dealing with depression since i lost faith

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gina1's picture
dealing with depression since i lost faith

Anyone else deal with depression after letting go of religion? At first it was freeing, but then anytime crises or tragedy come into my life I no longer have my faith to comfort me. Any thought of death leaves me crippled with anxiety. And struggling with finding meaning in anything has become a very real daily battle.
My Signiciant other has always been basically non-theist/religious. For him it's just not a topic he thinks about. But coming from a VERY religious background where god was turned to in every moment it is very much on my mind. losing the support of a church family was also very hard.
I don't have someone in my life who really understands what leaving christianity really does to a person.
And of course the fear of "what if i'm wrong" is ALWAYS nagging at me.
But I honestly couldnt go back to that religion. Or any other like it.

Thanks for reading.

Gina

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Ellie Harris's picture
Hey there gina1 you are by no

Hey there gina1 you are by no means the only person that goes through some difficulty after leaving faith. There are numerous websites specifically designed to offer support to those coming to terms with living without faith, this includes the AR support portion of this website. Check out these resources and whether it's on this website or another see what assistance help they offer. I've never been religious nor was I raised to hold it as truth or of importance but I've worked with enough people to understand your anxiety.
Try to remember that one need not be of a certain religion to find comradery, support, and shoulders to lean on in this life. If you're wrong and the god you were raised to believe in is a truth then I don't think living a lie would please it, so you can spend your only time alive worrying about it or you can revel in the bitter, sweetness of this absurd existence and hopefully make someone smile while you're here. I hope I'm being of some help and I'll be here if you want to talk.

Pitar's picture
I was young and had little

I was young and had little rational life under my belt when I dismissed gods and religions (9 years old). What I'm saying is, unlike you, I never experienced any emotional moments where a god or a god-fearing entity was a crutch I could lean on. I always internalized such events and worked them out for myself. I didn't even approach my parents because they were both outwardly religious and certainly god-fearing. In that sense, they were useless to me. They learned to leave me alone when my mood changed from my normal cheerfulness to a sullen one. But, that's me and nothing has changed in my character to-date.

Prior to my divestment of theism and it's pageantry, I was warmed by the thought of a god and theism. My exit from it was about a year in the making and I went through some tough realities that I knew I'd have to embrace. I went from a sense of community with theism to a stark and cold isolation from it knowing I was finite and would eventually be no more. There were times when my own family's theism bothered me. I had a grand plan to split and seek a place where I fit in. I was 10 when I had those thoughts. I even had a bag packed. But, my mom found it and I had some 'splainin' to do. That's when they found out I was atheist. My mom was pretty religious and open about it. My dad was too but he kept it pretty quiet. They attempted to reinvent me and my mom, not just catholic - more like alcatholic - was unmoved by my preference and doubled up her efforts to regain my religious patronage. We fought until I split at 17. It was then she asked that I not forget her. I didn't, of course, but she knew she'd made a mistake and feared for her place in my life.

When a culture takes its individuals for granted and treats them all like soldiers of their belief system, no one has an emotional identity anymore. No one is free to identify with their own very personal psyches and sensibilities in such doctrines. That's where they fail. When support is from and for the system, there isn't any warmth of kindred spirit. It's all about something entirely foreign to the nature of people who would normally (naturally) find comfort in each others company as people rather than as agents of some conscripted system. The spirit of the community is replaced with the false spirit of a system that cannot replace the former in matters of the heart.

Atheism is a path back to the kindred nature of man. I hope you learn to appreciate it in the grander sense and not just as a tag of religious abandonment alone.

Ellie Harris's picture
Holy shite. Who knew that

Holy shite. Who knew that Pitar was actually a sweet and thoughtful old gent!
Lol, kidding aside, nicely said Pitar.

CyberLN's picture
Hi Gina, welcome.

Hi Gina, welcome.

