I feel I am called to a vocation, but I have mental illness


#1

I've felt God calling me since I was a child. I didn't become a Catholic til' I was 24, but I was immediately in love with it. I tried to live the life of a layperson, but I was still hungry for God. The best I ever felt in my life, was when I was still involved in group therapy type programs, and I went to mass every morning. I learned how to spread the love of Christ around and for the first time in my life truly felt loved. I then left these programs and tried to get a job. Cause I wanted a wife. I love women, I really want a wife, but I don't care anymore. The more I tried, the more it just didn't work. I was a virgin until I was 29, and I'm only 30 now. I've never been attracted to men, so I don't think it's homosexuality. Which I believe is a lifestyle choice anyway. I really feel called to a vocation. I think that if I were a priest my pride would destroy me. However, I'm interested in the Franciscan life. As I already go out into the street and preach the gospel. There's a lot of homeless where I live, and as I do need to be careful of some of them, most of them are people down on their luck. I get them a meal, give them a cigarette, etc. No ones ever gotten mad at me for talking about Christ. A lot of them have rosary's and tell me how they believe in Christ, they just struggle with this or that. A lot of them struggle with homosexuality to be honest. Which is funny cause I used to be pretty homophobic, but after talking to these men I'm learning how to witness to them.

I guess the real question is though, before I came to Christ (at 21) I was a real mess. I'd been on drugs and even dabbled in occultism. Most of my life I was a Christian in a non-christian liberal family. Surrounded by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists that spent more time hating than loving. Not that I think that applies to every Evangelical and Fundie.

My mother didn't understand why I was the way I was. She was/is convinced that I have a mental illness. She spent my whole life convincing me I was crazy, and I believed it. Yet now I see her for the narcissistic liberal hypocrite that she often is(and believe me, it really saddens me).

So after people trying to drive me insane, and trying to convince me I was insane, I finally just went insane. I wasn't allowed to keep my faith, but when I tried to let it go, I went to the mental hospital. I've been put on psychiatric drugs and diagnosed bi-polar/schizo-affective.

I care nothing for my life. My personal/selfish life. That's not apathy or depression. The only reason I'm still here is because Christ saved me. Christ saved me so I could save other people. I've been walking with the Lord for 9 years now. I'm 30. I know in my heart, mind, body and soul that I'm called to a vocation. So would the fact that I'm on medicine and diagnosed bi-polar make it not so?


#2

Hi there and welcome to CAF! Just a quick tip, you may not have noticed this in the forum rules, but we aren’t allowed to use terms like “Fundie” which is uncharitable. For your future posts.

About your possible vocation…You would need to discuss this with a spiritual director of some kind. The life of any religious is not an easy one and living in a community is even more demanding than living in general society. I don’t want to discourage you but there are probably impediments. But please go and talk to your priest and ask for help on this matter.


#3

hi
It sounds like you have already found a vocation for yourself. Not everyone is as charitable as you are when chatting to people living on the street and give them meals. Stick with that for now because it is very good work you are doing. We all need someone to listen to us and if you are out and about on the street, the people there will slowly learn to trust you and know where to find you each day etc if they want help.

Mental illness in itself wouldn’t stop you exploring further vocations especially if you have it relatively balanced out and know your signs etc. There is more to Gods calling other than priests. Lots more. That is only one small type of vocation. Like I first said, what you are doing already is a vocation and a much needed source out there.

As RealJulianna has suggested I think you would benefit from spiritual direction at the moment. That will help you work out where you are with God and work your way through to the next steps in life. Being a priest does not bring you any closer to God than you are already and you wouldn’t get any more of God than you can already. Being aware of God and how to be aware of God presence is how you get closer to God and get more of God and anyone can do this and priests, or spiritual directors which can be priests help us achieve this.

Having a mental illness shouldn’t automatically prevent you from a vocation since you are already carrying out a vocation even if its an indirect vocation. You are talking about God with the people and you are caring for them in a way you can. Singing, Serving on the Altar, Lay readers, Chalice Bearers, visiting the sick in hospital or at home in your parish etc are all vocations that we each take up in turn depending on our calling. Getting elected onto the PCC etc though that is something I clearly have no intention off and kept off it for 25 year but may be you are interested. Church wardenship. Bellringing.

Your experience in life will help you be able to connect with others who are finding the struggle as hard as you have done. You will be able to gently show them how turning to Christ has been the answer for you and in time and support the answer for them too. We all struggle and people who listen best are the people who have experienced some struggle. You, they don’t necessarily have the right answer/formula but know how to be there for you when you need them the most.

Speak to your priest about spiritual direction and slowly find a way forward.
peace be with you


#4

It's difficult, but not impossible, to discern with a mental illness. I have depression and anxiety. I also have to take a mood stabilizer because my depression medicine doesn't work as well as it used to by itself. I've spoken with the religious order coming to my parish next year and they said they will allow me to try the life as long as I pass the psychological exam. My pastor introduced me to them and he knows me very well. I've been VERY active in the life of the Church, so that helps tremendously. If you have someone to back you up to say that you are outgoing and active, then all the better!

