I Was a Teenager Who Lost It All and Wanted To Die

I was mentally ill and had abandoned my faith in God. When I lost everything I loved, I thought my life was over

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Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

I was sixteen when my world came crumbling down around me. I had been living a lie for too long, convincing my parents, friends, and the people in my church that I was just an everyday normal Jehovah’s Witness kid.

But inside, I was a seriously mentally ill boy who had lost his faith in God long ago.

No one knew the secrets I hid, because I hid them well. I led a double life because if anyone knew about me, I would have lost everything, even my family.

I had a lot to lose.

I had a girlfriend who made my knees weak when she turned her smoky eyes on me and smiled. We were trying to be good Christians, so the most intimate we had ever been was french kissing, but I was willing to wait because I knew we would marry in a few years.

Tammy was a keeper, and I knew we would grow old together and make little Witness babies who would make us deliriously happy.

My best men would be Frank and Jonathon because we did everything together and were the tightest group of friends. We camped in the woods and stayed at each other’s houses on the weekends. Our parents even let us stay in our own hotel room when we would go to the District conventions, which were massive and lasted four days. But thinking back, maybe they shouldn’t have underestimated our penchant for trouble because on our first night at the hotel on one trip, we snuck down to the bar and swiped drinks for ourselves and sat in our room chuckling and drinking Screwdrivers.

Conventions were a time for Jehovah’s Witness girls to meet Witness boys and my friends and I would trawl the hallways during lunch, flirting and acting macho, that is, until I met Tammy and knew I didn’t want to meet anyone else.

Frank and Jonathon were happy for me that I had a girlfriend because it was all we ever talked about, but I know they were a bit jealous too because they weren’t as bold as Tammy and I with our budding relationship.

We made it no secret to anyone, even our parents and the Elders, that we were a couple. I remember the young, unmarried sisters watching us carefully to make sure we didn’t get too close when we walked and sat together during the sessions.

Tammy and I both knew what we wanted, and we weren’t afraid of anyone knowing it.

Tammy’s dad was an Elder, and the first time I drove to her house, he stopped me at the door and asked what my intentions were, and to always remember I was a baptized Christian and should act accordingly.

It seemed they were always watching us, and even when the parents weren’t around, her older brother acted as a chaperone. But, he didn’t care much about what we did in the backseat. And though we had the opportunity, to Tammy and I, our commitment not to sin kept us from doing anything that could jeopardize our eternal lives, so we mostly kept our hands to ourselves.

I felt like, for the most part, I had it all.

But, what Tammy didn’t know was that I doubted my faith, and worse, I was trying to deal with a severe mental illness all by myself. To her and her friends, I seemed to be a normal Witness boy, but underneath my calm exterior, I was a boiling cauldron of fear, hate, and pain.

Not even Frank and Jonathon knew what I was going through, but may have guessed I wasn’t telling them everything when I would talk to my voices at night.

My dad was heading to Baton Rouge for another job at a bakery. Since my job at the apiary had ended, I decided to go with him and convinced Jonathon to go too since he didn’t have a job either. We planned to look for work as soon as we got there, and it seemed like a great adventure.

We both found a job the first day at the same pizza place, and soon figured everything out and were earning some money.

I don’t know why we had a knack for trouble, but one night, we ended getting drunk and running from the cops. We had also smoked some cigarettes, not satisfied with just one mode of sin at a time.

After the incident, my dad convinced me to talk to the Elders when we went back home to Bunkie because now he knew he couldn’t trust us, and his job didn’t seem so important anymore.

Even though inside I wasn’t remorseful for what I had done, I confessed everything about the drinking incident to those men who held so much power over my life. Since I was baptized, they decided to punish me but agreed that disfellowshipping was not needed because tI made them think I was remorseful and would do everything I had to do to get back in the good graces of God.

While all this was going on, I called Tammy from a payphone and told her what happened, and that most likely I would be reproved.

To say she lost her mind would be an understatement. She said under no circumstance would she date someone who was reproved and broke up with me.

I was crushed to my core, and as depression reached it’s hand and squeezed my heart, I cried. In fact, I didn’t stop crying for days. While I was waiting for the final judgment from the Elders, I wallowed in despair and thought of ways to end my own life.

The Elders announced to the congregation their verdict, and immediately everyone I thought had loved me started treating me like a disease. Even Frank, who the Elders told not to associate with me, started seeing me less and less.

I fell in a deep, dark hole, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought that I would be dead soon. My parents tried to help, but I was inconsolable.

A teenage mistake caused me to lose everything I loved, and even though I wasn’t disfellowshipped, I might as well have been because nobody wanted anything to do with me anymore.

I just made them uncomfortable.

My wonderful parents saw that I was in pain, and having to see everything I lost all the time was causing me to lose the rest of my mind. I no longer cared if anyone knew I was depressed. I no longer wanted to go to the meetings and see a bunch of people who shunned me for a mistake. I no longer wanted to pretend that I had faith in God or wanted to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

My parents were moving me to Tucson, so I didn’t have to see what I lost, and they didn’t have to feel shamed by their son, who turned his back on everything they believed in.

I saw Frank and Jonathon one more time, because we had to make two trips to Tucson, and they came with for the ride on the first one. It almost seemed like old times, and we had a few laughs, but when we picked up the second load in Bunkie and dropped them off, I knew I would never see them again.

I talked to Tammy one more time before I left that I remember, but it was just more blaming and crying, and I couldn’t handle it. I missed her, and I missed what we had, but I also knew I would never see or talk to her again.

And, although I managed to drag myself to a few meetings at the Kingdom Hall in Tucson, I had lost my faith and knew that my childhood with the Witnesses was over. The worst feeling was knowing that I was hurting my parents, but I couldn’t pretend anymore.

I was 16 years old, and I felt like my life was over. Somehow, I never managed to get the courage to kill myself, and spent my days either working or locked in my room reading.

I hadn’t just lost my girlfriend, and friends, and my religion and faith in God, but I also lost the respect of my parents.

Worst of all, I lost hope that my life would ever amount to anything.

I was alone.

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