I am mentally ill, and not ashamed to admit it. It's like any other disease. But it's not my mental illness that makes me an atheist. I'm an atheist because I find the idea of God(s) absurd and illogical. And my mental illness does not say anything about atheism being a form of mental illness as some theists would like to believe.
I've had major clinical depression all my life, perhaps because I was born congenitally deformed, and was born into a family with an abusive father and older half brother. He always used to beat me up all the time for no reason (and once when I was perhaps 8 years old, he would have been 12, he tried to sexually molest me). Sometimes he would also bully my other (full) brother.
My depression was made even worse in 1995 and then worse still in 2006. In 1995 the oldest of my two younger sisters was murdered by her boyfriend. I can't get past the terrible and all consuming grief my mother showed at the hospital when they came out to tell us that my sister didn't make it despite their efforts. She wailed with deepest grief, I felt so terribly sorry for her, and will never forget that moment. It's burned into my mind.
A grand jury was convened to see if enough evidence was found to try my sister's boyfriend for murder. But they didn't have enough, and so her murderer walked free. There was no justice for us. That made things even worse for me, and especially for my mother.
I watched my mother grieve for 11 long years over her murdered child, and ultimately caused my mother to die from broken heart in 2006. I loved my mother more than anything in this world. Now my days are spent only with haunting memories that destroy me nearly everyday. When my time to die nears I will welcome it with open arms. Being an atheist and not believing in any kind of afterlife, death holds no fear over me. After I die my suffering, too, will be at an end.
I can't help sometimes but to imagine the horror and suffering my sister went through in her final moments. I heard about a year ago that her murderer died of liver cancer, as he was an avid drunk. But knowing he's dead does not deaden my pain, and I know he's not burning in some hell. He is free from suffering. Too bad. Sometimes I have the urge to find out where he is buried, dig him up, and defecate on his face and then rebury him and let him lie there like that til the end of time, or until he completely rots away.
I would rather say that you reacted normally to abnormal and horrible conditions, and I hope you'll find the strength to enjoy the enjoyable things in life. You know what they say - and I think they're right - that ´normal´ people don't exist.
I sympathize with those suffering depression. In a lesser way all of us are depressed from time to time, but not clinically. Clinical depression was the malady of William Stryon, the novelist, who wrote a book about it, and I would recommend it to you. Meanwhile, I trust you have meds that will help. Your family history is depressing as it is. The problem with being an atheist is that we are robbed of the usual cliches, such as "God bless you" or "My heart and prayers go out to you." These themselves are depressing enough since they are such nonsense and so widely expressed. Even, "I hope...." which Nietzsche said was the worst of the lot, since it provides false promises of a better future. For some, there is none. The only cliched commiseration I use and use it here: take care!
Anthony, you and James are both correct. There is no hell in which the murderer is suffering, or a heaven where you sister and mother are getting a better deal than they had in life. And, all the cliches about gods, heavens, hell, and spirit worlds are nothing more than wishful thinking outside the realm of reality. There is one thing that is reality based, and that's human empathy. A desire to try and understand a person's situation, and demonstrate compassion. I'll echo James. Take care.
I'm so sorry Tony. Thankfully we know there is no "god" that gave each of us our life circumstances for a "reason." I'm glad you had a wonderful Mother though, and you can think of her whenever you need her. I get depressed sometimes, but I don't have clinical depression. I do have anxiety issues that are mainly worrying about my kids, and panic-attacks. As you know I am on meds for that, and they help.
You know I am here for you to talk to, and so are these nice people on AN.
You have had a difficult life Anthony. Sorry to hear of all that sorrow you went through.
I am happy you made it to the site. You make such wonderful contributions here.
Again, not a "Like" but an appreciation to you, Anthony, for sharing your story with us. I can testify to my fact that the only thing I could find was to share my story with others; it has been the only healing method I could find. I do hope sharing with us will be healing for you.
I am very sorry to learn of your early childhood experiences and your deep depressions. Your memories sound like "mindbindings" that keep you locked into your memories. Mindbindings are thoughts one has that bind one to dysfunctional behavior. In my case, my mind was bound into thinking abuse was normal, and I could survive by finding ways to cope. Coping is necessary for surviving, but not for thriving.
I respect your courage to put your trust in us; you probably know by now that this site is a place for healing as well as thriving.
Anthony, it takes a very courageous person to put such strong personal emotions and details about your life into a public forum. I commend you for your trust in us. Thank you. As Chris said, you have responded to horrible events in your life in a manner that most others would have as well. I know major depression causes tremendous turmoil, and I understand the feelings of helplessness and pain that plague you. Despite your past, perhaps in the coming years you'll be able to find a way to experience and enjoy your life more positively. Thanks for sharing. Be well, friend.
It sucks to be depressed and haunted by traumatic experiences.
I assume you've tried medication and counseling.
Were I in your situation, I'd look for a way to free my mind from the past, to pay attention to the present and find new sources of joy and comfort such as a friendly cat or dog, and a hobby.
My own tendencies toward mental illness manifest as escapist fantasy. Along those lines one might try the games where you build an imaginary city or island, or Second Life. Anything to stop thinking about the past and start anew. The idea is to create the possibility of a success or pleasant time, to break the cycle of old thoughts pulling you down now. I'd also try strategies to stop those thoughts and memories whenever they came. I tend to rehearse my internal dialogues when I want to stop unwanted thoughts. I talk to my child ego state from my adult and parent ego states, explaining why it's good to stop thinking the unhelpful thoughts dragging me down, cajoling myself, even giving myself playful injunctions such as, "Stomp on the bad thought, it's an ant!" Yes I'd even stomp my foot to act out stopping the thought. And I'd have a bunch of better thoughts and distractions ready to switch to, pretty, shiny, happy, exciting, awesome or adventurous images or activities.
Well, those are my strategies for my life. Good luck, Anthony.
Angela, I am so glad you ended up with a great husband and daughters! You have been through so much. Thanks for sharing your story. Please post more often!~ Melinda