The story that has impacted my life the most is my husband’s story.
He and I met when he was 28 (I was 25) and it was basically love at first sight. After 3 weeks of dating he told me that he had been addicted to pornography/masturbation since he was 13. He told me about the self-loathing he felt after being told over and over for 15 years that he was unworthy. He told me about the suicide attempt at 15 and how he dropped out of high school (he got a GED later). He told me about how he had to BEG his Stake President to allow him to go to the temple so that he could go on a mission, because a year of Bishop counseling and trying and failing to stop masturbating did not fix him.
I did not understand the severity of the impact his addiction (and shaming) had had on him until we were married for a few years. He would get so depressed that all he would do was sleep all day and would be an emotionless shell for days at a time. I had to learn the questions to ask: Are you considering suicide? Do you have a suicide plan? Do you have the materials you need to carry out the plan? The answers were always: I am always considering suicide–the thought never leaves my mind, I have a few ideas, No I don’t have all I would need to carry it out–yet. At first he only had episodes like this once a year or so, and they lasted a few days. Eventually they started happening more frequently and they would last longer.
His second suicide attempt was In January 2013. He was sent (by the police) to the same mental health facility that he had been forced to go to after his first attempt at 15, and it was so awful for him that he attempted suicide a third time while he was inside the facility. He just wanted to die and he was so mad that everyone was trying to stop him. Meanwhile I was home with our 6-week old son.
He was always the most angry and depressed after church and especially after general conference. They preached shame from the pulpit and he never got a break from it. Once every 7 days (at least) he was reminded that he was worthless because of his addiction, and that he clearly wasn’t faithful enough because by this point he had been dealing with it for over 20 years.
The summer of 2016 was the summer when we decided to divorce (even though we still loved each other) so that he would finally be able to kill himself without the guilt of leaving a family in the lurch. My son was still young enough that the impact on him would not be as great as if he committed suicide later (it was inevitable, after all). I had finally accepted that I loved him too much to force him to stay on this earth with all of his pain. Thankfully this plan never came to fruition.
About two months after the decision to NOT get divorced, we decided to leave the Mormon church. It was for many many reasons and I honestly didn’t see the connection at the time between the church and his depression and suicide ideation. It has now been close to a year and a half since we chose to leave the church, and my husband has not had any significant episodes of depression or suicidal ideation during that time. It is the first time in our 10-year marriage that HE (and therefore WE) are truly truly happy. He has decided to go back to school to get a better job. We actually talk about growing old–a subject I always avoided because I knew that he wouldn’t make it that long. I am so sad that it took 26 years of shaming and self-loathing for him to get to this point, but I am so glad that he made it.