Cyndal’s Road To Freedom

I have posted on Facebook a request for former Christians or religious folk to share (anonymously if they wish) their stories re. what impact Christianity had in their life and what led them to give up this path and find another.

Cyndal is a  real person.  I got to know her on Facebook.  Her husband David is a real person.  Nice normal people, who just happen to be in rock/live music culture.  These people live in a very small red-neck town in Tennessee, and going to church and hungering after the Lord wasn’t enough apparently for them to fit in.  Asking questions, wanting to understand, requesting that a pastor do his job…between that and daring to dress differently and wear their hair perhaps, differently…

Well, I have my own story, and it’s nothing so bad as this.  But mine also has something to do with what happens when mental illness and religion comes together.  So do I believe this happened to Cyndal?  You bet.   This is not the first time I have heard a story like this.

Small sidenote.  This is a real person’s story, unedited by myself, and I will not post any replies I get to this that are offensive to Cyndal in any way.

Cyndal’s hard road to become a PROUD Atheist

When I was a small child I went to church with my family every Sunday. It was very scary to me because I was so young I just saw a man up there yelling and other people crying. I was very confused because no one explained what was going on but I was comforted as long as my parents were there. Then when I was about 5 years old we just stopped going. I don’t know why. It was just not a routine any more.

We moved around a lot and never went to church anywhere we lived until we moved to this very small, very religious, red neck town. It’s so small it has a small Walmart and about 5 gas stations but a church every quarter of a mile. Unfortunately I still live here with my husband (David) , my two babies (2&4), and my 17year old brother I adopted due to terrible family situations.

When I was 13 my parents all of a sudden started demanding we go to church again. It was a very small, very laid back church where the preacher wore his pjs and cut church off early when his favorite football team was to play that Sunday! At 13 I thought that was awesome! I was very into church and learning everything I possibly could. At one point I even got to teach Sunday school to the smaller children when their teacher was not there! I love kids so I loved that! As I got older I started wanting more. The things I didn’t understand I would question. I just wanted help understanding what was being taught. After a couple of weeks of constant questioning things and begging the preacher for answers he would simply tell me ” i shouldn’t question because that was doubt and as a Christian I should just have faith!” that just wasn’t enough for me! I would TRY to ask more questions but I would be ignored and dodged by the preacher so he wouldn’t have to bother with me. I was 15 then and that’s when the wheels started turning in my head. About the preacher but I still continued being a Christian. I even got the “teen bible” to help me try to learn. At 16 the preacher talked with my parents and all of a sudden I was the “trouble child”. That turned into a lot of arguing with my parents, me pleading my case as why I’m bad, then mental and emotional abuse started to try to “control” me, to prove they were over me. That ultimately ended with me getting kicked out but my grandmother took me in. (for the record I didn’t do drugs, drink, curse, I did smoke cigarettes behind my parents back but that was the only thing I could figure out as to what made me bad) Believe it or not I continued to go to that church. Drive myself and all!

I have always had the punk/rock/goth look even though that made me stick out in this town which labeled me as a “freak”. I didn’t care though, and don’t care to this day. At 17 I met my now husband. He also is a “freak”. Long red hair, lots of black band shirts, big earrings… He was a Christian too then and started coming to church with me when he didn’t have to work. You could feel the tension in the air but we held our heads high and ignored it. It happened quick but about 6 months of dating (after I turned 18) I moved in with him. That’s when the shit started. They didn’t like that at all. I told them even though we were living together we had bible study on our couch some nights in our pjs and he was finally answering my questions! But they labeled him as a devil worshipper!

One Sunday he had to work so I went to church by myself. I was sick that Sunday so of course I was called up for prayer. Everyone came up, laid their hands on me and started pray out loud. As they were doing that the preacher put his hands on my cheeks and whispered into my ear ” you are living with the devil! He is brain washing you! If you don’t move out you will be damned to hell!” Prayer was done so he let go and smiled at me. I was shocked! that night when David got home I told him what happened. He was shocked and mad! We discussed it and decided it was probably our looks and the way he could answer the questions I had that the preacher couldn’t.

