Monday, 26 December 2016

Christian Double Standards Part 2 - My Experience

So, this is a continuation of my previous post, as I really want to talk about my experience of Christian double standard and how it, along with all-or-nothing religious views that certain people tried to push on me have affected my daily life since leaving church.
For a year or two after becoming part of the church, I was literally love-bombed. This is a definition used to describe people who shower you with love, support and attention. This term is usually used with people with certain personality disorders, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder (Psychopaths and sociopaths) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Narcissists).
Love bombing, in those contexts, is a way of manipulation, as described by Floyd (2013).

And he speaks of similar issue. Love bombing in churches. And since I was a social outcast in school, the love-bombing made me feel accepted. I felt like I belonged.
But, when I started to struggle with my mental health issues, I have begun to withdraw from people, being slightly less open to going to events, not really talking to anyone besides children as they always wanted me around.... The love-bombing went the opposite way. I felt like I had suddenly lost friends. I felt like I had lost that connection with people. And in January 2014, when I first self-harmed, and begun to struggle even more, I honestly felt like a stranger in a crowded room full of church goers I knew so well. But now, I wonder.... Did I know them? Or did I just know their facade?
The time grew steadily on, and the only real friends I felt like I had were two friends I am still close to. The rest felt artificial. Nothing about these friendships felt real. While at church from 2012-2015, a song called "Stained Glass Masquerade" rang so true with me.
But, in February 2014, when I self harmed for the first time and have admitted to my former pastor about it.... I had a loud, LOUD telling off and he wrote a Bible reference on my palm. His words "What are you doing that for?!" still ring through my ears and still haunt my nightmares. I memorised the verse out of sheer shame. The shame that still poisons every single part of my life.
I reached out to him and his wife in 2013 during the Youth Fellowship annual sponsored walk. And this is when the friendship that I've had with them grew cold. Ice cold on my former pastor's side of things anyway. He continually avoided me, and then showed some care, then avoided, then showed some care again and so on for months and months at a time. This on-off-on-off pattern was a severe trigger to my intense self harm urges and longing for a stable friendship. He had spoken with my mother about my issues while I was not present when he invited my mother over. I guess I felt really betrayed and disgusted because I felt like I couldn't confide in anyone anymore. And he himself had said "I will not discuss your mother's issues with you like I wouldn't your issues with her" a year prior when I had relationship issues with my mother due to her issues at work.
But, the double standard started to kick in around the time of my first hospitalisation in 2014, which was at the end of September.
When I needed help, just in a form of listening, the people I was told to contact in crisis weren't around. And when I went to A&E, people (particularly my former pastor) was unhappy with the fact that I didn't turn to "god" for help. Um.... You've written on my covenant for me to reach out to A&E if in crisis, so I'm not sure what the problem was.
I've sent a bunch of links out to all who knew about my disorder at the time, and just one person had watched the videos I've sent after that first hospitalisation.
I got into a huge argument with my former pastor over Messenger regarding the fact that I was at A&E, when I was attempting the brink of suicide.
I don't take lightly to people excusing their behaviour towards me when I know they are talking nonsense.  There's absolutely no excuse for writing "you are bombarding me with lies"
No excuse. For goodness sake, there's absolutely no way that you couldn't expect me to NOT react severely. Especially when I was already through the roof emotionally.
His later messages and face to face conversations, when I've asked to talk, were "I don't have time"
Thing is, he did. He only had time for people in his clique. There's nothing worse to do in a church to fellow members is to discard them like a dirty dishrag. If you happen to read this, the person in talking about, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Reevaluate yourself. I'm not naming you despite every urge to, as I don't want strangers attacking you. When I talked to people at Destiny Church when I was there about all of this, I didn't name you either. But you know who you are. I'm protecting you despite the fact that I maybe shouldn't.
Anyhow, during my second hospitalisation, I went for a day pass from hospital to attend the Girls Brigade service. My friend came to pick me up from the hospital, and I went to the service. One of the members had a beef with me because of my love for Christian Rock music, as it was my one and only thing that was keeping me somewhat sane.
During my third hospitalisation, I couldn't hold back on my reactions to things anymore. After another day pass from hospital, on a Sunday, I had a wave of anger pass over me when I went back. I was mad, for some reason. Now looking back, I think it was the being love-bombed again, when no one would talk to me a week before. And I snapped over text at my former pastor's wife, whom I was messaging. I threw my phone on my bed with incredible force because I was so angry. I couldn't hold back. I've texted my mum who then texted my former pastor.
I left church for a few months after the February, as I couldn't stand what was going on. Many members tried to get me to quit therapy because of its Mindfulness skills in it. Despite his much I needed the treatment, they wanted for me to stop therapy. So, I stopped going to church. And no one batted an eye. But if it was someone that from that popular clique, they would be texting them, calling them, messaging them, etc.
Then, through a friend, I've learned that I was gossiped about by some people from my former church. You thought that I wouldn't find out. Well, I did. Thanks for that, as I've then realised that some of you can be heartless. 
A friend of mine from America whom I talked to for quite a long time, has helped me to realise that some people within the church weren't just toxic, but outright spiritually and emotionally abusive. Certain people check a majority of the boxes of emotional and spiritual abuse. Again, I'm not mentioning any names.
I, for some reason, went back to church for Christmas of 2015. And guess what, my emotions didn't take that too well.
Of course, again, I was love-bombed. But that love-bombing was when I realised that is being done for some purpose.
I've learned a lot about use of love-bombing and what purposes it serves over the last year. But I've left church for good in January of this year.
But, onto what effects all of this has on me. At the end of January, when I was walking up to Tesco Express in Glenrothes, I was struggling with a lot of anxiety and anger because of a certain thing my therapist had texted me. I was highly emotional at the time, and I realised that I was dissociating.
Behind me, there were four, shadowy figures of my pastor and his family. Walking slowly behind me, covered in blood. I literally ran to Tesco as fast as possible. I was utterly terrified.
On my way back, the same exact thing. But, they have disappeared after a while. Not for long, though, as this shadowy representation of my therapist then started to follow me. And then, it showed up in front of me, reaching out for my neck as if it was an attempt to strangle me.
Fast forward to Tuesday of following week, I was sent to A&E from college because of these hallucinatory states.
Between interviews with different mental health professionals at Unscheduled Care, I was seeing figures of one of my former pastor's kids, sitting in the chair next to me, also covered in blood.
It tried to do what the weird shadowy representation of my therapist tried to do, which was to strangle me. I ran to the other side of the room and sat on the floor for some time.
I was admitted to Stratheden Hospital for what was going on, and this was my longest admission to Stratheden Hospital.
The hallucinations were partially influenced by Quetiapine, which I was taking for stabilising my emotions. But, for the most part, it was due to anxiety related to church. Every time I see certain people from church, I have severe panic attacks, hallucinations and my moods shift so quickly that I struggle to keep up, when I usually do. I tend to avoid places I know I usually see people from my former church, I have severe trust issues due to toxicity of the friendships formed there. I avoid talking about church Ave religion with people because of the triggers that these conversations trail along, and I'm avoiding leaving the house as much as possible because of it all.
To be honest, when I finish OU, I'll be happy to move out of Fife and start afresh. I am discovering things about myself now that church has a huge impact in suppressing. Not to mention that my personality and my sense of self is screwed up to the point where I look in the mirror, and I don't recognise who the person in the mirror is.
I'm sorry that this is so long, I wanted to detail my experience to hopefully be able to move forward towards living without regret of being in that church for the five years I was there.
Reference list:
Floyd, K (2013) "Beware of Toxic Affection" Psychology Today, retrieved from:
Accessed 25/12/2016