I've not dealt with losing any faith because I've never had any. But I have dealt with depression and anxiety. The advice I would offer is, first, see a medical doctor and rule out physiological causes. Once that's done, find a therapist/counselor to help, one who will provide you tools for your tool kit of living. No man is an island...a lot of truth in that. We need and learn from each other and sometimes it's best to bring in an expert. Trying to 'will' ourselves out of depression or anxiety isn't always effective. :-)

gina1's picture
I didn't leave my faith until

I didn't leave my faith until I was 28. My beliefs helped me get through my ex husband's affair and the following divorce, as well as several deaths.
but that comfort came at the cost of believing in a god that i truly cannot believe in anymore. the concept of faith is so strange to me now. I was baffled after doing some real bible study how I could have ever bought into that. It all seemed so illogical.
It's like mourning the death of your best friend, however you find that the bestie was never who they said they were. like they made up a false persona and used it to become the number one person in your life.
I've been attacked by people who were my church family all my life.

where death used to not frighten me, bc i believed i had a place in eternal glory, now i find it as scary as can be. so uncertain of what is coming. I'm embarrassed to say I even tried to pray to find my way back to believing in my darkest times. but of course faith from fear is false.

i'm not suicidal, i have a daughter to live for. but i find it difficult to get out of bed at all these days. my dreams being far kinder a place to reside.

the old me wouldnt recognize the person i am now.

JamieB's picture
Hi Gina

Hi Gina
I grew up in a very christian home and not until I left on a Y.W.A.M. missionary trip did I start to see outside my bubble. Im a 38 year old mom with 2 kiddos and I have to tell you it gets better. I went through years of grieving the loss of eternity, my "relationship" with Jesus etc. depression is part of it. also please realize you are brave. We ex christians need a little coddling we lots eternity in paradise lol

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Truett's picture
JamieB, that is beautiful.

JamieB, that is beautiful. Many thanks for sharing what you've personaly lived through. I'm confident that someone out hear will read your post and find hope for the future and solace for the present.

Ellie Harris's picture
Well what are you really

Well what are you really afraid of? Whether you believe or not you aren't guaranteed any assurances to upcoming events in life, whether you believe or not you won't have a reliable knowledge of what the future holds.
A place in eternal glory? I'm sorry but what does that mean or entail?

Pitar's picture
It sounds like a tough row to

It sounds like a tough row to hoe for you now that you've divested yourself of the dreamworld theists tend to wrap themselves with. Like I mentioned above, I never became that enchanted with theism before I left it. I think the damage of discovery is the fall-out of post-theistic people. They exit the myth and enter the reality without so much as an exit apology or warm welcome, respectively. Pretty harsh for late bloomers. I guess I'm lucky.

Atheism offers a community of like-minded people who can promote a reality that simply can't compare with the halcyon greatness of belief system imagery. Not much comfort, by comparison, but nature doesn't candy coat anything.

Mitch's picture
Gina, I think that if you're

Gina, I think that if you're grieving since letting go of faith, then you're probably not depressed. If you were grappling with clinical depression, you'd be despairing no matter what you do- or believe.

It sounds like, to me, that you have been reflecting on loss, and that you might also be lacking a supportive, empathetic community.

It also sounds like you're feeling shame about feeling sadness, as well.

Is this accurate?

gina1's picture
yes, very accurate. i feel

yes, very accurate. i feel like i lost who i was, and the whole community i was raised in. i feel like i lost my connection to something greater than me.

gina1's picture
eteral glory sounds crazy

eteral glory sounds crazy right? but i really believed i would be embraced forever by the all loving god i put my faith in. that no further suffering would occur. that there was SOMETHING after this screwed up world that seems so awful at times. and that the eternal pain that would be suffered by others could be avoided by following my religion. i know. crazy. but it's not like it's spelled out quite like that while you grow up in the church. but after thinking of it in those terms i realized i couldnt buy it.
but i do miss the community i was a part of. i miss the comfort. i miss talking with "god" and feeling like i was being heard. and the thought of this life being all that there is... well that's just really depressing.

