Depression is real. You don’t have to struggle alone. Here are four ways to reframe depression, and how to find a Catholic mental health counselor in your area.
(I’ve had a version of this post in my drafts folder for months. Given the tragic death of Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, I felt it was time to publish.)
Funny thing about depression. She comes back like an old acquaintance you’d much rather forget, even when you think she’s gone.
She showed up about six weeks ago, cloaking herself in fatigue.
I’m a mother of three children, after all, one of whom still doesn’t sleep through the night.
Of course you’re tired, she whispered. Why wouldn’t you be?
Then fatigue gave birth to anxiety, unshakeable nervousness from the moment my feet hit the floor.
Of course you’re nervous! She’d whisper. The world is crazy; your children at risk.
I tried to reassure myself. I was being irrational.
Don’t mind me, she’d say. I’m certainly not irrational.
Quick to anger.
Slow to forgive.
Words and phrases I had dropped from my vocabulary roared in with alarming familiarity.
So did depression’s words of encouragement:
You’re a sham, my darling. You have nothing to offer.
But you see, my dear, I do.
There was a time I would have retreated into the darkness, worn thin by your relentless tide. But I am different now.
I fix my gaze on the horizon, dig my heels in the sand.
You are here because I have triggers. And while one trigger will pass by unnoticed, three or four waltz me closer to you.
You are here because I am prideful. My pride leads me to jealousy, and my jealousy to self-hatred.
You are here because I am busy. And when I’m busy, my prayer life gets shelved.
Depression, you are here because of my failings and mistakes.
But you are here because of good things, too.
My house overflows with clutter. But my children overflow with love.
My baskets overflow with laundry. But my closets overflow with enough.
My schedule overflows with appointments. But my life overflows with joy.
Depression, I have learned to reframe you.
It’s time for you to move along.
Reframing depression: Four Ways to Cope (and How to Find a Catholic Counselor)
Seek Help – Now
Don’t wait until depression is overwhelming. There is no shame – NO SHAME – in getting help from a professional. Schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss options, or find a mental health counselor who respects your beliefs.
Find a Catholic Mental Health Professional
There are a wide variety of affordable, Catholic Mental Health Resources.
- Start with your Diocesan Catholic Charities Family Services Office. Most offer counseling services on a sliding fee scale.
- Ask your pastor for recommendations. He may know of a Catholic therapist in your area.
- Search for Catholic Therapists online.
- Seek out telephone or online counseling services.
- If you are in the DC Metro area, contact the Alpha Omega Clinic or the IPS Center
- If you are in the Cincinnati area, contact Ruah Woods
Begin Self Care at Home
- Build a support network. Create a mental health version of the X plan. Who can you call when you need help?
- Start a blessing board. Keep reminders of your blessings in a conspicuous place.
- Get outside as often as possible. Sunlight really does have an impact on your mood, even if it is only momentary.
- Avoid triggers. Track what situations, people, or events cause you to struggle, then develop a plan for limiting or avoiding them.
Ramp up Your Prayer Life
- Turn to Scripture, particularly the Psalms or the book of Job.
- Read the lives of the saints. Mother Teresa and St. John of the Cross are good places to start.
- Start or attend a prayer group with family and friends.
- Receive the sacraments as often as possible.
If you suffer from depression, know this: depression is tenacious, but so are you.
Don’t give in.
Fix your gaze on the horizon, and dig your heels in the sand.