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Author Topic: Mental illness and religion  (Read 4681 times)

River at Night

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Mental illness and religion
« on: November 18, 2012, 11:30:56 pm »
Inspired by Juniperberry's OCD Ritual and Religious Ritual thread, but I was worried about derailing.

How do those of you with mental illness balance it against your beliefs and religious/spiritual practice?

For example, I also have OCD and my attempt to convert to Catholicism triggered it massively. The combination of the focus on sin, my disagreements with church teachings on things like lgbt issues, my inability to be monotheistic and all the religious ritual made things very ugly for a long time for me, and I'm still trying to undo the damage.

I'm being very, very careful to analyze my OCD and the role it is playing in my spiritual life now, so that I can nip any future issues in the bud, and I don't have the conflict of beliefs anymore, but I'm still incredibly anxious that I will set things off again somehow.

How do you get past these sorts of problems?
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 11:31:43 pm by River at Night »

Faemon

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 12:13:06 am »
Quote from: River at Night;81571
Inspired by Juniperberry's OCD Ritual and Religious Ritual thread, but I was worried about derailing.

How do those of you with mental illness balance it against your beliefs and religious/spiritual practice?

I have depression. I believe the meditative practices that I started out with, exacerbated  it. And I believe that my more recent meditative practices counteract it. I haven't been diagnosed as delusional or psychotic, but pfft I see things that other people don't, and I insist that they're really there and it's the other people's visions that are faulty. And I developed that sight through spiritual practice.

If I gave into it fully, donned a straight jacket, spent all day in a padded room with the spirit journeys in my head, and called it close enough to Neo-Pagan monasticism... then that would be imbalanced, however extreme at both ends I make mental illness and religious/spiritual practice.

I balance mental illness out against skepticism, not religion. Without institutionalized Neo-Pagan religions, mental illness and spiritual practice are too close. In my opinion.
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Shine

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 01:55:44 am »
Quote from: River at Night;81571


How do those of you with mental illness balance it against your beliefs and religious/spiritual practice?


I've started to learn what's my depression, OCD, and anxiety speaking, and what's not. That has been soooo helpful in separating the illness from the spirituality. I will sometimes avoid going to shrine if I'm too deep in the depression pit.

Quote

How do you get past these sorts of problems?


Staying calm and observing yourself. Also, learning what's normal for yourself.

There's a degree of faith in yourself, as well. You have to believe that you can learn to function around or through the illness.
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

BunnyMaz

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2012, 06:55:29 am »
Quote from: River at Night;81571
Inspired by Juniperberry's OCD Ritual and Religious Ritual thread, but I was worried about derailing.

How do those of you with mental illness balance it against your beliefs and religious/spiritual practice?

For example, I also have OCD and my attempt to convert to Catholicism triggered it massively. The combination of the focus on sin, my disagreements with church teachings on things like lgbt issues, my inability to be monotheistic and all the religious ritual made things very ugly for a long time for me, and I'm still trying to undo the damage.

I'm being very, very careful to analyze my OCD and the role it is playing in my spiritual life now, so that I can nip any future issues in the bud, and I don't have the conflict of beliefs anymore, but I'm still incredibly anxious that I will set things off again somehow.

How do you get past these sorts of problems?

 
I have... something in the spectrum of anxiety/depression/selfharm... and I find that when I'm at my low points, my spirituality goes completely out the window.  I find it very, very difficult to experience faith, to have the energy to explore my spiritual side or the mental stability to interpret runes, tarot etc if I'm in a bad spot.  

At the same time, one of the major triggers for the night-time panic attacks is obsessive thoughts and fears related to death - you know those compulsive thoughts, like when one of the nest of hamsters behind your eyes won't stop counting your steps, or shouting swear words at you, and you can't get it to SHUT. UP.  So my worst times are also the ones when, really, I have the greatest need for my faith.

veggiewolf

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 08:33:42 am »
Quote from: River at Night;81571
...

How do those of you with mental illness balance it against your beliefs and religious/spiritual practice?
...
How do you get past these sorts of problems?

 
I've MDD, with a social anxiety rider.   For me, weeding out the input of the disorder is vital to my religious practice; I do monster work and other things to recognize the source of my mental chatter.

One thing I've found helpful is an exercise based on one from The Artist's Way.  I wrote about it over in this thread.
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Sulischild

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2012, 06:18:30 pm »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;81598
I find it very, very difficult to experience faith, to have the energy to explore my spiritual side or the mental stability to interpret runes, tarot etc if I'm in a bad spot.  


A big +1 to this.  I have a complicated mess of depression, anxiety and neurological problems, and I've also found that my interest in and energy to practice my spirituality goes down the chute when I'm in a bad place.

I also find I'm more likely to dismiss divination results, UPG etc as just 'crap I made up' when I'm depressed, instead of trusting it.  

Being part of a community (online) helped with this.  Starting to do readings for others and getting some 'wow, that was really accurate, thank you' feedback was what finally convinced the depression-fed doubting part of my mind that it *wasn't* all just conceit and folly.  Similarly being able to compare your UGC with others' helps make it all the more tangible, and silences some of those endless doubts.

Sharysa

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 12:36:16 am »
Quote from: River at Night;81571
How do those of you with mental illness balance it against your beliefs and religious/spiritual practice?

[snip]

How do you get past these sorts of problems?


I have clinical depression, and occasionally it flares up for no reason. It used to be REALLY bad when I was a teenager and nearly suicidal. I'm not anymore, but I still have really stubborn self-esteem issues and when I'm stressed, I don't feel like eating. I also tend to have trouble controlling and expressing emotions.

And then there's my general anxiety problems, because I'm sensitive to people's energy. Not necessarily an empath, since I don't literally feel their emotions--I just react really strongly to them.

I balance religion against my tendency towards either escapism or depression by making sure the ancestors and deities match up reasonably with 1) their personalities, 2) any lore they're attached to, and 3) acceptable bounds of UPG.

If something is TOO happy or convenient, then it's probably my escapism creeping in without my realizing it. However, I find that I tend less towards escapism nowadays and more towards depression or apathy--where I don't/can't care about connecting to my spirituality like I usually do.

When I find myself getting into apathy, I usually need to wait it out for the next few days. However, I have found that using sweetgrass oil both alleviates my depression and speeds up my transition back to normal--it used to last up to a week, but if I carry some sweetgrass oil around (like smelling salts), it only lasts a couple of days.
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Allec

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Re: Mental illness and religion
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2013, 01:00:51 am »
Quote from: BunnyMaz;81598
I find that when I'm at my low points, my spirituality goes completely out the window.  I find it very, very difficult to experience faith, to have the energy to explore my spiritual side or the mental stability to interpret runes, tarot etc if I'm in a bad spot.

 
I too agree with this. I have Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (as well as phobias.)

The Social Anxiety is probably what gets in the way the most. I find that I have difficulty reaching out to my gods because I am actually anxious--just like if I was going to meet new people in person. I've also noticed that I have reached this panic-stage of a relationship with one god in particular in that I'm constantly worrying I'm bugging him, annoying him, etc etc. Similar to how I treated the early weeks of my relationship with my current boyfriend before I could trust him to let me know if I was doing something wrong or offensive to him. (I should note that I first met this god while seeking out help for mental illness, so I'm guessing that most of my worries are in my head like they are with most people.)

So it's...a battle. I'm trying to also figure out how to simplify certain rituals so I can still perform them without using any spoons on days when my anxiety and/or depression is dragging me down, and getting out of bed requires most of my spoons for that day :/
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