My beloved cat (I called her my cat wife) Tasha passed away on February 5, 2015. She was 17, and I had had her since 1999. I knew her time to leave this wonderful world was coming months before she died, but losing her was still extremely difficult, and six months later I am still grieving her loss. I have decided to write a book about Tasha as a memorial and a way to remember the amazing, loving, affectionate cat she was. I honestly wrote the book mostly for me, but I have decided to make it freely available to my friends. Hope you enjoy it and hope that in some small way you get to know what an amazing cat Tasha was. 🙂
I just went through a very serious episode of bipolar depression that could have easily cost me my life. I was experiencing suicidal depression and went four nights in a row to the Providence Psych ER. The fourth night, they got a court order and forced me to go to API (Alaska Psychiatric Institute). I spent two days there, and came home yesterday morning. I am still experiencing some depression and paranoia, but I am feeling much better now than I was. I would like to share the Facebook posts that I and others made concerning this issue, beginning on October 13, 2014. This all started about two months ago when I had to stop taking my Geodon because of unacceptable cardiac side effects. I spiraled up into mania but it didn’t seem to cause me too many issues other than poor sleep quality. But then, my moods shifted into irrational fear and paranoia and then… the plunge straight down into the deepest, darkest, most hellish abyss of bipolar suicidal depression.
I went to the NAMI meeting yesterday. I was SO mentally ill and so miserable. I hadn’t had good sleep in a very long time and other things had my stress levels THROUGH THE ROOF. I was filled with FEAR and PARANOIA. I fell apart in the middle of the meeting and ended up crying in front of everybody. I NEVER cry in front of other people. But I guess a NAMI meeting is a good place to fall apart, lol… a friend drove me to the hospital. I cried in her car and I cried at the hospital too in the ER.
I am MUCH better now, after about 15 hours of so of deep sleep at the hospital. They gave me safe drugs to make it happen.
I am home and I am safe and I am okay.
I’m very sorry about my behavior here the past couple of months or so. I have not been well, and yesterday it was really bad. I’m so thankful that good mental health care is so readily available here in Anchorage!
I was manic as hell, what, yesterday? Two days ago? I can’t remember anymore. I was manic for a couple of months with various symptoms going on. While I was at the hospital, I told the nurse that I wanted to go to sleep and I didn’t care if I ever woke up again. She told me that that indicated that I was suicidal. I can’t write about this without crying. I am spiraling down, and I cannot handle another severe depression. That would land me in API (Alaska Psychiatric Institute) and that place is an absolute hellhole. It sucks, but if I end up there, and this one particular nurse/whatever is there, I’m going to kick his ass if he says so much as a word me. I still remember his behavior toward me in 2011 and if I hadn’t just had back surgery months before, I would have decked him hard then. I avoided a fight then because of my back issues, but I wouldn’t do so now. I’m not normally a violent person at all. Hell, I haven’t raised a hand to hurt anyone since the last Jr. High schoolyard fight I was involved in. But this guy seriously deserved to have his ass kicked, and I’m still mad about it 3-1/2 years later if I happen to think about it. But I am mentally ill right now. Everything I feel, I feel INTENSELY.
I don’t really want to die, but it would not bother me if I just never woke up again. The battle than never ends with bipolar disorder would be over.
I am paranoid as hell about posting this.
I see my doctor tomorrow morning at 9:30 am. She may want to hospitalize me. That would mean API, and I would say HELL NO. I am open to trying new medicine, though…
October 13 at 12:34pm ·
Hi, folks. I’m an online friend of Jeff. If any of you are local in Anchorage please get in touch. I am concerned for his safety at the moment. Thanks.
On way to the hospital. Be in contact when I can. Shelley please let ex- c (http://www.ex-christian.net) folks know I am okay. Sorry to tag you for that. Thanks.
They will take my phone away from me. I am in good hands. I will be okay.
Feeling much calmer and less upset and suicidal. Being taken care of well here at the hospital.
I am still very depressed this morning but not suicidal. A close friend of mine from the Ex-C forums called the Anchorage police after I posted there last night about killing myself this morning. My mom is my biggest supporter but I don’t feel like talking to her or much of anybody right now. My friend Monica called me last night, but honestly I was so ill and so out of it I don’t remember much of what we talked about. But she cares, and I know a lot of other people here do too. Thanks.
The hospital gave me good care. I am going to the NAMI meeting today at 1:00 pm.
If I kill myself, I will hurt a lot of people — family, friends in real life, Facebook and of course on the Ex-C forums. Help me to not do that. Please. I want so bad for the pain to stop… I want to die so the pain will STOP!
I feel so bad. So depressed. Like feeling good again would take a monumental effort, and I just don’t know if I can do it again. Everyone is telling me to go to the hospital. But I don’t want to go to API. I want to go to sleep forever. I don’t care if I never wake up again. I hope i don’t. I’m TIRED. I’m tired of fighting for what almost everyone else takes for granted. I don’t mean that they way it probably sounds. I’m just tired of fighting to feel good. I have been manic since I stopped taking the Geodon and now I am deeply depressed and suicidal. Numb then angry then depressed and suicidal. But never good. I never feel good. I am so tired. I have been fighting for 30+ years and I am worn out. I am crying and I just want it to be OVER…
I want to die and not know or feel or have to deal with anything ever again. I want so bad to wait until tomorrow morning and run the car in the closed garage and just get it over with. I am so tired of fighting. Maybe the hospital can help. I just don’t know. But API might be better than being dead? I am going to get dressed and drive myself to Providence Psych ER now. I will end up in API. A choice between being dead and hurting a lot of people who care about me or spending time in hellhole where I won’t get much if any help. Hell of choice, but people seem to want me to live… even though I don’t want to anymore…
I’m on my way to the hospital now.
October 15 at 1:58pm ·
Thinking about you Jeff. Hope you’re ok.
October 16 at 3:36am ·
Heya, Jeff. Just checking in. I hope you got the help you needed.
October 16 at 11:55am ·
Spoke with Jeff late yesterday. He is doing well, in a good facility, and hopes to go to his Anchorage home tomorrow sometime. He knows you guys are worried and asked me to post to his board letting you know he is OK and on his way to health.
