Crisis of Faith and Family

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by topper, Dec 11, 2010.

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  1. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    I am seriously considering suicide like never before. I need some non-religious advice.

    I lost my belief in god, due to the lack of evidence, and myriad tough questions that I haven't heard any good answers to. My own curiosity and interest in these profound matters is what led me to disbelief.

    [examples if needed... ]

    I'm not trying to convince anyone, just trying to help explain my perspective. Believe me this was not something I set out to do, ever wanted, or maliciously did to hurt anyone I know. I would much prefer the 'ignorance is bliss aspect', and truly would've preferred to forgo the unbearable anguish I feel now b/c I have lost my faith. It also frustrates me that believers will look at this situation and it fits right with the dogma: 'he's suicidal b/c he doesn't believe in god'. But the truth is I'm suicidal b/c my lack of faith makes me feel incredibly alienated from everyone I know and love.

    The crux of my despair is that everyone I know and love believes wholeheartedly in the Christian faith, and all it's tenets. I know if I were to reveal my true nature they would not understand. They would be angry, and threatened. And it saddens me that they can't offer me any advice, besides "getting right with god". I'm terrified of the consequences of revealing my lack of faith, but also can't go on bottling up my frustrations and guilt over keeping my thoughts from them, when I'm in such despair, and need to be reaching out to them for comfort. But I know they will offer no comfort to my mind. I can't make myself believe in their faith any easier than they could start believing in the Koran. I can't believe in something I know to be impossible. This gap in our experience brings me so much pain and frustration, and it feels like everyone I know is being so unreasonable. I know it's not their fault. We have a need to believe that we will live forever, and see dead loved ones, and that there is plan for us, everything happens for a reason. They are wonderful people who just want the best for me, and I for them.

    I'm honestly afraid to share my thoughts with anyone for fear of being ostracized, or sent to a mental institution. My thoughts are wildly scattered at best. The frustration and pain I feel spills into my social life, makes me uncommunicative at work and home, makes me despondent about everything, affects my job performance, and my relationships. I am not myself. I am someone else entirely. All of this only deepens the depression I feel.

    No amount of therapy or drugs is going to the change the tension that will exist between my entire family and almost everyone I know. I feel like the situation is coming to a head.

    Eventually I will have to tell them why I am acting so different. And I just don't think I can live with that. I don't want to offend or hurt them, even though I feel totally justified in my thinking. It's rather maddening. I do not want to move away and try to start a new life without them. Also I do not want to hurt them, but feel their faith, their extraordinary, unfalsifiable claims about the afterlife and god is what is driving this depression inside me. A few attempts and broaching the fallibility of religion in the past does nothing but embolden their faith claims. And I understand why that happens. For someone to question such profound matters is very threatening, and scary. It's as if somehow the burden of proof of these unverifiable claims has somehow fallen to me. And if I question them somehow I'm the bad guy. Killing myself seems justified as a rejection of this ridiculous position I've been put in.

    Please, for my sake, resist the urge to offer god as a solution. Religious advice will not help me at this point. I've heard it all before. I've got a plan and this is truly the closest I've ever been to going thru with suicide. I'm writing notes but can't seem to reach out to anyone. This is a cry for help. I don't know what to do. I don't want to do this. I need some hope. Please someone help me.

    keywords: atheist agnostic suicide depression
  2. Crue-K

    Crue-K Well-Known Member

    Well you have made the first positive step by renouncing the bullshit that is religion, there is no God and never has been, so well done you. Your life can only get better now.
  3. GA_lost

    GA_lost Well-Known Member

    First of all I grew up with a respect for all religious points of view so I will not bring religion into this. What I am wondering about is your age and where you are from. (I suspect the US but maybe wrong) I too am from the US and understand what the conservative christian view is like. Your family's view of faith is theirs you do not have to follow it. Sounds as if you need to be with other people who are not sure what they believe in. I grew up Unitarian (a very agnostic church that respects others beliefs). Maybe you should look into this.

