TRIGGER WARNING- discussion of religion and a weird cult-ish thing that happened to me as a 16-year-old. Also self harm is mentioned.
Why tell me I am being tested? You think mental illness is a test? You think it’s something I could pass with flying colours? Hahaha, I don’t think.
This us not a test. This is not something your weak prayers to the magic beans in the sky can heal. This is forever.
I will be stuck with this agony all of my life. I will not escape. Of course, I might have breaks now and then, but you don’t understand that this is permanent and painful.
Your faith cannot heal these cracks in my mind. Your wishful thinking is flawed if you think you can fix this, and you are fundamentally cruel to suggest that a wish from you can heal me. Have I not been trying to heal my fucking self? Were my efforts inferior to yours?
Yes, this is a curse- a demon within me, but you nor your magician can drive it out. I need earthly, practical help- good people to love me, good people to talk to me and good doctors to prescribe medicine that will work.
I have tried to heal myself with your lies before. I have believed in this falsehood and I have thought I was a cracked vessel being tested. Well, you smashed me. I am in pieces, and it is all your fault.
So good luck trying to fix me, you fools, because there is nothing that your religion can do that has worked or will work. I will be proud of me for my progress alone, without your fallacy, insecurity, and lies.
I wrote this when I was angry the other day- my family is Christian and I am not, and I was in church and hating it as usual. I wrote this, read it just now… and realised that this is something I never talk about.
I never discuss religion. I hate talking about Christianity because of my past. I hate thinking about how many people are blinkered by commandments men gave when not listening to the truth.
Before I go any further, I have to say two things. One, that I do not hate Christianity as a whole. Two, that I was once a hardcore Evangelical Christian.
The reason I never discuss religion is because I have been so wounded by it. I have been put through the mill by intolerant people in the Church, its rules and laws, hypocritical preachers and horrible misunderstandings. I have also been loved, nurtured and supported by some beautiful people in the Church who continue to love me unconditionally today. I never want to speak out because of this, and I never go into my weird personal belief systems (which involve karma, a pantheon of gods and a hell of a lot of other weird shit) because I don’t want to be that Christian-basher. I don’t want to bash people because they practice a religion I don’t believe in.
However, my silence costs me.
It occurred, after I’d written that, that I am one day going to have to start looking at what happened to me in the Church and understand what it’s done to the rest of my life as a consequence. I was young and it scarred me. I was stupid and naive and foolish and trusting that something that told me it was good was not good for me.
So, I am going to explain.
I was always a sort-of Christian but never really found faith til I was eleven and went on a week away, with my church and thousands of other Christians from all over everywhere. I strongly believed I sensed the presence of God, and I then became the thing I wish I hadn’t- blind. I started from then to compromise a lot of me, starting with my free systems of thought. I started thinking that unless it had a big tick from God, I couldn’t do it. Of course, who does God talk through? The Church! The vicar! The Bible!
So I read the Bible, joined in all the youth stuff more at Church, which my parents were delighted about, and set about trying to convince my friends that it was a good way to go. I lost my free mind and struggled with things as a result. Take, for example, gay marriage. Some of you on here will know I’m bisexual, and it was just starting to kick in to my 11 year old self. I didn’t realise I was finding women attractive, but something about the anti-gay laws bothered me a little. I used to ignore it and move on.
I grew up, got more into the Christian scene, went to the holidays away a lot and started to believe that I was sent by God on a mission to do something, whilst at the same time believing I was not worthy enough to walk on the same earth as my family or friends. I believed that only God could love me as long as I was doing something he wanted me to do. I felt horribly guilty for being myself. Part of the symptoms of whatever this is involves a huge sex drive at certain points in the year, for no reason, and my risky behaviour with a guy I met at one of the Christian events excited and sickened me in equal measure. I began to think that I was the blackest sinner who walked the earth.
Next came my depression, and I was crippled with worse self loathing. I cried out for help every night. Nothing worked. I was dying inside, and starting to experiment with self harm. I succeeded in making a mess of myself with bunsen burners, a penknife of my dad’s, finally the scissors I have mentioned… I thought I was not trusting in God enough, that I didn’t have enough faith, that I didn’t believe enough. I thought I was at fault for being so weak.
Then, I met my ex. Bad grew to worse. He was a serious serious Christian too, and I had what I think is my first delusion. I’ve had one other since then which is too distressing to talk about right now.
He made me so close to him we even prayed together. He fabricated a world where me, my best girl friend (whom I was falling in love with) and him were angels, sent to Earth to serve God and protect the human race from the coming apocalypse. He wrote a huge story about us which I contributed to, believing that I was remembering things about Heaven when I believe I was hallucinating. We all three of us picked out Bible passages which we believed clearly showed the impending apocalypse. He told me my best friend was to be the antichrist, and I would have to kill her.
