My Mental Health Journey only began three years ago at the start of Little With Great Love. I had never thought about my own feelings, struggles, or restoration until I started contributing to this ministry.
This Lent, Little With Great Love is providing an 8-week course on Women’s Emotional Wellness, asking women, “Do You Want to Be Well?” I am happily contributing my own story to this course, discussing Mental Health Wellness with professional Dr. Sherri.
Since being asked to share my Mental Health story, it’s made me reflect on everything I’ve shared on Little With Great Love. I feel like each story has been a stone that has built for me a better understanding of where I am at today on my mental health journey.
Here is a little reflection of what my journey has looked like, where it currently is, and where I hope it will go.
Worry and Anxiety
I realized I had struggled with worry and anxiety about two years ago, in 2021. We had started our Saints for Slackers series and I had been feeling a connection with Padre Pio. With his help, I had been able to work on ways to combat worry with him.
My struggle with worry and anxiety has made it hard for me to be present in my daily life and relationships. I would always worry about what I had to do next, or let the anxiety of having to do something or go somewhere new take over my thoughts. While I have learned to better combat it and utilize methods, like the Monk Manual, to help manage my worry, I still feel this anxiety in my life.
Each day I choose not to let worry get the best of me. While each day the struggle is different, I feel less anxious in my daily life. When I get overwhelmed, I take a step back. I have learned to acknowledge these feelings, and know it’s okay to be feeling them. I still struggle, still worry, but I continue to strive to be well.
Last year, I started to have moments where I fell into a dark hole filled with dread, annoyance, and sadness. All of my joys in my life, like writing, traveling, and creating, became tiresome and pointless. I never understood why all of these things I loved suddenly became annoying. I didn’t know why I would suddenly experience these negative feelings or why it seemed like there was no way to overcome them. However, during our 2nd Annual Little With Great Love Retreat, I was able to finally put a name to the feeling: acedia.
My joy is my biggest gift from the Lord, and all of the feelings of hatred, annoyance, and hopelessness that had come up had been a deterrent from acedia. Once I understood acedia, I learned to overcome it. I had put some of the steps mentioned in my blog to action and slowly regained my joy.
One of my most recent posts was talking through my exhaustion at the end of the year. I had thought my bitterness, annoyances, and sadness was a spiritual attack coming from Acedia, but I had felt joy when I was doing the things I loved, when I was able to step back. I had been feeling exhausted.
I feel like as Catholics, we can tend to label our struggles as spiritual attack when it is our human bodies and minds under attack. We may be going through a mental illness trying to put a spiritual remedy when a medical or physical one is needed.
After the busyness that is the end/beginning of the year, I had finally had time to myself to rest. But taking time to rest is hard for me. It often feels like I cannot find the time to rest, or even allow myself to rest. But even taking one hour a day for myself makes me feel so much better than not doing it at all.
Not Doing Enough
As I have been navigating being in my 20s, life is constantly changing. My schedule changes, or my living situation changes, and I don’t have the same time to do the things I’ve done before. I currently struggle with the idea of not doing enough in all aspects of my life. Not working enough, resting enough, being creative enough, giving enough, enjoying myself enough, everything.
I know I should be taking just one step at a time, because my brain overwhelms itself, and I feel like I am going in a circle. I can tend to speak badly about myself and get all in my head, and all truth to ground me in reality goes out the window. This is an area in my mental health I recognize, and know it comes from trauma. It’s something arising now, making it hard for me to make decisions or be confident in my choices. I recognize this, want to be well, and am looking at ways to better this area of my mental health.
Like I said at the beginning, I feel like my journey has only begun just a little bit ago, and am grateful to be developing and better understanding my mental health because of Little With Great Love. Being able to journey with other like-minded women makes me feel seen and heard. And I hope by sharing my stories throughout these few years, you, too, feel seen. As always, I am praying for you friend, thank you for being here with us.