    As far as suicidal feelings, the best I can suggest is to keep on posting here. I have found this a good place to let out these feelings. If you are young, you could possibly be close to the point of moving out. This would solve some of your problems. If you are an adult with a family, you need to think about the future of your family if you go through with suicide. In either case please try to find some form of counseling. Please try to hold on. I understand far too well how hard suicidal feelings are to deal with. Take Care
  4. CatherineC

    CatherineC Staff Alumni

    I think first of all, you've got to stop concentrating on the loss of your faith and start recognising that you're suffering from some sort of depression. It's possibly a clinical depression but only a doctor will be able to diagnose that. You need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
    I'm not a Christian although I was brought up in the Catholic Church so I'm not going to tell you to believe in God. I will say that when I told the nuns at my convent school that I didn't believe in God, they told me that didn't matter because God believed in me.
    I still don't believe in the 'Christian' God but I do have faith that there is something more. It's sort of like a 'designer' religion although I'd rather call it a spirituality than religion.
    That's only my opinion though and one you don't have to share. Agnostics and Atheists are very welcome in my world. As are all the various faiths.
    I think it's who we are that matters, not what we believe.
    Please see a doctor, you're in a deep depression and as a result you're not seeing things too clearly. You're afraid of losing everyone close to you but that's not necessarily going to happen. If it did happen then I'd have to question what sort of Christian's they are.
    Feel free to pm me if you want to discuss this privately, sending hugs xxxx
  5. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    I'm 29 and live in the southeast United States. My family is highly dogmatic. My mother died of cancer when I was 20. She was the daughter of a pentecostal pastor, my grandfather who is still living.

    My dad remarried another pentecostal pastor's daughter a couple years ago and brought a whole new large family of theists into my life. It's hard to relate to them, when this conflict is constantly giving me anxiety. She is by and large a great woman who takes care of my dad, who is disabled. But she to, has met what little questioning of faith I've had with blind opposition. I don't think I can ever get them to understand even a little without totally offending them and alienating us further.

    I don't make a lot of money. Moving out isn't really an option right now. I have no direction or hopes that I can pull myself up out of this, or even make enough money to move out. I'm worried about hanging on to my current job if my behavior keeps deteriorating. It crushes me to know that my deteriorating mental state and everything else that comes along with it will only be seen as evidence that my lack of religion is effecting me negatively, so that makes it harder to even bring up.

    I've been denied insurance before for talking to a psychiatrist after my mom died. I'm afraid if I go again it will only cause me more trouble in the future. Isn't that messed up though that they will deny you insurance for having sought medical help?

    Thank you very much for your replies. I am just trying to talk it out and feel better. I've had similar feelings in the past, but this feels so unreconcilable.
  6. GA_lost

    GA_lost Well-Known Member

    Would it be possible to find someone to move in with? Also, when I began working, I had to hide my depression. What I did was to go to an internist to get anti-depressants. This would probably not be reported to anyone, and many AD's are no longer extremely expensive so you maybe able to afford them. While anti-depressants would not solve all your problems, it could make things better.

    By the way, I was an agnostic who grew up in the bible belt (West Virginia)
  7. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    It helps to know I'm not the only one.

    Did you ever go thru these frustrations, GA? Were you brought up as an agnostic? What do you mean by 'hiding your depression'? Just putting on a happy face? I've been doing that for several months and some days I just feel like I can't do it anymore.

    EDIT: SORRY I now realize you were the Unitarian who posted earlier. Thank you again for your comments.

    I've tried ADs in the past with mixed to minimal results. It always seemed like if I were depressed it was b/c of some situation in my life that I needed to accept. So I keep trying to tell myself to accept the way things are. I go thru bouts with depression it seems on a regular basis, and it seems I eventually get over them without drugs. So I have hope. I guess this most recent bout is the most serious I've ever been about wanting to end it all.

    I just have a lot of guilt about not telling my dad. He doesn't understand why I don't want to go to church, or be involved with that part of his life. I just feel judged a lot b/c I know how agnostics, etc are viewed and spoken about in their particular denomination, The Church of God, a speaking in tongues, pentecostal branch.
  8. GA_lost

    GA_lost Well-Known Member

    While I was a Unitarian, I ran into fundamentalist Christians often while growing up. Actually, I had a similar experience as yours only in reverse. I grew up an agnostic but converted to be Catholic, which I have since dropped out of. I was very scared telling my parents about it. I want to emphasize you have the right to believe anything you want. I realize you want to please your father, but you are the person who needs to live your own life. No guilt is needed. You have enough to deal with without the guilt.