The next Sunday after service we confronted the preacher. I think he was really shocked we had the guts to actually bring that to him! You could tell he was nervous because he was stumbling over his words and quickly ended the conversation with “oh..church needs to start!” and ran off. I skipped the next Sunday because I was still hurt. Then I had planned on going the next service but I was really sick. That’s when we had a knock at the door. It was the preacher and my parents! I’m assuming the preacher talked with my parents and told them what had happened and that David was the devil. We talked with them at first but when it became an argument that made me cry, David said that’s enough and closed and locked the door. They became so mad they were beating on the door demanding to get out and they were saving me! We had to actually call the cops to get them off our property! That’s when the doubt on Christianity really started!

I stopped going for a few weeks until I got a call from my 10 year old brother saying our mother and her new boyfriend had whipped him with a belt and made marks! That infuriated me! It was mid day wednesday so I knew exactly where to find our mother! Church! So I drove down to the church parking lot and waited for them to pull in. No one was there yet and they got there first. I got out demanding my mother to get out and talk with me! She wouldn’t do anything but crack her window but her boyfriend got out and came to my car very angry! I got out not backing down! He was getting up in my face yelling, screaming and telling me I wasn’t nothing but shit for a daughter causing pain in my mothers heart. He pissed me off so bad I grabbed a tire iron out of my car and yelled back “do something…let’s go!” Then they jumped into their van and took off! So…I took off chasing them! I wasn’t done! I guess they called the preacher from their cell because after a minute of round and round they pulled over and the preacher and his wife blocked their car between mine and my mothers. They calmly told them to go back to the church, go in, and lock the doors. Then the attention was turned to me! Yelling and screaming! How dare I go on church grounds acting that way, it didn’t matter what the situation was! I could barely get any words out between their screaming! Well, it ended with the PREACHER, exact words, yelling ” You have been nothing but FUCKING trouble for the past 3 years! I have never been able to stand your ASS! You and the devil (David) are never to step foot in my GOD DAMN church ever again! FUCK YOU YOU LITTLE BITCH!!!” I had to drive by there to get home and as I passed by about 15 church members were outside all of them holding up their middle finger at me and someone yelled something but I couldn’t hear what! And did anyone notice that none of me getting kicked out of the church and why I did this had nothing to do with the whipping of my brother? That was what started it but that act I did was like the preachers perfect opportunity to get me and David out of his church…which was his plan all along!

Now, I know this sounds unbelievable but honest it all true!

That was the beginning of my search. If knew I definitely not a Christian but what was I? I went years just in a non existent daze, half the time not thinking about it until church was brought up then the wondering came back. Around 22 I had enough! I went started the googling, then I went to Books A Million. I sat in the floor for about an hour and came home with 5 books. Not all Atheist books. Agnostic, Atheist, even Wiccan! The Wiccan one was just because I had no clue what Wiccan was! I read and read. I thought and thought. I kept it all secret from everyone. Even David. (Oh I forgot to mention he’s my husband now for 6 years! ) After a while it hit me! I AM ATHEIST! I know I am! No doubt! And I felt free!

Now that I was 100% positive I was Atheist there was the next part….tell David and explain what made me decide this and why… I was soo nervous. He’s my husband. What would he think? What if he got mad? What if it cause arguments? Well, one night we pulled into our drive way. The babies were sound asleep so we took the chance to sit and enjoy a quiet moment talking. Some how religion was the topic that quiet moment. So I took this chance. Basically said ” hunny I have to tell you something about how I feel about religion and if you have any questions or …” then he stopped me. (I have a problem when I’m nervous to talk too much before I just get to the point) He gives me the “come on spit it out look” so I took a deep breathe.” ok well, remember I’ll explain everything…” he says “come on Cyndal” and I just blurt out “I’m atheist and I know that 100%and it feels so good! I have peace now, I feel free, I don’t have near as much anxiety about every move I make any more!” I cringed waiting for shock, questions, maybe even frustrating talking. But to my surprise he just grinned and started laughing! “umm ok…what’s going on ” is all I could say! He said ” stop talking and it’s ok..I’m not mad..I’m happy you found yourself by yourself and you are now happy and not secretly stressing!” He smiled, leaned over and hugged me tight, kissed me and said ” Cyndal I have been Atheist for over a year now, I just never told you so you could figure it out yourself! And even if it were different other than Atheist it would still be ok! I love you!” I can’t explain the relief that was lifted off of my chest! Then we sat there for quite a while talking about how and when he became Atheist and how. And the same for me! He kept telling me how proud he was of me for finding myself by myself! All me! No influences at all! And we talked about that a lot for days! Then he started showing me different things on the Internet to help me further research and his books he had and the wonderful “The Thinking Atheist” site and Seth’s pod casts. That is now one of our pass time things to do is pod casts and “hey look at this video..look at this joke..” I’ve also figured out how to (with his help) teach our children better as far as science and things. I truly feel like as both of us being Atheist has benefited me, benefited David, benefited our family life style…just a lot of things.

