Thoughts

This is a post which discusses religion, penance and mental illness.

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I began to  practice penance when I was eleven.  I would make a small sacrifice.

I feel that these acts did bring me closer to God.  I would feel very quiet, and sobered by my sacrifice.

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These were small acts, such as denying myself a treat.

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At thirteen, I began to experience serious mental health difficulties.  My acts of penance became more extreme.

I hoped that God would make me better, and might listen to me if I suffered in this way.

I did not realise it, but I was slipping into self-harming.

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I thought that if I punished myself, God might set me free from this illness.  I was trying to bargain with God.

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This type of penance did not work in any way.  I did not feel better, or close to God.

I had crossed the line into self-harm.

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When I came out of this period, I avoided penance as I feared slipping into self-harming behaviours.

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I still think penance can bring me closer to God, but only small acts, such as praying and reading religious literature instead of watching a movie.

Anything more extreme would not help me in my spiritual life.

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