    In terms of work, I needed a security clearance. When I began working, I could have lost my clearance and my job if I saw a therapist. You may want to try meds again. That really is the only way I found to get around having everyone know about your need.

    PS I understand well what you are dealing with in terms of the Church of God. Maybe you can go to a less fundamentalist church such as Methodist, Lutheran, or some other church like that. You may feel more at ease and less judged by your family.
  9. CatherineC

    CatherineC Staff Alumni

    How are you doing Topper? Have you come to any more conclusions? I think you may need some coping strategies but I'm not sure what to suggest. Have you seen a doctor yet?
  10. chjones21

    chjones21 Well-Known Member

    This is not intended to be religious advice but maybe what you do need to do is to start getting an education about other religions - go out and buy the DhammaPada or the Bhagavad Gita or some Bah'ai religious tracts, that way you can get it in your head that their are loads of religions and you haven't actually "given up" on the one, true etc. etc. etc. which despite all your protestations I think you are still thinking and what's worse - believing.

    Just my two cents. The more you can broaden your religious education perhaps, the less "special" or "vital" that initial religion you were born into will start to seem and you can look on it more as a philosophical or sociological tract. Rather than THE WORD.

    I suspect half of your inner anguish is also connected with the disallowance of your family to let you have 'free thought' --- well, ya know what. This isn't Communist Russia, they don't have the right to be thought police. And quite frankly they are ar$es for trying. That's probably what's bugging you more than anything else.

    I happen to be religious but what is true for me, is not necessarily true for you or true to your experience or anything like that.

    You are a grown-up but more than that, stop letting them bully you! Because that is what it is, (well-meaning or not - and I don't think any bullying is ever well-meaning anyway). Stand up for yourself.

    You don't have to have endless theological arguments, you don't have to persuade them of YOUR point of view, because that would be doing to them exactly what they are trying to do to you. Just turn around and every time they bug you about the religious thing say "Stop Bullying Me"!

    That aside, I think it is about time you moved out of your parents house, man... find a flatshare, even if it is crappy and miserable or better yet, up sticks and go to New York or somewhere entirely different and get away from the whole lot of it.... what I would do but maybe it doesn't work well for you?
  11. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    Catherine- Have not seen a doctor yet. I'm still wary. For now I'm just trying to reach out via the Internet, and some friends, and hoping I can at least get my mind moving in the right direction, and so far it is.

    Not sure what came over me yesterday morning but I was seriously carrying out the first stages of my plan. Making calls and organizing things etc, and that's the first time I've ever gotten to the point where I'd convinced myself I was going to risk going thru with it. Luckily I came off that plateau, and was actually feeling much better before bed last night. Just a few of you here really helped talk me down from the ledge.

    Still, the depression lingers today and I'm just trying to keep my mind focused in a positive direction. Again, I've been denied insurance b/c of seeking mental healthcare before so I worry about possible repercussions. And the money thing. I realize I could probably find someone with a sliding scale fee and could afford it, but since past depressive episodes lift with time I guess I'm holding out for now. Believe me if money or economic consequences were not an issue I'd be at a therapist twice a week.

    I DO need some coping strategies. What are some coping strategies that have helped you?
  12. chjones21

    chjones21 Well-Known Member

    You know what I find good sometimes if obscure - just going to a classical concert.

    Opening the TimeOut and finding some odd oboe trio playing Beethoven or whatever it might be - so worth it.

    Maybe that is not your thing.