This is my story of all my struggles through life but in the end I finally feel my life is the best it’s ever been. And it continues to be better and better. Me and David are on the same page so that helps the whole family in many ways! I feel like my whole life until I became Atheist was a dark blur and now I feel it’s free and happy. Like I’ve finally seen the light! (not in a Christian way though…lol) All of this combined, my whole journey to become myself now, being able to speak out and tell my story has helped me to become out of my shell.

That is why I can honestly say ….

I AM A PROUD ATHEIST!!!

( I really from my heart hope that my story can help hundreds of the quiet Atheist out there that feel like they should stay quiet! Learn from my story that you can uplift yourself and be a free thinker and most of all …a PROUD Atheist!!!)

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Two Kinds of Human???

I’m not going to bore people with long paragraphs copied and pasted from other websites written by people who actually know what they’re talking about.  For me it’s an interesting subject and so I’ve read up a little.  If you want facts rather than my just throwing out thoughts of things I’ve read, there’s this thing called GOOGLE.  You can Google the various words for one kind of human.  They range from psychopath, sociopath, antisocial personality disorder.  If you want the facts, and why the terms referring to the same personality type have changed over the years, you can read about it too, like I did.

So here are my thoughts about the two kinds of human that exist.   Most of us know there are two kinds.  We don’t need some psycho-babble label for it.   There are givers and takers.  I think we’d all agree on that–I’m sure every human being has met both.  So what makes a taker a taker and a giver a giver?  And what about users?  Are they just like takers, or…something else?

Not to say being a giver is always a good thing.  A lot of givers give in order to get, whether it be a thing, or a feeling, or attention, or love, or shelter or security, or children, or whatever.  A lot of people with low self esteems are givers–perhaps because they feel they have to compensate for not being enough.  I do that myself, and have done for years, making me a prime target for…that other kind of human.   But I digress.  Some people feel they have to give to fulfill their part of a contract or agreement.  For example. say I’m married to you so we have sex (or at least early on we do until I tire of it), even though I don’t like sex and could live the rest of my life without it.  Yes believe it or not, some people, men and women alike, don’t like sex.  But they want to be married, they want love, they want a family and all the joys that come from having a family and companionship, so…they put up with the sex.  They learn to enjoy things about it like…being close to the person they love.  But the act itself…they could take or leave.

That’s a giver giving because he or she believes it’s part of the arrangement.  Part of getting what they want means giving what the other person wants.  The bad thing about this kind of giving is eventually the giver gets tired–and then perhaps that happy situation starts falling apart.

There are also those really wonderful noble people who truly love to give purely for the joy of giving and not to get anything back or achieve any agenda.  This is a rare type of giver.  Most people who give, if they are going to be completely honest with themselves, are giving hoping for something, whether it be a closer friendship with someone, or to show someone they care, or to repay someone for a kindness given…something.  Most people give for some kind of reason, and some are very good reasons.  Giving to the poor or less fortunate.  In cases like this what do you get?  You get the happy feeling that comes from knowing you helped someone.  Same thing when you find a hurt animal and rush it to the vet.   You’re not going to get anything for the act of kindness…you might even have to pay a hefty vet bill for an animal that isn’t even yours.  But you get that feeling, and to some of us that feeling is a wonderful reward.

So what are takers?   I think the line between giver and taker is rather blurred.  A giver can also be a taker, if my above thoughts are correct.   Any time I give hoping to receive or achieve something, in that way I’m passively being a taker.  I think all of us are takers to some degree, just like I think all takers can also be givers.

So are there two kinds of human, or are we all capable of being both at any given time? Well, I do think we’re all capable, but I also think from what I’ve read, there are significant differences between the person with (most modern term for it) antisocial personality disorder, and well, the rest of us.