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christian Double Standards (at least some of them)

Okay, so this is a post about how hypocritical Christians can be (specifically about those I know.) and the hypocrisy surrounding being supportive, caring, loving.... But only to those who are your family or close friends.

This post will ring true to the people I know and is there to call them out on the double standard that is their "Christian" faith and good "Christian" deeds.

So, today my friend posted about struggling to keep everything up for Christmas. She is currently struggling to juggle things as she is a single mother. I don't want to quote what she said word for word, but her struggle to deal with her young baby, making sure everything is ready for Christmas, etc was getting slightly too much.

And, there was a comment left by one of my former "friends" from the church I used to go to that my friend is a member of. This comment basically has said "I'll be praying for you" in a long, what my mum would call "beat around the bush" talk. Nothing concrete, nothing particularly useful... Nothing particularly supportive. Just telling her about the faith she has, and that she'll be praying for her.

You might be thinking "Where is the double standard? There's nothing wrong here"
You are wrong. I know people from this church, and I've posted about them before, and the double standard is that if it was someone that was part of their clique, they'd be there to help in a heartbeat. But because my friend is a bit of an outsider, like I and many others have been, they are left to deal with things themselves when they REALLY need help in that moment. I was personally affected by this double standard, and am able to tell you that their double standard nearly led me to suicide, and led to self harm every Sunday or every time I was at church for a youth activity.

