Rosary (Sorrowful Mysteries) & Mental Health


So, I have bipolar disorder that’s well managed with medication. Usually no symptoms.
But I’m having trouble with the Sorrowful Mysteries. Praying those and meditating on Christ’s sufferings breaks my heart. Which to some degree is the point, but I’m way overempathizing and it takes about a week to fully emotionally recover.

Its overwhelmingly sad for me. I think about the nerves in his face hit by the thorns shooting a type of pain so severe its actually called suicide syndrome in people who get nerve pain there. His raw back with exposed ribs rubbing against the wood each time he pulls himself up by thoaet nails also in nerves shooting pain through his body to take a breath. His heartbreak at watching his mother sobbing at his feet and at choosing not to stop her pain or his. To leave her it seems. His pain at his disciples abandoning him & his pain at what they’re going through and will go through. And I think of my carelessness in sin and how little effort I put in compared to him in these hours and days. How humanity made him choose between the heartbreak of abandoning us who he loves so much to our sin and sacrificing himself and the people he lived with who loved him so dearly.

I end up so upset that my mood shifts and I’m depressed days later and have been forced to avoid praying the rosary on the days for Sorrowful Mysteries to keep my sanity.

I’ve considered praying another mysery on those days but it seems wrong.
Is there a better way to do this?
I’d like to pray my rosary any day I can, because it really helps me spiritually. But I need to find a way thats not going to overwhelm me. Is there another way you meditate on the Sorrowful Myseries without emersing yourself in so much pain twice a week?


It’s not wrong. While it’s a custom to pray certain mysteries on certain days, it’s not required. Our Lady doesn’t want you to be depressed for days.


The Church does not require anyone to pray the Rosary. It is there and can be beautiful, but is not necessary if it causes this type of problem for someone. Dr. Anders says Padre Pio loved the Rosary. Therese of Lisieux didn’t much care for it. Choosing an alternative is fine.


Only the Sorrowful Mysteries cause me any problems, but to pray the rosary skipping the Passion seems odd.
I do, because the rosary is so valuable to me, but I’d really like to find a different way to approach the Sorrowful Mysteries other than leaving them out altogether.

I was wondering how other people pray those mysteries and if they do something differently.


Most of us do not have a disorder that causes us to become sad for days when we meditate on the Passion. We may cry a few tears while we are praying, but when the rosary ends we move on to the next activity. As angel said, Mary doesn’t want us being sad for days and we need to be able to function in our daily lives. I suggest you pray one of the other sets of mysteries instead. Mary won’t mind.


It is not wrong to pray another set of mysteries. The Rosary is private prayer, and you can choose the other mysteries, especially since it is so devastating to you that you feel forced to avoid praying the rosary altogether on the suggested sorrowful mysteries day.

The different days where certain mysteries are designated is a suggestion.


When I pray the Rosary I don’t do the Mysteries at all. But that’s just the non-Catholic in me. :slight_smile:


I think meditating on the Passion is an essential part of Catholic life and very beneficial. While your comments are understood, perhaps you can pray the sorrowful mysteries without your mind going fully into details–if you get my drift. Just offer to God in thanksgiving and praise his Passion, Agony in the Garden, Scourging, etc. and keep your mind focused on Jesus’ love and self-giving, without dwelling too much on the actual things that happened.


When I pray the Rosary I allocate three mysteries to various family members or other people I feel led to pray for . So while the particular mystery is part of the prayer , I am also ’ standing in the gap for the individual I’m praying for. Frequently, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind some need of that person that I should bring to the attention of the Lord in my prayer .
Finally, don’t forget to be praying for yourself and your intentions.
The Rosary is a powerful prayer, recommended by Our Lady .
St Padre Pio called the Rosary his weapon


You might consider praying the Divine Mercy chaplet on Fridays. While it still focuses on Jesus’ passion, it may be less distressing for you.


If you want to keep the sorrowful mysteries you may find it easier to keep your eyes open when meditating on them during prayer. Perhaps even have sight of a picture of Our Lord in a healthy and whole state before you. This should modify your imaginings somewhat and help make it a more bearable experience?


Is that for real? Where did you read of hear of this?


I don’t recall reading this in her own biography, but Dr. Anders has mentioned it a couple of times in the past year. It’s always in response to someone who feels guilty for either not enjoying certain recited prayers, or just not being very good at them.


I actually just found a source online that seems to validate what you mentioned. I just cannot imagine any Saint having struggled with praying the Rosary, since the conception of the devotion.


As one who suffers from mental illness myself I would propose that your heartbreak and the length for your emotional recovery is a gift from God. I am not trying to downplay the magnitude of your suffering, but the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, IMHO, are the gateway and means for experiencing radical intimacy with Our Lord and Our Lady, especially when you receive the gift of suffering heartbreak in the midst of their meditation. I am saying this from personal experience. And, the particular way you articulate Our Lord’s indescribable agony is also a gift. Suffering with Our Blessed Lord, especially through the Sorrowful Heart of His Mother, is the greatest blessing one could experience. I believe Saint Teresa of Avila said those who love Our Lord most, suffer the most.


It’s been a few years since I read The Story of a Soul, but I can understand her feeling, though I can also agree with what you’ve said. Therese was dedicated totally and solely to Jesus from what I recall. Certainly nothing to fault there, but with my protestant upbringing I sympathize with the fact she wanted little to interfere with that. I think it safe to say that she didn’t actively dislike the Rosary, but had found preferable ways to further her relationship with all that is Divine.


I suffer from mental illness as well and see it exactly as you stated it. Everything can be seen as a gift for our spiritual betterment.


Everything but sin. But, I knew what you meant. :heart_eyes:


I too have had similar experiences as to what you are describing.

Something I have found that helps is imagining myself there in the scene at that moment in time.

I offer to hold His hand in the garden. I tell Him things like “I’m here.” “You’re not doing all this for nothing.” “I’m grateful for what You are about to do” etc.

I talk to Jesus while He is being scourged and keep repeating “Thank You… thank You… thank You for loving me this much”.

At the crowning of thorns “I respect you…” Wipe the spit off His face.

While He is carrying the cross help Him. Tell Him “Thank you for not stopping” “Thank you for getting back up” Kiss his wounded knee. Wipe some of the stinging sweat out of His eyes.

On the cross tell Him you’re sorry it’s so hot out in the burning sun. Put your arm around Mother Mary or hold her hand.

Basically what I am trying to say is shift your focus to consoling Our Lord in any small way you can. Be there with Him and be there for Him.


St. Therese said so herself, in Story of a Soul. Praying the Rosary was very difficult for her.

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