In the cetacean family there are two types of killer whale.  The Orca, which is the whale you see mostly along the Puget Sound here in Washington State, or at Sea World, unfortunately, where these massive creatures will hopefully teach our young to appreciate the beauty and value of other life forms.  But there is also the Sentient Killer Whale…and I’m hoping I have the term right.  It’s been a long time since I took that cetacean class at the UW.  Again I digress.   Sentient killer whales travel in pods that are more like wolf packs.  Or they might also hunt alone. They prey on larger baleen whales, and on seals or sea lions.  Red meat is part of their diet.  Whales of this sub-group of Killer Whale, again if my memory serves me, swim virtually silent in their pods, whereas the Orca pods like what you see in Free Willy communicate back and forth as they travel along.

Are there predatory people and people who unwittingly transmit signals they are easy prey?  I believe so.  From what I read of persons with antisocial personality disorder (and there are different levels to this from mild to extreme), they are either lacking in a conscience or are deaf to it.   When I say conscience I mean that little inner voice that tells us something is right or wrong, and makes us feel badly after we unwittingly or deliberately hurt or wrong someone.

An extreme example of someone without a conscience–Albert Fish the cannibal from the early 20’s who preyed on and ate little children.  He is what inspired the Hannibal Lector character in Silence of the Lambs.  Add to this list any person who goes around brutally killing or raping people…likely this is a person who sees weaker people as prey or mere objects to use or manipulate, or enjoys feeling power over another person.  This is the classic psychopathic personality people think of when they hear the word psychopath, and why the term has been changed because, probably 90% or more of people with antisocial personality disorder live next door, or work on your same floor, or ride in your carpool, or go with you on hunting trips, or drive your Taxi cab or style your hair or meet you at the bar to play pool.   Sociopaths, or the more recent term antisocial personality disorder, are users, as opposed to just takers.  We’re all takers, just as we’re all hopefully givers, even if sometimes for self serving reasons.  But users?  People who prey on the gullibility of others, take advantage of the desire to help that some of us have, or do good to prove our worth…these are the psychopaths who live among us every day.  They are con artists.  They are parasites who find lonely women (or men) to befriend and let care for them, buy for them, do for them.  They are people who marry the older wealthy widower or widow for the money and then somehow manage to walk away with their pockets full.

A great example of a lesser sociopath, and by lesser I mean one who isn’t a serial killer, read or watch “The Stoning of Soraya M.”  If you can stomach it, that is, and it’s a movie I watched that I will never watch again.  Soraya’s husband is a monster.  Literally.  If there is a word for the slime around the base of toilets, that would be him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stoning_of_Soraya_M.

There are lots of examples of users.   The guy who gets a girl drunk (or visa versa) and then works for an hour to guilt trip him or her into having sex, or the person who convinces you to take him or her home and then you wake up in the morning and find your apartment’s cleaned out.   Users like what you have and want it, so they pretend to be your friend.  They let you assume what isn’t true, and let you come to trust what shouldn’t be trusted, and then they walk away laughing, leaving you feeling like a fool.

And they don’t feel guilt.  You can cry and try to make them see what it’s done to you, their actions, and they feel nothing.  They don’t understand, quite honestly, what the big fuss is, or why you’re upset.  Their conscience is clear–because they don’t have one.

So that’s my little thing about the two kinds of human.  I don’t know if really there are two kinds.  But I do know I read that something like one in every three men tend to have some degree of antisocial personality disorder and one in every five women.  So the people like myself with low self esteems wanting to please please please in order to have friendship, caring, love…really need to ask ourselves what signals we are putting out there.  Do we walk around with a big SCREW ME OVER neon sign on our foreheads?  How much using do we have to endure before we realize that it sucks to be someone’s prey and it’s better to be a little less trusting–a little more lonely.  Sometimes lonely is better than giving your trust to a sociopath.  Yes, really.

Questioning the Truth of It

It might seem odd to someone who doesn’t know me as a person, why my blog seems to be this odd mix of my celebrating my new-found atheism and….personal issues like depression, aging, stuff like that.   I’m sure there will be more than just these two themes as I go, but these two are currently very much what I’m juggling in my life.

First I learned some really hard things about what had been my reality.   When you start to mistrust the very ground you used to always take for granted would be solid, you start mistrusting everything, and searching for new solid ground.  That’s where I am now.

I didn’t learn until about 6 years ago that the one parent who raised me had done so mentally ill.   She was the one i was always scrambling to win points with.  My brother was her golden boy .  He could do no wrong.  I, on the other hand, from the day I stood at the cemetery at my first and last visit to my daddy’s grave and as a six-year-old asked my mom if my daddy was really under ground and got slapped for it, until this very day, my mom has viewed me with suspicion.  At that point or shortly after she suffered her first break, though I didn’t know it, and neither did my brother.  Our house became haunted.  I believed it because my mother did, and she took us kids away for a week fleeing these dark entities that chased us from hotel to hotel.