It really helps to have regular spiritual direction. I am unable to receive such help as my pastor and assistant priest are VERY busy running the extra large parish I am in. I used to have one at another Church, but he became very busy as well so I haven't been able to find one since. Good SD's are like gold -- once you find them, hang on to them!

All the best to you! :thumbsup:


#5
  1. Get a second opinion on the mental illness.

  2. You’re only as bad off as you think.

  3. Obtain a copy of the Franciscan rule.

  4. Keep doing what you’re doing for the homeless.

  5. Start reading the spiritual classics.

  6. Retain a spiritual director.

  7. If being around family makes you worse, stay away from them.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#6

I too struggle with a mental illness: in my case, bipolar disorder with major depression. I have found daily attendance at Mass and reception of the Eucharist daily work well in conjunction with medication to control my symptoms.

I also have felt a call to be more active in my church, and have recently begun serving as a Eucharistic Minister. I have found this to be a wonderful experience, but still am being led to something more, exactly what I am not sure. I also wonder how my mental illness my limit the vocations available to me.

As a happily married man, the vocations are even more limited for me. One area where I feel that I am possibly being called to serve is as a deacon. My diocese has begun a very active program within the last 5 years and a friend of mine will become a deacon this fall. I only have doubts as to how my mental illness will limit my ability to study and to serve once I become a deacon.

Any input on this subject will be welcomed as will your prayers for my situation.


#7

talk to your parish priest.


#8

[quote="NathanCarson23, post:1, topic:284513"]

My mother didn't understand why I was the way I was. She was/is convinced that I have a mental illness. She spent my whole life convincing me I was crazy, and I believed it. Yet now I see her for the narcissistic liberal hypocrite that she often is(and believe me, it really saddens me).

[/quote]

Does this sound familiar? "Honor your father and mother..."

Sounds like before you even think about exploring a vocation that you need some inner healing and will need to forgive. Get a spiritual director because you will need help working through these things.


#9

You should speak to your priest or a spiritual director about this.

[quote="elizabeth_anne, post:8, topic:284513"]
Does this sound familiar? "Honor your father and mother..."

Sounds like before you even think about exploring a vocation that you need some inner healing and will need to forgive. Get a spiritual director because you will need help working through these things.

[/quote]

Recognising your parent's faults does not mean you are not honouring them or that you have not forgiven them.


#10

You are right! Our parents have flaws and at some point we realize that. But blaming our own problems on them is not honoring them. (and trust me, I know. I have a mental illness too, and guess what? it is not my parents’ fault, although it is easy to want to place blame somewhere.) And I don’t think that calling someone online “narcissistic, liberal, hypocrite” shows any charity towards that person. Just because it is online does not mean we can say whatever we want about whoever we want.


#11

[quote="elizabeth_anne, post:10, topic:284513"]
You are right! Our parents have flaws and at some point we realize that. But blaming our own problems on them is not honoring them. (and trust me, I know. I have a mental illness too, and guess what? it is not my parents' fault, although it is easy to want to place blame somewhere.) And I don't think that calling someone online "narcissistic, liberal, hypocrite" shows any charity towards that person. Just because it is online does not mean we can say whatever we want about whoever we want.

[/quote]

Well, your right. I shouldn't say such things. God's not done with me yet. If you knew the source of it on that particular day. If you'd heard the words come out of somebody you didn't think thought like that. Someone who scorned me (perhaps out of fear) for being charitable, and renounced the kind of charity I was talking about with her. You too would be appalled at the hypocrisy. God has been working on me and through me to help bring the spirit to my parents (my father's atheist, and my mothers essentially agnostic). I'm far past the blaming of my parents. However, it's still very hard for me to be in a relationship because of what I went through with my mother growing up. I was very mad at women and realized I was not going to be in a relationship until I had worked things out. I've spent 6 years working with my mother, but because she doesn't believe quite like I believe (but she has grown a lot), she doesn't believe that I forgive her. She is not yet able to forgive those who have truly hurt her. So she doesn't think she can be forgiven.

Now, I can walk away (and I don't mean cut her off), and leave it in God's hands. While still loving her from a distance. It's just hard. I'm very aware of many of the things she does when she thinks nobody's watching. I'm also aware that I am selfish in my own ways even if I think I'm doing what's best. Which is why I SO badly need a vocation. I always wanted a wife and kids. Which IS a vocation, being a husband. Yet I struggle so much to find a wife in this world. I'm attracted to "bad girls". I always have been. Sometimes I think I meet a "good girl", but she's usually a hurt girl. Oh, the games we play. I am guilty as everyone else. I know. Yet when I give up on that, I think of being a Priest or a Franciscan. It's not enough for me to have accepted the Lord, and to be Catholic. I didn't choose God, he chose me. If he hadn't, I'd already be dead. I need to make a choice of what to do in this life. So I struggle. As we all do, and I have nobody to talk to that understands. Which always brings me back to the one person I need to talk to, Jesus. The Holy Spirit comforts me, and I stop worrying. I remember the story of Simeon a lot. I try to be patient. Yet sometimes I can't help crying out for attention.

