I wanted to take a moment and an address a tiny issue that many Mormons face. Suicide…or suicide ideation, and mental health. I come from a well-adjusted loving family, I have had a very successful life, I have hit speed bumps, but I have always found my way to my feet...eventually. I’m out going, life of the party, fairly attractive, and full of energy. I’m a lucky girl…and as a mormon I still craved death.
The attempt I made on my life (see: Life or Death) has hunted me for years. After that I had the suicide hot-line on speed dial. I wish I had not destroyed my suicide tape. I want to know what I was thinking. How could I believe that at age 23 I had passed my expiration date? It’s not fair to completely blame BYU and Mormons. I had tons of fun and really learned a lot. It is just hard for me to find another explanation for my behavior. The guilt and shame of never being good enough (see: The PerfectProblem). I was unloved by men because I did not fit the “mold” and was ostracized for my wit and independence.(see: Pink Pedestal) Even being a campuses celebrity for my comedy did not stop the stares in church when I wore a dress that hugged my curves. I saw a church therapist regularly. I would cry and tell them how I felt so trapped and conflicted. I was doing everything right and still struggled with my testimony. I remember one therapist who completely ignored my shameful struggle with sexual frustration.
“’I’m just worried Dr.”, I said sheepishly, “that I will marry men just so I can have sex. I really want to have sex.”
“Nope! Don’t even think about it.” She said, “It’s not good. Marriage is very important. Let me tell you a story. My son may be getting a divorce. Tragic! But I already have 5 woman lined up for him. God wants us to be married so just forget about sex…take a pottery class.”
Looking back I can honestly say… WTF! But at the time I didn’t know any better. Trying to live your life according to someone else is destructive. The constant judgment facilitated by the church and BYU kept me in a cycle of self-loathing. It was only when my parents enrolled me into a non-mormon mental hospital that things got better. They worried what these therapist would say but knew without proper help I may try to "trip" off a tall building. My father warned me not to discuss church while I was in therapy. That they might try and pull me away. They didn’t try and pull me away, but they showed me that it was okay to wear a red dress (See: Spooky Mormon Hell Dream)
Even now as I have loosened the chains of Mormonism I still find myself thinking “I’m such a horrible person”. This week I decide I was a horrible person because I let a man see my boobs. Last week I was a horrible person because I did not let this same nice man see my boobs. (Here is where I slap myself on the forehead) I feel guilt but it is displaced. I do not feel guilty engaging in sexual activities. However, I do feel guilty educating myself on sexual activities.
I only see non-Mormon therapists now. I here tails of poor struggling souls running to their bishop to cash in on the free therapy program the church provides. A fine program in many respects I’m sure. Unfortunately, not the place to go when you want to leave the church. That’s like breaking up with your boyfriend and then driving over to his house when you feel sad about it…IT DOESN'T WORK. With the help of my non-mormon therapist I have been able to unclog many emotional drains. Most recently my therapist has helped me come to grips with the terrifying notion that I can decide what sex means to me. Going against everything the church has taught me I have decided that sex is an activity I would like to participate in with a friend. I don’t want a lover, just someone patient who I trust. And I’m fairly sure I have found him.
In conclusion my friend YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The pressure to have the perfect life sends many into a downward spiral. No wonder UT has the highest rate for teen suicide and self-medicating. If you are one of the many people who suffer from suicide ideation, depression, PTSD I recommend you seek help. All health plans cover mental health in some regard. But mental health is not as simply taking a pill. You have to want it. Fight the negative thoughts, the pressure form church ideas, and the people who will try to “fix” you. Meditate; get a massage; LEAVE YOUR ROOM! Don’t be afraid of the world. That is just playing into the churches hands.
I am now almost 8 months sober from the church. I removed the noose from my neck and I’m shocked by how much air there is out here. I thought I would die without the church. Now I don’t know how I survived in it.