ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH

My Personal Mental Health Journey

So..right now I am living life to the fullest….camping with my kiddo and friends. Bike Bubba made a comment regarding getting off my meds and it reminded me that I forgot to give an update on that part of my life, too.

I posted about it on my Facebook page and on Twitter, and once again, was dumbfounded by the power of personal stories. The responses I received privately told me what I long suspected. Many of us have gone through crap and have needed extra help to get over our crap. It is what it is and you guys know me…it doesn’t help to hide in shame in our journey. It’s best to face the demons and work through them.

So, this is more of my journey. Feel free to comment and share your story if some of it resonates with you. Or..feel free to reach out privately.

My Personal Mental Health Joutney

Ok, here’s another personal note that will probably be considered TMI for many of you. If it is, then you are not the intended audience (said with a smile).

I just hung up from my doctor’s video appointment. One minute ago, my doctor gave me permission to stop taking my remaining meds for mental health. This has been a months-long weaning process, and an important process to make sure my body responded okay.

Let me back up a bit. The only other time I have been on anti-depressants was in 1992 when I went through major depression PTSD after experiencing a 7.9 earthquake.

I went through 3 years of therapy then. It really wasn’t about the earthquake, it was about my abusive childhood, and the earthquake just set everything off.

Fast forward a few decades, I was in a destructive marriage and going to school full-time when I started to experience heart issues. . . so I thought. It felt like an elephant was standing on my chest. It was so disruptive that I could not do my homework or concentrate. My heart checked out fine. The doc said, well, let’s try this _, and if it works, then we know it’s not your heart, but anxiety. It was anxiety. Ugh! So what I did NOT want to hear.

Long story short, in order to survive and complete my schooling, it required that I go on meds. I can’t stand going on any meds. I’m a natural-type person who tries to do everything but go on meds. I succumbed because it was the only thing that worked. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Great. Not what I wanted whatsoever, but sometimes you just do what you have to do to move forward. I knew it wouldn’t be permanent, so I sucked it up.

Fast forward 4 years – – I freakin’ graduated. Woohoo!!! You’d think that things would be better, right? Guess what? I still required those meds. I went to the doc, told him I wanted to get off and he said it wasn’t going to happen until I changed my environment. Whoa!! That was a reality check. My home environment was such that I could not function without meds. That was a tough pill to swallow (pun intended).

You all know the rest of the story, the new job, the life-saving divorce.

So here’s the message I would like to bring home to any others who are in destructive relationships. Abuse kills and destroys our bodies physically and mentally. Even though I thought I was strong enough to focus and get through school/life, it required extra help medically. But it wasn’t permanent because I was able to finally change my environment.

If you are in a destructive relationship, I want to encourage you to GET OUT OF THAT ENVIRONMENT. I wish I would have done it earlier. Your life is valuable. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

My “message” box is always open, friends. My motto always is . .
if my story can help just one person . . . ❤

PS I’m off my freakin’ meds!!! WOOHOO!!!!!

****hoping this post turns out. Doing this from my phone and the signal is not great out here.

17 thoughts on “My Personal Mental Health Journey”

  1. I am thankful that you are off your meds, as you desire. Your journey is very difficult and complicated. Meds have saved my life at times, meds carry a love/hate token. In these times when I must continue taking them, I do so with a great full spirit. Anxiety can be a form of torture. So now, I call my meds, “tools”. They are the tools I use to help me successfully accomplish what I desire to accomplish in life. Thank you for transparency. It is helpful to us who journey difficult roads.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is wonderful to hear you are now in a better place. I, too, thought I was strong enough to stay – until I was suicidal. I’m edging towards that ‘life-saving divorce’ but still feel sorry for him – it seems like I’ll be taking away his ‘toys’ . He has always behaved like the money is all his – and I will need some in order to move forward. He won’t like it. Then there are my 10 adult children who have been programmed by the ‘system’. I rediscovered your blog after hearing you taking with Natalie Hoffman. It is always encouraging to hear what our Father does in the lives of others – it helps me to look beyond my own personal ‘impossible’ circumstances.
    God bless you.

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  3. Celeste, I like how you call them tools….so much better than the negative stigma our society gives them. We use “tools” when we have physical issues, why not for mental?

    Good for you for putting your health first. 💞

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  4. I just want to say i love your camping setup with the table with a pretty tablecloth! Looks great.

    So now, I call my meds, “tools”.

    Absolutely! We need to normalize medication for mental health as ok and nothing to be ashamed of, anymore than you would be ashamed of wearing contacts. They help you function optimally. I’m not really sure where christian culture took an ‘antiMHmeds’ turn but they did and it’s strange, but i hope we can fix that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tekel…my heart ached when I read your comment because I know exactly that place of confusion.

