I was recently looking through Facebook when a “Facebook memory” popped up on my feed. It just so happened that this memory was a poem that I had written years ago while still in high school or early college, and man was it dark. The dark content of the poetry didn’t really surprise me though, I’ve always enjoyed dark themes in art and literature. What did surprise me, however, was that as I looked deeper into my past poetry and thus into my past, I remembered the depression and mental anguish I was in at the time. I remembered, in detail, what caused me to write every piece of poetry that I read and I remembered just how severe the depression and self-loathing was that I was experiencing at the time. Despite the dark themes, my cries for help and evidence of my self-loathing were still clearly evident. In one I even plainly stated the ways I had considered committing suicide! I had plans! In the fields of social work or psychiatry, that is an instant hospitalization. I guess most people I knew at the time were unaware or just had no idea what to do with what I had said. I was surprised that I had lived through this – that I had even managed to keep myself from committing suicide. Several of the poems were written on nights when I truly thought that I, and everyone else, would be better off if I were dead. One night in particular, I even remember writing the poem shortly after standing next to a busy highway, debating whether I should step out in front of a truck in order to end it. Thankfully, that night I had a friend who I could call that was able to talk me down. Until now, no one but that person and myself knew what really happened that night.
While a couple of them were decent, most of my poems were pretty terrible as far as the writing quality goes. Yet, they still brought back every memory of late nights walking outside until midnight, scrawling poetry until two in the morning, cutting my arms, wishing I was dead, praying to god that I would be forgiven for my sins, and screaming into the chill autumn air- all with no reassurance and no comfort.
The further I read, the more the cause (or exacerbation) of my depression, anxiety, and psychosis became apparent: Christian dogma. If I were reading these poems from an outsider’s point of view, I would have first told them to go to a hospital, psychiatrist, or therapist to get help (which eventually did happen), and I would secondly be disgusted that they had been brainwashed into an ancient, abusive dogma that told them that they were inherently worthless! As I read these poems, I felt pity for my past self and disgusted with the delusions that I was led to believe and the religious leaders that I had followed for so long.
As I reminisced, I remembered attending an oppressive church and Christian school while drawing pentagrams in my notebooks. Not because I identified as a Satanist (I didn’t even truly know what that meant at the time), but because I so vehemently opposed the arbitrary rules and authoritarianism that was imbedded within that community. Looking back, it actually seems quite fitting that I would have drawn pentagrams. I rebelled the only way I knew how: with my ideas, my dress, my art, and my writing. I loathed the hypocritical leaders within that church and yet still hated myself because I was told that I was a worthless, useless, and a sinner in the hands of an angry god. I believed to my core that I was worthless and often beyond salvation.
Even after leaving this church for a more modern and forgiving church, I was still told that I was worthless, useless, and in the hands of a slightly less angry god. What really blows my mind, but that I am somewhat grateful for, is that even after all of this indoctrination of thought crimes and inherent evil of human nature, I still remained devoted to Christianity. I know this may sound odd, but despite all of the anxiety, depression, self-harm, and truly psychotic symptoms produced by the teachings of Christianity, I remained a steadfast Christian; a dutiful and loyal lamb to the slaughter. I’m only grateful for this for the simple fact that no one can say that any of this turned me away from the religion. I only deconverted several years after I had learned to deal with my anxiety and depression in a healthy way and eventually learned to look at my beliefs skeptically. In fact, after all of this, I dug even deeper into the Christian faith for several years. In the environment I grew up in, Christianity was reality; I couldn’t even consider the possibility that Christianity was wrong.
I suppose I say all of this because the more I read the poetry of my past self, the more the dogma of Christianity disgusts me once again. The more I read, the more I see someone who wished wholeheartedly to be a good and loving person who was brought to severe depression, anxiety, and psychosis because of a dogma they were brainwashed to believe in. It is a sad and vile story – and it is my story.
Feel free to share your own stories or thoughts in the comments. Once again, thanks for reading.