrible after that. I frequently felt that I was not as spiritual or as "mature" as some of my peers. I sensed a heirarchy among believers and I felt that I was not at the top.

 

I saw a Christian therapist who helped me realize some of the abuses of my past - but she never recommended any kind of anti-anxiety medication which - in retrospect - I desperately needed.

 

A few years later, still a Christian, I managed to get on some medication which made a dramatic impact in how I saw the world and other people.

 

I eventually drifted away from Christianity after a divorce. I read "secular" self-help books and realized that I had been living in fear of making the wrong decisions because all of my decision making was based on praying to god to hear the "right" answer.

 

I am finally free. I heard from this friend "who helped convert me" recently. She's still heavily involved in Church, has 3 kids, home schools, etc. She asked me if I was "still walking with Jesus." I nearly barfed. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she's one of the reasons I eventually left Christianity.

 

In retrospect, she lived an extremely obsessive, judgemental, legalistic and controlled life. I'm sure she still does.

 

She also came from a "broken" home.

 

I really can't imagine how, though all these years (we became Christians in college and now are in our late 30s), someone could still stick with this fundamentalist Christian thing. Talk about mind control.

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hope you're not counting the Christian "leadership" in your calculations. Because owning thousands of acres of land, mansions, billion-dollar TV stations and diamond mines in Africa doesn't sound like the "lower half of the socio-economic scale" to me.

 

Sorry about that. Nope, I was included the bulk of trailer-park Christians that keep guys like that afloat through their donations.

 

 

 

Wow, Variable. That's the story of my grandma too. I don't know if she was raped by her father, but she did run away at 13 with my grand father, who was so evil that ended up being murdered. My grand ma became a very zelous christian when she was in mid-age. Now, she is dead, but her five children, 40-something grand children, and 25 or so grea-grand children are all fundys.

 

Funny how , despite the sexism and patriarchy of the bible, it's mostly the women that carry on the tradition.

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My biggest jolt came during and after I was well into my deconversion. There was a while where I would almost make myself sick worrying that I have just condemned myself to hell for rejecting Christianity (still happens every now and then). Followed by massive anger and a renewed resistance to being cowed into a belief through fear.

 

No actual mental disorders from my time with the RCC, at least none that have been diagnosed.

 

I do, however, blame my religion for my being affraid to admit that I have some signifigant homosexual tendencies, and figuring where in the spectrum of bi I am. Still sorting out the fallout from that.

 

I guess I lucked out with the people I was with.

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When I was a xian, I was afraid in the dark in my own bedroom at night because I'd feel like demons were out to get me. I also would see them in my imagination. Here's a page with details about different sorts of demons I saw. I'd cover myself with thick blankets, leaving no part of myself exposed lest the demons get a hold of that, even during the summer. When I deconverted, I stopped seeing the demons flying around my room. When I see creatures in dreams, I don't see them as demonic anymore. At least I didn't die under the blankets.

 

I went to confession once and I got worried about not remembering the list of sins I thought of, even after I was told by two people that they would all be forgiven, even ones I forget I did.

 

At night, I would sometimes imagine what it would be like going out of existence and scream, despite all that was said about a heaven. Now, I'm immune to scare tactics involving death that a fundie used on me. I keep saying so what to him.

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My family is the template for your average European Catholic family. All the kids were enrolled in a Catholic grade school until we reached high school, we gathered to kneel at my parent’s bedside every night before we went to sleep, and went to mass every Sunday until I was about 14. Even though I went to church twice a week, and there hung a crucifix in almost every room I walked into until I graduated 8th grade, religion wasn’t a huge deal for us, except for my mother. Like I said, template. We had our problems, and without going into too much detail, our history is filled with abhorrent instances of violence. Most of my earliest memories are ones that will forever bring tears to my eyes. My mother’s insistence that God will help us through it over and over again never panned out, and a chasm was embedded within my psyche. No matter how much I wanted God later in life, I was never able to fully believe that God was with me. Sometimes childhood abuse leads people to God, and other times it will erase any morsel of faith.

 

Add to this the fact that the nuns in our school would constantly call me stupid, and write off anything I wanted to say in a discussion because it was always wrong, and I was constantly in trouble (found out years later I’m ADD). The teachers were no better than any clique; a socially awkward kid was not helped but marginalized. God’s house was not a sanctuary nor was it a refuge from insanity

 

Fast forward to high school. When I entered junior year, I decided to quit doing drugs. My friends at the time were all getting addicted, arrested, or pregnant, and I wanted out. So, they started ignoring me. A few months into it I met a funny kid and we started dating. He became a Non-d Christian, and I came to church with him sometimes. Everyone was so kind; I collected a healthy circle of friends who did more than just get high. Right before I entered the fold, I thought there were only two options. Either God is denying me the happiness that these people obviously have, or I’m not too far from my moment. It felt like my new friends, my increased spirituality – despite it being of Catholic descent – were steps closer to being recognized by god – FINALLY!!! And it happened, I converted.

 

But the chasm was entirely too deep. A year later I was done. What felt like God’s presence was just a mind trick, hypocrisy was rampant among the congregation, and I read to Bible cover to cover – ‘nuff said. However, I didn’t think that God was bullshit at that point. What was running through my mind was that I was destined for Hell, and I have been since I was born. It wasn’t like I was back to my old ways again; I took no pleasure in anything. For a 1 ½ years I was ticking away the days to Hell. My testimony paints a different picture, but when I was new to the board I was not comfortable talking about fear of Hell, abuse, depression, etc.

 

How would I have come out if my mother hadn’t waited for God until we were poor? By the way, my mother is still a Catholic and goes to church on holidays, but is not nearly as religious as she was in those early years. When life presents problems, she deals with them. However, there’s still a prayer book in her bedroom for those times when she wants to pray. On the rare occasions that she does, it’s to thank God instead of asking him for help – she prays aloud. I don’t know if this really qualifies under the mentally unstable category, but my mother kept us in a blatantly dangerous situation because she thought God was on his way. That’s what I call an unstable mentality.

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