My journey for mental wellness continues. Ever since I was a young boy, church attendance has been a consistent part of my life. Except when illness, pain, or military duty kept me away, I’ve attended every week. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t go simply because I didn’t want to go.
PTSD and Church Attendance
I didn’t go today though. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I don’t feel up to it. Though not what you would normally think of when I say “illness,” my mental state (mental illness) kept me home today. This has happened before, but today is easier for me to explain why. Hopefully it is easier for some to understand.
With my PTSD I will often find myself having a moment of panic about the “what if’s” of a certain location. It’s happened at football games, restaurants, choir concerts, Thanksgiving Point, anywhere and everywhere, even at church.
What if a gunman comes running through that door? What if a car starts running people over? What if that bus explodes? What if someone grabs one of the kids? What if some kids come through with knives? What if… ? What if… ? What if…?
My own thought processes tell me those thing won’t happen. Or at least that the odds of them happening are so small that I shouldn’t be bothered by them at all. The same thoughts that YOU have about these things are usually what I have too. But sometimes the PTSD is stronger than that, and reason goes out the window.
But sometimes those things DO happen. The attacks with knives, cars, guns, bombs… those do happen at times, and so it makes me even more prone to the moments of panic.
And last week it did again. I assume if you are reading this that you know about the shooting at the Texas church house. 26 dead, countless affected. Families torn asunder. Unimaginable pain and grief.
Because of the regularity with which I’m at church services (where as I’m almost never in restaurants or football games), church is one of the more common panic inducing thoughts/locations that I have. So when it does happen in real life, even if its a thousand miles away, I’m not really in a good mental position to head back to my own church house.
After a night filled with more nightmares, I made the conscious decision not to go to church today. I don’t ever “know” when a moment of panic will occur, but for some reason I just felt more vulnerable than normal today. Is that excusable? Does that make me less faithful of a Christian? Will my friends think less of me for admitting it? Is it as acceptable to stay home because of mental illness as it is for a physical illness? Would you judge me more harshly (in your opinion of me) for this slip in my church attendance?