Mental Illnesses are one of the reasons why I decided to become an atheist. I mean that I know several people with them and I have some as well. I went to Christianity hoping that it would change me but it made things worse. With all of the rules and regulations I found my self esteem disappearing as I tried verse after verse to "get better". I would pray and then receive no comfort so the next time I would pray harder. I would go to every other call for backsliders to come and repent. There were nights when I would "speak in tongues" hoping for a breakthrough.
At first I felt better but I would never be where I wanted to be. I was going off of what I read in the bible and what I felt. One line would be promise while the next was filled with threats for doubters and double minded folks. Taking medication felt like I was doubting my imaginary god's healing powers. Some days I would find myself on the floor crying thinking that I was so “bad” that even my god didn't want me. It wouldn't respond to me when I gave up the feelings and hurts that I had inside. To me, it meant that I deserved to feel the way that I did. My god would have responded if I was “right” in his eyes right?
I felt sad at first, how screwed up must you be if your personal god didn't even want to talk to you and comfort you? I came to Christianity because I was going to kill myself and in an ironic twist it was dragging me down deeper. This time though I had the added horror of being sent to Hell for eternity because I was told that Hell is where those that commit suicide go. It also meant that I failed the “god of love”. I almost paid a few hundred dollars to have the church try to remove the “demons” from me.
Fast forward. I no longer believe in any gods but now my mind is more broken now than what is was before. I have changed a few thought patterns but some still remain and of course my illnesses still remain as well. Without religion or belief in any gods I am doing somewhat better. There are no demons or devils to blame. There are no holy ghosts or spirits that I am waiting to “come inside” and make things better on faith. The best part is there is no Hell awaiting my arrival anymore either.
Avoidance ( Avoidant) personality disorder is what I have. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant_personality_disorder
To sum it up:
“Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of feeling very shy, inadequate, and sensitive to rejection...people with avoidant personality disorder can't stop thinking about their own shortcomings. They form relationships with other people only if they believe they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful that these people will choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others...” - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001936/
The reason why I am writing this is because I remember that programming the mind is very important in Christianity. I can't speak on any other religions because I don't know them that well. Now that I deny Christianity and every thing that goes with it, finding a path to recovery within reality is my main goal. The people around me blame my atheism for my troubles but I know that such a belief is incorrect because I had these issues before and things just got worse when imaginary sky daddy was involved. Sometimes I feel bad because being an atheist with mental issues seems to promote mocking. Obviously I don’t want it to be the case.
I just wonder how many people are out there on their knees every night crying to the ceiling for a solution. How many are ashamed to tell friends and family because they will be shunned? Even worse, how many are avoiding treatment because they feel that by doing so, they are doubting their god? Now the little hope of help that some of us had is being destroyed by people that want to save the money for something else. They believe in another life so saying that these issues are not important and are just “demons” that prayer and supplication can get rid of is ineffective. I constantly hear of support and funds in regards to mental health are being cut.
Some people that get up enough nerve to tell people are met with fingers of blame and preaching enhancing the feeling that they are not trying enough. Some are being told that if their faith was strong enough or faithful enough, a god would just come and wash all of the pain away. Service after service the feelings mount up and are hidden deep within the mind awaiting some divine intervention that never comes. Still some get better but only on an illusion. I never get tired of watching the Matrix trilogy, seeing those that know the truth and are dealing with it and those that just go on believing settling with marching in line instead.
There are times when I look at the ones “in line” and get a lit jealous but then I feel stronger in my decision to step out of “the line”. My condition will not get better with the daydream of holy assistance. In order to beat this I have to accept responsibility and make attempts to become better not with the hope of scoring a front row seat in a non existent heavens or avoiding everlasting torment and punishment in a non existent Hell. I guess I'm posting this because I feel that it is harder to recover when I know there is no magical answer however I feel that if I beat this that I will come out to be better off than someone that believes there is a magical answer.
This is not a “I'm better than believers” post. Believer or not I want us all to be healthy and feel good. I'm just saying that I feel that the recovery is harder for non believers in the beginning but have a better result at the end. I will be able to love life and people because I love life and people, not because I am afraid of “the watcher”. I don't want to try and rack up points hoping that I have enough to beat or meet the high score of a savior that doesn't exist.