As the end of the year approaches, I feel drained. I feel like all year long I’ve been barely surviving, barely hanging on, just pushing through each day trying to get stuff done. Each day has felt like an eternity trying to get through it as best I can. However, reflecting on the year as a whole, it’s gone by in a flash. It feels like just last week I was celebrating my birthday (which was in May) and I often forget I’m 25 years old now. Why does day-to-day feel slow yet time as a whole goes by so fast?
We Are Only Present Today
Right now is the only time we are really present, and yet so often do we try to live in the future or even the past. I am always looking towards the next big moment, expecting that once I make it there I will be happy. Fully aware that life doesn’t “start” once I reach a certain point, I can’t help but to think of how much “better” I’ll be once I pass through the daily and get to my destination.
So many times I tell myself to be present, to enjoy where I am currently at in my life. However, I struggle, and I’ve recognized this certain struggle as Acedia. Acedia is also known as the noonday devil and it’s rooted in the sin of sloth. It can be affecting us if we tend to feel things such as:
- Losing religious attitude (not going to Mass, prayer, reading the Bible)
- Hopeless – holiness seems too far; give it up.
- Instability and distractions
- Fear of solitude; we don’t want to be alone, nor with God.
- Lost faith in vocation to holiness, feeling lost
- Mental wandering
I shared the ways to overcome acedia and have been trying to put them to practice ever since I learned of this struggle. I have felt like I’ve overcome (or am in the process of overcoming) these points listed above. I go to Mass and sing in my church’s choir every week and enjoy doing so. I’m doing a 54 day Rosary novena. I have hope for my future and feel joy in discovering God’s plan for me. I can focus while working and keep up with my routine. In every aspect of my life, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and am where I am supposed to be.
However, I cannot shake a feeling of exhaustion, and I don’t think it is related to acedia.
Am I being Spiritually Attacked or am I just Exhausted?
For a while now, I’ve thought I’ve been under spiritual attack, and I probably was. Acedia was affecting my joy, making me unable to feel and give joy as God has gifted me. I have felt my joy again when I am being creative, when I spend time with my loved ones, when I eat good food and watch a funny show. My joy is here, yet I am struggling.
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 one is needed.
I looked up what/if others have discussed this idea. I found on Blessed is She that there are lies we may tell ourselves about mental health. And read on Franciscan Media what the Catholic response is to mental health. Both of these resources put some confirmation behind some of my thoughts.
Blessed is She put to words something I’ve felt: “If I were holier, I wouldn’t have a mental illness” I know Jesus offers peace, but I’m anxious. I’ve tried to rest in the Lord’s presence, but I’m restless. I know I should be joyful, but feel sad. I don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, but have talked a lot about the anxiety I feel, and now am faced with a new struggle of exhaustion.
Psychologists from BetterUp define mental exhaustions as “a feeling of extreme tiredness, characterized by other feelings including apathy, cynicism, and irritability. You may be mentally exhausted if you’ve recently undergone long-term stress, find it hard to focus on tasks, or lack interest in activities you usually enjoy.” It is something we all can face, and was recognized by Pope Francis around this time last year. He shares, “Overwork and work-related stress, cause many people to experience extreme exhaustion. Sadness, apathy, and spiritual tiredness end up dominating people’s lives, who are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today.”
It’s Hard for me to Rest
There was a post my sister shared on instagram which has stuck with me since seeing it. It said how “growing up woman I never knew a relaxed woman”. I deeply reflected on it as the post continues prompting: “Successful women? Yes. productive women? Plenty. Anxious and Afraid and apologetic women? Heaps of them. But relaxed women? At ease women? Woman who don’t dissect their days in Half-hour Slots of productivity? Women who prioritize rest and pleasure and play? Women who aren’t afraid to take up space in the world? Women who give Themselves unconditional permission to relax? Without guilt? Without apology? Without feeling like they need to earn it? I’m not sure I’ve ever met a woman like that. but I would like to become one.”
We know women who are strong, successful, hardworking, and caregiving but it’s hard to find a woman who is relaxed.
Looking at Mary from the story of Martha and Mary I think of how she is relaxing listening to Jesus while Martha runs around stressed (Luke 10:38-42). I absolutely feel like Martha, burdened with much serving in my work, ministry, and personal life. I am exhausted and drained just like Martha, and I wish to be like Mary choosing rest with the Lord. It’s easier said than done for me when trying to rest, and I don’t know why.
I don’t really have an idea on how to help my exhaustion other than to rest, but resting is too hard for me, so I keep going around in this vicious loop. After sharing all of my current struggles with you, I don’t know what to do about them. But I continue doing what I have been working on to try and overcome my Acedia (and maybe in turn my exhaustion?) by doing what brings me joy, getting through each day one day at a time, but all I feel like I can do right now is pray.
I’m not sure if you feel like me right now, but I am praying for us to have time to rest, for guidance, for help in understanding our emotions, and for peace from the Lord.