I personally want to thank all of you for your positive thoughts and caring. You are a blessing to him and I am grateful. Beth, Jeff’s mother
I am alive and feeling MUCH better. Just got home from the hospital a while ago. Visited with my father for a few minutes and loved on the cats.
API actually helped me — a lot! It is not the hellhole now that it was back in 2011. Lots of staffing and policy changes for the better.
Four trips to the Providence Psych ER, and on the fourth night they got a court order to force me to go to API. I objected to the entire thing at the time and they knew I was unhappy about it (I’m not shy about letting people know when I’m pissed off, lol) but now I realize I am alive because they forced me to go to API.
I am on Zyprexa again at the moment and it works but… it makes me gain weight, makes me hungry all the time, and it gives me insane sugar cravings. So… we will have to find something else for the long-term. I usually do well without meds if I eat healthy and get a lot of exercise. But sometimes, meds are necessary.
I was manic for quite a while, though it didn’t cause me issues really except for sleep quality. Then the irrational fear and paranoia started, then severe mania that felt AWESOME, but then… the plunge down into the deepest, darkest, most hellish abyss of bipolar suicidal depression. Worst episode since 2011.
I am very happy that I survived once again and I am still here.
Thanks so much for the love and the caring and concern. I am okay.
Looks like I lost one FB friend, probably due to my very public bipolar depressive crisis. Some people can’t handle mental illness, and I totally understand that. I haven’t figured out who it was yet, but I hope it wasn’t someone I will miss too much. I can’t help being mentally ill and I don’t apologize for being public about it. It MUST be talked about if the stigma associated with it is ever going to go away. It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced it what mental illness is like — the incredible highs and the hellish lows that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy for even one second.
Whoever it was that decided not to be a part of my online life anymore, I wish them well…
Getting caught up with my online world, AC/DC is blasting through my Bose headphones, and life is good again.
Just FYI — the last week or so is a blur. I was severely depressed and don’t remember too many specifics. Just hellish depression and awesome friends calling me (I remember the calls but not the conversations) and being here for me on Facebook. Thanks, so much!
Nothing like getting out of the hospital to find your car windshield iced over hard and… no ice scraper or other winter gear in the car.
It was 31 degrees outside and the car cranked like it was as unhappy as I was about the ice and cold. But, the heater is awesome and had things warmed up quickly. That damn ice was no match for the heater.
The roads are not icy yet, but will be soon. Gotta get the winter tires put on very soon…
It’s awesome that I’m feeling well enough to complain about normal stuff like… slow drivers!
On the way home from the hospital (a long drive across town), I got caught behind a slow-moving truck and then two other slow cars. The speed limit on Tudor is 45 mph, not 20 mph, dammit! MOVE, or GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!!!
On the other hand though, after it snows and the roads are icy, I will be the slow one everyone will be cursing and passing, lol…
Been spending time over on the Ex-C forums and became aware that I am not the only bipolar person having issues right now. I have a friend there who cycles in and out of fanatical religious belief the way I used to. But this friend tends to have delusions about being a prophet like the biblical (and mythical) Abraham or Moses… I really feel for my friend and posted a response urging him to see his doctor and not abuse his medications, as others have as well.
I have weathered a serious bipolar event or two without cycling into religion and believing the ridiculous again, so hopefully trips into religious belief are thankfully over for me. I am wishing the same for my friend…
I am still honestly feeling some depression, but nothing like what it was. I know there is hope and I am feeling very grateful to still be alive.
Can’t wait to be posting again about being at much more fun places than mental hospitals. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon, after the NAMI meeting, I can head out to the Dimond Mall or to The Pack Rat Antiques or Bosco’s Comics. The usual fun hangouts around town…
This is definitely TMI I’m sure but… with all that has gone on the last several days, I have been wearing the same pair of underwear…
Question for my health coaching friends, and anyone else who cares to offer an opinion.
I spent a year working hard to get certified as a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’m proud and happy that I stuck with school for that long and got the certificate.
But… I have bipolar disorder, which is a serious illness to have to deal with. Usually, I am okay though I have sleep issues and trouble focusing and concentrating. But sometimes, as just happened, I get hit with a very serious bipolar depression that requires hospitalization and that renders me unable to function. All I can think about when I am in that condition is how much I want to die so the pain will stop.
Right now, I really don’t have a practice. No clients yet. But what will I do when I do have clients and a business to run and I get hit with the inevitable serious bipolar episode? How am I going to explain being mentally ill and having to be in the hospital when I am supposed to be promoting healthy eating and healthy lifestyle changes? I’m supposed to be the healthy one who is encouraging others to get healthier and I’m getting paid to do it, yet I have a mental illness that occasionally puts me in the hospital? How is that going to work?
I can’t always predict when a serious episode is going to occur. I have been feeling basically okay since May of 2011, and for a couple of years I have been singing the praises of chia seeds. I really thought they had cured my bipolar depression and I would never have to deal with being that depressed again. Now it’s clear, obviously not… I was just lucky for three years. Who knows if the chia seeds were really making a difference or not?
I’m really questioning whether I can do a health coaching business when I have a mental illness that sometimes incapacitates me. I’m also still depressed right now (just not nearly as badly) and I’m questioning myself. My own health is a mess right now. My diet sucks and I am way out of shape and significantly overweight. Back in 2012 before Zyprexa, I was in size 34 jeans and I was working out a lot. Now I am in size 40 jeans and I am so out of shape that a 30 minute Les Mills Combat workout (mixed martial arts) is a challenge. And it used to be easy…
I’m still feeling depression and paranoia, so maybe this is just unwarranted fear showing up from still being ill, though better. Thoughts? Thanks.
Looking forward to the NAMI meeting this morning, and then visiting some fun places around town this afternoon. Yeah, college football is on TV, but I would rather spend the day out around town having some fun time.
Went to Bosco’s Comics and found something really cool — a Star Trek/Starfleet captain’s uniform shirt. It’s an XL so it should fit but we shall see. Might have to drop a few pounds first. Can’t be Captain Fatty, lol… but anyway, woohoo!! Something fun after the bipolar hell I just went through.
