Categories
Ink Slingers Liz Spiritual Growth

God Wants You to Get Help

God Wants You to Get Help
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In a recent conversation with a friend, she confided in me she had been suffering for an extended period of time from what she suspected was depression. Her family had requested she see a professional, but she was hesitant.
 
“At what point do I turn to a doctor and feel as though I’ve betrayed my Healer?” she asked.
 
This question is echoed all too frequently by Catholics with mood disorders. Fueled in equal parts by anxiety, pop spirituality, and true faith, we begin to believe the sweet-sounding lies the world tells us about Christians: good ones are always cheerful, favored ones are always happy, and authentic ones rely on no one but God. 
 
“He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to,” we hear the crowd chant. So defeated, condemned, exhausted and broken, we retreat into our illness, waiting for the miracle we have come to believe is the only moral form of healing. 
 
But what does our Catholic faith really say about healing? In 2009, while tackling the issue of New Age therapies like Reiki, the U.S. Bishops wrote these wise words

“Because it is possible to be healed by divine power does not mean that we should not use natural means at our disposal. It is not our decision whether or not God will heal someone by supernatural means. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, the Holy Spirit sometimes gives to certain human beings ‘a special charism of healing so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord.’ This power of healing is not at human disposal, however, for ‘even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses.’ Recourse to natural means of healing therefore remains entirely appropriate, as these are at human disposal. In fact, Christian charity demands that we not neglect natural means of healing people who are ill.”

Deciding at what point to seek help for a serious mental illness is an intensely personal decision. But “never” is always the wrong answer. Good Catholics can get depressed. Favored daughters will still go through trials. Christian authenticity means submitting to Christ’s healing work in your life, even when He works through your doctor. And that crowd you keep hearing? It’s fueled by the devil himself, as it was 2,000 years ago, and it wants you to stay pinned to that cross. 
 
Below are a few of my own physical, mental and spiritual warning signs that tell me it’s time to think about getting help. What are yours? 
 
Physical
  • Insomnia
  • Exhaustion to the point of inability to do everyday tasks
  • Extreme neglect of self-care like showering, brushing hair or teeth, or wearing clean clothes
  • Intense food cravings 
  • Vivid, disturbing dreams
Mental
  • Consistent, prolonged lack of creativity; perpetual “writer’s block”
  • Feeling as if everyone dislikes me or is judging me 
  • Inability to mentally recover from small setbacks
  • Feeling guilty or angry whenever I find myself happy
  • Soaking up the negative emotions of others
Spiritual
  • Scrupulosity: feeling like every mistake I make is damning
  • Feeling as if God is punishing me with sadness 
  • Feeling as if I deserve all of the negative things that I experience
  • Inability to ever derive happiness or solace from prayer 
  • Despair 
911 Symptoms (Get help NOW)
  • Self harm (cutting, starving oneself, seeking out dangerous situations, etc.)  
  • Near-literal inability to get out of bed for work, Mass, or family 
  • Intrusive, unbidden thoughts of injury, death, or going to Heaven or Hell
  • Temptations to suicide 

RESOURCES

DBSA {Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance}

NAMI {National Alliance of Mental Illness}

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE

MTHFR {genetic mutation associated with depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia}

BOOK: The Catholic Guide to Depression by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

Review of The Catholic Guide to Depression

Categories
Holy Days of Obligation

In Defense of Halloween

Amongst Christians there is a debate on whether it is fine or demonic to participate in Halloween. I’ve watched a few videos of Christians explaining to me how Halloween – costumes, pumpkins, trick or treating, even the date, all have pagan and demonic roots and should be avoided by true Christians. Also, these videos will tie the Catholic feast days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day to the celebration of Halloween. Some will thoughtfully ask me how it is that costumes and candy could possibly be holy or bring glory to God or his defeat over death, and question why Catholics choose to celebrate All Saints’ Day this way.

I’d like to make a critical distinction which is muddying these preachers’ arguments against “celebrating” “Halloween”/”All Hallows’ Eve”/”All Saints’ Day”. Let me be clear. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day by attending Holy Mass on these days, during which ONLY Christ is worshiped and glorified. Trick or treating (or even All Saints’ parties) is not the primary vehicle by which Catholics claim to be worshiping God. Celebrating outside of the Mass (or ceremony) is a common practice – take for instance a wedding ceremony versus the wedding reception. The dancing, food and decorations at a reception are not the critical part of a wedding, those things are merely the celebration of a wedding has already occurred. Different people and different cultures will celebrate differently. Some wedding festivities you might enjoy, like a tasteful reception, and some you may abhor like a raunchy bachelorette party. The style of a wedding reception or pre-party is up to the celebrant, but isn’t a critical component to the validity of the ceremony itself, and in fact doesn’t even need to happen. Likewise, When a Catholic celebrates All Saints’ Day, he/she isn’t doing so solely by the Halloween party he/she may or may not be having. A Catholic only validly celebrates this feast day by kneeling in prayer to Jesus during Holy Mass – if he/she chooses to party before or after then so be it (hopefully it is tasteful ;)).

halloween-candy-pictures-1In America, we have a tradition of wearing costumes and trick or treating on Halloween – October 31st. Yes, these traditions came about somehow and landed on this day by some historical reason.  Some of these things may have been inspired in the past as directly celebrating these Catholic feast days, some traditions may not have – while the authors of the articles I read seem sure of themselves, I find that they often contradict one another and thus I can’t say for certain what came from where. But generally, Americans do these things for neighborly fun. I see these things as fun American traditions, like fireworks and cook-outs on the 4th of July – perhaps another pagan celebration, depending on how you look at it. However, Halloween is the one day a year droves of your neighbors come knocking on your door.  That such a time even exists in our isolated automotive culture is amazing in itself, and I personally thank God for it.  As for the knock at the door, maybe you’ll open it with a warm, friendly smile, pass out some goodies and wish your neighbors a good, safe time along their way. Or maybe you’ll sit in the dark and pretend to not be home. Either way is fine. I’ll be opening the door and sharing some neighborly warmth. And I’ll also be going to Holy Mass to properly and most specifically celebrate All Saint’s Day.  Whatever your traditions, I wish you a Happy All Saint’s Day!

If you are looking for some counter explanations to the non-Catholic blog posts and videos that are circling about, try this one from uCatholic: The Catholic Origins of Halloween, or this one from Word on Fire: It’s Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween.

Whether it is trick or treating, an All Saints’ Party, or a quiet day of prayer, please share with us your family’s traditions for this feast of All Saints!