I am a catholic but my mental illness is keeping me away from the Lord. I have a lot of fears. I fear that I might go to hell because of my disorder. I am scared everytime I miss the Sunday mass because I know it is a sin. Basically I fear almost anything that I barely enjoy life. I do take medications on a regular basis and it does help with my negative symptoms but it does not totally heal my illness. I do pray every opportunity that I have but I still cannot feel God’s presence. How do I build a relationship with the Lord while I am managing my illness? Any opinions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks
I really do not know what words to say for you, but let me just speak for myself, and maybe it might relate to you.
I also suffer from a mental illness, OCD—in extreme and I’ll tell you what it’s the most frustrating anxiety I’ve ever dealt with. And I’ve been dealing with it intensely for 11 years now, some times it sky rockets, other times it’s middle ground, but always there. At times it has affected my relationship with God, I too feared so much about Him, suffering from scruples; but my OCD has also done a very GOOD thing for me, it has made me humble, extremely humble before not only God, but the human race. I used to be quite dominant, arrogant, but after going through so many trials I am now a submissive soul (though still arrogant at times, but hey, the journey’s not over yet). I know another Catholic, a dear sister who has said the same exact thing, that her mental illness has humbled her, she has Bi-polar to the extreme. So, we can thank God for humbling us in such a way, even though it hurts. Perhaps your case is the same?
What excites you about our Faith? Whatever does, focus on THAT! In other words, if approved apparitions of Visions from the Saints and/or the Blessed Mother inspire you, because you seek intimacy with God, then read up on them. Read the diary of St. Faunstina of Divine Mercy, in it she re-tells of her conversations with Christ.
Or perhaps Miracles such as these excite you?
Or perhaps the History of the Church you find interesting. Or maybe the Sacraments or the simple and BEST things such as the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22: "charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.”
I appologize if I haven’t helped you, as I said off the start I’m not entire sure how to say the right words. But this was what I thought of and I hope it helps.
Pray, seek Confession, especially to a priest you like and communicates well, touches your soul, and seek Him out. Remember, if you seek Him, you will find Him.
And He understands your illness, oh dear sister I understand it too, I still weep quite often from the anxiety I am caused, it’s hard, at times really, really hard, but worth it
God understands and loves you. :hug1:
The important thing to focus on is building a relationship with God that is based on faith, not feelings. Feelings are not a reliable guide for even the mentally healthy, but those of us with mental illness most especially CANNOT let them be the measure we use when it comes to the spiritual life and our relationship with God. Our feelings are usually the first casualties when it comes to mental disorders, particularly the mood disorders.
Now, you rationally KNOW that your fears are just fears, so when you have these thoughts, remind yourself that it is your disorder talking, NOT you. Having these fears does NOT mean you are guilty of anything or going to hell because you know you cannot trust your feelings on these subjects, they are distorted by your disorder, like looking through broken glasses. If you have committed serious sin, you will know it without any doubt and you will know without any self-debate that you need to go to confession. Guilt that can be confused with “panic” is not from the Holy Spirit. If you do sin seriously, resolve to go to confession as soon as you are able, pray an act of contrition, and remind yourself of God’s loving mercy that would never condemn a sinner honestly seeking reconciliation with Him. Giving into fears would accomplish absolutely nothing- EXCEPT that you’d be a nervous wreck. Would that please God more than a calm repentance?
And if you just can’t feel God’s presence, remember you don’t need to feel it to know it’s there. God is always there. Consolations are sweet, but no one, even the mentally healthy, receives them all the time. If you are not receiving this consolation, know you are in good company, I have been there myself, most people will be at some point even without medication, and if this is part of your cross, it is a part God lovingly placed there for you knowing it was needed for your own well being at this time in your life. It may or may not pass, we don’t know the mind of God, but He is with you just as much as He is with those who “feel” His presence, and He would never give you a cross without the grace needed to bear it. I know it’s easy to say, even easy to read, but hard to internalize especially if you used to receive this sort of blessing all the time when healthier or before medicated.
Anyway my time is almost up for now, I’ll just say that a good idea you might think on is getting to know our Lord better, so that when your fears reflect a disfigured image of Him in your mind, you will recognize it for what it is and be that much stronger to cope. I can’t off the top of my head think of any good books (apart from the Good Book :p) except the Diary of St. Faustina. If you have not read the Diary, St. Faustina is the saint responsible for bringing us the devotion to the Divine Mercy, which is really just a lovely fleshing out of the older devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (IMO). Also spend time with Jesus in the Gospels and, if you are able, at Adoration. When you pray your rosary, make a point of reflecting on what positive attributes of God are seen in each mystery, for example the Annunciation could be God’s providence in providing the Messiah, His mercy in saving the world, His love for us in giving us both His Son as well as a blessed Mother for all His Church, etc. etc. Just some ideas. God bless you, MsLizzie!
If you can find a local priest that also has a psychology background, and meet with him on a regular basis, I’d say that would be your best bet.
You’re in my prayers,
Excellent advice. I wish I had the intellect to say things such as this, I just don’t. I don’t know how to gather the words. But your very good.
Mslizzie, Pray4life has made most assuredly awsome points, may the Spirit fill you with peace.
You are not alone! I too have “mental Illness”, severe bi-polar and PTSD. I too take daily medications. I agree with The Catholic, find something that excites you. Something that draws you in closer to your faith. People with mental illness seem to always second guess their faith, because we think we are less than others. That is the stigma attached to mental illness, put on us by “normal” people. We are created in God’s likeness as is every other creature. Actually I like to think we are special because we suffer more.
I have a particular attachment to St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy. Her sufferings bring me great comfort.
I finally went to my parish preist and asked him about where mentally sick people fit in God’s plan. He smiled and assured me that God loves me the way I am. Fear is a given, Jesus is a deliverance from this fear.
St Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illness. There are other saints also. Pray for their intercessions and be at peace with yourself. If you are doing everything you can possibly do, why would our Merciful God deny you anything due to illness. Offer up your illness for reparation for sin or for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
God created you and you are special to Himm!!
Swimming in an Ocean of Mercy and don’t care if I drown!
hugs the Church teaches that mental illness lessens a person’s culpability, because it interferes with free will. We’re only responsible for what we choose, not what we feel… and if we feel things (like fears due to a mental disorder) that are interfering with our choices, God knows that. If a person is missing Mass cause they don’t care and want to go hang out with friends, that’s a sin. But if they’re having lots of problems going to church because of a disorder or thought patterns that they can’t control, God knows this too… try to go as much as you can, and don’t beat yourself up!! Remember that God loves you very much and He would never put ANYONE in hell for having a mental illness!! If anything, those are the people He sympathizes with… He will judge each person individually and based on their own circumstances, and He’ll take things like that into account. Try to trust in Him :hug1:
are you kidding?
You are a chosen one.
my humble advice is that you offer your suffering in cooperation with the Lord’s Passion.
It will be a passport to Heaven alright