I have tried a number of times over the years to explain to people who have never walked the path from Christian –> ex-Christian –> Atheist what that journey is like and what it means to me and to others like me. It is not an easy path to travel at all. The journey from devout Christian religious belief back to the real world is one filled with doubts and questions and a great deal of strong emotion. As I explained it to my high school band director a couple of years ago or so:
My journey from devout religious belief to atheism has been a long and interesting one. I spent 15 years as a very devout fundamentalist Christian. I was the type who annoyed everybody. I wrote evangelistic letters to my family. I tried to convert my friends and co-workers. I handed out those ridiculous Chick tracts to convenience store clerks and toll booth operators. I was at church every time the doors opened, including early morning prayer meetings. I forced my beliefs on everybody all the time and though I meant well, I made a huge nuisance of myself. Despite all of that religious activity and belief, I still had questions that that seemed to have no good answers from my pastors or from the Christian apologists I read. Those questions finally built up to the point where I could no longer ignore them or write them off as coming from the devil.
In early 2000, I got on the Net as it existed back then and started researching my faith on both sides of the fence. I was absolutely stunned to find that the religious skeptics had far better answers than I had encountered from Christian apologists and I was also very surprised to see how easily they ripped my once cherished beliefs to shreds, not through ridicule but with facts. I started reading the skeptical side at www.infidels.org and went from there.
After I got over the shock of having my Christian worldview ripped out from under me, I became very very ANGRY! The fact that I was also very mentally ill at the time with not well controlled bipolar disorder didn’t help matters any. I felt foolish, used, and betrayed when I realized I had been intentionally lied to for 15 years and I had bought into it hook, line, and sinker.
Having doubts and questions about religious beliefs is normal if you are a reasonably intelligent thinking person, but in fundamentalist religion, doubting and questioning is strongly discouraged. Just pray about it and have more faith, we are told, and God will take care of it. Sounds nice, except for the fact that it isn’t true. For Christians who want answers to their questions, a whole industry of apologetics has come into being over the past few decades. For some Christians, the answers given by Christian apologists may be enough to keep them in the faith. For others like me, the answers were not satisfying. They did not resolve my doubts or my questions, so inevitably, I went looking elsewhere and found good answers that made sense to me from the place that I least expected it at the time — from the skeptical side of the fence.
I can’t speak for everyone who has made the journey from devout Christian belief to Atheism. But I can share my own personal story and what my journey was like.
I was raised United Methodist until I was ten years old. At that time, I asked my parents if I could stop attending church because I didn’t believe what they were teaching. Since we attended church mostly for social reasons anyway, they agreed. For reasons that I cannot recall now, I was back at that church when I was in my early teens for the Confirmation process. I didn’t think much about religion after that until we moved across town and I got into some interesting religious conversations with my new fundamentalist Christian neighbors. I was a teenager at the time, and Bob and Roxanne were nice people. I discussed religion with them a lot and even attended church with them at least once, but at the time religion just didn’t “take” with me. I became a typical teenage party animal and was totally turned off by religion. A few years later when I was in college, I met a guy named Mike who was a devout Christian. He shared his faith with me and I gradually became more receptive to it. Mike finally got me out to his car to read some Bible verses, and when we read Hebrews 4:12 I felt something stir inside of me, and I thought maybe there really was something to this “Jesus” stuff. Shortly after that, I went to a public showing of the Jesus Film put on by a local Baptist church. I was extremely moved by the movie, and I knew by the time that film was over that I wanted what this Jesus had to offer, and I became a Christian on March 7, 1985. My transformation from a typical teenage party animal to a devout fundamentalist Christian was rapid and dramatic. I stopped drinking and using drugs and threw myself totally and enthusiastically into my new-found faith. I made friends with the music director at the local Baptist church, and I hung out a lot with my friend Mike. We engaged in a whole lot of religious activity and talked about how wonderful and awesome Jesus was all the time. Mike introduced me tho the popular Christian music of the time, and I fell in love with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith and particularly with Keith Green. I loved Keith Green’s music and his strong and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. I wanted to see him in concert badly, and when Mike informed me that he was dead (plane crash in 1982), I was devastated. Shortly after my conversion, my mother bought me a nice Bible and she arranged for me to attend East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, TX. I arrived there expecting a church-like atmosphere and students who were just as devout as I was. What I found was indeed a religious school, but my fellow students, for the most part, were just typical young adults who happened to have religious beliefs. That was, I suppose, the beginning of my disillusionment and questioning. While I was at ETBU, I began to have serious doubts about my faith. I can remember a friend of mine there using his wallet as an evangelism tool. He tried to assure me that Christianity was for real and that once I was saved that was a done deal that I could never lose.
We did not know it at that time, but I had bipolar disorder that was not diagnosed and so was untreated. What began at ETBU was a cycle of swings between devout religious belief and periods of doubt and unbelief featuring severe substance abuse that I would be trapped in for 15 years of my life. I had a great time at ETBU while I was religious. I was able to put my doubts and questions aside enough that I could keep the faith, at least for a while. I had a great time traveling across the border to Louisiana for Christian concerts featuring the stars of the time. I particularly remember seeing a band called Cruse 2 and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. Mylon’s music was awesome and I loved the sincerity with which he delivered his message. I jammed for Jesus to their music for years! Back home near Houston, TX I went with my friend Mike to see Michael W. Smith and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. I had some really fun times in my younger Christian days! Here’s just a sample of his music from back in those days. I still love the music, though I no longer believe the message.
I had my first bout of doubt and unbelief while I was at ETBU and I started drinking and using drugs again — at a Christian school! Needless to say, they were not happy with me, and they kicked me out after the first summer semester of 1986. If I remember correctly, it was officially an academic suspension because I was not doing well in my classes.