Double standards are everywhere, but the one place where it should not exist is a church. Especially when there are multiple religious teachings on the subject of being there for their fellow Christians.
One of my friends who has recently became baptised in another church my mother is a part of had gently and kindly told the congregation about the double standard in her testimony, as my mother picked up on it quickly because of my experience.

Double standards in religious circles shouldn't exist. Cliques shouldn't exist. And yet, they do in this church. Why is this? I understand that people want to have friends and be close to them, but to have such close knit groups that people outside of them become discarded is disgusting and destructive. I'm just disgusted by my former church's attitude to people. I know it is Christmas, but this goes on all year round, and is one of the reasons that I've left church. Cliques in churches is NOT okay, no matter how much people try to defend it. It is NOT okay to be showering some people with all the attention and support possible, and exclude people who aren't part of the clique.
So much for the "Body of Christ" you so richly like to talk about. Perhaps your motto should really be "Body of Christ Except for People Who Are Not Part Of My Clique" sounds so much more apt.

I'm sorry for this rant. I've wanted to talk about this so much for the past year.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Season of Joyless Emptiness

It's this time of year again, and every year is the same. This time of year never changes direction, only a few things change quietly and return to their original form only a few days or hours into Christmas time.

Stuck in patterns of destruction, there is something that does bring joy... Giving. People point out in too kind and too generous. But.... Having not had that kindness or compassion or generosity growing up, I now try to make people as happy as I can. It doesn't feel excessive or like it's too much. It brings me much needed real joy, and not superficial, empty joy that does not fulfill my heart's and my mind's craving for one day without any sort of mental health problems.

The story of how I got to living through another year and making it through the terrifying twists and turns is long and hard to tell without crying, flipping out of of hearing the term NHS, crying again, wanting to punch walls out of relentless emotional drain, crying again, and throwing my hopes and dreams away at the first sight of failure. Not to mention all that nagging shame and guilt because of the tiniest of mistakes.

Being in a prisoner of my own head, at mercy of the little things turning into crisis, it's an exhaustively destructive life. While things have been getting better steadily, this time of year... Is heavy going. So much has happened at this time of year throughout life that joy and looking forward to it just doesn't happen anymore.

I wonder what 2017 will be like. That, is the only hope dragging me along through Christmas and New Year.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Escaping Religious Manipulation

I acknowledge that many reading this blog may be religious. Please understand that my views are completely based on my experience. I know that there will be backlash for this, and I fully accept that.

So, as you know and gathered from my previous posts, I struggle with BPD, Complex PTSD and Bipolar traits. And to say that church made these things reveal themselves quickly is an understatement. I began struggling with mental health issues back in 2012.
Many people didn't believe that I was emotionally manipulated and abused by my mother for years. I began speaking up about the struggle and many thought I was lying.
I had a good friend of mine tell me right upfront "I don't believe that."
So, I began to hide my pain from everybody apart from a few people. And then even from them, because that's war no reasons for them to have to listen to it all.
And in February 2014, I searched for support as I had cut for the first time. I didn't know that I would get stuck am intense reaction from my former pastor. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING THAT FOR?! STOP THAT!" and he wrote a Bible reference on my grand to memorise for the next time I would see him. Fair to say I cried on my way home that afternoon. And memorised the verse purely out of shame. And it was effective in a way, as until late summer, I didn't cut. Out of shame too. A few weeks later I confessed to then Elder and his wife about what went down that day and a week later my former pastor apologised. Gosh, even recalling this is making me cry.
Months went on and I first reached out to my mum about my issues. Who, of course blamed my then diagnosed depression on not wanting to do anything around the house, and made remarks here and there about it. I've never told her about church's effects on me and their behaviour. I didn't tell her about being suicidal or about my self harm.
In July, I reached out for help via A&E (Accident and Emergency for non British people reading this, it is the same as the Emergency Room) and was meeting up with this lady from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and during the summer, I volunteered at a Scripture Union camp. I stayed in my room a lot during times in between sessions, activities and meals. And never went to the ceilidh at the end either. I was emotional 24/7. Though I put my heart and soul into teaching and enjoying time with my group of campers, I was using free time as means of self regulation. I had to have a conversation with one of the main leaders, who bluntly told me to stay away from campus until I am stable. Which was fair enough in one sense, and in another, not completely fair considering no one in the team really bothered with me. They just saw the person that wouldn't go to evening prayers after lights out (I would be asleep by 9:30pm out of emotional exhaustion.)
I could handle that. Stepping back from that, in June, I was at LeadUP Christian leadership training camp. 

