I am mentally ill

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JamieB's picture
I am mentally ill

My mind
is a world where every thought or emotion is capable of leading to extreme chaos. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. For years I've used antidepressants. Not because I've found happiness from them but because I've gained a lot of control. I am a mother of two young children and strive to give them a joyful full childhood. The last thing I want is my illness to affect them. Unmedicated I believe I would be close to agoraphobic.
I'm in a career of close proximity to people so I fight my natural desire to keep every one away. As A Hairdresser in Southern California for 18+ years I've gotten to know all sorts of personalities. Through their perspectives and experiences I've realized how different everyone is , but on a broader scale they are all very similar. From rich to poor, introvert to extrovert , gay to straight, religious to atheist ,all have similar problems and many different ways of dealing.
Many have dealt with depression yet it took years to finally talk about it with me. I have struggled with depression all my life (even when I was an on-fire christian) but not until I had tramatic life experience did I start to take prescription antidressants regularly. About 8+ years. Now I am I'm ready to admit that I Am mentally ill. I need help with my illness with medication. Fortunately, I don't believe I'm crazy or would do anything to hurt myself or others. In fact, the opposite thoughts haunt my mind daily. Life is so short. What if I lose someone?
The hardest struggle for a person with depression has been to admit it to themselves and others and make the choice to fight it. That's why we need to shut up and start listening to each other. My house is decorated with flowers pretty colors and things that positively affect my mood. I constantly redirect my thoughts on bigger issues than mine. Focusing my thoughts on real issues like Black lives matters, gay rights, women and children's rights. Many clients complain of the stress of redecorating/renovating their homes or how other parents have screwed up. I'm reminded that in their worlds these are big issues. That is exactly why we need to be around and grow accustomed to people unlike ourselves.
Everyday I fight a battle of the mind but a battle often won by my love for my kids and husband. They also help keep me sane. :) Lets be better at listening to people of other circumstances. If we strip away our obvious differences we might be able to appreciate our world and all of its beautiful diversities.
Mental illness is common: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “One in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”

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Basileus biggus the Great 's picture
I am not trying to be rude

I am not trying to be rude but why would you announce that kind of statement on an atheist forum?

JamieB's picture
Im sorry I was so abrupt and

Im sorry I was so abrupt and rude to you sir. I've read on this forum exchristians who deal with depression. I felt if I shared how I deal with depression and how hard it is to admit to oneself and others people could acknowledge that mental illness is a real issue in our country. Religion uses mind manipulating tactics to sway people with mental illness. Was privy to a lot of that asa child and wanted nothing more than to be a pastors wife and missionary. I am struggling to find a way to be helpful to people in the ways I loved as a christian. I wish You the best

JamieB's picture
Well If you ever struggled

Well If you ever struggled with depression or any other mental illness one of the most difficult things to do is admit it to yourself and others in fear of being labeled crazy or judged. I am an atheist who deals with depression, a mental illness. I believe if we can be honest with our selves and others we can do more good. last nite was the first time Ive ever been apart of a blog or felt I could share honestly with strangers. I'm getting this isn't the place for that now. goodbye tears from crazy person

Algebe's picture
@JamieB "one of the most

@JamieB "one of the most difficult things to do is admit it to yourself and others in fear of being labeled crazy or judged."

Someone who's blind or in a wheelchair gets immediate sympathy and understanding. Someone with a mental illness often gets suspicion, disbelief, even mockery.

I know it's hard to admit a mental illness to yourself. It's just as hard to admit it about someone in your family.

Sometimes strangers are the only people you can share it with. I think your post is very relevant here. Too often suffering causes people to pray to imaginary friends. What we truly need is other human beings.

JamieB's picture
Thank you for your kind words

Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate peeps like you. What most people love about church is a sense of community and closeness to others. Until you realizing about what your actually believing and signing up for its like going to a concert with a bunch of friends. Until the literally crazy things happen and you chalk it up to gods will. One time a pastor grabbed my sisters boyfriends tongue held on tight and prayed some twisted stuff.