That was where my beautiful friend B freaked out.
She said there was no way she was killing someone, and that this was wrong, and the Bible said not to kill anyone. We split up and she got into bad company, alcohol and cutting. She really burned herself once, and I remember helping her change dressings for it and begging her to stop.
B, if you ever see this, I am so so sorry for the way we treated you. I am sorry I let myself become so brainwashed. I am sorry he kept me from you when you were dying inside too. I am sorry for everything, and I hope if you can’t forgive me, then please forget me. I am sorry.
Anyway, the delusion deepened. I realised that I was set apart, as was he, and we had lost B to the Devil. I still tried to save her, whilst feverishly looking up more of revelation and pinning it to world events. Eventually, we got found out by our parents, and he was told by his grandfather that he didn’t think it was true, but to keep being a Christian and believe in God… apparently.
I pretended to go along with my parents, but I was already so delusional I truly believed I was an angel. I saw demons. I heard the voice of God. I started interpreting my dreams like some modern-day Joseph. I believed this delusion for a year and a half, and it destroyed my friendship with B, it undermined my sanity, it brought my depression back and I hated myself so much that I would often wish I was going to die, just so I could go to Heaven and be “perfect”.
At the same time as this, the church I’d grown up in had some changes. My youth leader was a closet lesbian, but found a girlfriend and was kicked out of the church. She has been an inspiration and a guiding light- somehow she kept her faith and has a wife and family. At the time, her friends turned on her and people she had known for years denounced her. She was friendless, and it hurt me too because I loved her quirkiness and her sense of humour, her larger than life-ness. My bisexuality was surfacing too, and I was more than a little frightened. I was clearly going to hell too. Why did I want my best girl friend to kiss me? Why the hell was I so attracted to my other best girl friend at school?
When I moved away to London, the church I joined preached inclusion but practiced cliquiness. I was on the outskirts all the time despite my efforts to fit. I constantly felt on edge, and it was very rare I was asked to an event by the youth of that church. It was huge, and I got lost, in a sea of people who all knew each other but not me.
My burden of guilt worsened with all this, and the cutting was worse, and the self-loathing was worse, and the notion of sin was unbearable. I could literally feel the flames of hell.
Then my ex decided he was an atheist, and I beat myself up even more. I had fallen for an atheist. I was a bad Christian. I was evil. I had started to believe our faith would pull us through, but not even that was true. The ends of the delusion were only just trailing away, and I felt the void of that faith slap me like stinging Arctic wind.
The bottom plummeted out of my faith not long after the delusion had completely gone. I realised I was cheated and alone, after all I had given to the church and God. I realised that I was fooling myself now if I thought I was a Christian, and that I had come to this horrible moment without my ex pressurising me.
The thing that sealed it was trying to get into a new church. It was close to the new ballet school I had gone to after my depression resulted in me being kicked out after running away. I remember walking in and because I don’t dress conventionally, attracting stares from just about everyone. I left after trying to put myself through three sermons where autonomy was bashed and becoming a sheep was praised, my old wounds still smarting.
Being in that angelic delusion was like being in a cult. I was so so shaken to the core when I realised it was all just a lie, and that my ex was stringing me along towards the end of it ‘because he cared,’ and he ‘didn’t want to hurt me, just to let me down gently.’ It was as if someone had come along and turned off the gravity switch. I was a mess, a wreck with no core belief system any more and no solidity. My prayers hadn’t felt listened to since I was 13, and my natural optimism had kept it all going. There is nothing more soul destroying than realising you have fooled yourself.
Besides all that, I have had people in the Church tell me that I am weak for having a mental illness and that I should just pray more, that I do not have enough faith so how can I get better; I have had people say my mother’s cancer was a test of our faiths as a family; that I ‘really need to think about how I dress to come to church’ and that being gay is a choice and a wrong choice. I am damaged enough by what happened. I don’t need to hear that bigoted shit any more, and I have sat in a sermon that has basically said that anyone who was not in that church was going to hell.
I am not trying to condemn Christianity as a whole. I do not want to be an Christianity-basher rallying point. I have met Christians whom I treasure, including Z, who loves me as me and not as a thing to be saved. I am just scarred and I have issues to solve, and this is one of them.
Do not try to exorcise me of this demon, church, because you created it. Nothing you do can get rid, unless you can fast-track me a psychiatrist appointment to help start my diagnosis. Don’t tell me that I am hearing lies unless they are yours.
I’m sorry if this post has hurt anybody. I honestly don’t mind if you believe in God of any sort. I am the damaged one here.
I’m also sorry if this is jumbled but it is so hard to write this without remembering it all in huge painful chunks. I may not touch this again, because I feel sick every time I think of it.