I think it was in 5th grade. I was ferociously bullied by another girl in my school, my private tiny Christian school in a church. The solution to the bullying: pray about it. I have no idea what was done on the disciplinary end for this other girl, but I have this distinct memory of me, our teacher, the principal and the two of us standing in a circle, holding hands in the classroom at recess time, and the principal praying to God to make us friends, or something like that. I remember thinking at the time how ineffective it was going to be. And it was. She continued to bully me for the rest of our time together at that school.
I don’t even know why I was at that school. My family isn’t religious. I think it was because it was a better school, I was smart, it gave me a better start. When I went to middle school in 7th grade, rather than 6th like the rest of the public school kids, I knew nobody. I had skipped everything about greek and roman mythology because those were “false gods” and of course, we didn’t learn about those. I was lost.
More than that, those are my first real memories of having seizures. I was totally lost in many ways. I was lost in a big new school where I had to move around each time the bell rang. I didn’t know where anything was. I didn’t know who anyone was. I remember walking around the quad aimlessly between classes, being approached by the principal who helped me find out where I was going. I remember the stress of that time. I remember that I started my period the day before (beautiful timing, thanks puberty). I don’t know if believing in God would have helped at all, but I do remember, that I didn’t anymore.
In high school, we had to do a research project about a topic of our choice. I chose to do mine on why people believe in God. It was interesting, and I still remember the interviews I did with many people. I was young, and if I did it now, I would probably ask more questions. The funny thing is, I was going to do it on autism, since my cousin’s son was just diagnosed – I contact a school in the area and they never called me back. I had no idea at the time that I would end up in my line of work or having the passion that I do.
This all ties together. I continue to not believe in God, not in a traditional way anyway. I don’t believe that God would give some people disabilities such as autism or epilepsy. Some say that this is to test our faith or to teach us perseverance. But I don’t know that it matters. I want nothing else than just to be normal, just to not have to take drugs for the rest of my life. I know that it’s a part of who I am, and I am still coming to terms with that, but I don’t think that it’s right, and certainly not something that a God should or would bestow on someone. And my sort of disability is mild to say the least compared to so many out there.
I do believe in the randomness of biology and science. I believe that the cells in my brain morphed somehow to give me this disorder. I believe that science is real, is true, and that is where my faith most deeply lies. I believe in behavioral science, I hold so much trust there. Maybe this is my God, my faith, my rock. This brings up the question of what is God. That’s not where I’m going with this. I’m just stating an opinion, a story.
So this is my story in a nutshell. When I was 8 or 9, my teachers and this bully convinced me that praying was pointless. When I was 10 or 11, my brain started to disappear on me. When I was 14, I began to understand that. When I was 17 I started to investigate the “why” of all of this. When I was 18 I began to understand the theory of behavioral science, of natural science, and began my search and discovery of my new form of faith. When I was 28, my world fell apart and I am even starting to question my faith in science.
This year, science has been failing me. The medication that is supposed to heal my brain, to keep my mind under control is failing me. I’m returning to that moment in the classroom when my teachers prayed around me hoping that it would help. I am desperately seeking the help of doctors, scientists, to help me keep my faith. But it’s not working. I am continuing to have seizures, medications continue to provide me with side effects that make day-to-day living painful, frustrating and give me a feeling of hopelessness. I will continue to work with these scientists because right now, that is my faith. I have faith that there is something out there that will work. That will keep me in control of my mind. But my faith is starting to falter.
I’m becoming lost again, and I’m grasping to find something that will help me find my way. And unfortunately, like so many medications that have failed me thus far, “God” will not be what I return to. Not yet anyhow.
**Note: PLEASE PLEASE for those who read this who have a strong faith in God, do not try to convince me otherwise. This is not that forum; this is not what I am looking for. I don’t want to have that conversation. I’m not trying to tell you that I disagree with you or that I think believe in God is bad, it’s very good in fact, if it works for you. I just want my voice to be heard. I want control over my mind, my thoughts, my world.