Endri's picture
Well, I do get "crazy"

Well, I do get "crazy" sometimes, I'm usually calm and very restrained, but when people tick me off my personality changes very quickly. Sometimes I'm melancholic and sometimes I'm an optimist, right now I have no Idea who I'm gonna become in the future. I'm completely stressed due to the Gymnasium entrance exam soon to come in about 2 months. I get to sympathize with you a little bit.

Algebe's picture
@Endri: "I'm completely

@Endri: "I'm completely stressed due to the Gymnasium entrance exam soon to come in about 2 months."

A gymnasium is like a high school in your country, isn't it?

Try not to stress too much about your exams. Stress plays havoc with your memory. When I was sitting exams I used to close my eyes and count back from 10 to 1 to clear my mind. And then I always told myself "This won't matter at all 100 years from now." Above all, don't pray.

Endri's picture
Yes, it's like a high school.

Yes, it's like a high school. Don't worry about me, I believe I can manage it.
Besides, you always make me smirk a little with profound small jokes - "Above all, don't pray."

xenoview's picture


Sounds like your schizophrenic, and possibly bipolar.

JamieB's picture
I don't believe im

I don't believe im schizophrenic or bipolar I have knowledge of both diseases. I wanted to be a mom so bad and after 6 years I got pregnant with twins one died in my womb while the other remained in my tube til the beginning of my second trimester. after I lost both babies I went deep into depression like I hadn't felt before. I became numb and suffered from a constant migraine then wouldn't let up. I was blocking out my sadness instead of going to god like I used to. I then got pregnant with my daughter and suffered a crazy delivery that ended in spinal surgery. I can't run or do much more than an 80 year old but I look young and healthy. I'm an introvert and hate pity so I won't get a handicap sign til I'm 60 I guess. I Listen to church radio only when I can stand and heard chuck smith say people don't need 12 step programs or anti depressants because Jesus died so you wouldn't suffer. Lies ! church was selling a lot of bull to me as a kid now I thirst for knowledge Truth and really want christianity to be seen for what it is.

Diotrephes's picture
Schizophrenics can tickle

Schizophrenics can tickle themselves. Non-schizophrenics can't tickle themselves.

The Pragmatic's picture
Look into cognitive

Look into cognitive behavioral therapy.
It's a method based on learning to self-help, but guidance is very helpful and it provides an outside perspective. It's effective against anxiety and panic attacks, among other things.

"CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed through decades of scientific research."

"If you suffer from panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, unrelenting worries, or an incapacitating phobia, you may have an anxiety disorder. But you don’t have to live with anxiety and fear."

There are a lot of web pages and books on the subject. A little too much it seems, so it might be hard to sift through everything and find the good information.
Just make sure that it is endorsed by a professional organisation or health professional, preferably with a lot of experience.

If you live in the US and want to find a secular therapist, try here:


Pitar's picture
It took some grist to come

It took some grist to come here and open up. I give you top honors for that. That you have wits enough to relate outside yourself tells me your self awareness will do you well. It's a good tool to have in the shed, so to speak.

I'm a many colored recluse who has developed the right callouses in the right places. If you're anything like me you need your peopled surroundings to give your life some meaning. It's an essential part of my life to know I can escape the close quarters of human contact and return to my sepulcher of me. My first world problem is cohabitation. My joy is leaving it behind me. Every day is a new installment of practiced tolerance and the victory of a successful escape.

I'm so immune to the whole episode of my life at this point that my dread isn't as real as it used to be. I'm down to the knowledge that my naturally occurring instinct to survive is not threatened as much as my sometimes tentative will to give it breath is.

I just turned 62 and have been an atheist for about 52 years. Through all of them I was well aware of the mortal implications of denouncing theism. 52 years of being reclusive and knowing there is no reward in life or death has wrought this heart to a temper few have.

I rambled on about me because your account of yourself has some ring of familiarity. I hope you find some solace in knowing you have empathy all around you. Just hang in there.

