The emotional and mental state of mothers affects children, even if they try to be upbeat and cheerful in their outer demeanour. Our kids can sense undercurrents of depression or anxiety because they are more intuitive and sensitive than adults. Mothers can’t fool their little ones because they “pick up vibes”.
The topic of how and why Catholics experience mental illness might seem completely irrelevant to most Catholic mothers. After all, many of us are too busy with daily life to step back and evaluate the state of our mental health objectively. Of course, most of us vehemently deny anything is wrong with us unless we hit bottom.
Yet, I would wager that mental health issues are especially prevalent among devout mothers who are serious about their inner life because when people tackle deep inner issues which prevent God from working in their lives, their inner equilibrium is upset. Change is hard on us and it can cause stress, anxiety, and depression.
This probably explains why most saints experienced profound periods of depression when they finally looked beneath their pious actions to face the reality of their own ingrained sin and subsequent need for inner purification.
This season of Lent would be a perfect opportunity to take an honest look at ourselves. Confess, and ask God to start healing us. It might just mean confession and spiritual direction, or it might mean accepting professional help.
Buried Grief Can Trigger Depression
One of the major causes of depression is unresolved grief. Unresolved grief is a new concept in mental health circles. Secular doctors are beginning to realize it is the root cause of many emotional problems.
In Catholic terminology, unresolved grief occurs when we cling to those who have died, refusing to surrender their souls to God or embrace our new relationship to them in the Mystical Body of Christ.
Unresolved grief also haunts those who have had an abortion or suffered a miscarriage. Sometimes a miscarriage can even affect the remaining children in a family, even if they are unaware of the miscarriage at the time.
A friend, a Catholic psychiatrist, facilitates a group of faith-filled men and women who are learning how to grieve and release their forgotten ancestors to God, as well as miscarried and aborted souls in their family background.
The change in these people, some who have been in therapy for decades, was miraculous. Unresolved grief was at the root of their mental illness. It was like he had discovered a secret key to well-being.
When I named my own miscarried child Ruth and then surrendered her to God, I had to smile because I sensed she was in heaven, playing. Then I sensed the words, “Quit saying you have nine children; you have TEN, I am the tenth”.
If you have experienced an abortion or miscarriages, people expect you to simply carry on, but you know that your child has died and you must mourn. When you can, have a Mass said for the soul of your baby. Also ask your relatives, especially your own mother, if she experienced a miscarriage or abortion and have a Mass said for those little souls as well. You will be opening the window to let the light of God heal your own emotions and inner spirit.
connecting with theology is a verb