Years ago son raised a few years as a JW. Now struggles with depression

by Check_Your_Premises 22 Replies latest social family

  • Check_Your_Premises


    I spent some time here awhile back as an unbelieving mate of a JW wife. I learned a lot, and was able to be supportive and understanding when she decided to leave the JW.

    Unfortunately, my son seems to have internalized many of the JW teachings. He seems to be unable to shake the idea that they are the "truth". He doesn't live as a JW though, so he seems trapped in an intolerable state between thinking the JW are the way to go, but unable (and having no desire) to live as one.

    When he made me aware of this fact, I began to realize he had internalized some of the cult mindset; phobias, thought-stopping techniques, adopting JW map of reality (false religion vs. JW Truth).

    I was wondering if there were others with similar experiences? Anyone whose parents left, but the kids struggled to follow? Issues with depression? Suicidal thoughts? Nightmares?

    The nightmares in particular are interesting to me? Did they follow a basic theme?

  • Wasanelder Once
    Wasanelder Once
    I was pretty much like your son, minus suicidal thoughts. I lived out of the cult for 11 years before I returned for a 13 year run. Raised without the holidays etc. blah blah blah. Always looking over my shoulder for the angel of death. He just needs to be weened off the mindset. Let him see the alternative view now and again in a kind way. Point to the positive in life and how we are all the same no matter what religion we choose. Focus on how "non unique" the Witnesses are. I don't know how deep it runs in him but I am sure you are doing the best you can. Ultimately its up to him to see the BS for what it is. Just let him know its there without seeming like sour grapes. All the best!
  • talesin
    Professional help would be the best thing. The symptoms you mentioned are those of PTSD, and a visit together to your family physician would be a good idea. xx
  • zeb
    As someone who has lived with depression for too many years for gods sake get the guy to a doctor and to counselling.! please.
  • Check_Your_Premises

    We have been to a doctor/meds for YEARS. NOTHING seems to help. At best it only stabilizes the situation. I think as is commonly the case, many doctors don't understand or know how to diagnose the source as cult indoctrination.

    It was only recently that HE pointed to the JW as a source of his angst.

    I am very well versed in talking to people with a cult mindset. I lived it for about 4 years with my wife. It is actually almost second nature to me.

    I recently found an article on religious trauma syndrome that caught my eye. I would say the author has an anti-religious bias which tends to make her appear to not always argue in good faith. Nevertheless this little snippet rang quite true:

    Mistaken Identity

    Religious Trauma Syndrome mimics the symptoms of many other disorders –

    • post-traumatic stress disorder
    • clinical depression
    • anxiety disorders
    • bipolar disorder
    • obsessive compulsive disorder
    • borderline personality disorder
    • eating disorders
    • social disorders
    • marital and sexual dysfunctions
    • suicide
    • drug and alcohol abuse
    • extreme antisocial behavior, including homicide
  • KateWild

    How old is your son? How long ago did he leave WT?

    If he is a teen get him involved with activities with school friends/ uni friends.

    We are social creatures and need to interact with our peers.

    Kate xx

  • sparrowdown

    He needs to rid himself of the notion that JWs have the "truth."

    The only antidote to their anxiety inducing lies is research and information. Would he be willing to visit JWfacts?

    There are some youtubers that may interest him Pierre Burmester is a young guy and a good one to check out with him.

    All the best to you.

  • Zoos
    Have him read Crisis of Conscience so he can see how a former governing body member dealt with the same issues he's dealing with.
  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Life today is HARD, and today's kids have been de-volved by the educational system into whining pansies.

    Certainly whatever Watchtower memes he's absorbed haven't helped any.

    You have tried the standard catalog of pharmaceutical assistance, but has he tried ketamine? Some researchers have been exploring the value of ketamine treatment, at relatively low doses in a controlled medical environment and they have reported impressive results from ONE TREATMENT; but don't buy "Special-K" on the street and dose him with that. See if there is a study being conducted at a medical center near you.

    It is also important that his personal self-esteem is built up, not by chanting slogans into a mirror, but by tangible ACCOMPLISHMENT. What skills or interests does he have that could provide this? I don't think playing computer games counts.

  • Sail Away
    Sail Away
    The nightmares in particular are interesting to me? Did they follow a basic theme?

    I have post-traumatic stress disorder, not all JW related, but three of my recurring nightmares were.

    One was an evil-looking eye that stared unblinking at me from down a long corridor. As a JW I felt someone was always watching me (God, Satan, parents, elders, etc.), and I never felt good enough.

    The second was about getting beaten and tortured in a Nazi concentration camp. This possibility was emphasized pre-1975.

    The last was of me and my unbelieving family being engulfed in flames at Armageddon.

    Sparrowdown is right. Your son needs education. After reading JW facts, Crisis of Conscience and The God Delusion, my nightmares stopped, never to return.

    I had years of counseling before exiting that were worthless. JWs are taught to never speak about "spiritual matters" with anyone but elders. Therapists can't help under these circumstances.

    The therapy that did help me greatly post -exit was Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is skills based and helped me greatly in making my way in a world that was so foreign to me. It helps tremendously with identifying black and white, all or nothing thinking, teaches assertive communication and mindfulness to help with distress tolerance.

    PM me if you like.


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