Anyway, it’s a very long story.  She’s always known about the voices in her head, but never told anyone until six years ago when she really started unraveling after chemotherapy.   I always wondered why she didn’t like me telling other kids about our haunted house.  I think we moved out here from Wisconsin because my mom was afraid of losing us kids.  My Uncle had the police out looking for us that week we were fleeing those demons my mother saw.   I believe she feared he questioned her ability to raise two little kids.

So fast forwarding…   I married the first guy who said he loved me back.   There were lots of signs during my marriage that I chose to ignore, but in the end I was made to realize my husband didn’t love me and according to him he possibly never did.  That was after 16 years of marriage and the last six of them with me trying to save my marriage because I still loved him very much, but he didn’t love me, nor did I feel any love from him those six years we didn’t touch, and he couldn’t even tell me if he loved me, he just said “I don’t know.”

The only way I could get away from that marriage was switch my focus, and I did.  I found another person who was in pain as much as me, and I focused on cheering him up and along the way I fell in love with him.   He found out and then proceeded to stay at my apartment and then my condo with me letting me care for him because he developed a life-threatening illness and none of his other friends were stepping up to the plate.

Long story short again, three years later after he got better he said “thanks, but I don’t need you anymore” and then proceeded to convince his friends whom I also had grown to like very much, that I had smothered him, when in fact his illness had prevented him from leaving a situation that apparently had grown wearisome to him–and yet it was nice for him not having to pay rent or contribute very little and have everything pretty much paid for him, including transportation.

So I turned to other friends for solace, and one of them was a head bartender at a popular restaurant all my theatre cohorts loved to go, and that bartender let me believe we were friends like he was friends with these other guys I had gotten to know.  Long story short again, he too was pretending all so he could win my trust.  And in the meantime he learned how lonely I was, how unloved and unlovable I felt–he took advantage of me.  Then after that there were several years of head games from him–with me trying to believe he was my friend when in fact I guess or at least I have been told by another friend, I was just a big joke to him all along.

You have three men pretend with you, three men seem like they’re one thing and then they turn out to be something else altogether, you start having doubts about everything you thought was real about the world.  Between that and the fact I learned my mother was a schizophrenic–suddenly I had to reevaluate everything I grew up to believe about myself, and all the things I just assumed were true.

I became very earnest about protecting myself from further hurt.  I had always questioned the parts about my faith that I questioned and tried to ignore or shrug off.  If I asked any pastor about them, I was given pat answers too, that never satisfied me.  I’m sorry but “God works in mysterious ways” is not an answer.

Religion had taught me that I was a bad person.  It reinforced everything my mother drummed into me.   I could never be good enough.  Oh, I was a Christian, yes.  But I was always a very bad Christian because I didn’t go to church, or read my bible enough, or walk the walk enough, or whatever.   It was never enough. I was never enough.   A few times I would try to get back into going to church…

One time I started regularly attending the Westgate Chapel in Edmonds WA.  They had a fabulous  music program and I loved to sing, so it was enjoyable there for me.  But I was also an amateur paleontologist volunteering for the Burke Museum in the U-District.  Every year we had our little Dino-Days at the Burke, and I and my husband (I was still married then) would volunteer).   I loved digging for fossils, cracking open rocks and seeing evidence of live no human eyes had ever seen.  It fascinated me.  It awed me.  It put things into perspective re. how very OLD the planet is and how fleeting our little moment on this world is.

Then one Sunday service at Westgate the head minister stood up and told about taking his children to Dino-Days at the Burke.  He ridiculed us, those of us who ran the event, as acting so sure about our belief that the planet was old, and the age of the fossils, and evolution itself.  He made it sound like paleontology itself was the devil’s work.

After the service I approached this pastor because his words had me rather upset.   I was in disbelief because the man had implied my favorite thing was against God.  So I asked him, straight out, if it was wrong of me to dig for fossils.  I told him I worked at the Burke and contributed like the rest of my group, NW Paleontologists, to the Burke.  He looked at me and said “Do you think it glorifies God?”   I looked him straight in the eye and said “yes, I do.”   He gave me a look, and turned to talk to someone else and I felt completely snubbed.