JamieB's picture
Your words are beautiful

Your words are beautiful Pitar. Thank you for making me feel not sooo out there for not enjoying the dailies of life. Heard a story on NPR about a man who lived in the woods for 27 years and felt more peace and comfort and safety there then when he had to live "normal" life. I totally understand why he would feel that way. I've mastered the art of being social coming from an outrageously outspoken christian family and its sooo flipping draining. Being asking my clients about silent retreats and most of them say I need a girl drinking trip at pool. no. I need silence;)


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Truett's picture
Good for you, JamieB. I'm

Good for you, JamieB. I'm glad that you've shared a bit of yourself here. Anxiety makes one's pillow hard and one's internal dialogue a self-defeating chorus. And the physiological effects of whatever hormones are released by the anxious mind creates a witches' brew in one's veins, leaving an aching heart, distressed mind and trembling body. Peace and solitude with my dogs on the Colorado Plateau or sequestered time in an unoccupied room are to me similar to a soldier briefly allowed to leave the battlefront for R&R. So I've felt a bit of what you've described.

I have found solace in what neuroscientists are learning about the human self and the nature of our consciousness. It feels to most of us that we each have a "self" that hovers just behind our eyeballs and operates our body and makes decisions from all relevant input. The neuroscientist Sam Harris argues this sense of self is an illusion, and Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker agrees. Our minds are the product of hundreds of millions of years of evolution and have a vast store of auto-pilot modes. One's sense that the real "me" is in the Captain's chair with full command of the body vehicle makes one think that every errant anxiety and mental struggle is due to a moral failing on the part of the self in the captain's chair. Recognizing that we don't start life as a blank slate but instead have within us a vast store of pre-programming assists a person because we can recognize what is happening when our thyroid gland unhelpfully releases panic inducing hormones. With awareness that our instincts are driven by inherited genetic code and the chemistry of our bodies, we can step back from the embattled self and see the world around us through a calmer, clearer lense. We can console our primitive selves with reason and recognize that our perceptions and our responses to those perceptions need not be goverened by the complex instincts of beings engaged in an evolutionary struggle. We can rise above our fears and our self loathing and doubt and be the calm, thoughtful beings we aspire to be. That, along with awareness of our shared fate with every descendent of that first self-replicating molecule in the effort to persist, helps me to understand the colony of inclinations known as me, and gives me perspective and confidence to comfort and direct the many-faceted me.

Good luck in your ongoing effort to live the life you seek. Remain on this forum and join fellow rationalists trying to do the same.

Here is a bit of supporting documentation from Dr.s' Sam Harris and Steven Pinker. These are TED Talks; more detailed insight can be found in Steven's book "The Blank Slate" and in more exhaustive presentations by Sam Harris.

JamieB's picture
Wow thank u Pruitt. I love

Wow thank u Pruitt. I love the science behind what you've stated. It makes so much sense :) I also love Sam harris seen some of his statements on twitter. I appreciate the links. so thirsty for knowledge since most of my life I was a blind fool following what I was told. now I believe religion is like a penis. its fine to have one but don't whip it out in public and don't shove it down my kids throat. Not my joke but can't forget it. Thanks again:)

Truett's picture
LOL. Well said. I too spent

LOL. Well said. I too spent decades in delusion as a christian. Since I woke up from that delusion I've been in a long distance sprint to discard all that I internalized over the decades and equip myself with the knowledge and wonder available to all curious persons. This forum is a sheltered port in the storm for folks like you and me. And don't be put off by the occassional hard-edged comment. The regulars around here (including our 2,000 year old Roman ruler Biggus Dickus) are good and well meaning people. I'm glad you're here.

Thinker's picture
This is a group that seems to

This is a group that seems to dare think for themselves, real people ,not sheep, who blindly follow group think. People who dare to step outside the confines of what's considered the "Normal" will sometimes be a little self critical. .Which is why we are where we are. There are plenty of forums who cater to the go with the crowd bunch. Self examination and, objective self examination is critical to individuality. It doesn't necessarily need a label. As a phobia or mental illness. It can be "just you" . Welcome to the forum.

