I went to this churchy thing on Wednesday morning because I heard there was cheap Zumba? Actually, free if it was your first time. It was at a large, Mennonite-ish church close to our house, and a friend of mine goes. So I went. There was one hour for worship/coffee/fellowship/sermon/etc, and one hour of a variety of classes, anything from knitting to Bible study to Zumba.
The thing is that the "sermon" or lecture thing was done by a clinical counselor with 10 years experience and the topic was Anxiety. At first I thought, wow! Maybe God has something to say to me today that will add insight into managing my disorder, or reassurance that I'm not alone. That's cool. Au contraire, folks. Au contraire. It was a bunch of hogwash. This clinical counselor stood before a room full of over 200 women and stated, "There are lots of theories out there about how anxiety is based on brain chemistry, has a physiological or hormonal basis, is genetic, or is a disease requiring medication, or is something you have for the rest of your life. But all of these are wrong. Anxiety is a fully reversible condition. All you need is to fully give over your fears to God, and your anxiety will melt away: we just need support and the right information."
My jaw hit the floor so hard it caused a mini earthquake. What. The fuck. I was so mad. I took out my phone and vented on Facebook and Twitter, because that's what one does, and I shook with anger.
After the lecture we were supposed to break into groups and answer topic questions. The first question? "What kinds of things make you anxious?" The women at my table said churchy things like,
"When my house is messy I just feel so anxious."
"I can't rest until the kitchen is in order."
"When I've let too many days pass since I spent time in God's Word."
My friend went next:
"I'm not really an anxious type of person."
There's a reason we are friends. She doesn't make me vomit, for example.
There was no way I was sharing honestly. There isn't a swear word strong enough to express how NOT SHARING HONESTLY I felt, but fortunately the discussion time ended before my chance to share and THIS IS HOW WE KNOW THERE IS A GOD.
Everything about this bothers me, but two things in particular. First, this (bloody hogwash) "theory" that anxiety has no physiological basis and simply needs God, was presented as a true fact, endorsed by God. It wasn't presented as an idea among others, or a part of comprehensive treatment that may or may not include pharmaceutical drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, naturopathic treatments, support, doctors, research, etc, etc, etc. It was presented as the replacement for all of these.
Second, this is actually dangerous. Women in that room who have anxiety disorders may not seek appropriate or comprehensive treatment or may discontinue medication because of this type of preaching. That puts them at higher risk of suicide, psychosis, violent outbursts, worsening mental illness, and deep unhappiness. People in the throes of unmanaged anxiety are highly impressionable, especially about their anxiety and worry incessantly about treatment methods.
So I did my Zumba and loved it, and then went home and vented at Brent. He was appalled too, although he figured most women listening would likely recognize hogwash when they saw it, and take it with a grain of salt. He didn't buy my dangerous theory.
We laughed at them behind their backs and mocked the hypothetical reaction of my table if I were honest when asked what I'm afraid of:
-The death of my kids
-My husband being shot at work
-improper car seat installation causing my child to become an unrestrained missile in a car accident
-My kid getting hit by a car in a parking lot
-Flesh eating disease
-One of my kids drowning
-One of my kids being badly burned
-Spinal cord injury
-Head injuries on my kids or myself or my husband
-Bike vs. car
-Kid vs. car
-My kids becoming rapists or serial killers
-Wild animal attacks
Brent kind of laughed and said, "And you've actually seen most of those happen in real life."
Sometimes Christianity is this weird festering narcissistic navel gazing ulcerated wound that breeds shit like this. But really, I'm just neutral. Like, whatever.