So.  I am put on this earth to glorify God.  Writing this note, if it doesn’t glorify God, I guess I shouldn’t do it.  Raising Canaries–if it doesn’t glorify God, I shouldn’t do it.   This was the beginning of the end of my faith for me.  That one day even before the ending of my marriage I walked away with a very sour taste in my mouth, and I was angry.   I was angry that this man would judge me the way he did.  Yes, I think science would glorify God, if a god existed.  But I don’t believe one does because as far back as recorded history, religion has feared science, or has discouraged against it, or even called it a sin.   Once upon a time people were afraid to look at the stars because “star-gazing” was banned by the church–it was devil’s work.   We once knew as a species the world was round–our ancient forbears had compasses and knew how to navigate on the sea.   Then along came religion to warn about there being an edge where boats just fall off and horrible monsters beneath the waves, inciting fear in people’s hearts.  Fear to explore.  Fear to discover.  Fear to learn and fear to question.   We were dumbed down as a species, and it was all so we could believe in fantastical explanations and live and exist the way the church wanted us to.

If there really is a God, science would not be a threat to any true religion that followed him.  Science would be uncovering more and proofs for his existence, and would be welcomed, rather than feared.

I have always just wanted my life to be true, and what I am led to believe about the world, to be true.  Most of my life has been one false belief after another.  First belief in my mother.  Then my husband.  Then this man I thought was my friend who let me care for him thinking he was.  Then the bartender who I confided all my insecurities to, who then used that knowledge to exploit and then slander me.  And religion–that was one of the last dominos to fall, and the biggest.   But have I regretted for a moment the loss of the delusion?  No.  No more than I regretted not getting to believe in Santa anymore.   Do I want to live thinking everything I do has to glorify god?  Like growing up, everything I did had to be about pleasing my mother, and during my marriage everything I did had to be about getting my husband to love me again, and then that friendship where I cared for that man who I thought was my friend and I thought if I did enough good and supportive things for him he’d appreciate me as the good friend I was…

No.  This is the pattern in my life that has only caused me harm.  I am living to glorify myself  and I am living for myself and to find myself, who I am, and to live for me.

Depression Isolates Us

I sometimes think, now that I’m becoming aware just how many people out there feel like I do, feel all the same feelings…that we’re more like a subgroup of society.  We start out, probably many of us, outcasts as children.  Either outcast by our families, or outcast by our peers, or both.  We grow up lacking confidence other kids take for granted.  We are always trying. But there’s always some reason we don’t fit in.  We’re not good looking enough, so people of the opposite gender look at us and think “I can do better,” like having outward beauty or our programmed notions of what beauty is–makes some people “better” than others?

Regardless, we grow up, those of us who didn’t quite fit in, or came from homes that didn’t really want us, and as adults we still try.  But the long nights of crying ourselves to sleep, losing sleep, or just huddling in fear of some real or imagined terror…now there’s something stuck in our heads.  Something wrong.  We are either mentally ill, or our brains are wired wrong or we have a chemical imbalance or a combination of the above.   Because we grew up trying harder than other kids, the popular “better” kids.  And now what are we?  We’re that sub-group of society that end up alone.  Our friends aren’t there, despite how we try to be there for them.  Our families…sometimes it’s not good being around the people that caused the harm in the first place or trigger memories of the harm that was done.

So we’re alone.  And here we still are, trying.  Trying to fit in to that other part of society we too have been programmed to believe is normal.  Thinking if we do this or this or THIS we might be accepted and loved and wanted like other people.

And when we can’t fight our illness hard enough, we are forced to endure more loneliness.  When we do have our little triumphs, there’s nobody around anymore to see.

I hate depression.  I hate this illness nobody understands or wants to make any effort to understand.  I have been locked in closets all my life and I still am.   All because of this belief we carry around, that we grew up with, that to be like one of the crowd is better, our ultimate goal that’s always just out of reach…to fit in…that’s what gives us worth–that’s the key to being wanted, being successful, being SOMETHING.   And until we have it, until we get over this illness we’re being punished for having, we must be shunned.  We must be outsiders.  We must be looked right through like we’re not even there.

This is what I say to that.  Bullshit.  What kind of society does this?  Banishes its ill from the mainstream?  They did that to lepers once; you would think in 2000 years our society would be a little more aware, a little more educated, a little more understanding.   But no.  We have not evolved very much at all, have we?