I was openly sharing my struggle and asking for prayer. Including emotional manipulation from the church. And two leaders told me to not talk about it. It was as if they were afraid of something.
So, I began isolating during free time and spent an ungodly amount of time on the swing, texting my CAMHS therapist, or in the dining room on my own, or on my bed writing stories and songs, walking around on my own, and cried a lot because of being forced into silence when I needed support. Didn't stop me from talking about it in the dorm, but during the day, I was isolating, and depression hit during the day a lot. I faked being happy for the sake of keeping peace. I felt alone, like none of the leaders really understood what I was struggling with and none of them would listen until I became vocal about what was going on back home for me. It is like they wanted to cover my church's manipulative tracks.

At the end of July through to beginning of August, I was a leader at an SU camp. I struggled immensely with my emotions, but at the time, I was struggling with depression side of Bipolar. I spent a lot of free time in my dorm that I shared with a few other female leaders. When it came to nighttime, I was asleep by 9:30-10pm. I was exhausted. I think that of emotional overwhelm became too much for me to handle. However, I tried to be there for teens who had similar issues.
By the end of the camp, main leader took me aside and said that I should stay away from leadership until I am "well again" (same thing that a college tutor had said in February, but that is another story all together.)

By the time I started college, things really blew up. End of August until November were hell. Not just became of my moods shifting more rapidly than the Scottish weather in springtime, but because church has become distant, then suddenly love-bomb and attention, distant, love-bomb. Especially my former pastor and his wife. The push and pull became very hard to deal with.
I remember that one time when I was particularly struggling with my relationship with my mother. We've been at odds with each other at that time, but I didn't know why. I still don't.
That day, I was invited to go to this laser tag event with my church friends. I didn't have any money on me, so I went home to get some and got out quickly to avoid my mother. I got to the place where I was told someone would be waiting to let me in, as I would be a bit late. No one was waiting. I texted about 5 people to tell them I was there. Nothing. So, I went home disheartened and.... Quite suicidal. And I posted about that feeling. I didn't answer anyone on the post. But, my former pastor had tried to call, but I full out ignored it. I didn't want to talk. He then called my mother and left her a message. And from then on, my mum knew how bad things were getting.

Following Tuesday, I went to meet with him and his wife to talk about things. From that point on, I was caught up in a covenant. A covenant I had no idea of how long I would be able to keep, because I had no coping skills like I do now. Rather, my "coping skills" were to be read and journal on Bible verses, reach out to my Home Bible Fellowship, talk to them if I cannot reach anyone from HBF, in worst case scenario, go to A&E. And to be honest, the first week of the covenant went fine, and then ended up in hospital. But, funny thing was, some saw this as me failing at keeping up with the covenant that was supposed to help me heal. And they told me that. Which felt incredibly disheartening. I did a lot of that spiritual journaling in hospital for the few days I was in. But, then more I deconstructed the verses that I was recommended, read them in context and realised that they had no relevance to my struggles at all. Just the verse I had learned out of shame made no sense with my emotional struggles, self harm, suicidal behaviour (which exploded by the point of hospitalisation.)

I don't want to go into detail of what happened when I was at A&E in October 2014, as this has thrown me over the edge WHILE there. But, it became obvious to not just me, but to my mother and a few college friends that the church's pastor was all about me keeping up with the religious rituals and beliefs, not the fact that I was on the brink of suicide, me sitting and crying at A&E, self harming... Instead, it was all about the covenant, I could not keep up with religious stuff at that point. I was broken, and kept on breaking through lack of meaningful friendships, but superficial Christian "friends" who just cared about my life with "God" than my constant anaemic state, my constant suicidal urges and attempts, the little hope I had to keep going, crying myself to sleep every night, nightmares, paranoia, delusions of being sure that I was being followed.... People just cared about my walk and life with God. Which was even more invalidating. My emotions and feelings were invalidated a lot of times, but one I recall was in a Facebook message that had said something along the lines of not letting emotions having power over me, but letting God do it. I don't remember, and my old profile is now deactivated because of triggering reminders. But, I became the church's emotional healing guinea pig, and it was not nice. These kinds of messages were repeated to my face as well. And, imagine being in a crowded room, of people you thought of as friends. But only one or two really try to get to know you and who you are. In a crowded room, to feel alone and like no one understands. Being in a crowded room, but alone.

