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Category Archives: Mental Health

IMG_0882 (2)This  guest post is written by a beautiful, courageous, intelligent, witty and wise-beyond-her-years girl named Natalie.  In her words, she is a “Catholic home-schooled 16-year-old who loves St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Jane Austen, books, good coffee, Batman, a good laugh, and pranking her friends!”

 

photo-1429277158984-614d155e0017As a teen girl growing up in a body-obsessed culture, I can say in all honesty that I have really felt the effects of it. Airbrushed models, celebrities with “perfect bodies,” and weight loss commercials are constantly blared at me from TV, store ads, and billboards. As a young girl viewing this twisted idea of beauty, I now realize, as I reflect, that it has had a great impression on me, and consequently the life of everyone around me. Continue reading »

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photo by gayaneh CC

photo by gayaneh CC

In an often viewed TED talk, artist Phil Hansen talks about “embracing the shake.”  It is a great message, one truly worth watching or reading.  In the face of nerve damage that left his hand shaking too badly to make his preferred art, he learned to embrace this limitation, and it led to more creativity than he could have imagined.  His message of embracing limitations should ring especially true for us as followers of Christ, and may be particularly hopeful for those facing mental illness. Continue reading »

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handAt Easter, we celebrate the ultimate victory of Joy over suffering.  Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!   Death, where is your sting?

All this hoopla must look a little silly from the outside.  Its hard to understand the thrill of Easter if you have not experienced the agony of Good Friday.  And our current culture is not high on Good Friday.  Usually, we are trying to find ways to avoid suffering.  The implicit message is often that happiness results when all suffering is eliminated or successfully avoided.  As Christians, however, we believe that the joy of Easter is possible precisely because of suffering.  This is our model: it is by dying that we can rise to new life.

At a time in my own journey when I particularly needed it, I read a book called Hinds Feet On High Places. It is an allegorical story of the spiritual life, and the main character, Much Afraid, attempts to journey to the high mountains where The Shepherd lives. One of the things that stuck with me most is that The Shepherd chose two companions for Much Afraid to help her make it through the journey: Sorrow and Suffering. Continue reading »

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Recently I camephoto-1422728221357-57980993ea99across an article discussing how parents can help their anxious children. I thought article had some good recommendations and thoughts for parents of children with anxiety. I have included some excerpts from the article below and added my own thoughts and comments in red. If you would like to read the entire article 9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try by Renee Jain check out the link. Here is an excerpt from the article:

        As all the kids line up to go to school, your son, Timmy, turns to you and says, “I don’t want to take the bus. My stomach hurts. Please don’t make me go.” You cringe and think, Here we go again. What should be a simple morning routine explodes into a daunting challenge.

Continue reading »

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photo by Clemson CC

photo by Clemson CC

Deciding to seek help is often the hardest part of actually beginning therapy.  In my last post, I addressed the mistaken stigma of seeking the help of a therapist, and doubts Catholics in particular might have about seeking therapy. Overcoming our own doubts, hesitations and preconceptions is hard enough.  After that, finding a therapist should be easy – just open the phone book, call someone and go.  Unfortunately, it is rarely that simple.  One aspect that often makes choosing a therapist more complicated is the intimacy of the work.  Going in, you know you are trusting someone to understand you, even the parts of yourself that you don’t usually share with others.  That can involve plenty of doubt and uncertainty.  Will the therapist really understand me?  Really get what is going on with me?  Really be able to help me?  For these reasons, those seeking help are often evaluating more than just credentials – they want to know if the therapist as a person is a good fit with them.

Because of my background, I am often asked to suggest a therapist or help in the process of finding one.  As often as not, the person who asks me is not the person going to therapy, but is someone who wants information to smooth the process for a friend or relative.   Regardless of who is asking, what I describe below is how I would approach the process.  There is no “right way” to choose a therapist, so my intent is to provide some information to help you ponder rather than laying out a perfect series of steps. Continue reading »

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I’ve sometimes wondered what Lent must look like to a non-religious person:

  • We spend one day a week not eating meat, and on a few days we skip meals altogether.
  • We voluntarily deprive ourselves of good things.
  • We intentionally ponder and ritualize the torture and death of our God/Leader.
  • Oh, and our male leaders all dress in purple (and occasionally pink).

In this thought experiment, I can imagine the other thinking: “Those people are intentionally causing themselves to suffer.  Who does that?  All the sane people are trying to avoid and reduce suffering.”

Checking in with myself, I notice that often avoiding suffering is indeed my main motivation. Continue reading »

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