Some of you may have heard me use this phrase, “be kind to yourself”, quite a lot in my blogs and YouTube videos. It’s an extension of my reasoning behind why I am now involved in activism. For years I would make my life harder by expecting too much of myself and expecting perfection. As a Jehovah’s Witness we are taught to keep busy doing the work that Watchtower deems acceptable, preaching, distributing literature, studying said literature, attending meetings where said literature is studied, etc. You are taught that it is bad not to be always active. This is part of the reason why for many, and especially for those of us with physical and mental health problems, living the life of a Jehovah’s Witness is an impossible, gruelling and, ultimately destructive, lifestyle. I try to pace myself, but the guilt that I feel when I take time to myself to recuperate my mental and physical health is, at times, crushing.
This time, things have to be different. This time I am embarking on a course that is important to my heart and soul. A course that will take me into direct conflict with the Watchtower organisation, by doing my best to raise awareness of their damaging and abusive policies. This time I can’t afford to burn out too quickly. I don’t want to. I want this to be a continuing journey for me to help others awaken and hopefully start to heal, and, in the process, to help myself heal. Another thing that I say often, which is almost a mantra for me is this:
You are not alone
You are worthy of love
Your feelings are valid
I tell this to others all the time, but it’s very hard to listen to your own advice and to believe it. The past few days have been very difficult for me for a number of reasons. Partly because the accumulative effect of intensively studying the Watchtower literature since the beginning of this year suddenly after so many years of avoiding it has brought on some of the more troubling symptoms of my C-PTSD. I am having panic attacks and night terrors. These never go away but they had lessened. However, I will not stop, I shall learn to manage my time and my mental health better. I will not be controlled by the Watchtower organisation any more. My mind is my own and I shall not let their insidious teachings grind me down emotionally.
I felt the need to write this blog as I shall be taking a few days to recharge my emotional and mental batteries. I have so many ideas for YouTube videos that I want to explore: some satirical music videos, some doctrinal discussions and some videos giving my thoughts on the Watchtower’s endless stream of video propaganda. I am very keen to do all of these things, but I now know that I can’t do them all at once. I don’t have superpowers, nor do I want them. A wonderful fellow ex-JW Twitter user, Katherine Rogers quoted my tweet when I announced my intention to take last weekend away from social media. Her words are very powerful:
It takes someone else to point out the obvious sometimes. We aren’t in crisis mode! There is no deadline! I’m not in a cult now, I can take my time, this activism of mine will be here as an ongoing project for as long as I want it to be. I think sometimes, in our passion to ensure as many people as possible have access to accurate information about the Watchtower organisation and the damaging belief system of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s easy to lose sight of oneself and ones family. I cannot afford to do anything to the detriment of myself or of them. But in years gone by my ability to see clearly as to what was an acceptable balance was severely compromised due to my upbringing. Being brought up to believe that anything is more important than your family is incredibly damaging. It limits your ability to view your family as paramount, which they should be.
I’m not going anywhere, I’m still on social media and will respond, I shall still be making YouTube videos and blogging. I’m just going to slow myself down, to retrain my brain to understand that I don’t need to be going at break-neck speed in order to be effective. Every time I write something, or make a video I have this urge for it to be perfect. I research so much background information before I allow anything to be written or said, unless I’m purely voicing my experience or opinion. This insistence has made it impossible for me maintain the momentum of releasing videos or blog posts with the frequency that I have done so over the past couple of months. To enable me to continue with my activism, I have decided not to put deadlines in place for myself and to allow myself to complete blogs and videos at a more sedate pace.
Also, do not fear, for those of you who are big fans of the Ex-JW Sisters website, this is not going anywhere! I shall still be running it and publishing blog posts from our bloggers. I’m actually very happy with the progress that this little project of mine has made over the past couple of months and hope to see it grow and flourish more over time.
Finally, thank you all so much for your love and support. I have received more love, kindness and understanding from the ex-JW community than I ever did as a Jehovah’s Witness. You all need to know how much I treasure and appreciate every expression of love and support that I have received.
Thank you for reading my blog.
 Complex post-traumatic stress disorder – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/complex/