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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

 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.

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...” -

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.

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Comment by Nofaithpoet on July 2, 2011 at 9:53pm
I just hope that we don't find ourselves without help Marianne. I want to say that people are coming around but the progress is slow. Being able to talk about it helps a lot and I'm glad that I can talk about it with people like you that understand.
Comment by Marianne on July 2, 2011 at 1:14am
I'm also labelled with a mental disorder so I can empathize a lot with you;  I'm not quite ready now to share how and what it led to for me but I soon will be.  I know first hand how people react when you tell them that and I also know that even different people with different mental disorders are ashamed of these and kind of tell others... well, I suffered from a depression, because it's more socially accepteptable...well this is prejudiced on a high scale.
Comment by Nofaithpoet on June 29, 2011 at 7:46am
People tell me that I should be pessimistic but I think it's obvious that things are not going to get better anytime soon. I do wish to move to another country and have new experiences. Every time I watch the news it seems like a sensible option.
Comment by Adriana on June 28, 2011 at 9:51am
Edmond, everyone is broke because the rich are getting richer and we keep invading countries and sending people to die and kill everywhere. It makes me very angry that resources are "not available" when it is not in the interest of the powerful. It's not the kind of society I want to live in.
Comment by Nika on June 28, 2011 at 8:20am
First I'd like to say that this is such a well-written and sensitive piece. You really are a good writer Edmond!

Thank you for sharing your experience. I can definitely see how religion would only add more harm than good. Even without mental health problems, I think religion, at least Christianity, (like you, I can only speak from my experiences), in seeking to have its adherents in full obedience and loyalty to its beliefs and practices, emphasizes some serious mind control.

I remember reading books like "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer and "He Came to Set the Captives Free" by Rebecca Brown. These books would emphasize the need for us to "take every thought captive" to make every thought obedient to Christ. We were taught to "plead the blood of Jesus" over our minds when thoughts that were contrary to "the word" came to mind. We were taught to see thoughts as "strongholds" and admonished to be aware of things like doubt, lust, fear, self-indulgence, and all negativity. And then, as you noted in the post, to top it all off, we were told that if we have these thoughts it's because we're not depending totally on the holy spirit to guide us and to change us! We were told that we ought not to "lean on (our) own understanding".

They want TOTAL dependence...mind, body and "spirit". The books I mentioned above taught me to believe that thoughts can derive from 3 sources: 1. myself 2. the devil 3. god. It was my job to "monitor" my thoughts and to judge each thought to discover it's origin. If the thought was from me, and it was a negative thought, they said I should read the scriptures so that it would help me to "renew my mind". They said if it was the devil, I should "rebuke him and he will flee". If it was god, I should, of course, adhere to his every word.

We were also told that we should monitor what we watched on tv, at the movies, what we read, who we listened to, as well as the kind of music we listened to. Because the life of the mind was so emphasized, we were admonished to stay away from those things that would lead us to sin in our thoughts. I spent a great deal of my time memorizing scriptures, reading inspirational books, and listening to sermons in order to keep my mind occupied with the things of god. Does this not sound like insanity all by itself?!

Not everyone is in that deep, but for those of us who have been, coming out feels like the ultimate freedom. We understand that Christianity promotes mind control and is a true form of brainwashing.

I wish you well Edmond and hope you'll find the help you're looking for!
Comment by Nofaithpoet on June 27, 2011 at 9:14pm
I'm trying the best I can but everything I need cost money. There are some free resources but everyone is broke so the support isn't the same.
Comment by Adriana on June 27, 2011 at 12:19pm

Thank you for sharing these very personal experiences with us. I'm glad you got away from the claws of religion, that are only good for making people bleed and bring them further down with the weight of their guilt and making people feel inadequate. I'm sorry you are still going through these issues and I wish ours was a country where people are taken care of by a universal healthcare system that works. I had a college friend with this illness and he has improved considerably throughout the years, mostly with "talk therapy" and the right social environment (not the United States).

Comment by Nofaithpoet on June 27, 2011 at 9:13am
Yes it is and we are hearing more and more about people dying because they choose faith instead of a hospital.
Comment by Neal on June 27, 2011 at 8:39am

Thanks for sharing Edmond. The "avoiding treatment" possibility is always one of the worst action taken for one's religion. 

Comment by Nofaithpoet on June 26, 2011 at 6:55pm
This site has a lot of good APD Information

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