Mitch's picture
"like mourning the death of

"like mourning the death of your best friend... i do miss the community i was a part of. i miss the comfort. i miss talking...and feeling like i was being heard.and the thought of this life being all that there is... well that's just really depressing."

You're grieving. You think that you've lost all that meaningfully supported you in life, and that it could always be this way for you. Right now, you feel desperately lonely.

Do I understand you?

gina1's picture
yes Mitch, that is definitely

yes Mitch, that is definitely how i feel

Mitch's picture
Well, then, you have been

Well, then, you have been heard. So, here is some evidence that you can be heard - and indeed will be - again. You could have the support, and care, of a community again.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Your desire of wanting the

@gina1

Your desire of wanting the theistic claim to be true can effect your life and make you feel desperately lonely.

If you search for the truth, it can help you understand better your position.

Instead of being someone who lost something, you can be someone who understood something better then others.

When I understood the true origin of Christianity I could finally find my place as a morally superior person that can understand how evil theism is and the damage it causes.

Once you arrive at this position all the depression goes away, trust me.
Mainly because you would have the desire that the theistic claim is False.
Thus all the good promises cannot be true either.

In my case it helped me a lot to research the origin of Christianity and find the truth about Jesus.

Here is a working link to who most likely invented Christianity and why:

http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/174117/Caesars_Messiah__The_Roma...

Nyarlathotep's picture
gina1, I can't imagine the

gina1, I can't imagine the strength it must take to do what you have done. Those of you who were raised into this system of promises of infinite rewards yet managed to break free of it, you are my heroes. Hang in there hero!

gina1's picture
i definitely dont feel like a

i definitely dont feel like a hero!
i work with about 72 other women and 30 men at the restaurant i've been at for a year and there's maybe one other person i can rely on to not try and convert me back every day there. i love those people to death but they are making me crazy telling me they pray for me and inviting me to their churches ( bc i must not have been listening all those years in my old church, maybe if i just hear THEIR preacher i'll believe again LOL)
my own daughter nags at me to come back to church. i dont have her on the weekends and that is when she goes. i decided to answer her questions honestly but not try to push her to believe the way i do, i want her to come to it herself.
i feel like i'm the antagonist in everyone else's story.

AnAtheist's picture
You have made a hard but I

You have made a hard but I believe truthful choice. That what you believe now is true is what should guide you. You have come to the conclusion that you cannot base your worldview on falsity and superstition. The community and fellowship you feel with your friends is real. The problem is that what binds them, in their minds, is superstition. You can continue to be friends with these people but you have the right to insist that they show you respect in what you believe. How do you feel when they say the will pray for you? That is a very condescending thing to say to someone and does denote lack of respect. They are saying essentially that they are superior because what they believe is superior to what you believe. You have the right to tell them how this statement hurts you, assuming that it does.

As for your daughter, I suggest that you continue on the path of reason in you communications regarding this. Let her know that you love her and the fact that you have chosen to give up superstition does not change that.

You may be the antagonist in everyone else's story, but that make you the protagonist in yours. May I suggest the website recoveringfromreligion.com to find some communication with people who understanding what you are going through. You could also Google meetups on the topic.

BE strong.

Sam's picture
Mad props to you for doing

Mad props to you for doing what so many others are unable to do. I think many people who remain in religion/belief do so because they don't have the strength to throw off the shackles of religion, so they simply convince themselves that they believe when in reality, they don't. But not you! You had the courage to open your eyes and step outside your box and see the world how it really exists. Congratulations!! I know it can't be easy. As others and yourself have more eloquently stated, you are suffering through grief. Even though it feels horrible, it is likely you are not depressed and as time goes on, the edge will dull and you will come out on the other side a better person. Welcome to the world of reason! Even though we won't come together as a group and sing a hymn for you, you are a member of our group now and we are here to support you if you need it.