So how do we break from this box they’ve put us in?  We say bullshit.  We are not less than anyone.   People look at us and say they can do better?  Excuse me–we might be ill but we’re still whole people, and worth it.   If you know us you’ll get to know the beauty we still carry around  inside.  All of us, like any other people.  Like you we are unique, full of dreams and hopes and love and caring.   Shame on anyone who dares to look down their nose and outcast us for having too many bad days when here we’ve put up with other people having many bad days too.  Why is the playing field so one-sided?

Who decides worth of a person?  How is it measured?  Is it measured by looks?  Popularity?  Is it measured by how much money someone has or what kind of car they drive or what neighborhood they live in?  Or is it measured by the kindness and caring a person has in their heart?

I see a lot of value in us.   This little sub-group that finds ourselves struggling with our depression or anxiety all alone…punished for being ill, rejected by friends for being ill, despite how tired we are from always trying, despite how lost and despairing and scared and hurt we sometimes feel. 

You know who I think has worth in our society?  You know who I think are really great people–the kind of people I wish I could be?  People who can still give of themselves when they themselves have nothing, and care and encourage, when they themselves feel their world is crashing down.

I am most thankful for the kind of people who can still care for others, even despite the hurts they feel themselves.   If we have to be separated and made some kind of subgroup, I’d rather be counted as someone like this.

Self-Induced Depression

So we’re sad, those of us battling depression. Lonely. Feeling unloved. Feeling like failures. Whatever it is. Ever imagine what we must look like to the casual observer? The expression on our faces or the set of our shoulders or how we walk?

Do you ever find yourself drawn to other sad, unhappy-looking people? Do they make you smile and feel good or is your first inclination to oh-oh, better stay away!

The problem with depression is…we show this black mood on our faces and on our demeanor. We’re sad, and people can see it. We hate or excessively find fault in ourselves, and people see that too. Trouble for us is, most people seem as a rule to seek out happiness and fun.

I know I do. I long to be among people who make me happy or help me be happy. Trouble is those people are also searching for happy people to give themselves a lift. Are they going to notice me looking sadly at them hoping they’ll include me? If they do, probably I’ll be the last one they’ll want to connect with or talk to, because my demeanor shouts to them all the doom and gloom I’m feeling inside.  They can see at a glance they’d be doing all the work to make me happy,while ignoring their own desire to stay that way.

What does this do? I am left isolated even when I do dredge up the energy to go out and try to be among people. Because I transmit sadness, and most people don’t want me bringing them down. So I sit isolated, watching other people get the companionship I am yearning for, and then I feel even more isolated, unwanted, unloved, unaccepted, etc. etc., which of course makes me even more miserable inside. It’s a vicious cycle. Unwittingly, I cause myself to be alone.

This all goes back to the whole belief that we need other people to be happy. And that’s the other thing. How many people go out on the town thinking “tonight I’m going to find a sad person to talk to…tonight I’m going to expend all my energy helping a depressed person be happy…even if it destroys my chance to have fun?”

Not bloody likely. And yet here I am sitting at some bar or wherever, hoping to connect with someone fun and entertaining to brighten my mood.  And of course when no one steps up to the plate, I bow my head, I stare at my hands, I blink back tears and transmit even more misery to the people around me trying to have fun, and not only do they then not want to deal with me–they silently resent me for being such a black cloud on their otherwise good time and are wishing I’d just go away.

Depression is self perpetuating.  It generates more depression because of how we respond to it.  It’s so easy to hope the external world will distract us–give us those little happy moments we crave and hope they’ll last when of course they never do. The external world lets us down and we feel sad all over again. Dependency upon other people to make us feel better or happy…this is a huge contributor to making ourselves feel worse. No dependency is a good thing–addiction to that happy feeling we get being around happy people–is like any other addiction. The feeling accepted and happy doesn’t last–we end up back on the street again searching–or huddled alone in tears suffering withdrawal.

When we were children it was easy to appreciate just playing by yourself. You could imagine whatever you wanted, become whatever you wanted, do whatever you wanted. There were no rules. No one bossing you. No expectations.  Why is it as adults we find it so hard to be like that and just have fun & be content by ourselves? Why do we need other people to affirm our worth for us, to help us succeed at being happy? Who says we can’t go out and do whatever we want to, for ourselves, just to make our own fun?

