Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recovery in the Shoes of a Catholic Woman

{Photo published on web here}
When I first started seeking depression and eating disorder help, I found many resources on the web.  Unfortunately not all advice is good advice.  I sorted through the beneficial Internet sites and blogs and picked out elements that applied to me.  When I first started seeing a counselor, I had to translate some of the advice I received in my sessions.  It was much like sifting through sand to find the treasures.

Because I am a practicing Catholic, some of the advice did not jive with my faith.  For example: Zen Buddhism, Yoga, Self-Empowering Meditation, Hypnosis, etc.

I changed therapists many times until I found one I was comfortable with.  Something they don't tell you when you first start going to therapy is that you have to search.  And when you do find a good mentor, you get out of it what you put into it.
(In some cases, no counseling is better than bad counseling.)
I am thankful that God led me to my current counselor.  He is also a regularly practicing Catholic so his advise is congruent with my faith.
But to get to the point, dealing with a mental illness looks different to a secular person than it does to a practicing Catholic.
In a world view, recovery means looking deep into yourself and seeing value as you are.  But, where does the value come from?  Inside ourselves?   I found this thought process to be very limited and discouraging.  It is a shallow perspective that will only take you so far.  You will not see full recovery if you have the vague purpose of living for yourself.
For a Catholic, recovery is so much deeper.  It means looking deep into your soul and realizing that, yes, you do have value as you are.  But here is the key; You have value because you were created for Love by Love.  You were created by God for the sole purpose to love and to be loved by God.  Without this purpose, life has no meaning.
I was given some bad advice over the years.  I was told to abandon my faith because I had too much religious guilt.  I was advised to practice Buddhism in order to find true peace.  I was even encouraged not to have children because it would ruin me.
I am thankful that I did not listen to this advice but instead listened to the still soft voice in my heart.

When I was advised to repeat a Mantra, I prayed a Rosary.
When I was advised to meditate, I sat in front of the monstrance in adoration.
When I was advised to practice Yoga, I stretched and went for a run.
When I was advised to go to hypnotic therapy, I knitted a scarf.
When I was advised to eat raw foods, I received the Holy Eucharist at Mass.
When I was advised to do a toxin cleanse, I went to the Sacrament of Confession.
When I was advised to go to a support group, I went to Bible Study.
For years, intellects and instructors have tried to find ways to heal the body and the soul.
I want to let them know that the Catholic Church has had the answers for over 2000 years!
It is eerily similar how non-catholics and Catholics deal with mental and emotion turbulence.  Yet, the Catholic Church is often scorned and ridiculed for its medieval methods.  It is so common for secular therapist to recommend practices like meditation, repeating mantras, silence, soul-searching, counseling, forgiving yourself for faults and failures, and other healthy habits.
If you think about it, the Church, it's teachings, and it's Sacraments are available to help nourish our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

There are excellent resources available to us at the tips of our fingers, and also, for Catholics, as close as the local church.

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