    And also Akram Khan - I don't know why he moves me so much, I looked for a link but although I appreciate it, I also kinda loathe youtube because it never gives half of the impact, it seems to take out the soul of everything and never gives even a vague impression of what it is to see these things live, i find the same with concerts regardless of how brilliant they are they somehow "lose it" when transferred to youtube... anyway here is a link to Vertical Road? I saw it live at Sadlers Wells although I think "confluence" was better but that video is hopeless - gives ZERO impression of it at all. Anyway everybody is so different what speaks to one person completely misses another ... so odd. I love Rothko too but oh well, what am I talking about? nothing really - still on here, still surfing, still procrastinating and trying to deal never mind, never mind, never mind
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2010
  13. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    I actually have studied Buddhism before and rediscoverd a book I bought a few years back. Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. The Buddhist philosophy is the only religion I've ever thought made much sense. I mean all religions have some good to offer, but I just couldn't get past the absurdities in the Bible. So my attachment to Christianity is not an issue. It's just my dogmatic family who I perceive as never being able to understand why I would turn away from the ONE TRUE RELIGION and send myself to burn in Hell for eternity. That's what they think I'm doing (or risking) by not going to their church. But I've looked for some Buddhist options in the area. It's frustrating b/c there's a Christian church on every corner in this town but Buddhist options are almost nill.

    I don't feel bullied. It's just a frustration inside me about the condemnation that goes on inside their heads. My dad sends me e-mails touting the risk of going to Hell, etc. It's judgmental and devoid of rational thought. He's far too dogmatic and afraid to ever let himself question where he's going when he dies. None of us can know with any certainty what happens when we die, just b/c people in the Iron Age wrote it down, and also explained they were inspired by God? Does anyone see how illogical that is? So it's just their abiding certainty that frustrates me, and the judgment that follows.

    And here I think you've gotten to a big part of my misery. While the faith thing is what's been weighing on my mind lately, most often my depression is driven by my own feelings of not having lived up to my potential. I mean I see plenty of other people my age and younger who are out on their own. I don't make a lot of money. I have hope that I'll find a better job, but while in this position the truth is I'm just scared to move out. I'm scared I'll miss my standard of living, or just not be able to afford my bills. I'm scared to move away and leave the network of friends I do have. The thought of my family rejecting me (if I defy their faith and being forced to move out) is also a scary proposition. I don't know if people understand how dogmatic and close-minded these people are on these issues. There is no, "to each his own" spirit when it comes to talking to them. They know they are right. They know I am wrong. And that's that.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2010
  14. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    It's true. We are all different. But I appreciate your suggestions. And yeah, we're all just tryin' to deal.

    I've heard good things about meditation but options in the area are not abundant, and the few options out there often conflict with my shift work. Anyone have any experience with meditation?
  15. chjones21

    chjones21 Well-Known Member

    I'm scared to move away and leave the network of friends I do have.

    Well, it is scary - but the funny thing is, they don't go away. You go away and if you come back, they are still there pretty much unchanged too!

    That's honestly true. I have been away and come back a year and a half later and so changed I presumed that all would have changed too back home, uh-uh not a jot. Everything exactly the same...

    It is scary but a bit of planning would probably help you to make the move. Could you consider starting by doing an educational course or similar in New York or somewhere... that would get you out there and also get you immediately into a network of people so you wouldn't be so isolated. Is there something you are interested in, I don't know "film-making" or whatever, where you could perhaps start with a short course - a semester (that is the American word for it, isn't it?) a three-month or six-month thing.

    Well, these are just weird ideas but look on the net, see what comes up maybe?

    And re. your fear - I do understand it but as you point out most (an awful lot of kids) leave home at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and they don't fall in a heap and I am sure neither will you. You can always go home and you are lucky with that - quite a few people I can think of genuinely DON'T have that option.

    Anyway, yada yada yada I can't stop posting - here and on other sites because I am a neurotic wreck right now .... so do feel free to ignore ALL the above!
  16. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    I should probably restate one of the first things I said. I was a bit harried yesterday writing that original post.

    I'm not totally anti-religion advice. But my lack of faith in ancient texts renders any advice originating or inspired from those texts practically meaningless to me. I guess I just meant I didn't want the, 'you need to get saved and start reading the bible/koran/torah' type advice, which is so ubiquitous where I'm from.

    I do appreciate Buddhist persuasions, and am open to other spiritual guidance or ways of looking at the world in a more positive manner.
  17. dizzylife

    dizzylife New Member

    topper, whoever said, "Religion is the opium of the masses" knew what he was talking about.

    I myself have been wrenched by changes. I grew up and lived in three different countries with very different cultures and religions and beleif systems. After a while you don't know what is true anymore. Life just seem fleeting and transitory. Good, bad, right, wrong cannot explain it away.

