Hi again, you fabulous person.
Today I’m going to talk about something that I’ve probably had the most difficulty with: Admitting that I may have one or two mental and emotional issues.
Whaaaaat? How can that BE??? Didn’t I rise to the level of OT III in Scientology? Shouldn’t I be freed of all the anxiety and self-doubt that I had when I got involved in Scientology in the first place?
Well, my friend, that’s quite the tale.
If you don’t know what OT III is, I invite you to watch this excerpt of the South Park episode, “Trapped in the Closet”. That’s pretty much it.
Anyway, I rose to a fairly high level on Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom”. In fact, when you complete OT III you’re supposed to have achieved “Freedom from overwhelm.”
I remember when I first started working after I’d escaped Scientology. There were days that seemed pretty damn overwhelming. But, still half-in half-out of my Scientology mindset, I told myself that I couldn’t possibly be overwhelmed.
See how that works? Denial is a dangerous thing.
When I got into Scientology, I had a lot of issues with self-confidence and a lack of direction in life. Well, isn’t that pretty much anyone in their 20s? I mean, geez, looking back on it now, I can see that life experience and a bit of help here and there would have probably done the trick.
But noooooooo, I had to go and get involved in a cult. DEEPLY involved. SO involved that once I got out, the mental issues were FAR WORSE than when I got in.
Here are a few examples:
• I had daily nightmares for YEARS. The more I created my new life, the less they happened, but they still happened. The nightmares were so real. I was back in the Sea Org, and there was some project or other that I hadn’t completed. I was being berated and screamed at. Imagine how my days would go after having THAT dream every night.
• I had a lot of anxiety. Every time a cellphone would vibrate, I’d jump. This went on for years as well. I STILL don’t pick up the phone when it rings, unless it’s my mom or my husband, or maybe someone from work. I don’t know if that will ever go away.
Why? Because as the Senior Magazine Editor up at Int, I had to wear a beeper at all times. All management did. When that thing went off, I jumped out of my skin, because more than likely it was someone from David Miscavige’s office and I’d better get ready to RUN up the hill to his office with my latest magazine submission. It wasn’t just me, it was the entire management structure above me as well. We’d all sit around a table, hearts racing, as Miscavige would pound the desk and berate us. This went on for YEARS.
• I didn’t trust anyone, really. Any little thing that a friend would do or say to me would go through this filter: “What did he/she mean by that? Clearly they don’t want to be my friend anymore.” When you’ve been betrayed by the people you trusted the most, it’s hard to start trusting again. It’s taken many, many years to come to terms with this. No, everybody DOESN’T have a hidden agenda against me. How about that?
Now, with all this going on, imagine having to actively hide it for more than a decade? That’s what I’ve been going through. Sure, life has been good. But there’s always been this, under the surface, ready to rear its ugly head at any moment.
And no, I wasn’t about to get any help for this, because even after so many years, I STILL had the deeply-ingrained viewpoint that psychiatrists and psychologists were not to be trusted. Scientologists firmly believe that all the evils of the world come from psychiatry. So that was the last thing I was going to do—work on my PTSD-like symptoms with someone who might actually help alleviate them!
Recently, however, I had a turning point.
I’d just found out the company I work for, Dressbarn, was going to close. My store would be closing in a few months. I wasn’t ready.
Sure I was planning to move on in a couple of years anyway, and was actively working on my freelance writing career. But this sudden upheaval was not part of that plan.
The first couple of weeks after the announcement, things were crazy in my store. I had to field dozens of questions every day, and deal with the anger and sadness of my customers. It was EXHAUSTING.
I started getting really bad nosebleeds—so bad that I had to go to the emergency room for one that wouldn’t stop after two hours.
Then one day, I was moving some clothes on a rack and my chest got tight. I got dizzy and started sweating. I had to sit down. I hoped it would go away, because I didn’t want to have to get an ambulance.
It went away. But it scared the crap out of me.
I went to the doctor and told him everything that was happening. After every heart test known to man cleared me of any heart issues, he suggested I try something to get me through the next few months while things were winding down at my store.
Now, understand that prescription drugs had been pretty much a foreign concept to me up until this point. As a Scientologist in the Sea Org, I took ZERO drugs, not even aspirin. So for almost 20 years, I had to deal with pain and sickness without any medication. Why? Because drugs would impede my “spiritual progress” by making me less aware. What a painful tradeoff.
So when my doctor suggested I try a low dose of an SSRI to see if it would help with the anxiety, I was nervous about it. But hell, at this point, I couldn’t take the craziness in my life anymore.
He explained what an SSRI does, and how it’s not designed to work instantly, but that in a few weeks I’d probably wake up one morning thinking that things weren’t so bad.
Guess what? That’s just what happened.
In fact, right now I’m definitely calmer, happier, and more productive than ever. Will I be on this forever? Probably not. But who knows? I’ll work with my doctor, whom I actually trust. Amazing.
I can tell you this for sure: I wouldn’t have been able to publish this blog with the anxiety I had. Now I can. And it’s not just fun to write, it’s healing me in a way I never imagined.
So back to the question I posed in the headline: Am I crazy?
If you were to ask a Scientologist, they would say that I am ABSOLUTELY nuts. First of all, I left behind the only technology that could help me achieve spiritual freedom, and now I’m on PSYCH DRUGS!!! I’ve gone off the deep end, if you believe them.
But if you were to ask my husband, my store team, and my friends, they’d all tell you the exact opposite. The other day, one of my store associates said, “We want to make sure you thank your doctor for us. It’s made our jobs so much better.” We laughed about it, but it’s true. I’m a kinder, gentler Anne now.
So am I crazy? Maybe—but getting less so every day.