As Catholics we are not immune to depression or other mental health issues. In this post I have the great pleasure of publishing an excerpt, from local author and entreprenur, Kit Fraser's soon to be released book of 365 day meditations to help combat Depression. In this post I want to add three mediatations for you to read and reflect on.
DEPRESSION IS A FIGHT FOR LIFE.
151. “If we entered a foreign town and found a pillar like the Nelson Column, we should be surprised to learn that the hero on the top of it had been famous for his politeness and hilarity during a chronic toothache. If a procession came down the street with a brass band and a hero on a white horse, we should think it odd to be told that he had been very patient with a half-witted maiden aunt.” G.K.Chesterton
Don’t think that fighting depression is not a noble battle? We all have a battle in life. It’s just that yours is internal. It’s not your fault that you have been laid low in such a manner.
Are you to blame for all the injustices done to you, wittingly or unwittingly, by people, entrusted with your care, who could properly protect and nurture you in your early vulnerable years and that the ensuing pain, originally suppressed, is now re-emerging in adulthood in the form of depression?
G.K.Chesterton is not disparaging Nelson for having saved his country at the Battle of Trafalgar. The point he is making is that there are other heroes, unsung heroes, who win spiritual battles who also deserve their plinths, pillars and columns.
Spiritual victories, such as the defeat of depression, is a private affair but just as impressive as military prowess and holiness, the ultimate achievement, is well worth celebrating in the community. Holiness does not need to be grand, observes G.K.Chesterton. It can be as humble as maintaining good cheer when struck down by illness, or chronic toothache or simply spending time visiting old folk.
152. “The perfect victory is triumph over self.” Thomas a Kempis.
What is going on in your head is mortal combat. You are fighting for life. You are seeking to put to flight the demons that plague your consciousness. Win that battle and the world is your oyster.
“If you conquer yourself, you will more easily subdue other things,” Thomas A Kempis goes on to say. In beating depression through prayer, you will have gained such spiritual power that other people will be drawn to you and you will have the means to help them. One of the great blessings of depression is that it teaches you empathy which, when allied to a reclaimed buoyancy of spirit, provides a formidable force for good.
67. “Unless you are converted, unless you change yourself, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mathew 18.3
OK, so here are the threats. This is Christ Himself talking so you had better take it seriously.
The huge advantage of suffering from depression is that you are only too ready to change. The status quo is crap. The last thing you want to do is to stay the same. Depression is more of the same. Change means less of it. Conversion means none of it.
You have got all the incentive in the world to convert from the secular to the spiritual way of life. Lucky you! Pity those poor beggars, unchecked by depression, whose lives are just good enough for them not to have to re-examine themselves and so they continue their compromised existence, half alive and half dead.
What normal people try and do is have their cake and eat it – a phrase, by the way, that has always bemused me because if you have a cake, why wouldn’t you eat it. But here I am using the phrase to refer to people who aim to be successful materially and spiritually. And I can see their point. The Old Testament is full of people who are just that. In fact, wealth is taken in the Old Testament to be a sign of God’s favour but then along came Christ who spoilt everything.
He insisted on the choice: God or Mammon, spiritual or secular. Nevertheless being spiritual does not prevent you from succeeding in the world. It is just that material success is not a priority with a spiritual person. The New Testament refines the Old Testament without flatly contradicting it. For example, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is correct for countries to provide deterrent but not for personal relationships where what is required of you is to turn the other cheek.
62. “And Peter answered, Master, we toiled all night and caught nothing. But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets.” Luke 5.5
People try hard for years, for a lifetime to get the better of depression. They do a huge amount of psychotherapy. They plough through self help books. They take up jogging. They put themselves on strict dietary regimes. They tie themselves in knots in complicated yoga positions. They take to chanting the word: “Om”. There is a thing called Quantum Healing and Regressive Hypnotherapy and crystals and candles and whale sounds – they are all worth a whirl. So many of us toil all night and catch nothing but a cold.
“Put out into the deep and lower your nets for a haul,” Jesus advised Peter. And they attended His word and they never had such a catch. Big Prayer is inspired by His word and the 12th step called Profound Prayer after 11 steps of preparation, is the point at which you have plunged deep into yourself and found God. That’s the biggest catch of all!