Jared Alesi's picture
Hey Jamie, I totally

Hey Jamie, I totally understand depression. As a sufferer of depression, agoraphobia, and insomnia, life can be pretty rough. Add to that a deep need for sociality among friends but a stunning lack thereof, you have a mix for some pretty terrible things. What I've found to help is to delve into my life-long passion of the cosmos, and my favorite thing to do is go on Youtube and watch Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot speech. It's life-changing. I watch it at least once a week, if I don't watch other videos of Sagan or Neil Tyson speaking. The vast universe is very poetic to me, and it's a way to escape the problems I have without turning to fantasy. As a people, we generally make so much of our lives and problems, but forget that our world is so small. Some find this scary, I find it exhilarating. I recommend at least listening to Pale Blue Dot, but if it's not your thing, watching Sam Harris absolutely annihilate religion in debates is a pretty fun avenue to explore. Anything to give you solace. I'm happy for you, Jamie, for being brave enough to post such a personal thing here, to ask for help. It's truly noble to admit that sometimes you really can't go alone. Camaraderie is priceless.

JamieB's picture
Jared I can't believe how

Jared I can't believe how wise you are at 16. I hope you continue your Passion for the cosmos because we need people like you To continue the search for true knowledge of our vast and beautiful universe. Ive thought about your words for days. just watched Pale blue dot speech and love its perspective of earth. I have a huge love for Neil Tyson appreciate his storytelling abilities. Thank you for relating to me and my mental issues. I have found so much comfort in reading yours and other atheists perspectives. The one thing I really enjoy about many of the atheist on these forums is the openness to listen to opposing views then shoot them down with logic and common sense so easily. Also calling out the trolls is awesome:)

mykcob4's picture
I am so glad you told your

I am so glad you told your story. You may think it unique and indeed it is but it isn't uncommon. I have PTSD. Not because of my military career but from an early age I assumed my mother's depression, and it became mine. I have dealt with it my whole life (no details) I think that you have a good plan to cope and here's to you for the courage to talk about it! THANK YOU!!!!!!

faith in God follower's picture
mental illness can be

mental illness can be controlled what you have to do is get out of yourself, try to find bright things to bring you happiness. don`t pry on the past try to get yourself out of depressive thoughts and memories.anti depressants will help that but you should look to other methods of happiness.pets I think are a great source of happiness and enjoyment.they bring love they have needs and the way to find inner fulfillment is to tend to those needs.best of everything on your journey.

mykcob4's picture
@non theist

@non theist
I know you think you are being helpful, but you don't know what you are talking about. Leave it to the professionals. Don't armchair amateur diagnose and offer a cure. B.James knows what she needs to do. She was just offering her story as an act of courage. She doesn't need your help which is nonprofessional and could actually cause harm. Even if you were qualified (and you're clearly not) no professional would try and diagnose someone on a forum like this.
As someone that has PTSD, I can tell that you don't know what you are talking about when dealing with clinical depression. So FUCKING STOP!

JamieB's picture
Whats so interesting to me is

Whats so interesting to me is the completely different reactions to what I wrote from people who actually suffers and relate and those who offer advice to help me and seem thoughtfully concern but don't get what I was trying to say. Truthfully I blame myself for the confusion because Im not a skilled writer and I have no higher education so my knowledge of this solely relies on people I've know and google research.
I wrote this back in October, I was starting to fear the dread of a trump presidency as many of the clients I presumed to be liberal minded were so hateful of Hillary. They were chosing not to vote or even vote trump in hopes of change. After googling trump and realizing what a thief con man he is I began to be political. My very conservative born-again christian family was all for Trump. I wrote this to them to explain how I deal with my illness and why human rights aren't political and effect me emotionally. Im the opposite of a narcissist. I used to embrace my extreme empathy for others as Jesus' gift by have come to realize certain selfish assholes take and don't need to be cared about. So I try to be careful about who I care about.
for the record mykcob4 is correct that It was more to share my story and allow others not to be afraid to address their mental illness because Jesus shit doesn't truly help depression. Thank you For caring

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