Wishing everyone a happy 2023.
Happy December, everyone!
I have talked about how my Christian Science parents taught me that “Santa Claus isn’t real,” because “we don’t lie to our children.” See “Santa Claus Isn’t Coming to Town.” When I was a bona-fide Christian Scientist, I was one of the biggest champions of the message, “Christmas is about Jesus’ birth! Tell everyone!”
After leaving Christian Science, I thought I became Pagan. I learned of the celebration of “Yule,” on December 21. I have since learned more things and realized I don’t want to celebrate “Yule,” because I think I understand now that it’s a Wiccan thing, and I am not Wiccan. Last year, we celebrated the Winter Solstice, which I will continue to do, and for me, it’s separate from Yule.
My beliefs have changed many times now, and every year, I sit back and re-evaluate what’s important to me. I have done this annual evaluation – since my kids were younger. We even evaluated which Christmas ornaments we liked in our collection, donating the ones we didn’t like, keeping the ones we did.
This year, I finalized a divorce from my kids’ dad. Both of my kids are in their late teens and have chosen to stay at their dad’s house due to good Internet access and their friends being there. I could no longer afford rent in that area and have chosen to move to a different state and start a new life where things are much more affordable for me.
I am flying my kids to see my family in a few days, and we will have an early celebration without a name to it. I will have our little ceramic light-up tree, and stockings I bought for them, filled with things. I am also making all their favorite seasonal cookies.
My larger family (all Christian Scientists) will be there the next day, and we’ll have a big Christmas celebration, opening gifts to each other and having brunch and a special evening meal after spending a day together. That will be a lot of fun.
On the actual Christmas Day, I think it will just be my partner and me and my dogs, like it is every other day of the year. I’m expecting we may have a nice meal we think up (for Thanksgiving this year, my partner grilled us nice steaks, and I made us mashed potatoes and cookies). It’s nice to do things simply, and just focus on who you are with and what is going right in our life right now, rather than having to fuss and work and stress about making it a perfect holiday like we remember when we were kids.
I am making enough Christmas cookies to share with my larger family, my partner’s larger family, and my neighbors. It is fun to just go to homes and wish them a happy day and share cookies. I look forward to doing that with my local neighbors one of these days.
On the Winter Solstice, I will probably still go out and see the sunset. I live in a tiny house now, and don’t have a fireplace or a firepit. So I’ll probably light a candle and maybe burn some tracing paper that has my wishes on it. We shall see. Fire safety is super important to me, I do not want to start a wildfire, so I am always extremely cautious when lighting a candle or a fire. One year, we whispered our wishes into pine cones and placed the pine cones back where we found them, for fae folk to carry our wishes forward. Maybe I will do that this year, too. Who knows. We shall see.
I invite you to consider figuring out what works for you each holiday season, and what doesn’t work for you. Do what you love and don’t do so much that you stress badly about it.
Will you please leave a comment with something you love to do during this season? I would love to see what others do this time of year.
I send you wonderful light and joy for this holiday season!
The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving, as well as a few passages from The Bible and Science and Health. The service is then opened to the congregation for them to share ‘testimonies of healing and sharing of experiences in Christian Science.’
The following are testimonies from Ex-Christian Scientists, as they give thanks for having left Christian Science. Thank you all for your contributions!
We at The Ex-Christian Scientist offer no readings, or lengthy proclamations, merely our sincerest thanks for everyone who has contributed to our efforts. We do not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling.
This “Thanksgiving” (which I now observe as an Indigenous day of mourning), I’m so grateful to live in reality — having escaped from the cult of Christian Science (I was 4th generation) and its toxic, nonsense, magical thinking. Cult recovery and C-PTSD healing are a long road, especially when all my current health problems as an adult are the direct results of childhood medical and emotional neglect and abuse at the hands of my CS parents and grandparents, as well as adults at CS camp, school and boarding house, and my CS ex-spouse. But I’m so thankful now for the ability to see all that horrific abuse for what it was, to know that CS has always been pure evil, and to know it will never again have a place in any part of my life, my heart, or my body — all of which are very real. I only wish I believed in hell, because Mary Baker Eddy certainly deserves to burn for all eternity, but thankfully death and destruction are also real. I hope and pray that CS, TMC, branch churches, camps, schools, “nursing” facilities, etc. all follow her as soon as humanly possible. Amen.