    You sound like so many moms I’ve come across in Christian circles who sacrificed their all for their husbands and children and ended up being trampled in the process.

    One of the things we don’t hear much from church leaders is to love ourselves. I want to encourage you to love yourself during this part of your journey and take important steps to get healthy. I cannot tell you how free and loved I feel now after being divorced. There are people who have only known me for the last 10 years who are telling me I look radiant and so full of life. Wow…I’ll bet the same will be for you.

    You can do this, Tekel. Do it for yourself and your adult children. Also…do it because God loves you and He wants you to be happy and healthy.

    Please keep me posted!

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  6. Julie Anne,

    It has been a long time since I last checked this thread, I hope and pray you are navigating through life Ok and I pray that God is covering you, your family, (including the ex) with his love.

    This is hard for me to admit, but sometimes when I reflect on my own years of emotional pain, I ask myself “what just happen?” and “why?’, for some clarity, so history can’t repeat itself.

    I waited too long to ask myself those questions, as I endured more emotional pain than I should’ve.
    (I gave it to God, and that is when I began to discover some clarity)

    I read something about how we live in a society deep with communication issues since as far back as I remember. I grew up in the 60’s and the 70’s in an era where we didn’t have enough mentors in how we should communicate or treat one another.
    (wasn’t mentored at home growing up, not in the classroom or in churches)

    When I reached adulthood, (like others) instead of having thought provoking conversations where lovers’ can self discover and begin to trust one another’s instincts enough to agree that when tensions began to elevate one can say “we agreed to not to do this” as a way to find calmer compromises, merge goals and wants and ignite emotional stimulation, instead of colliding or saying something regrettable.

    It goes further than that, it involves an understanding the psychology that none of us are wired the same. One can be a free spirit and the other more of a conformist (or even similar) and if neither were mentored to be good communicators. If they are good communicators they may take the time to understand and appreciate one another’s personality and embrace their differences, instead of exchanging insults and bicker over them.

    If one or the other (or both) simply doesn’t have (or make) time and goes off doing their own thing, that can also drive a wedge between what is left to be salvaged.

    I kind of define my life by 2 determining factors, Love or Hate. I know that when I didn’t communicate in a thoughtful way or went off doing my own thing, I wasn’t exposing evidence of a loving heart. (and that had to change) I had to change the way I think, talk and act if I was going to expose a loving heart that can be identified.

    I had to mentally train my mind to stop treating my car, better than I was emotionally treating my mind. Whenever I see a yellow light, I ease on the brakes and come to a stop, instead of racing through a red light.

    If I can make a calming “snap your finger’s” decision to slow the car down when the light turns yellow, I should be able to program my mind to do the same thing, when a voices begin to elevate or a challenge arises or depressing negative thoughts enter inside.

    To treat unkindness as dangerous to a relationship.

    (I had to stop magnifying or fabricating a crisis out of thin air. but instead put the emotional brakes on and say “stop doing this to myself” or in the case of a relationship agreeing in advance, to ease on the brakes, when the tension light turns “yellow”)

    Even after a painful break up, mutually understanding without finger pointing, on “what” and “why”, can ease the emotional pain endured by both spouses and may allow one another to cut each other (and the kids) some slack, enough to forgive one another, even if there isn’t any hope of reconciliation and give one another a second chance without verbally colliding.

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  7. When I was preparing for divorce, I 1) got all of my paperwork and research ready to exit, 2) kept waiting for a breakthrough for change in my marriage. I interviewed 2 attorneys.
    I was literally die-ing inside. There comes a point where nothing logistical or intellectual will save a one-sided marriage; where only one person is allowed to live and the other withers. I knew I had the support of 1 person, and when I was intuitively certain of that, I chose the non Christian attorney. The option of the Christian one became clearly a no-go when I sought 1 last consult before filing. He talked down to me and belittled my questions.

    Julie, I respect you and your choice for divorce. I am sure your journey leading up to it was extremely difficult, as well as your walk through it.

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  8. Thank you, Celeste. It’s interesting to hear things now that I am divorced. I recently connected with someone who was on staff at a former church who knew us. What she told me tells me that he was intentionally portraying me in a certain way to the church staff when on the side, he was not behaving. I’ll just leave it at that. People who knew us way back then – even before going to the cult church – saw the writing on the wall. I had no clue, and I fought for far too long when others clearly saw the demise. Now, I wish I had filed sooner, but I guess I had to get to that point myself. Life is not easy. We have to roll with our choices and mistakes. I am so happy now. And feel free. It’s amazing how beautiful life is right now . . . and to think it was just passing me by.

    I’m sure glad you could see clearly in your attorney situation. It is hard to see things clearly when you have been beaten down emotionally and are dying inside. Thanks for sharing your story, Celeste 🙂

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  9. “This is hard for me to admit, but sometimes when I reflect on my own years of emotional pain, I ask myself “what just happen?” and “why?’, for some clarity, so history can’t repeat itself.”