    Whover said," Ignorance is bliss" certainly knew what he was talking about too. Sometimes I envy people like your family and mine who have a very fixed worldview. It is indeed an easy way to live if the world you see is black and white instead of shades of grey. But once that beleif system/illusion is broken, it is very difficult to put it back together-kinda like Humpty Dumpty.

    For a while-well a long while- I searched for the one true thing that would be absolutely true and I could live by. But everything in life seems to be like a stack of cards-so solid -yet can come crashing down on you if just one card is removed. I don't know what to do. I guess I more or less agree with the Buddhist worldview-that life is transitory. I mean you are born, do somehting in between and then you die.

    But now I don't know how to live it? I mean whatever you aim for and achieve will pass and be consigned to the dustbins of history as will you. So how do you gain a passion for something? I myself have shut myself from the world, not communicating, hanging out in internet forums, just becoming a recluse. But this is not me, I so long for companionship and friendship. I am not sure what to do anymore. When I joined this forum, I was thinking of ending things as life seemed so meaningless. But now I am thinking of taking some time off and back packing around the world.

    Good luck to you. Don't try and convince your family. Wrong or right, let them enjoy their life in their worldview-what I would give to go back into a fixed , solid beleif system !!! But yours has been broken and you realize the truth. All I would say is maybe try and create something else for yourself. What I don't know-I am still figuring it out myself !!
  18. topper

    topper Well-Known Member

    "Religion is the opium of the masses" -

    "Ignorance is bliss" -

    I agree, Dizz. Ignorance WAS bliss. I often wish my own curiosity and need for knowledge hadn't led to where I'm at. I would love to go back to being able to feel God pushing me forward, and having faith he was taking care of me. I also agree that I don't want to convert my family, as I believe they'll be much happier with the assurances faith provides. But I have a great need for them to know who I am, as well. It's a lot of conflicting emotions.

    The existential search for meaning also leads me to a lot of nihilistic thoughts about life, and how to be passionate when I'm such a small speck in the eons of the universe. But I do believe purpose can be found in helping others.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2010
  19. Dave_N

    Dave_N Banned Member

    Hi topper. I don't like getting caught up in all of the domatic aspects of religion because it can really take its toll on you. I just try to live a spiritual lifestyle, by doing my best and helping out people how I can and I hope that God will be pleased with me when my time is up.
  20. CatherineC

    CatherineC Staff Alumni

    That would drive me insane. I'm not surprised that you're frustrated, I'd be angry too. I honestly believe that people like this are actually putting other people off Christianity. They've completely missed the lessons of tolerance, forgiveness, understanding and love. It's like they don't actually understand their own religion.
    It is judgemental and they really need to be told to leave the judging to God.
    There's not a lot you can do about it though. You can argue scriptures all night but it won't get you anywhere.
    You are going to have to accept that you'll never change them. They will always be stuck in their own little world and they've closed their minds completely. That's very very sad and the only thing you can feel for them is pity. How horrible to live a life where you condemn others and concentrate on hell. Very sad, especially when they're supposedly practising a religion which preaches love.

    I think this is really the root of your problems and you need to stand back and look at the situation objectively.
    I think that you have lived up to your potential. Having grown up with a Fundamentalist Christian background you've come to realise that the religion means nothing to you at all. This is a huge achievement. Far bigger than you're giving yourself credit for. It takes a lot of intelligence and strength to turn your back on your families religious teachings. You should be proud of yourself for being true to your own beliefs whilst living in that background.

    I also think that you desperately want out. Like you said, it's just scary to contemplate. The unknown is scary but sometimes it's worth the leap.
    So what if you only have money to pay bills? You'll have freedom of thought and speech and that's worth far more.
    You can stay in contact with friends through email if you're living far away. You don't necessarily have to just leave them behind.
    If your family reject you...well that's their loss and totally against their religious views. Point out that they'll have to answer to God on that one.
    I think you should take a big deep breath and go for it. I think you'll be a lot happier if you do. You may not have the same standard of living but you'll have a far better quality of life. I don't think that you'll ever regret it.
    I'll come back later and suggest some coping strategies but I have to go to work now so must sign off.
    Sending hugs
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