While I was growing up I had an unwavering belief in divinity and faith. When everything was going well it was easy for me to hold fast to the religious principles I was brought up with. I believed in God, heaven, the afterlife, and pretty much most of what I was taught in religious school. However, this all changed during my episodes.
During my first episode of schizoaffective disorder I believed that I was an agent of divinity that would have to do everything correctly to save the world. I laugh today because the world still hasn’t quite “been saved” but it’s also a pretty good place in a lot of regards. This notion that I was a messiah may have actually kept me alive during an episode where I nearly starved to death and slept on the tile floor of a very cold apartment in the middle of a New England winter while experiencing a full on psychotic episode. My belief that I had to save the world motivated me to persist against bleak odds and complete my college course work as an English major for that semester during this episode.
However, I had one more episode and after this episode I began making a journey away from spirituality. One of my main problems was that I wanted to believe in divinity and the great beyond but I had a lot of questions regarding what I had been through. Growing up, I basically believed that if I had done everything the right way, which I thought I did, then I would be taken care of by the watchful presence of the divine. However, after two episodes of schizoaffective disorder I challenged this belief and started thinking that no one was watching over me because of all the pain and adversity I was forced to go through by no fault of my own. I had a lot more to learn about life.
For several years I wasn’t even willing to say a prayer. I thought it was more important for me to find ways to make my life change instead of praying for hope. I didn’t understand the power of prayer and/or the reason for it. My notion was that when I previously prayed I was just hoping for everything to change without implementing any actions which of course didn’t work. I didn’t realize that sometimes prayer is just a way of being heard. I came to learn that prayer is a good way to express gratitude and to have an ongoing conversation with someone that possibly goes beyond the earth. I wasn’t certain whether there was a great beyond or any Gods for a while but I learned that praying made me feel good about life so I began doing it more. I liked to pray in thanks for things I was grateful for and also send my regards to relatives who had previously passed on from this life. It felt good in my heart and my mind so I continued to do it. It seemed to hold intrinsic value.
One main issue I had was with my delusion of becoming a messiah. Since trying to become a messiah lead to so many problems during my episodes I had a natural disinclination towards believing in divinity or anything religious. I understood afterwards that I wasn’t a messiah but I still had to extract the delusion from my belief system. For me delusions tend to stick around until they’re addressed regardless of how irrational they were. I thought it was problematic to have belief in the divine because of the delusion of thinking I was a messiah that had influenced so many actions in my episodes that were unhealthy and dangerous. When I addressed the issue that I’m not a messiah nor do I need to be one this fear of religion began to fade away. I worked on realizing that I just have to take care of the things within my sphere of influence and that it’s up to everyone to do this in their own life. It’s not up to me to do it for them or to save the masses with super human powers. When I learned to just take care of what I could and not worry about things and people that were not within my sphere of influence my delusions of wanting to be a messiah were quelled.
There were times when I questioned whether there even could be life after earth. In some ways I looked at all the factors that went into the creation of the earth and juxtaposed two different beliefs. On one hand it seems as though everything was designed and created for reasons to balance and check each other. The earth seemed like a place that was created by great mathematician(s) and or creator(s) because of all the varying factors that had to come together perfectly for life on earth to exist. On the other hand it could have all just been accidental and a lot of this could have to do with the way the human mind works, always searching for connections between things that may or very well may not be connected. The consensus I came to was that praying and having faith made me feel too good to not have any belief in it. It helped me to pray and have faith for my emotional health and overall well-being.
After making this decision that there may very well have been some sort of creator(s) who put the earth together I wondered why I went through so much adversity if I had been doing everything the right way. I had always been told if I do the right thing everything will work out. If I’m a good person then life will be good. One thing I learned that I was not a perfect person and that no one is and I wasn’t actually doing everything correctly. I realized that I do have free will and in my mind no one would necessarily create me without giving me free will. I guess I had to challenge the belief that divinity had a plan for my life. This works differently for different people but for me it helped me to believe I was now in control of my own life. I could project a course I would want to embark on and make plans and implement agency to create positive change in my life. Once I became more adept at doing this I came to the notion that if a grande creator was to put me into life that the whole purpose of me having life was a gift. It was something that was meant for me to guide and control and figure out, and not necessarily just sit on a roller coaster ride and enjoy the view. This helped me to let go of the notion that the grande creator(s) who I had so strongly believed in as a child had not abandoned me at all. This was because I now felt that they were not in control of my life and only I was. I think a part of this was also being more mentally awake as an adult as opposed to my episodes where I wasn’t very mentally awake at all. Believing that divinity had no control over my life whatsoever really helped me to let go of the pain I had felt of being abandoned in my darkest hours.
Overall, I realized that the earth isn’t perfect and there’s no such thing as a perfect person being created. In my mind I learned that I am flawed and maybe our creator(s) are also flawed. The thing I came to believe which helped me to regain my faith in some sort of creator(s) and/or after life was that the earth is a place of free will. Life is a gift either created scientifically or by some sort of divine intelligence however, either way, life is ours to live and the purpose of faith is to help us to influence our lives in a way that is as positive as possible. I learned if there are higher powers then they didn’t create us for the sake of controlling our every move. One of the greatest things about life is being in the arena and learning, living, and experiencing and overcoming the trials and tribulations that life brings to the table. I found that faith is a tool to help me through some of this adversity and that my life is in my own hands. I was brought back to faith by realizing I have to use the agency I was created with to implement the good lessons I had learned from the number of religions and schools of thought I have studied.
Photo by MrSeb