There are many things I am grateful for (including the word ‘grateful’ that I am working to reclaim from Christian Science). Among the best decisions I ever made was to finally leave Christian Science after spending the first 42 years of my life swimming around in what I call the ‘Krazy Sauce’. My gratitude for having left Christian Science came clearly into focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. I can’t even begin to imagine the inner conflict I would have felt in having to deal with a pandemic that could not be denied, in the face of a faith that would have demanded that I deny it despite the public health mandates that would have demanded that I acknowledge at least some sort of “pandemic reality”. I am grateful that I effortlessly, and without even a second thought, received an entire course of the COVID-19 vaccine (I have had the initial two shots, plus two boosters). As a Christian Scientist, I would have been in the deepest mental and emotional turmoil even just getting the jab in the arm or wearing a mask. Not having to work through the cognitive dissonance that Christian Science theology imposes while dealing with the undeniable reality of a pandemic, is also something I am tremendously grateful for. I’m also grateful that I do not have to sit in idle boredom, listening to readings from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures anymore.
It is wonderful to be a part of this special, annual service. I am so grateful to read all the testimonies from those of us who left Christian Science. It brings me so much joy to find community with folks who have found freedom.
I feel so thankful today for having left Christian Science. My life has become amazing after realizing Christian Science was all an elaborate hoax.
I left Christian Science almost a decade ago now. I launched on a big self-healing journey: I walked away from my god, my church, my friends, my community, my still-in-CS family (thankfully I have mended fences with my family; I love them very much). After that, I walked away from my marriage. I am in a new relationship with MYSELF! I am finally doing things that make me feel happy – like writing books, and cooking good food. I wasn’t able to do those things while trapped in previous circumstances.
I am also finally taking care of my body. I have had to play “catch up” with medical care. Having had zero vaccinations growing up, I have had to go to the local Health Department where I live to get vaccines for all the things. I am so grateful to the health care folks there who can figure out my doses.
I just got my Shingles vaccine, and next week I get my first shot for Polio. I also want to say I am grateful for mundane things that symbolize that I am human and happy – I love my morning cup of black tea with vanilla creamer. I love taking my daily medicines that help control my heart rate and my migraines. I love being able to take pain relief pills when I need them.
I love being in a new relationship with someone who takes care of me when I am sick. I love being in a relationship that gives me all the affection I have been desperate for, my entire life. I get all the hugs and cuddles I ever wanted and never got. My human side is acknowledged every day, and honored for its basic needs. It’s quite fun, being human.
There are times when it’s terrible, too, though. I fight severe anxiety and depression every day. More and more, I am starting to win that battle.
I want to express one more thing I am thankful for – ice cream. I am starting to buy a new flavor every time I need to buy ice cream. I am having so much fun trying all the flavors of ice cream. There are so many – and I love most of them. It is so delightful to take pleasure in a taste. Tasting matter. Matter is real and so enjoyable. There – I said it.
I am so grateful to be finding pleasure and happiness in my life, now that I fully acknowledge that matter is actually real and tangible. Happy Thanksgiving!
It wasn’t until I left CS that I could truly heal and come into my own. I gradually moved away from CS in my early 20s. Finding a (psychological) therapist and going on appropriate medication for me was life-changing. Imagine being able to take Advil for a budding migraine and that migraine not really appear! How wonderful that an SSRI can help with the crippling anxiety that prayer was utterly ineffective against. I now have a wonderful husband, child, and career, and I know I couldn’t have done it with CS! I am so grateful!
I am so grateful for modern medicine. My father had a knee replacement this summer that has allowed him increased mobility and independence as he heals. My meds keep me healthy and sane on a daily basis. My sister and her family are able to travel around the world, because they are protected by the vaccinations and regions specific medications that their doctors were able to give them before they left. My son did not suffer any long-term complications from a head injury this fall, other than a scar on his eyelid! I am always uncomfortable, thinking about how all of these situations would have resolved if we were all still practicing Christian scientists.