Back home in the Brazosport area of Texas, I soon found a really fun church — Church on the Rock in Brazoria, TX. It was located several miles out of town on Hwy 521. It was a very fun place as churches go. I made friends with the pastor and other leaders of the church, and loved the Charismatic-style praise and worship services, and for a while I participated in the praise and worship choir. I sang solos frequently, and when I could manage to drag my young body out of bed early enough, I attended the 6:00 am prayer meetings. At that time, I was engaging in a great deal of religious activity. I prayed a lot, I worshiped for hours daily, I read my Bible frequently, and I told everyone who would listen about Jesus. I also frequently handed out those Chick tracts, which I thought were an awesome evangelism tool at the time. But even with all of that religious activity, doubts were creeping in. I suppose I could never see the connection between my cherished religious beliefs and the real world, and I know now of course, that that is because there is no connection between religious belief and the real world. I never read anything in the Bible that made me question my beliefs because at that time I had not been exposed to much of the Old Testament, other than scripture that was supposed to be about Jesus. I remember at one early morning prayer meeting, I was so filled with doubt and unbelief that my friend Mike had to pray me through to belief again so that I could enjoy the rest of the prayer meeting. I guess I found it hard to believe in God at 6:00 am in the morning. 🙂 There was also a time during one particular praise and worship service that I was so filled with doubts about the reality of it all that I couldn’t enjoy the service, but everybody else was experiencing a “powerful move of God”, as if we were getting a small taste of what Heaven would be like. Everyone else was awed by how awesome God was, but I felt nothing. I remember testifying later in that service about how I had missed out on the blessing of the awesome worship service, but that God had blessed me anyway. I don’t remember now how I thought God had blessed me or what I said, though. That church was fun. We had slogans for each year such as “Storm the Gate in ’88” and “Draw the Line in ’89”. A few times, the pastor allowed me to spend the night at the church. I played Christian music through their awesome sound system and prayed and worshiped and sought God all night long. At the time, it was an awesome experience, and I was grateful that the pastor trusted me enough to leave me alone in his church all night.
By the time the early 1990’s rolled around, I was working for my mother at her travel agency in Lake Jackson, TX and I had found a new church that I also enjoyed — Brazosport Christian Center. I made friends with the pastor there too, and I sang solos there as well, though not as frequently as I had at Church on the Rock. I made many good friends at both churches, and we all had a great time hanging out together. In 1992, I had the opportunity to perform one of my favorite songs at the time, Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again” at the Brazosport College Follies. I still have the video of that performance:
The next several years I was still a believer, but I was not nearly as religious as I had been when I was a bit younger. But I still believed in God and I still believed that the Bible was His Word. But by early 2000, my doubts and questions had built up to the point that I could no longer write them off to tricks of the devil, and I was not getting good answers from Christian apologists. As I related earlier, I got on the Net as it existed in early 2000, and went looking for information that was critical of the Bible and the Christian religion. I honestly was not expecting to find much. After all, the Bible was the inerrant, infallible Word of God, so what could really be said against it that was valid? I stumbled across http://www.infidels.org and I quickly began to get an education. I found my cherished Christian religious beliefs brought into serious question and basically debunked not with ridicule or derision but with solid evidence and facts. I soon also discovered http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net and my education continued. The author of that site unemotionally but thoroughly debunked the Bible and showed it for what it really is — a collection of ancient religious mythology, most of which was written anonymously. I became aware for the first time that Adam and Eve were not real historical people but rather they were part of an ancient creation myth that makes no sense to modern minds when taken literally. I learned that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are pure mythology. I was exposed to parts of the Old Testament that I had never laid eyes on before, and I learned that on numerous occasions that God had either ordered or directly committed mass murder and genocide. I began to learn that the character of the God of the Bible is not loving as I had been taught. I learned about failed prophecy in the Bible, and that was a shocker at the time because I had been told that fulfilled prophecy was a proof that God had inspired the Bible and that Jesus was the Messiah. I learned many things that brought the beliefs that I had held as Christian into very serious doubt. When I looked into what Jews had to say about Jesus, I was shocked again at how easily they proved from their own scriptures and religious beliefs and traditions that Jesus was not their long-awaited Messiah. I learned also that the two contradictory creation myths found in the book of Genesis have no scientific basis, that the Noah’s Ark story was borrowed from the much earlier Epic of Gilgamesh, the Exodus event never happened, that the events depicted in the Tower of Babel story is not how different languages came into being, and much more. I learned about the hundreds of meaningful contradictions contained in the Bible, which are graphically illustrated here. I learned about the atrocities in the Bible and also about the absurdities in the Bible, many of which I now find hilarious. For example, the book of Leviticus makes the claim that insects have four legs (Leviticus 11:20) and Psalms makes the claim that snails melt (Psalm 58:8). The Bible also clearly teaches a flat earth (see Isaiah 40:22 and Daniel 4:11 and Matthew 4:8), and the first chapter of the book of Genesis depicts a solid dome firmament (Genesis 1:7) with the stars stuck in it covering our flat world, which is supported by pillars (I Sam. 2:8).
While I was discovering all of these things and processing this new knowledge, I had some strong emotions to deal with. I became very, very angry that I had been sold a pack of ancient myths and lies for 15 years of my life and that I had mistook them for Divine Truth. I was rapidly losing my belief in God and I was realizing that Jesus was not and could not have been God in the flesh. He did not rise from the dead and he was not alive forevermore in heaven. Losing religious faith is a very painful and very emotional process. I didn’t just wake up and decide one day that I no longer believed in God and that I was no longer a Christian. It was a process that took months, and once I was no longer a believer, processing the anger and rage and betrayal that I felt for having years of my younger life stolen from me by a cult took several years to process, and it was not helped by the fact that I was dealing with serious mental illness at the time. It took a lot of research and a lot of time and a lot of thought for me to make the journey from devout Christian religious belief to atheism and the real world.
Leaving the Christian faith and becoming an ex-Christian does not automatically mean becoming an atheist, though that’s what it meant for me. Many former Christians find other faiths that they are happy with. I no longer find the Bible believable as the “word” of a God and my beliefs about Jesus have changed from “He was and is God in the flesh” to the much more realistic and mainstream among serious Bible scholars “he was an ancient Jewish apocalyptic preacher” who was the historical person behind the myths we find about him in the Bible.
There are five stages of grief that are generally recognized as valid, and I had to go through every single one of them as a part of losing my religious faith. I wrote about it recently on the http://www.ex-christian.net forums and I’ll re-post it here for your consideration. I apologize for the overlap and repeat of some of what I have already had to say.
