When I was 19, I had a Spiritual and Psychological Breakdown in Manchester New Hampshire

View of Elm Street, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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When I first got captivated by Jesus, I had absolutely no “Sunday school” type of teaching to wrestle with.  So I really became a total zealot at first, at the age of 18, and coming out of a party lifestyle.  I felt like I had to preach at everyone, including my poor parents, who put up with me condemning everything they had raised me to be, and trying to blast the fear of hell into them.

Since my attitude got disputed so much by both my parents and friends of the time, who seemed to act with far more kindness, I pretty much gave up at trying to be a zealous Christian.  I started to buy into a lot of New Age teachings, which seemed to bring people more peace than I had at the time.  I didn’t really have any Jesus followers in my life to tell me different, so I gave up on ‘trying’ to be Christian for at least a year.  The fact that I was ‘trying’ to be a Christian proves how little I understood the gospel or Jesus Himself.

I got into Buddhism, Astrology, Hinduism and Native American Spirituality.  I began to believe in weird omens, revelations and epiphanies.  The Native American spiritual book I was reading told me that spiders were a symbol of jealousy…  Once I was trying to get a date with this girl who my friend liked.  We were all in the same room together.  It was just the girl, my friend and I.  A spider shot itself down from the ceiling on a spider web string right in my friend’s face!  Creepy stuff man!

I used to do Yoga and meditation every day too.  I totally believed that it was making me feel peaceful and centered, and to some extent that was true.  I was doing it the most during a time in my life when I lived in Manchester, New Hampshire.  I can’t explain why I specifically chose New Hampshire, I just really dug the east coast.  I moved out there when I was nineteen to go to a junior college, because they had dorms, and it would give me a chance to get away from Ohio and all the whacky friends that would probably drag me down.  It was my chance to get a fresh start.

I thought that New Hampshire would be an escape from bad influence.  When I came in for my first day in the dorms, my R.A. offered me a bong rip!  Also, the college was a renovated part of an old, abandoned shoe factory next to a Velcro factory that spewed plastic smoke into the sky all day out of a smokestack.  It contained a select group of young people coming out of the ghettoes of New York and Boston.  People were blowing coke there, and getting in crazy fights.  Onetime someone punched the glass out of a window and bled all over the hallway.  Another time someone was threatening people in the dorms with a gun.  This sheltered, Upper Middle class white boy was totally freaked out in that scenario!

So I meditated a lot to keep peace.  I did it at least an hour a day.  I remember I used to do it, and I would hear people yelling and screaming at each other the whole time.  I would finish my meditation… all filled with peace.  Then someone would get in a fight in the hallway again.  I’d be all mad and throw a temper tantrum, cussing society out at the top of my lungs for everyone to hear.  I sometimes thought maybe Buddha meant that the “middle way” he spoke of was to go from one extreme to the other.  But one thing I knew is that all the spiritual stuff I was doing wasn’t working well.  It could have been immaturity on my part.  Yet I was getting mixed, confusing, contradictory messages.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead told me to find peace and holiness by separating myself from culture’s influence through methods of isolation and pacifism.  Astrology told me to seek out people who I was cosmically aligned with.  And granted, many things I learned were ethically good.  But generally, I was distraught.

One time in New Hampshire, I put myself totally over the edge.  I got a job at a bakery, working 30 hours a week, while taking 18 credit hours of class.  I was traveling all over New England in my car every chance I got with my buddy Joel.  He lived in Boston but didn’t own a car so I’d always have to drive into the city 40 minutes there and back and pick him up.  I was operating on a steady diet of health food, caffeine and Zen meditation, and trying to keep myself pure even in the crazy situation of all the madness, drug use, crime and sex going on all around me at the abandoned shoe factory Junior College.

I was working a long shift one night at the bakery, and was totally worn out and overwhelmed with all I was doing.  My body basically shut down in the middle of trying to work the bread line and serve customers.  My chest got real tight and I felt like I couldn’t think straight or even move my limbs.  I sat on the floor in the middle of my shift and started begging my manger for help.  I called my poor parents and told them that I thought I was dying of a heart attack, and that I was going to the hospital as soon as I could.  I begged my manager to call the ambulance, and he refused.  He just gave me a $20 bill and told me to call a cab myself.  I looked up a Taxi company in the phone book, and told them where I was.  I went out into the parking lot and waited for the cab, and for the first time in a little while, I looked up into the sky and began to pray to God, not really sure if He was there or not, but nonetheless asking Him to make everything all right.  I felt like He was speaking into my conscience at that time, and reminding me that my pursuits were heading towards a dead end once again.

I got a taxi ride to the hospital and found that there was nothing wrong with me at all, it was just the effects of stress on my body (and some serious hypochondria!).  I went back and immediately quit my gig at the bakery, shoved a butt-load of Chinese food down my throat and into my guts, then went home and crashed like a rock.

If I understood at the time, I would have “kept myself in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of (my) Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life” as the 21st verse of Jude’s letter says.  But instead, I got “anxious” about foolish things.  No wonder why it was natural for God to slow me down, because I was trying to be super human.  No wonder why my body quit on me- because it wasn’t made to take that kind of strain.

False teachings are false because don’t work out consistently in life.  Every type of wrong teaching will always have blaring inconsistencies…holes that can be poked in their logic.  The reason I believe the Bible now is because the more I read it, the more it pokes holes in my logic.

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2 thoughts on “When I was 19, I had a Spiritual and Psychological Breakdown in Manchester New Hampshire

  1. I remember those days very well. Your trips to Boston or when we left the area were your breaks away from the madness.
    It was a wild ride.

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