As of this year I’ve been out of CS longer than I was in it. Every time I think I have it all out of my system I find another legacy of the collective make-believe that is CS. As annoying as that is, I’m grateful for the struggle to meet the world as it really is while getting to be and admit who I really am… and for benadryl.
Thank you everyone for your Thanksgiving Testimony contributions, this concludes our post. Should inspiration strike, the comment section will remain open for 30 days.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season. The ExCS Admin Team
Content Note: This article contains detailed descriptions of the symptoms and effects of a mental health condition that may be alarming to some readers. The Ex-Christian Scientist recommends that anyone who is dealing with a mental health condition seek qualified assistance and treatment.
I spent the majority of April 2003 with one foot in and one foot out of reality. I was just finishing up a three year journalism program and internship. During this time, I began feeling incredible anxiety, panic, and fear—unlike I had ever experienced before. I casually mentioned this to one of my professors, who told me to see the college’s therapist. This person was actually more like a guidance counselor than someone with the qualifications of a licensed therapist. She strongly advised me to see a doctor.
I was raised in Christian Science since birth, so the idea of visiting a physician to get a handle on this issue was completely foreign to me. Despite this, I came home from our session and decided to walk down the street to a plaza that had a walk-in medical clinic. I spent all of 10 minutes with the doctor, who barely listened to me before prescribing Paxil for anxiety and depression. Praxil is an extremely potent drug that was pulled in 2009 from distribution in the United States due to numerous lawsuits regarding tendencies for suicide, birth defects, as well as extreme withdrawal symptoms.
I took the Paxil as prescribed for a period of two weeks. During that time, I began experiencing some extreme symptoms, including hallucinations and grandiose ideas to the point of feeling omnipotent. I was already a considerable night owl due to my field of study, so my parents thought nothing of me hammering away on my computer and talking to people on the phone at all hours. They had no idea that I thought I was George W. Bush and that I considered my bedroom to be the Oval Office in the White House.
The people I was talking to at night weren’t really on the phone—I was having imaginary conversations with Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and every single United States president that preceded George W. Bush. We were busy, so I believed, with drafting up plans to capture the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. Meanwhile, in real life, I had been sending a bombardment of emails to classmates, friends, professors, and angry sources for prior interviews and stories I had written for local papers. I thought all of them were either members of my cabinet, senators, and/or ministers heading up various departments of my government. On the evening of April 27, 2003, “we” got a lead (or so I thought) pinpointing Bin Laden’s exact location. Our plan was to use sitcom stars and celebrities as CIA agents, and to send up the space shuttle to nuke the Bin Laden using a laser beam. If you think this sounds crazy, it was.
I hadn’t slept in two whole weeks and found myself in a complete crisis on April 28, 2003, which so happened to be my mother’s birthday. I woke my brother and parents up that morning telling them that my plan to kill Bin Laden had been leaked to the press and that we were all in mortal danger. I thought I could see the U.S. Capitol and White House through my window, and advised them not to venture outside because snipers were on the roof and the Secret Service would be showing up to evacuate everyone and take us by motorcade to my aunt’s street. I thought that Air Force One was there and we would head by air to an undisclosed location.
The next thing I knew, my parents lied to me and told me that the Secret Service had a new plan to allow them to drive me to the White House—a white house, but not the actual White House. They pulled up to the local emergency room and told the doctors exactly what had happened. The next thing I knew I had passed out in a holding room. I woke up with four psychiatrists standing over me, waiting to start an interview process which I thought at the time was more of an interrogation to figure out over the course of a 72 hour psychiatric hold exactly what mental illness I had. In the end, the chief of psychiatry at the hospital delivered my parents a verdict: I had bipolar disorder.
My father, who was a staunch Christian Scientist, and my mother—who was not, were in a state of shock and denial. My dad thought that the Paxil I was taking was the culprit, and once it was flushed out of my system completely, I would be fine and could go home. Both of my parents thought there was no way I could be mentally ill, and that the psychiatrist was way off with his assessment. They had never heard the term bipolar disorder before, and so began the process of him educating them about the disease. Neither of them felt I should be surrounded by people who could become violent at a moment’s notice who were on the same ward as I was. All my parents knew about mental illness was what clinical depression was, and about people who were wired wrong committing violent crimes that made the local news.