The first stage of loss/grief is Denial and Isolation. I can’t really say I was in denial for very long about there being serious problems with my faith, but when I first started looking for information that was critical of the Bible, I honestly didn’t expect to find much! After all, the Bible was the Word of God, so what could unbelievers really have to say about it that would mean anything? I seriously roll my eyes now that I was once so uneducated and so naive, but I guess we all have to start somewhere. I believed that the Bible was the “inerrant, infallible Word of God” for many years because I was told that it was by people that I trusted at the time to tell me the truth. I had never actually read the vast majority of the Bible for myself, but the inerrancy of scripture was a major doctrine and for a long time I accepted it with little, if any, questioning. I was even quite impressed at the time with apologists such as Grant Jeffrey, whom I thought did a glorious job of defending the Bible as God’s Word. Anyway, when I came across sites such as www.infidels.org and www.rejectionofpascalswager.net I was shocked to discover how easily the Bible and my once-cherished Christian beliefs were ripped to shreds, and it was done not through ridicule, but with good evidence, the latest biblical scholarship, and verifiable facts. I can’t say that I was in much denial about what I was discovering because what I was discovering about the Bible I was also discovering that Christians couldn’t logically or rationally or factually refute, but I did isolate myself a lot. I spent hours on the internet with my glorious 56k modem connection, reading and researching and learning everything I could that was true and factual about the Bible and the Christian religion.
The second stage of loss/grief is Anger. After I got over the initial shock of discovering that the Bible was absolutely not inerrant or infallible, that it contained many ancient myths, and that it was definitely not authored by God, I became very, very ANGRY. All I could feel for quite a while when I thought about religion was ANGER and BLISTERING RAGE!!! Back around 2002, I put my first “Religion is Bullshit” website online, and with webmaster Dave’s glorious suggestion to turn it into a blog (those were new at the time), it ended up becoming quite popular. I ran that site until August of 2004, and much of what I posted reflected the DEEP RAGE that I felt for being lied to, brainwashed, indoctrinated, and severely psychologically damaged for 15 years of my life. I was ANGRY that I had wasted so many of my younger years trying to please a nonexistent god who never gave me any feedback, and that I had wasted so much time and emotional energy worrying about sin and worrying about whether I was really saved or not, and about my family and friends going to hell. And, once I realized the morally reprehensible nature of the concept of Hell, I was shocked with myself that I had ever bought in to such a demented and evil concept as being for real and that I had thought my loving God would send anyone there, much less my family and friends, all of whom were and are good people. The flip side of my anger about Hell was anger and deep disappointment that Heaven was not for real. I was so mentally ill at the time and I was so looking forward to that wonderful place where God would wipe away all of my suffering and tears, and I would live forever with Him in eternal joy, happiness, and total bliss. And then… I realized that it was all just an ancient myth. That realization was extremely difficult to accept, and I stayed angry about it for a long time. And, of course, letting go of belief in God was extremely difficult too. I was very ANGRY that God was not actually real and that I had spent so many years of my life loving and worshiping a nonexistent being. Then, once I became aware of the many atrocities in the Old Testament that portray God repeatedly ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide, I was ANGRY that I had been taught that God was Love, and that I had believed it so strongly for so long. There is no way now that I can accept the God of the Bible as loving, given what I know about the Old Testament, and even how he is portrayed in the New Testament. In Acts 5, God murders two people simply for lying to him about their finances, and if the book of Revelation were to come true in our modern world, billions of non-Christian people would die horribly and then be sent to an eternal hell to be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever. This is a loving God? I don’t think so… And what about Jesus? I trusted him as my loving Lord and Savior for years! I never once thought about the fact that it was him who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture, and I never once heard in church about how Jesus said we had to literally hate our families to truly be his disciples (Luke 14:26), and I certainly never heard that he ordered those who refused to follow him to be killed in front of him (Luke 19:27). And what about hacking off body parts that cause you to sin (Matthew 5)? Sure, I read that many times, but with my Jesus Goggles firmly in place, and I never gave it much, if any, critical thought.
The third stage of loss/grief is Bargaining. I can’t really say that I did a lot of bargaining, but I did still desperately want God to real and for Jesus to really be real and Alive in Heaven forevermore. I am sure that I did some bargaining in the form of prayer, asking God to prove Himself to me in a way that would be undeniable. Of course, he never did…
The fourth stage of loss/grief is Depression. I did indeed experience a great deal of depression when I realized that the Bible was mostly ancient myth and legend, that there is no God and that the God depicted within the pages of the Bible was not good or loving, and that there was no heaven wonderful beyond description waiting for me after I died. Depression and anger, at least for me, were two sides of the same coin, and I spent years flipping between them. Some of that, of course, was due to my bipolar illness, but a lot of it was a normal part of working through the loss of my God and my once-cherished religious beliefs.
The fifth and final stage of loss/grief is Acceptance. This is largely where I am now, and I bless the Lard mightily for it! Glory! When I write about religion here or on my glorious website or on Facebook, I do still often write with great passion and emotion, and sometimes I take trips back to the Anger phase of loss/grief, but I always end up coming back pretty quickly to Acceptance once I had done my writing and had my say. I have come to accept the fact that there very likely is no God and that there very likely is no afterlife waiting for us after we die. We just simply cease to exist, in all likelihood, and I am at peace with that probable reality now. Knowing that life is incredible and amazing and fun — but TEMPORARY — has given me reason to wring every last bit of happiness and joy and fun out of it that I can in the HERE and NOW! It has given me reason to show my loved ones how much I care about them NOW! I enjoy my life IMMENSELY with no religious or spiritual beliefs and no reference to God. It took me many years to work through the stages of loss/grief to finally arrive at Acceptance. I stayed ANGRY for years. But now, I am completely and gloriously FREE of religion! I am absolutely FREE of all religious fears! I am free to be ME and to enjoy the one life I have on this earth FULLY, with nothing held back and with no worries about pissing Jesus off or angering his father (who is also somehow magically Him). I don’t have much money and right now I am just beginning to work on building my health coaching career, but I am HAPPY, and I feel extremely grateful to webmaster Dave for creating this glorious site (his blog and these glorious forums), and I feel extremely grateful to have so many online friends here who share the bond of having left religious belief behind in favor of the REAL WORLD and who love me and accept me exactly as I am!