I appreciate you saying what you did though. There's a reason I'm on a message board and not talking to a priest/advisor. I need correction more than I need guidance. I truly do. One can only guide me to the Lord. When I am corrected I am forced to see things I don't want to look at.

I thank everyone who's responded. I despise that I cry for attention like this rather than being patient. If I'm supposed to take on a religious vocation, I will. If God wants to grant me a wife and family, I will have it. I have a lot of growing to do. I just don't often feel that I have a lot of time. It may sound crazy, but I've heard Christ calling me home. Telling me it's okay to leave. I've had people come up to me and tell me, "you don't have to be here you know". Because they see Christ in me, and wonder why I'm still here. I'm scared to leave. I'm scared to go to the judgement. I'm scared for the people in this world. So I beg God to stay, and he lets me... but if I'm to stay, I need a vocation. Whatever that may be.

I should have stopped typing a long time ago, but maybe someone will get something out of this. Thanks for the release. I don't expect people to read this.

peace of the Lord be with you all


#12

Just know that you are loved by God. You are his song.

And when God put his loves in your heart, he never take it again. If you feel to have a religious vocation, you have to seriously think about the question with a priest, and have a spiritual director who could help you a lot in this process.

Many orders like franciscan that you were talking about could accepted you, but the first think is to think about your vocation.

Concerning the bi-polarity, I think it could be a barrier for the priesthood, because, in general when you applied to become seminarist or priest (even in an religious community), they asked you if you have an handicap which is prohibited by the priesthood. And the answer depend on the diocese or the community.

All will depend i think on your path.

Listen your heart and be certain that You are Loved by God, and when he calls you, he gives you all the capacities. Never forget that God never call people who are capable, but he makes capable those he calls.

God bless you,

leandresz.com/en/

[quote="NathanCarson23, post:1, topic:284513"]
I've felt God calling me since I was a child. I didn't become a Catholic til' I was 24, but I was immediately in love with it. I tried to live the life of a layperson, but I was still hungry for God. The best I ever felt in my life, was when I was still involved in group therapy type programs, and I went to mass every morning. I learned how to spread the love of Christ around and for the first time in my life truly felt loved. I then left these programs and tried to get a job. Cause I wanted a wife. I love women, I really want a wife, but I don't care anymore. The more I tried, the more it just didn't work. I was a virgin until I was 29, and I'm only 30 now. I've never been attracted to men, so I don't think it's homosexuality. Which I believe is a lifestyle choice anyway. I really feel called to a vocation. I think that if I were a priest my pride would destroy me. However, I'm interested in the Franciscan life. As I already go out into the street and preach the gospel. There's a lot of homeless where I live, and as I do need to be careful of some of them, most of them are people down on their luck. I get them a meal, give them a cigarette, etc. No ones ever gotten mad at me for talking about Christ. A lot of them have rosary's and tell me how they believe in Christ, they just struggle with this or that. A lot of them struggle with homosexuality to be honest. Which is funny cause I used to be pretty homophobic, but after talking to these men I'm learning how to witness to them.

I guess the real question is though, before I came to Christ (at 21) I was a real mess. I'd been on drugs and even dabbled in occultism. Most of my life I was a Christian in a non-christian liberal family. Surrounded by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists that spent more time hating than loving. Not that I think that applies to every Evangelical and Fundie.

My mother didn't understand why I was the way I was. She was/is convinced that I have a mental illness. She spent my whole life convincing me I was crazy, and I believed it. Yet now I see her for the narcissistic liberal hypocrite that she often is(and believe me, it really saddens me).

So after people trying to drive me insane, and trying to convince me I was insane, I finally just went insane. I wasn't allowed to keep my faith, but when I tried to let it go, I went to the mental hospital. I've been put on psychiatric drugs and diagnosed bi-polar/schizo-affective.

I care nothing for my life. My personal/selfish life. That's not apathy or depression. The only reason I'm still here is because Christ saved me. Christ saved me so I could save other people. I've been walking with the Lord for 9 years now. I'm 30. I know in my heart, mind, body and soul that I'm called to a vocation. So would the fact that I'm on medicine and diagnosed bi-polar make it not so?

[/quote]


#13

I'm sure many people here will have good advice; but prayers are good so in case you were wondering:

The patron saint of the mentally ill is Saint Benedict Joseph Labré.


#14

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