Conor's picture
gina1 - I totally understand

gina1 - I totally understand what you're going through (at least the part about struggling with depression, anxiety, meaning, death etc.)- as I have been going through the same myself for the past couple of years. It's better now, or maybe I'm just used to it. In my theistic worldview - no matter what went wrong in this life, there was always hope for the next life. There was always a belief that the evil would get their due and the good people would get theirs. There was always the hope that God would put things right in the end and everyone would learn the truth. There was a belief that suffering would mean something and God would someday wipe away all tears. Now I'm afraid my worldview is rather fatalistic. It's brutal reality, no more, no less. It's only in fantasy and imagination that we can dress it up and make it smell nice. Religion was a means for doing that. I can't help but feel nostalgic at times for my past ignorance and rosy viewpoint on things. But it took such a tremendous effort to overlook all the problems and inconsistencies of religion that finally the burden just became too great.

And tomorrow, I go to a funeral of a relative, who like all my relatives was a faithful church-going Christian. She went through terrible suffering and died in spite of everyone's prayers, but everyone will comfort themselves at the funeral by talking about how she's in a better place now. In such moments I do envy them, yet, I also pity them, as one pities a child who keeps saying his lost dog will come home someday when you know it will not. In such settings I feel utterly alone in my mind, as though I alone have access to the secret of reality, and I must mercifully spare them the truth about reality.

Pitar's picture
Losing your religion...

Losing your religion...

In every occurrence it's a tragedy. That's my perspective sitting on the outside looking in. I can sense an empathy. I think I shook my parents faith by simply being me. That familial strength (unity) was strained early on when they discovered my atheism. That was a divisive moment for sure and they never recovered from it. My mom turned me into an anti-theist via her attempts to turn me back to her god. It only escalated between us. Had I matured in my atheism early enough to realize outward shows of religious conformity on my part could have saved her from herself, I would have played the fool for her - or at least more than I could muster at the time. But, youthful rebelliousness ruled the day. In that sense I can relate to your current posture within the larger group who used to know you for your religious ties and now suffer losing you. And, you losing them; the loss is a double edged event. Time will pass and people will adapt.

gina1's picture
It's amazing how less alone I

It's amazing how less alone I feel just finally saying all this to other people who fell the way I do about religion.

I have often thought about going to a unitarian church, bc I have been told they're all pretty atheistic and just focus on community and doing good things for others. Has anyone been to one of those?

Mitch's picture
I hope, that if you do, you

I hope, that if you do, you drop back some time and let us know what you found.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Yeah, your description of the

Yeah, your description of the Unitarian church is pretty spot on. You might really like it there!

Chris Street's picture
Unitarians believe in one god

Unitarians believe in one god, not a trinity of gods. I suggest you join a local secular humanist group if you can't find a local atheist group. Failing that a local skeptic group.

Pitar's picture
No. I haven't. If you're a

No. I haven't. If you're a naturally giving person this could be all you need to regain your sense of community and be you again. Check it out.

gina1's picture
I think I will check it out.

I think I will check it out. its somewhat like being banished from your home when you suddenly don't have your old church family anymore. I think having a new one, one that doesn't need false comfort and meaningless dogma to come together might help me let go.

Pitar's picture
Y'know, I think you answered

Y'know, I think you answered something that has silently remained in question for many people. They want that extended family but it's always been only in the form of religiously leaning groups. When you like that sense of belonging but not necessarily encumbered by all the supernatural mumbo-jumbo and ceremony, having an alternative group to turn to can be the answer. Good luck with it.

Mellie 's picture
This!!!! Spot on. Loosing

This!!!! Spot on. Loosing the type of community support leaves people dangling because it isn't widespread available like a church or two on every corner.. At one point I thought faking belief to belong and keep friendships might be the answer but proved impossible for me. Sometimes I still worry about offending friends who still and will always believe but I just can not play charades with anyone anymore. Pitar I have appreciated all your responses to this post as well as the input from everyone else!

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