Mental Illness and the Value of Suffering?


What do you think of the idea that mental illness is a special cross to bear for our Lord, and brings us closer to Him? And can also be redemptive?

Do you agree? Or have any insights and experiences you would like to share?


Yes, but only to an extent… We need to know our limits.
My girlfriend struggles with depression, and, looking at saints who had similar issues, did her very best to carry her cross by herself.

However, when there were some other extenuating issues, she attempted suicide. (Thanks be to God, she failed).

So, while mental illness can certainly be a cross to carry for the Lord, the ‘nature of the beast’ has to be kept in mind, and people need to know that sometimes you need a Simon of Cyrene, so to speak, and that’s okay.


I’m very sorry to hear about your girlfriend, Maximillian. Depression that is substantial, or even mild, can be a terrible darkness to live in and not be able to escape. Having bouts of it myself, I’ve often pondered on how a significant other could be expected to try to understand and cope with such a burden that at times cannot be lifted or lightened. I often think that is too much for a significant other to have to bear or even be able to understand very well.


After the attempt, she started going to counseling and went on some meds, which helped immensely.

The whole experience in general has also really highlighted, for me, the taboo of talking about mental health in the US and how horribly unhealthy it is.


It’s not a problem to have a broken ankle in society at large, but God help you if others know you have a “broken brain”, so to speak. It can be a very deep suffering that I don’t think can really be conveyed easily at all to people who don’t have issues like this.

Some here might disagree, but I won’t argue with them.


Suffering is both redemptive and will bring you closer to God. There are several issues, though. Many people do not have the courage to take that first step towards God. However that courage IS what is needed. The taboo on dealing with mental conditions certainly doesn’t help this one bit.

Many people forget that Christ promised to give us no more to carry than we can handle. But, again, that takes faith.

It also doesn’t help when some (not all, but some) choose to further burden those with mental problems by marginalizing them. Often in the name of “charity”. We see that over and over in different threads on the Forum.


Honestly, with a mental illness it’s hard to understand how things will get better. Mental illness just clouds your mind and doesn’t make you think straight. So, I while it might be a cross, it’s not so helpful as others might think since it’s too hard to want to keep carrying the cross. If that makes sense. And actually, it’s dangerous since it could lead us into trouble. I say this from personal experience.

If I could choose, I think I’d rather have cancer or any other physical condition. Mental illness is hard and unbearable. and it has led me to do things I didn’t want to do. If anything maybe it has brought me away from the lord to be honest.


What you said there is spot on.

I can understand all that and agree. It is also a matter of degree, some people, you might say, trip and fall into the mud, other fall into what seems like a dark and bottomless hole. And then there’s all the in between.

You know, a woman said exactly the same thing you did in the book “Catholic Guide to Depression”, …she said she would prefer to have a cancer which she had beat than her mental illness.

If anyone is interested, it’s quite a good book.


Mental illness is certainly a form of suffering, and I love the Franciscan teaching that we are called to unite our sufferings with the sufferings of Christ.

My bouts with clinical depression have ultimately, and perhaps counterintuitively, brought me closer to God.

They’ve also heightened my empathy toward people who suffer from depression on a more permanent and severe basis. They look “lazy” and “unmotivated” when they’re actually enduring very real and debilitating pain.




One thing to remember is that one of Jesus’ greatest trials during His passion was the agony in the garden.


I suffer from extreme Mental Illness. Been hospitalized 12 times. My mental illness has brought me to my knees and has strengthened my relationship with the Lord and my faith. This is my cross to bear. And I will carry it until the day I unite with Jesus.


That is indeed a very big cross to carry, Rosary_Miracles. I think Jesus must really be pleased with what you are able to offer him through you suffering. Thank you so much for having the courage to share that with us.

I will pray for you at Adoration.


In ancient times in the Orthodox environment there were so-called “holy fools.”
They preached and denounced the same as the some prophets of the Old Testament. (Prophets were also not completely normal people)
There are street preachers in the Protestant environment today, some of whom are not entirely normal people, but their mission dedication is overwhelming.
I think , you are right in some point.
There are these types of saints.
Some times to be super-hero saint, you should be not quite normal😊


And by the way, I think today we also need John the Baptists


I pretty much agree with what other posters have typed. It is good if you can find the Lord’s strength through your suffering.
When I disagree with people it is when they characterize mental illness (or any illness) as a gift from God, and imply that voluntarily suffering and thanking God for the malady somehow makes God happy.


If you mean mental illness, then the problem is that many people cannot afford a doctor. And I think that it is necessary to concretize and distinguish mental diseases from various psychological deviations, schizophrenias.
Among the greatest talents and thinkers there are people who are not quite normal people. They have a flaw in something, but for that in other areas of life they are brilliant.


There are also very big problems in the professionalism of psychiatrists and neuro pathologists.


In the period of communism, there were repressive methods of diagnostics for dissidents, (in many authoritarian systems this practice continues to be applied to political and religious dissenters) there are also many cases of temporary psychological problems associated with tragedies and stresses, to which pseudo-doctors attach fatal significance.


How would you make that distinction?

Schizophrenia, depression, various personality disorders, etc. are all mental illnesses.

The lack of access to Mental Health care is certainly a significant problem, but even among those who have access, compliance with treatment protocols is often a serious problem. Medications often come with significant side effects and, even if they work, generally only reduce symptoms rather than eliminate them. Psychotherapy is effective for many mental health conditions, but is a long-term or even life-long process for many people with significant mental illness and requires consistent hard work for results to be seen. Perceived lack of progress can difficult for both providers and patients.

We have come a long way with some significant new treatments, using both medication and Psychotherapy, but we are so far from understanding mental illness that our treatment options are often only on the surface. But, we’ve come a long way from the days of lobotomies.

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