As I have started therapy, one thing that threw me over the edge that was the trigger for me leaving was a few devout Christians telling me what to do. "Quit that therapy, it has mindfulness in it. It's not Christian" "Stop listening to Christian rock music." as well as giving me really dirty looks when leaving the service to deal with my crisis by going to the bathroom to practice my DBT Skills.
Also, I was made aware of people spreading rumours about me when I left for a month or two.
But now that I am out of it for good, with no intentions of going back, the hell continues. Certain people are always in my nightmares, in PTSD flashbacks that are like hallucinations and have caused serious danger to my life and I have ended up in hospital in January because of this.

If you are reading this and you find that you have a similar situation, reach out. Talk to someone from the leadership. Talk to friends. Change the church. Leave church if that is what needs to happen. Or just take a short break from it. If this is what's happening, I also suggest finding a counsellor to talk about this with, as the damage could be long lasting if it is left without dealing with it.
Important thing is to reach out and either talk to leadership, change or leave the church.
I wish someone told me about the warning signs earlier so that I would've left before the major damage was done. Now, I am rebuilding my life, my thinking, my emotions, my sense of self, my personality and my identity without church and the Bible, which is really difficult because of how much faith changed me for the worse.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Day Inside My Head

There he is... I see him, smiling weirdly. I glue my eyes to my phone in a successful attempt for him to not talk to me. The anxiety builds and blows when he is out of sight. Panic attack. My breathing is shallow and fast, with my heart's racing faster than cars speeding down the road. I feel the chill of cold sweat running down my back. I put an empowering song on in hopes of getting through this single moment.

But, the song is far from helpful. As I get on the bus to my dance class, and sit down in the cold, comfy leather seat of the coach bus, I can feel my mind not getting any rest. Conflicting thoughts of emotion and logic fighting between each other, clawing at each other like cats in a fight, nothing seems to drown out the screaming in my head.

As the bus starts and we roll out of Glenrothes after a short while, there's something vague running along the bus. This is all too familiar. The creepy boy with a brick in his hand is chasing the bus next to my window. The dread settles in. The fire of anxiety rises again. The battle in my head becomes unbearable. Help me, help me. Someone help me. I'm begging to die in my head. My eyes dart around the bus, making sure that no one is watching me. My breathing is fast again, the beating of my heart is quickening and in unable to stop thinking about that brick flying into my head. I need to get out. But, being in the middle of nowhere, there's no escape.

Dissociation, higher than ever. I remember nothing from dancing. I remember nothing from therapy sessions. I remember nothing from talking to friends. Hell, I don't even know where I am right now. Memories are fragmented. My personality is a mess. dissociation, when will I see the last of you?

Dear anxiety, dear PTSD hallucinations, please leave me alone. I want one day to be free. Leave me be. I'm begging, please, just one day.
I'm sick of battles in my head, I need to escape. While in not giving up yet, my mind runs off into wonder: how long can I possibly take this?

I need time. I need peace. I need quietness in my head. Not the roaring thoughts that never end. Not the fears. Not my anxiety about seeing things that cause mortal danger. Not my mood dysregulation.

Another late night. Sleep does not befall my eyes until early hours of the morning. Nightmares, I need rest. Not to wake up to nightmares, cold sweats, strongly beating heart and restless nights.
Watching my dark ceiling I know, it's not forever. But, questions arise. "Are you sure", "What if it is forever" and "You're doomed to this forever"

I question if I should eat that thing beside me. I don't know if I should be eating anything at all. Punish myself for the things going on in my head, while covering it up with IBS issues.
"I'll feel ill. Best not to eat that" is my mind's way of saying" Don't eat. You can't deal with me any other way" and "Don't eat. You're a horrible person for eating more than what you usually eat"

Endless battles, endless struggles, endless pain and endless strain. One day, I beg, just one day, of peace, quiet and joy.  No fear. No anxiety. No distress. No intense emotions. No chaos of conflicting thoughts in my head. Just one day. Or just one hour, that will be more than enough.

Friday, 25 March 2016

A Horror Tale Come True

So, it was End of January. I was anxious and angry, as college work for a course I really couldn't cope with due to my inability to do technical drawing, and I had a strong anger reaction to my therapist's text.....
It was the month to experience a rash of horrifying hallucinations. Absolutely horrifying.

I was walking up towards Tesco Express to buy something on January 23rd. I was in deep state of dissociation because of what happened the day before with college anxieties and how badly I took what my therapist had said to me via text. I walked towards Tesco when I turned around to see horror film ghosts of my former pastor and his family. They were following me. That is when my dissociation stopped and I realised that something was going on. They were not far away, and each of them looked more eerie than the other.

Nightmare from spring continues but I won't give up on anything. I will push through, and I will one day work as a therapist to help others with similar experiences.