Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Utah, USA
Language: English, a little Japanese, Java, C#, C++
I strongly believe that religion was the cause of both my anxiety and depression.
I was born into a strict, fundamentalist Christian religion that was inundated with toxic levels of perfectionism. Although I never quite managed true belief in any god(s), I had to fake belief for decades for fear of what my parents might do to me if I didn't. School and church were the two areas of my life in which my parents demanded perfection -- I had to get straight A's, and I had to attend all 3 hours of church every Sunday along with church events 2-3 nights every week. I was expected to socialize only with other "church kids," and was never allowed to leave the house on Sundays except for church. I had to complete all of my homework by Saturday night because I couldn't do it on Sunday.
I always had the same problem with the "kind, loving, compassionate God" of my parents' religion; I couldn't reconcile those traits with my life experiences. As far back as I can remember I hated going to church; I always thought it was boring and pointless. No matter how desperately I tried to force myself to enjoy it and "just believe," I never could. For many years I was certain that there must be something wrong with me, like something in the brain which was crucial to establishing religious belief was broken in me. Unable to live up to the completely unrealistic expectations of the church, especially after several years of daily bullying at school and, worse, at church... Well, something did break in me. I came to believe that God, if one did exist, must hate me personally and enjoy watching me suffer. I believed that I was "pre-destined" for Outer Darkness, which is basically the Mormon version of Hell. I distinctly remember one rainy morning as I sat outside the Seminary building where we had church classes for an hour every morning before high school, I looked down at the gutter beneath me and felt more worthless than the grit and grime I saw there. I can still feel it all these years later -- that sheer level of self-loathing. All my life I was expected to be "perfect" like Jesus, and for a time following my baptism at 8 years old, I basically was. But it was never enough; it could never be enough. I could never be good enough. And I hated myself for it, so intensely.
And to this day those feelings still linger. Even though I left that toxic religion behind years ago; even though I don't believe in any god(s), or in Sin or Heaven or Hell... the effects will never fade. Religion destroyed my life.
"Sin" is an imaginary disease invented to sell you an imaginary cure.