I spent three months in a psychiatric ward getting well. During my stay, I was required to attend a special program where patients did crafts, games, and above all, group counselling—where we had to talk about our problems on a daily basis. We had to do this before transitioning to the outside, and then do the same program daily as an out patient once released, until told otherwise. It was strongly drilled into me by the head of that program that leaving it was a bad idea.
I absolutely hated the program, and wanted no part of it. My father also felt it was detrimental to me because, as taught in Christian Science, people shouldn’t rehearse a problem and give it credibility—rather than denying the lie and focusing on who man “really was” as taught by Mary Baker Eddy, and drilled into me in Sunday School. He felt that others insisting that they or I was ill was a form of malpractice against me—delaying my healing in Christian Science. So, instead of going to the program, I was driven around in the car to give me something to do. I was often taken to a Christian Science Reading Room during my recovery so dad could do metaphysical work and pick up the latest Christian Science Journal.
While this was happening, my journalism career ended up in tatters after an editor lost an article that I had written a month before it was to be published. The article was fine and contained zero inaccuracies when it was initially sent to him. When this person lost my draft, he had me write another one up; but, now I was completely out of it, and had no recollection of what I had written having been in a mental health crisis in hospital. It ended up being printed a few days after I got out. They later retracted it after I quoted a source in the article inaccurately and couldn’t produce tape or notes for back-up.
My official graduation from college happened in June 2003—before I was released from the hospital. My doctor ended up putting me on enough medication, and with chaperones to attend with me, I received my diploma and returned to the ward that night. Unfortunately, I knew that everything I had worked for years to accomplish was now up in smoke, and nobody would employ me—or so I thought at the time. Once I was released, I did fine for six months before suffering a relapse.
While I don’t blame my parents for any of this, Christian Science played a huge part in them not knowing what bipolar disorder was. None of us knew the symptoms of the disease and its undercurrent of hypo-mania that had been leading up to an inevitable crisis for approximately 10 years prior. I had crippling depression and then bursts of happiness throughout these years, and constantly slid between both poles rapidly, with zero warning but without any delusions as a child. I also always twisted mild teasing from peers into something completely different and totally out of context.
I couldn’t relate to any of my peers whatsoever. I even had my arm broken by a classmate during recess one day. It was several months before I reached high school, when the school district wouldn’t allow me to enroll in a school that these classmates wouldn’t be in so I could have a fresh start. My parents home schooled me until I found a school offering equivalent of GED to adults. During this time, the school board insisted I see a doctor and counselor because they thought I could be mentally ill and that this was the cause of my problems. My dad took me to a doctor, thinking there was nothing wrong with me at all.
At the end of the discussion, she gave him card and referral to a psychiatrist. I remember my father getting into the car, rippling the card up and telling me this was the standard brush off and a way to dump a client they didn’t want. He still prayed for years in Christian Science to fix my social problems until everything came to a head in 2003—10 years later.
I mentioned earlier that my career was in tatters. The only good thing that came from this awful experience—that still impacts me daily—was a second chance. I was in total despair one day, and reached out to a friend who asked me if there was anything I wanted to do in journalism that I hadn’t achieved, or that involved writing for magazines or newspapers. I told her that I really wanted to be a film critic. We ended up finding a lead and a site that has published my interviews, features, and reviews for over 17 years now.
This work has led to guest appearances speaking about the Academy Awards and other film-related topics for U.S. and Canadian radio and television. I would have never had this opportunity without being diagnosed as bipolar, eventually following medical treatment to the letter, and ditching Christian Science completely; and having constant care under watchful eye of a psychiatrist for over two decades now. While there were numerous missed opportunities over the course of 10 years prior to experiencing my full blown psychiatric crisis, I do not blame my father or mother for anything that I experienced. My father didn’t know any better, and he followed Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings for 60 years until his passing from terminal cancer in 2021. He believed, as I did until my crisis, that the TRUTH contained in her writings and teachings could heal any disease—including mine. When it couldn’t it devastated him.