I am not really that angry about the years that I spent as a Christian believer now. Yes, I wish that things could have been different, but I think we all have some regrets in life once we have lived long enough. I am quite happy now as an ex-Christian atheist, and I firmly believe that the best approach to life is facing the real world exactly as it is — as brutal as that can be at times — instead of hiding from it through religious belief. Even the hardest blows in life, such as the deaths of loved ones — should be faced head on. There very likely is no afterlife waiting on us after we die. When people die, they really die and are gone forever. That’s why it is so important to spend as much time as we can with those we love and to grab every moment of life where we are here to enjoy it!
I apologize if this post has seemed rambling and somewhat disjointed. That’s a natural result of trying to cover thirty years of life and changing beliefs and thought and research in one post that is reasonable in length. But I hope I have conveyed at least to some extent what it is like to travel the road from Christianity –> ex-Christian –> Atheist, and to some extent why I am no longer a Christian believer..
For those who may be interested, I wrote a book in 2013 on my experiences with religion and bipolar disorder. I am happy to make it freely available to my readers.
I hope this post has been helpful to those who have not been in our shoes to make the journey from Christianity to Atheism. It can be hard to understand the life experiences of people who have lived through things that you have never had to experience. Trying to explain mental illness is difficult to relate to someone who has never had experience with it. In the same way, explaining the journey from religious belief to the lack of it can be difficult to relate, but I hope I have succeeded here at least to some degree.
I am extremely happy now and I enjoy life immensely with no reference to God or to any religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever. I find the real world exactly as it really is interesting, exciting, and enthralling. Life is amazing and fun and very enjoyable indeed, but it is not permanent. It is a very precious thing because it is temporary and impermanent. Enjoy this life while you have it. There is no good evidence that there is another one waiting for us on the other side of the grave.
Enjoyed some time out at Taku Lake today, September 24th of 2014, and walked about four miles on the Campbell Creek Trail. Took a few pics I’d like to share. It was a beautiful and sunny Fall day here in Anchorage, Alaska!
I posted this to Facebook a while ago and I’d like to share it here too…
A couple of days ago I posted my thoughts about Robin William’s tragic death from suicide, and I shared a lot about my life dealing with bipolar disorder. I’m still thinking about it because Robin’s death really hit home hard with me. I have been that depressed and in that much pain myself several times, I am a survivor of several suicide attempts.
This is not going to be a pleasant post to read. It’s about suicide, and that is a subject that is terribly difficult to deal with, and most people would rather not think about it or talk about it. I’ll understand if you don’t care to read beyond this point. But like depression and mental illness, suicide MUST be talked about and brought out into the open so that people who are suffering emotional agony beyond the comprehension of most people can get the understanding and help that they need. There is nothing worse than losing someone to suicide and being left with incredible grief and the agony of wondering what you might could have said or done that could have saved a life. That’s what Robin William’s family and friends are going through right now.It’s the agony that so many people who are not so wealthy or famous go through when they lose someone to suicide. But you don’t hear about them so much…
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in February of 1998, at the age of 32. That year was a living hell beyond belief. I was miserable, deeply depressed, and in and out of the hospital several times. I was on a drug called Depakote for the bipolar disorder. It can work great if taken as prescribed, but at high doses it is very toxic to the liver and is usually fatal. I overdosed on it twice, and each time I came very close to death. If I had taken just a few more pills either time, I would not be here to talk about it.
In 2001, I tried to commit suicide again. I ran the car in the garage and somehow ended up at UTMB in Galveston, TX instead of being dead.
In May of 2011, I got hit with the worst episode of bipolar depression I had experienced in several years. I tried to commit suicide again with the car in the garage, but after about 15 minutes, I realized that I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted the unbearable, agonizing emotional pain to STOP. I drove myself to Providence Hospital in Anchorage, and ended up spending a week there in the mental health unit. They helped me so much, and I will forever be so grateful to them! I was still depressed when I got out, but I was much better and no longer suicidal.
Right before I went into the hospital in 2011, I posted this thread to an internet forum I still frequently visit. I read back through that thread this morning and cried. I remember how deeply depressed I was. I remembered how much agony I was in. I remembered how badly I wanted help but at the same time how badly I wanted to die so the pain would STOP.
I’m still amazed at the outpouring of love and support I received from my friends there a little over three years ago. Some of those people haven’t been on that forum for quite a while. People come and go on forums all the time. But their love and their caring still mean a great deal to me. This is not a forum I would normally ask my Christian friends to visit. It’s not a religion-friendly site, at all. Some of the things said my religious friends will find offensive and I apologize for that, but please read it anyway. If you want to understand ME and you want to understand the agony of suicidal depression, read it. It’s six pages long and will take a few minutes, but you will learn so much and be so amazed too at the love and support that I received. Those people helped me pull through an awful time in my life, and I am still happy to call many of them my friends.
I wish Robin Williams could have found the love and support that he needed when he was hurting so deeply and so badly. We lost a very talented and funny man to a terrible disease.
I’m sorry if this post makes my friends uncomfortable, but it’s got to be talked about. Not just on Facebook, but everywhere, among average people and among the mental health professionals who can save the lives of those who so desperately need them and their help.
I am happy and I am healthy now. I love my life and I love living it. But I know just how incredibly fortunate I am to still be here…
I posted this to Facebook, but would like to share it here as well. I hope it helps someone in need. If you are suffering from depression, there is help available! The national suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Please seek help if you need it. There is no shame in depression, and it can be treated and recovery is possible!
