Catherine O'Neill posted this message on 20th Jan 1997 to the usenet newsgroup alt.religion.christian.boston-church. It is republished here with her permission.
Once again I find myself confronted with a post which I feel compelled to respond to and share my own experiences. I'm kind of going out on a limb here - I'm going to tell all of you some things which only a very few of the closest people around me know.
For those of you who don't know of me -- my husband and I and our two sons left the ICC in June of 1996. I have two sisters and their families who are still involved with the movement.
I have suffered from clinical depression for most of my life, and luckily for me, have been being treated for it for the last 4 years. Part of my search for wellness led me to a search to find a relationship with God and Jesus -- although He's always been a part of my life -- I felt I needed to put more of my faith and trust in Him.
At one point in my journey I came upon the ICC, & I was at a particularly vulnerable point in my therapy. Until this point in my life, I could not pinpoint ONE specific reason for my depression. The leaders in the ICC helped me to feel, during the course of my studies with them, that the reason I was suffering from depression was my guilt for my past sins against God, and the only way out of my depression was to become a disciple of the ICC, confess my sins to them (the leaders) and be baptized into the "one true church of God -- the ICC".
And so I "became a Disciple", confessed my sins, and was baptized into the ICC. Through my discipling times, I was convinced to go off of my anti-depressant medication and stop therapy. The reason being -- now that I had "been saved", there was NO REASON for me to be depressed -- and any problems I was having would be discussed and dealt with in the weekly discipling times. Not to mention the added funds I would have towards contribution by not spending money on my prescription.
For those of you who might not understand depression, it does not neccesarily prevent you from being a productive, "seemingly" well adjusted person. I am a successful business woman with my own design company, happily married with two beautiful boys, ages 7 & 9. In the two months after my baptism, I participated in 4 "studies", baptised four new members, my husband and I were assigned as disciplining partners for another couple, and I was one of four speakers for the 1996 "Ladies Night."
But guess what???? I was still depressed...
...In my efforts to come to terms with my depression, I tried to talk with our disciplers and our evangelists. At this time, I was also having some problems with the teachings of the church -- namely, its attitude towards discipline and raising of children, contribution and lack of accountability towards use of funds, attempted control over marital relationships and "outside" the ICC friendships, what I saw to be a legalistic, "numbers" and "works" based faith which de-emphasized the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit working in all of our lives.
I was told that I obviously had some unconfessed sin or that I wasn't truly living my life as a disciple.
After several more months of hurt, and chastising myself for MY lack of commitment and MY short comings in being a "happy" disciple of the ICC, along with the encouragement of the information I had found about the ICC on the internet -- my family and I left. (I do want to add an indulgent thanks to Clayton Lane -- I wrote him questions to his web site, and he helped me incredibly through the four days of my leaving). I might add that it was not a pleasant leaving -- my biological sister brought me into the ICC -- she and her husband are now leaders here. We baptized another of our sisters together. I knew, by leaving, that I might also be forfeiting the close relationship that we had always had. Sadly, this has come true, though I pray each day that God will help to mend our relationships.
It struck me so much when Chris Garland wrote about the member that was REBUKED for being depressed. And I was very fortunate to have an M.D. put things into perspective for me. I'm going to quote him -- and I urge anyone out there who is dealing with depression, mental illness, or thoughts of suicide to PLEASE READ THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Denying the disease and treatment (both medicinal and psychological) of a person who suffers from Depression, is no different than denying a Diabetic his Insulin!!! For both patients it IS a matter of life and death!!!!"
Most people who suffer from depression have a lack of the ability to produce the chemical "seratonin" in sufficient ammounts. Drug therapy can alleviate this problem, although the best results have been found when the patient has also included some form of therapy. I made this mistake - but please listen - do not discontinue medication or therapy without the advice of your physician or therapist!
This is very important - it is difficult enough to leave "The Movement", when you're psychologically "whole". If you feel you have to leave "The Movement" and your psyche is fragile in any respect, the results can be devastating. Please don't hesitate, as I did, to get help.
I know from experience that any ex-member that contributes to this newsgroup is more than willing to help. The REVEAL Web Site is an excellent source for information. If you're looking for a sympathetic soul, please feel free to contact me by private E-Mail and I'll try to refer you to those that can help.
©1997 by Catherine O'Neill <firstname.lastname@example.org>. All rights reserved.