My father was never the same afterwards, and blamed his genetics for everything I experienced with the disease. Our relationship became somewhat fractured, as he could see that the same traits within himself—with constant rapid cycles of depression, horrible temperament, and twisting of what others said. My psychiatrist believed strongly that he had an undiagnosed type of bipolar disorder, minus the delusions, for all of his adult life. While I got helped by modern medicine, he never took those steps for himself because of Christian Science. It is a fact I cannot change, and I continue to grapple with it every moment of every day.
By Geoffrey D. Roberts
Ask a NurseThe ExCS site has teamed with a registered nurse and paramedic with a background in healthcare education and public health. Married to a former-CS, the Nurse would like to share their experience with the healthcare system, and answer any questions former-CS may have! The Nurse will NOT get involved in diagnosing or giving medical advice, but if there are questions folks have related to going to a doctor, explaining medical terminology, how to advocate for yourself in healthcare, and so on, they might have a perspective that can help.
tl;dr To get your first polio vaccine, you’ll want to contact your doctor or your local health department for more information. Links at the bottom of the post.
HOWEVER, the assumption is adults are all vaccinated (at least for polio), so adult healthcare providers don’t routinely administer the polio vaccine, and often don’t know what to do.
Recently there’s been a case of polio reported in Rockland County New York, just north of New York City, leading to questions on how to get vaccinated. Polio is a virus that can cause paralysis, most famously in US President Franklin Roosevelt. With the advent of a vaccine however, polio has nearly been eradicated (in 2021 there were 6 reported cases worldwide). To prevent a resurgence (like in measles), vaccination is key. Typically, the vaccination schedule is a 4-dose regiment beginning at age 2 months and culminating between age 4-6 years (for unvaccinated adults it’s a 3-dose regiment).
In the United States, the Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine that has been used since 2000. It is given by shot in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age. What this essentially means is the polio virus is injected into the person, but the virus is dead, or inactivated. As a result, there’s no risk of actually contracting polio, but the person’s body develops immunity to protect from future exposure of a live polio virus. This video series from Khan Academy is very useful in explaining polio and the vaccine in further detail: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/nclex-rn/rn-infectious- diseases/rn-polio/a/what-is-polio
The risk of serious complications related to the vaccine are very low, however the complications from getting polio can be quite debilitating. As a colleague of mine once put it, “vaccines are arguably the greatest invention in human history.” They have prevented untold numbers of deaths and life-long injuries. In adults, polio can be fatal in 15-30% of patients who suffer paralytic effects. The vaccine protects against those effects.
If you grew up in a family that subscribed to a belief that medicine was unnecessary, you might not have been vaccinated. The question now is, how does one get vaccinated as an adult? The simple advice, at least in the US, is to call your doctor and get vaccinated by following the schedule on the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The schedule posted by the CDC for adults who have never been vaccinated states adults should receive 3 doses along the following timeline:
That said, finding somewhere to get vaccinated as an adult isn’t as straightforward as one might assume. I’ve spent the last few days calling public health departments around the United States, calling private doctors offices, urgent cares, you get the idea. I’ve also reached out to colleagues of mine, one of whom is a vaccine and infectious disease expert, to get help. Nobody has great answers for me. Getting the polio vaccine as an adult, at least in the United States, should not be this hard! The assumption is adults are all vaccinated. As a result, adult healthcare providers don’t routinely administer the polio vaccine, so don’t know what to do, and pediatricians don’t know what to tell adults…
I wanted to get this post up so you’d at least have somewhere to start, but I’m going to keep working on this question. If I get answers and can update this post, I absolutely will. In the meantime, the best advice I have is to call your local public health department and explain your situation. Below are a few links to credible resources you can share with healthcare providers.
List of US state health departments:
Information for Canadian residents:
World Health Organization information:
Information on polio and the polio vaccine through the CDC:
Updated to add – If you are unsure of your vaccination status
Your doctor should be able to order blood tests which should be able to detect if you’ve been vaccinated or if you’ve already had the disease.
You can also try to find immunization records: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/vaccination-records.html