I have always been very open and honest about my struggles with mental illness. I have never hidden the fact that I have bipolar disorder. My feeling is that the more mental illness is talked about and brought out into the open, the less stigma there will be because of it. I started having symptoms of mental illness after I had a serious seizure when I was ten years old. That was in 1976. The best anti-seizure medicine they had at the time was phenobarbital, and I was on it for six years. My mother’s opinion is that they took me off of it too quickly because I went straight for the alcohol, and so began many years of serious substance abuse. I was seriously bipolar by the time I was in high school, and most nights I was so manic I would have to drink myself to sleep. I would either hit the liquor cabinet, trying to be careful not to wake my mother up, or I would sneak out of the house late at night to go buy beer at a couple of convenience stores nearby that I knew would sell it to me, underage though I was. Back in those days there were not such strict laws for selling alcohol to minors like there are today. It was easy to get if you knew where to go… Anyway, school was not easy for me. I had few friends and I endured a lot of hell for being different. I know now that I was different because I was mentally ill. We all know how cruel kids can be if you don’t fit in… high school was a living hell except for band, a few true friends who accepted me as I was, and cool teachers who liked and cared about me. I have never had the opportunity to go to a high school reunion and I’m not sure I want to. It’s been thirty years, and most of those people back when we were in school wanted nothing to do with me. I participated in band and had great fun doing it, but I was left out of all the stuff the cool kids got to do. I never went to a beach party or hung out with friends at Dunbar Park (they were drinking or doing drugs anyway, so it’s just as well that I wasn’t there… I did plenty of that on my own or with the friends I did have…) or anything else the “normal” kids got to do. I didn’t even know most of this stuff went on until years later…
Anyway… while most of my peers were going to school and building their adult lives and careers, I was absolutely miserable with then undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I dealt with it either with extreme religious belief or with severe substance abuse. I spent many years trying to get through school and failing because I was so mentally ill and usually too drunk or too stoned to learn anything. I spent many years working many dead-end, low-wage jobs, barely managing to scrape by. I never had any extra money and at Christmas, my mother would loan me about $20 so I could go buy some cheap books and cassette tapes to give as gifts. There were many times that I would have been homeless on the streets of Houston, TX if my mother had not helped me out financially. She didn’t like doing it, but she loves me unconditionally and was always there for me.
I’m sharing all of this because of Robin William’s tragic death from suicide. He had money and fame and the adoration of millions, but none of that protects you from the ravages of mental illness. I know what it’s like to suffer from DEEP depression and to have no quality of life whatsoever. I can remember back around 2001, I was so miserable and so depressed that I slept almost all the time. Being awake HURT! My idea of getting out of the house was to go visit the apartment office and visit with the leasing agents. They knew that I was deeply troubled and they cared enough about me to try to help. But most of the time I was in my apartment asleep or wishing that I was asleep or wishing that I was dead so I didn’t have to hurt so bad. Sleep was the only escape I had from the unbearable pain of severe bipolar depression.
I have a great life now in Alaska and my mental health is so good now that I can’t tell most of the time that I even have bipolar disorder. I have finally completed school and I am looking forward to a rewarding career as a health coach. I get the incredible privilege of helping others live healthier and more fulfilling lives! I am looking forward to helping others who suffer from mental illness recover so that they too can truly enjoy living. I know what it is like for life to be a living hell of depression and failure after failure and having no money and feeling no hope that life can ever feel like it is worth living. I KNOW that I can help people who are suffering from mental illness feel better. I also know that many of them will not be able to pay me. But it’s not about the money. It’s about compassion and understanding and empathy and helping because now I can do it and I WANT to do it. If I can recover from years of severe mental illness, I know that I can help others to do the same. Just the other day at the NAMI meeting a woman shared how miserable and frequently suicidal she was. She has had struggles similar to my own. I reached out to her and offered to help and so far I have not heard from her, but at least I tried.
I understand why Robin Williams committed suicide. I understand the unbearable pain that deep depression must have been causing him. Money and fame and the adoration of millions cease to matter when life is nothing but unbearable pain. I wish he had not chosen such a tragic way to end his suffering and I wish he could have been helped. But I understand, and I’ll always remember him fondly as the hilarious Mork from Ork on the old “Mork & Mindy” TV show…
My life has been very different from that of most of my peers. It has not been “normal” by any means. But I’m not ashamed of it at all. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. The mentally ill should not have to endure the additional suffering that stigma causes on top of what they already suffer from their illness. The mentally ill deserve compassion, empathy, understanding, and all the help that they can get from those who care about them…
I saw the movie Heaven is for Real out at the Dimond Mall today, on a whim. I was going to skip it since I don’t generally think much of religious movies, but since this one dealt with a near-death experience, I decided to give it a chance. I am really glad that I did. The movie was very well done — a thought-provoking tear-jerker that I wouldn’t mind seeing again. It was a powerfully moving, emotional movie. The movie centers around the illness and near-death experience of Todd Burpo’s four year old son, Colton. While in surgery for a ruptured appendix, Colton has a near-death experience and sees Jesus, Heaven, Todd’s grandfather, and an unborn sister (who died in the womb) that he didn’t know he had. The movie also deals with the Burpo family’s coming to accept their son’s experience and coming to accept that heaven is actually for real. Part of what I gathered from the movie is that Todd Burpo, a preacher, really didn’t believe what he was being paid to preach, and that the same goes for his wife. Atheists in church? Perish the thought! 🙂
I have always found near-death experiences fascinating and thought-provoking. What if they really are for real? What if they really point to a continued existence in another place after physical death? I am not religious, and I certainly don’t anticipate ever returning to Christian belief, but I tend to take these experiences seriously, especially since I find the skeptical “hallucination” theory problematical at best. Calling near-death experiences hallucinations and writing them off as such fails to explain anything meaningful about them, including their life-changing scope and power.
