I WAS BORN IN 1969 and raised as a Jehovah's Witness. Over a period of 33 years (1986-2019) I served as a regular pioneer,1A baptised Jehovah's Witness who spends at least 70 hours each month preaching door-to-door and on the streets with the aim of converting people to join their religion. Pioneers are unpaid and usually support themselves financially by only working part-time. a ministerial servant,2A baptised male who serves as a helper to the congregation elders. A ministerial servant's duties are usually more secular than spiritual, although some more experienced ministerial servants may share with the elders in teaching the congregation. and eventually as an elder.3Elders are responsible for the spiritual teaching and shepherding of the congregation. They are similar to pastors or vicars in other religions. Only men can be elders or ministerial servants. In 2004 I identified as an anointed Christian.4Someone who has been born again of the Holy Spirit. Unlike other Christian denominations, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 Christians are anointed and go to heaven. They teach that all other Jehovah's Witnesses will live forever on a paradise earth after Jesus has killed all non-JWs at Armageddon.

During my time as a Jehovah's Witness, I endured a challenging journey marked by acute symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (c-PTSD) and Bipolar Disorder. These mental health struggles were the direct consequence of the intense situational stressors I encountered, stemming from a web of trauma encompassing sexual, mental, and spiritual abuse within both my personal life and the confines of the cult I was ensnared in. The emotional toll of these experiences was immense, and it left an indelible mark on my mental well-being, emphasizing the crucial importance of addressing the profound psychological ramifications of religious and personal trauma—something I was unable to do until I left the cult.

Despite my ongoing struggles with deteriorating mental health, my journey within Jehovah's Witnesses took a distressing turn when I faced disfellowshipping5Disfellowshipping is an extreme form of excommunication, which involves being completely shunned by all Jehovah's Witnesses including family and friends. A person is disfellowshipped if they commit a sin considered to be "serious" and if they are not deemed repentant. Three elders in a closed-door meeting called a "judicial hearing" decide whether the person should be disfellowshipped or not. not once, but twice. My first disfellowshipping occurred between 2006 and 2009, casting me into a world of isolation due to my family and friends shunning me. I was reinstated in 2009 for the sake of my children, only to experience the heart-wrenching ordeal of disfellowshipping once again in 2019. These painful and traumatic experiences have added layers of complexity to my mental health journey and underscore the profound impact that religious shunning can have on an individual's well-being.

In 2019, following my second and final departure from the Jehovah's Witnesses, I found myself driven to the point of attempting suicide by the harsh effects of Watch Tower's mandated shunning policy and the agony of parental alienation. Since that dark time, I have embarked on an arduous journey of healing and reconstruction, forging a new path in life free of Jehovah's Witnesses. Today, I can genuinely say I've discovered happiness and contentment surpassing any I've experienced before.

Today, I identify as being "spiritual but not religious," with a particular inclination toward Pandeism and Advaitism. While I have distanced myself from formal religious affiliations, my journey of self-discovery persists as I explore my intrinsic spirituality, seeking truth, peace, and purpose outside the bounds of organised religion.

I started OnionUnlimited as a podcast to share my personal journey of healing and rebuilding after exiting Jehovah's Witnesses. What began as a narrative of self-discovery, resilience, and personal transformation has evolved to encompass a broader range of subjects related to truth. Today, OnionUnlimited delves into the realms of spirituality, philosophy, and science, exploring the profound intersections where these facets of knowledge converge. Through its diverse range of topics and insightful discussions, OnionUnlimited continues to delve into the intricate dimensions of truth, highlighting its multifaceted nature, and offering a thought-provoking and enlightening experience for its audience.

Daniel Torridon