The term “making friends” is an interesting one. “Making” implies something you have to work at to have happen, or pursue, or seek out. Like it’s a task that needs doing. Why not just stop caring so much about having friends? Enjoy your own thoughts, be your own company, whatever the activity is you like to do. Don’t go do something with the point being making new friends.  Go do something for the sheer fun of it, and the friends will just…happen.   Don’t try so hard.  Don’t care so much.  Don’t be something you’re not to earn someone’s caring or appreciation. Be yourself. Do your thing, walk the path of your journey. Relax.. Find little things to smile about.

Don’t look to other people to find happinesses for you. Enjoy what is (recommend the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie), rather than fret about what is not. Your demeanor will change. You will have a lighter step and the stress or pain will leave your face. You will smile more, breath deeply and relax, see more of the good in people and situations and less of the bad. People will sense that about you and then it will be YOU they’re drawn to, YOU who is the happy one they’ll hope will lift them up.

Why compare yourself to someone else?  You are not them and they’re not you. And really, does it matter what other people think? It’s really only your opinion that matters–you’re the one who has to live with you–and if you’re doing what feels good–feels right for you, isn’t that all that should count? There will be no dependency on others–no pressure put on other people. Your happiness will be real–natural.  Because it comes from within you, not from without.

The Damage of Depression. It Starts Out Small.

You don’t even know it’s happening to you. It begins when you’re little, and you find yourself forgotten a lot. Standing in a corner, or sitting by yourself, during family gatherings, surrounded by people who supposedly love you but ignore you like you’re not even there. It picks up momentum at school when you’re the odd man out, the one last chosen by a team, the one forced to play alone, or when some other sibling is favored, or you without knowing it, are being raised by someone mentally ill.

You know it so well, that feeling you get when you’re being ignored. It becomes familiar to you, so familiar you expect it, and in time you make it happen yourself, so you don’t have to feel that bite of rejection. You try to make it your own choice, your decision. You retreat into yourself, convince yourself this is what you really want, tell yourself you don’t need love, or family or friends–people.

Then one day you realize how very sad you are. You haven’t protected yourself at all, by self-isolation, and in fact it’s only allowed the roots of the seed to entwine like constrictors around your heart. Feelings of worthlessness are now a part of you. You no longer believe you deserve those things you once hoped for. Every situation, every room you enter, every person you meet, becomes a new hope and a new failure. You go in hoping this time they will see past your walls, see the love in you, the compassion, the caring and good qualities. But the worthless feeling keeps you from looking in their eyes enough, or looking in their eyes too much, or laughing nervously at all the wrong things, or saying something stupid, or trying too hard, pretending to be what you’re not, anything, everything, just so that for once, finally, it can be you who is wanted, loved, appreciated, SEEN.

It never happens, and every time it never happens the grip of darkness weaves itself tighter. It is familiar, like a favorite shirt, or an old teddy bear. You feel like it’s a friend, the one thing you have in this whole world…that feeling of utter hopelessness, so strong it makes your heart hurt, your joints ache, your eyes burn, and sleep becomes impossible, or you can’t seem to ever wake up and all you want is to sink forever deeper into your mattress until no one can find you.

Depression. You walk with it. You see through it, it covers you, it drags at you. You want to know what it’s like without it, but you don’t know and can’t remember. All you know is this, and deep down you’re convinced it’s all you deserve. So you carry it, and you hold it like a sign to the world saying this is me, you don’t want me, I don’t deserve you, I’m nothing worth loving, I have no worth.

Until it kills you finally, either in spirit or in body–and you fade out alone, starved to death of all the basic things your heart has craved and has been denied for lack of skill at finding, like Chris Candeless in the wilderness, crying out in pain how very alone and hungry you are, and there’s no one listening, no one caring–everyone agrees it’s something you don’t deserve.

Don’t tell me depression isn’t real. Don’t tell me it doesn’t take lives. It’s the only illness that takes your life before you’re dead, takes away everything you ever loved, until you reach the point there’s nothing left, and to die is not such a terrible loss after all.

Those of us who refuse to surrender, those of us who fight it every day. I hear it over and over, you have to LOVE yourself before you can love others. As if I don’t! Why am I here still in this world? Why am I getting out of bed every day and facing the same old pain, the same old battle? Because I DO love myself, and have always deep down, believed this is not what I deserve. I deserve better, and I am the only one at the front of the line, taking the blows, fighting the battle for me.