Being Disfellowshipped + On-Going Cycle of Depression
I've been disfellowshipped for six years, since I was 18. I struggle with depression and self-destructive habits (minor in comparison to the suicides, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior of others I've grown up with who have left or were too afraid to leave). I'm fairly successful for my age - respected in my field, I have an extensive curriculum vitae of published writing, presentations, and other projects. Yet, I often feel worthless and unloveable. I have life-long difficulty maintaining friendships and the tendency to chase romantic partners who either reject me or are emotionally abusive. Anyway, when I'm feeling down, it's almost impossible to get work done and if I don't get work done I can't pay my bills and if I have to ask my parents for assistance (which to their credit, they'll extend if I ask) then I have to accept what they offer with their comments about how this is what happens when one rejects Jehovah's organization. I really want to get out of this loop, but I feel stuck. I'm currently in search of a therapist. In the meantime... What has helped you guys?
Did your mom and dad really love you when you young or did you miss out on that? I ask because I was raised in a family where love was barely if ever shown and I have low self esteem to this day. How you look at yourself is also affected by the crummy JW religion that on one hand, tells you that God loves you, but....... only maybe will he save you at the end. Also you are just a speck of dirt and don't you forget it.
I'm still trying to find out what to do about things. I've tried therapy but I suspect, I'm very private and have a hard time getting the good out of it. And therapists are like shoes, sometimes it hard to find the right fit. So don't give up if one doesn't work out.
Hobbies and a cat friend for me, help.
Reflect how dangerously destructive, corrupt and ignorant the JWS cult is and the dire effects it has onto people who have indirectly effected by this highly controlling religion.
JWs are just unfortunate people who got infected by the corrupt and lying indoctrination of the Watchtower Corporation, they therefore should be pitied to a certain extent.
You sound like you have done really well. If you were my daughter I'd be really proud of your achievements. You sound self-aware which is a great start. Well done!
Do you get regular exercise? Do you get lonely? Have you got any spare time?
Join groups that will help you as a by product of you helping others. Volunteer, get a small part time job that provides regular cash and makes you get out of your accommodation at set points in the week.
As and when your main vocation build up you can drop the part time work.
When I moved away to university for my fade, the school provided free counseling, which helped immensely. My psychologist recommended the book in this thread as a great self-help tool, I found it helpful for my depression and anxiety:
Personally, I found the behavior modification approach of the book more useful than medication... particularly since Bethel had started me on pills.
The misconception I had about depression was that you have to vigorously pull yourself out of it. Probably because of the WTS writing things like 'if you are depressed get out and help someone else to take your mind off it'. My personal favourite, not, 'if you feel down get out in the yard and dig in the dirt'.
From personal experience because I seem to have naturally low serotonin which then gets even more depleted when I'm stressed, if I start to feel depressed I pull back immediately, cancel whatever I can, don't do anything socially I don't feel like and I rest, rest, rest. Guess what, resting tops up your serotonin and other neurotransmitters very quickly.
Also have fun, whatever you want to do. It doesn't have to cost a fortune. Cook yourself your favourite meal, walk in the woods, have a coffee out and don't necessarily make yourself have to talk to someone else which may exhaust you. Treat yourself to your favourite magazine, sip your coffee and have a leasurely read. It really works, your brain releases happy chemicals and you start to feel better.
This is how I survive now and it's how I got through five years of suicidal clinical depression. Try it, good luck 🌷
You haven't stated your view on the JW religion. Do you continue to believe it to be the 'truth', have you taken a indifferent attitude, or have you realized that religion is fake? If realizing it to be fake, have you accepted that?
Since you are DF'd, perhaps the forced rejection is contributing to your depression, since 'they' are treating you as less of a person and unworthy.
Anyway, when I'm feeling down, it's almost impossible to get work done and if I don't get work done I can't pay my bills and if I have to ask my parents for assistance (which to their credit, they'll extend if I ask) then I have to accept what they offer with their comments about how this is what happens when one rejects Jehovah's organization.
Sorry to hear about your depression - but you do sound incredibly young and still dependent on your JW parents. Despite your being disfellowshipped, it sounds like you still reach out to them. Of course, any parent who sees their young son or daughter so depressed that they cannot get work done is going to say things they think will help you.
You also say that you're "quite successful" for your age and well respected in your field. Yet you are so vulnerable to low mood. I have to say that you also sound very young emotionally - which is hardly surprising given you were raised in JW organization.
My view is that as long as you are tied to your parents to rescue you when the going gets tough, you're never going to get beyond JW organization.
Could I suggest linking up with a registered therapist who will help you de-individuate from your parents and help you develop skills so you can carve out your own "successful" life free from your parents?
I suspect your parents may be hoping you will come to your "senses" and return.
@freddo thank you for the kind words :) I think they are proud, though they'd never admit it. Both of my parents would've been leaders in some way or another had they not been similarly brainwashed as children into baptism (their parents were JWs too - my mother's father didn't become one until she was an adult though). I think, for my father, being a black American southerner born in the 1940s, JWs offered a position of leadership/respect from a fairly young age that he may not have attained elsewhere. Because of literacy rates and racial segregation, he was appointed an elder at 18 (he and my grandfather were the only men in their congregation who could read). For my mom, I don't know - I guess my mom, as a woman, didn't have many options that wouldn't have been a steep uphill battle so why not settle for the cute upwardly mobile witness boy and become a special pioneer as a result? Sigh. In spite of their JWness, they definitely cultivated a sense of adventure and critical thinking skills into me - which, my father has said to me, they feel backfired lol. We'd "serve where the need is greater" on Native American resevations that no one else would go into, they'd send me alone to spend summers with missionary relatives abroad as a teenager, I traveled alone to visit friends I'd made abroad and stay with their families for months at a time. I suppose if I was another type of person (like some of my siblings) these adventures would have made me feel more attached to the "Society," but they really just taught me how to make the most of the little I have, have fun, connect with people who don't think/look/believe like me, build community wherever I go, and speak multiple languages (two fluently, three conversationally). important things that I didn't note: our relationship has shifted over the last several months as I have a five-month old son. We're cordial, they watch the baby sometimes when I have a deadline to meet or need to rest or clean. Sometimes my mother will linger in conversation with me (the previous years she didn't talk to me at all), a lot of times I can sense her guilt for wanting to do so. I ask her how she's feeling about life - she's getting older and she often mentions that while "the wages of sin is death" nonsense. I listen to her because I know she doesn't get that often. One of my professional struggles is that anytime I even remotely acknowledge my religious background in my writing, I immediately get angry emails and phone calls from family calling me an apostate. The reality is that my experience of being shunned is a major part of my everyday life. I feel stifled. Even if I'm not writing specifically about that or even planning to broach the subject, the fact that I in any way have to censor myself presents a creative block. And they say they're not a cult *eye roll*