Tag Archives: religion

Religion and Mental Health

I’m not atheist.

Those of you who follow me and have read a lot of my posts (and the various about me sections) know this.

I choose the label “Pagan” because it’s the easiest one to explain my unlabeled belief.  And my mother is Pagan.  But I don’t really like labels.  I believe in a higher power.   I don’t exactly know what it is.

But moving on.  My issue today lies mostly with the way some Christianity, particularly Catholicism, feels about mental health, particularly depression and suicide.

This is not to say I have an issue with Christians or Catholics.  I do not.  I have family, friends, coworkers- many persons I care for greatly that are active Christians and I respect them wholeheartedly.

When I first saw the movie “Constantine” I was drawn in by the idea of angels and demons walking among us.  But then I became horrified and disturbed by the idea of someone being condemned to hell for taking their own life.  Being raised by a Pagan mother and atheist father, I’d never heard of this belief before.
(Note: I’m actually unaware of a lot of common Christian-based beliefs.  I wasn’t ever taught those things.  Not even basic bible stories.  The only one I really know is the flood, but that’s because there’s a Pagan equivalent.  Someone tried to explain the whole J-dude and the whale to me a couple months ago and I just didn’t get it.  They were like “He was swallowed by a whale” and I was like “You mean like Pinocchio?”  and they were like “Well, that’s the reference Pinocchio is making.”  to which I replied “Huh. Weird.”
I make an ass of myself frequently.)

Suicide happens when the pain is greater than one’s coping abilities.  Simply put, the person is struggling, reaching and reaching, and no one is grasping that hand and pulling them out from the hell they’re already in.

And then you want to say that they have to continue that suffering (that was not their choice in the first place) forever???  That is not a religion I can get behind.  At all.  I wish this narrow minded idea that mental illness is not “as real” as physical illness didn’t exist.
And to have religion, a powerful force in itself, perpetrate this belief that persons suffering from mental illnesses can just shake themselves free of it by simple faith and reading of a religious book…is just incomprehensible to me.

My spiritual beliefs are dear to me.  They’ve gotten me through some rough patches.  But they were not enough when I miscarried last year and decided I wasn’t worth the life I had been given.  I lost my faith.  A lot of persons I’ve known to have depression and suicidal thoughts have followed this pattern.  Faith is swept under the rug.  Not because we don’t believe or don’t want assistance from the Great Divine.  It is merely that our mental illness makes it impossible to care about and grasp those greater ideals.  We consider ourselves worthless- why would we want to draw attention from a higher being to that?

But to be punished eternally for that self-hatred?

I cannot believe the Great Divine, in their loving kindness, in the beauty they’ve handed to us, would truly punish like that.  How can some who hates only themselves, harms no others, be on the same level of hell as a mass murderer?

But there is a flip side to this.

I heard this beautiful story this morning and it opened my eyes to acceptance.  That everything has two sides.

Here is the story (I’ve paraphrased it a bit):

Two soldiers were stationed together for many years.  They became good friends, brothers-in-arms.  When they were sent into battle, one of them didn’t make it out alive.

The soldier left living found out that his friend had no relatives or other friends to handle the funeral arrangements.  So he took his fallen friend to his own family Catholic church and requested the priest handle the arrangements and eulogy of his friend.  The priest first asked,

“Was your friend Catholic?”

“He was not.” Answered the soldier, meeting the eyes of the priest bravely. The priest nodded.

“I will take care of your friend.”

The soldier then had to go back to his base.  Years later, he returned to the church to look for his friend.  He scoured the graves outside the fence, since he knew that since his friend was not Catholic, he wouldn’t be permitted within the fence’s boundaries.  He couldn’t find his friend’s grave and went to ask the priest.  The priest nodded and led the soldier to the correct grave, securely within the bounds of the fence.

The soldier looked at the priest in confusion.

“But I told you my friend was not Catholic.”

“I know.” said the priest, “And by the rules of the church, he is not to be buried within the boundaries of our fence.  But I searched the bible many times over for the answer.  No where did I find a passage that forbade the moving of the fence afterwards.”

A Gentlemanly Morning

The universe is still trying apparently.

I don’t talk a lot about my spiritual or personal-type (i.e. religious) beliefs on here because I’ve learned through experience that 99% of people really don’t want to hear it.

But I’m not atheist, or agnostic. But I’m also not particularly devout and I hesitate to even use the term “religious”. It’s not that I believe in a giant person-type being sitting up in the clouds staring down at me and poking and prodding at my life.

Makes me think of a child with a magnifying glass, gleefully looking at ants too much- creepy.

I also don’t believe there’s absolutely nothing.  There are too many surprising and amazing things in this world, even with the horrible and scary. And of course I know there are horrible awful things that a supernatural being should pay attention to and try to prevent, at least a bit more.
Okay, fine, maybe it’s entirely just universal coincidence, but it makes me feel not so hopeless and stupid and useless if I at lease pretend otherwise.

Anyway, this morning I was feeling shitty.
I slept awful, I woke up feeling awful, I felt useless with SD’s anxiety about her children, my shower was just another moment of time spent with an uncovered body I currently hate, driving to work was full of too many stupid and bad drivers (it’s raining, which in Ohio means drivers become extra-dumbass).

Then I arrived at work and got out of my car and walked towards my office building. I was angry with myself for wearing my black moccasins, which are incredibly comfortable (hence why I wore them), but terribly impractical for all the puddles in the alley from the parking garage to my building.

Then I notice a crowd of construction men hanging around the back entrance to my office building.  I begin to feel uncomfortable, as in the downtown area of my city, those kind of men tend to make uncomfortable jives at me. I begin to quicken my pace to get past them as soon as possible when the universe steps in to pull a 180 on my day.

One of the men meets my eyes and smiles, then goes to open one of the doors of the building.  Another opens the other door and the remaining two move to the side.  They all tip their hats at me and say a polite “good afternoon ma’am” as I walk through the open double doorway like I’m in a movie.

My smile is quick, and my mood isn’t entirely lifted, but my day feels a little brighter.