    Thanks, D, for your thoughtful comment. Your above comment struck me. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a while now as I maneuvered the divorce process and also begin dating again. It’s been very helpful for me in processing what I have gone through and help me navigate my life as a single, and now beginning to date. It always helps to have an extra set of ears for guidance and grounding!

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  10. Thanks Julie Anne,

    I didn’t have a therapist I could talk to and I didn’t want to give my current pastor (nice person) a headache, who quite frankly doesn’t have the credentials or the extensive amount of time.

    Not enough room in your blog to cover it. I’m also purposely avoiding any abuses that I endured, with the exception that I did abuse my mind and didn’t even know it.

    Like some, I didn’t grow up being surrounded or mentored to practice good communication skills and be a more relaxed clear thinker and I certainly didn’t take the time to understand the unique psychologies and backgrounds all of us posses as people.
    (including myself, my spouse and my own kids and parents and grandparents etc)

    Relationships with people are complex enough even for a person with good communication skills,, right? When I fail being a good communicator I typically fail to consider the psychology of people. (including myself or a even a former pastor)

    Here is a question close to my heart, “How often do people of all personality types take into account that a free spirit artsy type isn’t going to force feed their “will” on someone who isn’t a that way any more than a conformist can force feed their “will” on someone who isn’t a conformist?

    And yet sometimes they still try to force their “will” on each other, even if both don’t see what they are doing to each other?

    I’ve been there, got my free spirit daughter to understand that both of us were guilty of doing that to each other. It was a thought provoking discussion for the both of us.

    When I gave it to God about 3 years ago (I’m 60 now) through a lot of prayer and meditation it was then that I realize that he gave me the ability to make split second decisions to avoid danger.

    We make split second decisions all the time when we step on the brakes to avoid danger while we drive.

    God made me realize that I had to start placing greater value with my mind (as well as the mind’s of others) than I do with my old beat up truck,

    That is when I was able to begin putting on the emotional brakes at the blink of an eye, when communicating especially with those close to me, to avoid sparring. This allowed solutions to be discovered or even when mistakes are being made.

    When the first sign of anger, depression, a life changing bad memory enters into the mind, I can realize the danger is real and around the corner and step on the brakes and say “I’m not going to do this to myself”

    If your mind is burdened and you can’t sleep at night maybe try putting on an old Doris Day/James Gardner or Doris Day/Rock Hudson Romantic Comedy, put the sleep alarm on for an hour and turn the volume down and close your eyes and follow it, until you can fall asleep. Your mind will only be focusing on one thing instead of 5 or 10 things at a time.

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  11. now beginning to date

    as a long time (often*) single person, i sincerely wish you good luck in this!

    *currently seeing someone great, will see how it goes lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m honored to have inspired a post, gracious hostess. Couple of side notes; for those who are having a rough go of it, it’s OK to get help. Couple of points of reference:

    Last year, in a study I was hosting, one of the participants casually said that he’d scored sky high on a PTSD evaluation. I don’t know the littlest bit about it except that I was in deeper than I could swim, so I made sure to connect him with someone who at least had a plausible chance of helping.

    And about 15 years back, my stepbrother was in a job where he felt pressured to “shade the truth”, and when he went to the doctor, the doctor told him “I can prescribe meds, or you can quit your job.” So he quit and (!) got severance (he called it “hush money”), and he’s doing great now.

    A final note is that if you consult reputable mental health resources (being from near Rochester, I’m a big fan of Mayo’s write-ups), you’ll also find a number of self-help approaches and things that friends/family/loved ones can do to help those who are suffering.

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  13. One thing as well that I should clarify; my original comment, at least the last half, was more or less a plea for those coming off medications to do so carefully, because they really do work to change how your mind works, and doing so recklessly can have horrendous side effects. So before you drop them, please (please PLEASE) talk to someone who knows this stuff way better than I do.

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  14. Thank you, BB, for your comment. I was a bit concerned after reading about someone who had great difficulty going off her meds (which happened to be the same ones I was taking). I had to follow my doctor’s instructions carefully. If I felt I was going downhill again, I had a plan on what to do. Thankfully all went well. But I think it’s also important to note that a lot of positive life changes happened for me: new job and new home away from abuse. I also was in therapy during the divorce and while I was getting off the meds. So I was in a much more stable place to be able to wean off the meds.

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  15. Thank you for everything that you write Julie-Anne. I hurt with you as I read your testimony, but at the same time it helps me process my own story.
    Your work has inspired me to start blogging myself. Because writing helps me process, and sharing in a safe place does too.
    There is such a potential for healing in this community! 🙂

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