I currently consider myself to be an ex-Christian agnostic, with atheist leanings. But near-death experiences (NDEs) really do make me think and consider the possibility that there may be more to life than what meets the physical eye. I would love to believe in a loving God and that a peaceful and heavenly existence awaits us after death, but I have been burned badly once by religion (fundamentalist Christianity) and I am very hesitant to put my trust in another set of beliefs again. But beyond thought-provoking NDE experiences, I don’t know of any real evidence that such a God or such a place actually exists. I think it is a matter of faith, but I’ll grant that such beliefs are certainly positive and life-affirming. In the movie, Colton Burpo encounters Jesus Christ, but I find that encounter hard to accept as real because the research I have done into the subject strongly suggest to me that Jesus — especially the loving Jesus that Christians tend to believe in and promote — is little more than a myth. There just isn’t much evidence that he ever walked the face of this earth, much less than he died on a Roman cross 2000 years ago and rose from the dead. The Gospels, while beautiful in some respects, were anonymously written decades after the supposed death and resurrection of Jesus, so they are not eyewitness accounts, and it is difficult for me to take them seriously as accurate accounts of the life of Jesus, especially since each Gospel portrays Jesus so differently. The most important event in Christian history — the resurrection of Jesus Christ — is not even portrayed accurately in the Gospels. The accounts vary and differ in the important details of the event. The Gospel of Matthew even has a story suggesting that many dead saints arose and visited the city of Jerusalem after Christ’s resurrection. I’m supposed to take a biblical account of a zombie apocalypse seriously?? I don’t think so…
There are some portrayals of Jesus that are beautiful. If you watch the Jesus Film, for example, it’s hard not to fall in love with Jesus and want what the movie strongly suggests that he has to offer — salvation and eternal life! On the other hand, Jesus supposedly commanded the literal hacking off of body parts if they caused offense or sin — not such a pretty picture of a loving Savior… Jesus is also depicted as bringing a sword rather than bringing peace (Matthew 10:34) and the Gospels contain warnings about a place called Hell, which I find diametrically opposed to the concept of a loving God. If Hell exists and human beings go there forever (being punished infinitely for finite sin), then God is a monster, not a loving Supreme Being. And, in fact, the Old Testament does portray God as a monster — a mass murdering monster most definitely not worthy of love or worship…
So… while I truly appreciated and enjoyed Heaven is for Real, and I highly recommend going to see it, I find it impossible at this time to justify a return to Christian faith. I’m sure that many Christians will love the movie, and I’m sure many will find fault with it. Go see it for yourself and let me know what you think…
I am currently going to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying to be a Health Coach. IIN promotes the concept of Primary Foods — relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. As you can see in this graphic, primary foods are just as important as what we eat (secondary food), if not more so. You could eat broccoli all day, but if your primary foods are not in order then you will not be healthy or happy!
My relationship with my family is great. I get along well with my parents and my sister. I talk to my mother on the phone nearly every day. My sister and I don’t get a lot of time together even to talk on the phone, but we are planning another trip to Europe together in a few years, and I am very excited about that. The last trip we took around Europe was in 1984. It was my high school graduation present and my sister got to come along. We had a great time back then, but it will be fun again in a few years too. Fun, but different. We are a lot older now than we were back in 1984, and the world is a very different place.
Because of my life circumstances, I have never been in a romantic relationship. In fact, I have never even been out on a date, and I am 48 years old. I was unpopular in school because I had behavioral problems due to then undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and we all know how cruel kids can be. I was one of the “weird kid” outcasts in high school, so my romantic options were pretty much nonexistent. But, I was fine with not having that as a part of my life back then. I was a late bloomer anyway, and I was happy being active in the band (I played the tuba) and with being obsessed with Star Trek. I still love the show now, but I don’t go around greeting people with the Vulcan salute, ha ha… I have struggled with mental illness and with being able to financially support myself all of my adult life, so the past 30 years have not lent themselves well to being in a serious relationship. I hope it will happen for me someday, but if I am single for the rest of my life and I never get to experience a romantic relationship, I am okay with that. It’s been the story of my life so far anyway, so I am comfortable with it.
My career path now is working hard to become a successful health coach. But in the past, my employment record has reflected a lifetime spent struggling with mental illness. I have worked many low-paying, dead-end jobs over the years, and the last ten years I have not worked at all. There have only been two times in my life when I was self-sufficient financially. I worked at Dell for a year and four months (1996-1998). That was a great job and I was looking forward to having a career at Dell, but unfortunately bipolar disorder reared its ugly head and I ended up in the hospital and I lost my job. But… it was at that time that I was properly diagnosed at the age of 32. After the job at Dell, I had a job in Amarillo, TX for a few months working as a printer repair technician. But… I hardly had to work at that job! I had to call in every day to see if there was work or not, but most days I was free. Needless to say, that job didn’t last long. I am still surprised when I think about it today that that job lasted six months. I was semi-retired, making $16/hr for doing basically nothing. The company I was working for is no longer in business, but they couldn’t keep that up forever!
I am usually very physically active, but that wasn’t always the case. There was a time in my life a few years ago that I was so overweight and out of shape that I could barely climb the stairs in our house. Back in late 2011, I was introduced to the Beachbody company and their DVD workout programs, and since then my physical health has improved dramatically. I started with Power 90 and then progressed to doing P90X. Since then, I have done Insanity, Body Beast, and Les Mills Combat. But…I have had a few setbacks and I am now about 30 pounds heavier than I was summer of 2012. I’m also totally burned out right now on doing DVD workout programs. I am having a really hard time sticking to any program. Summer is almost here though, and the ice and snow have melted enough that I can get back on my bike. I’m planning to ride it around the neighborhood and around town as much as is reasonably possible to get some good exercise. I will be walking the trails in town frequently too. Biking and walking may not be as intense as the DVD workout programs, but they are fun and I can see myself sticking with them better right now.
Spirituality…wow, that’s a tough one for me! I currently lack any religious or spiritual beliefs, and I am very happy that way. After 15 years of fundamentalist Christianity and a year or so of seriously dabbling in Hindu beliefs and meditation techniques, I am completely and gloriously free of religion! I plan on staying that way too. I went through a lot of emotional trauma and pain after discovering that my strongly held Christian beliefs were not true and after realizing that the Bible is mostly anonymously-written ancient mythology (long stories!), but my deconversion process is complete now and I am very happy now that I am free and I can see the world as it really is! My spiritual practice now is just being the best ME that I can be – being the kindest, loving, and compassionate and understanding ME that I can be. When the subject inevitably comes up with my clients, I plan to work to see them free as well, but of course at a pace that is comfortable for them. If religion is working well for them, there may not be a reason to change that, necessarily. But if limiting religious beliefs or doctrines are holding a client back, then that should probably be addressed, and I know how to do that effectively and with compassion and patience. Being free of religion is wonderful and amazing, and everyone should have that option available to them!
So…that’s my story, my life experience, and my 2 cents…