I was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was a freshman in high school. Though I have learned coping methods over the years, it is still a struggle in my life. There are days when the fatigue hits me so hard that all I can do is cover myself up with the thickest blanket we own, close my eyes, and try to sleep my troubles away. I often thought to myself, “Sometimes I wish I could just fall asleep forever,” or, “I wish I could wake up when all of this is over.”
One day while in prayer, Jesus asked me, “Why do you desire death?”
His words hit me hard in my heart. Though I wouldn’t have considered myself as someone who was suicidal, the way I self-harmed through my words and physical actions was definitely a far cry from Jesus’ words in John 10:10, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Depression and suicidal thoughts are a personal cross that many of us carry. In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus says:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
Spiritual Help for Depression
We shouldn’t be afraid to turn to others when we’re struggling. God works through the hands and words of professionals trained to help treat people with depression and anxiety. Though I’m not a professional, I wanted to share four suggestions you can try in addition to reaching out for professional help if needed, when you need help easing your burdens.
1. Healing Through Prayer Ministry
I’m always filled with a rush of love whenever I sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration. Sitting in silence and simply basking in the love of Jesus is very healing. As someone who struggles to speak kindly to myself, sometimes I prefer to sing songs of love to Jesus instead. My go-to song when I’m not sure what to talk to Jesus about in Adoration is “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
We can also proclaim the name of Jesus to others for healing. When my friends and family pray and proclaim His name over me, I feel so much stronger. Though it’s uncomfortable to ask for help, I often reach out through email blasts to the women of my mom’s group at church or close friends.
Finally, I highly recommend taking part in a healing prayer ministry. Our parish has something called Heaven on Earth Healing, a prayer ministry for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Members of the church guided by the Holy Spirit helped me to identify wounding, bonding, strongholds, and lies from the enemy that were keeping me from experiencing God’s abundant love. If your church doesn’t have a specific prayer healing ministry, it would be beneficial to reach out to a priest and see if they can pray with you.
2. Become Friends With St. Dymphna
St. Dymphna’s feast day is celebrated on May 5th. She is patroness of mental disorders, neurological disorders, depression, and anxiety among others. She was born of a pagan Irish king and a Christian queen in the 7th century. Her father’s mental health deteriorated after the death of his wife and he started to desire her. She fled to Belgium and was ultimately beheaded around the age of 15.
I have an image of St. Dymphna glued to a dollar store prayer candle that I light every night when I pray. I also found a sweet St. Dymphna keychain from Shining Light Dolls that I keep on my car keys.
3. Remember that Jesus is the Light
When I was reading Give Up Worry for Lent by Gary Zimak, a small action he suggested was to say the name “Jesus” out loud whenever you turn on a light. It’s so simple, but so beautiful. It’s a reminder that Jesus is “the light [that] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
I keep candles and lanterns around my home for decoration as a reminder that Jesus is the light I need to turn to when I’m feeling the darkness creep in.
4. Invite Jesus into the Shadowy Moments
One of my favorite ways to pray is by inviting Jesus into my holy imagination. I pray, “Come Holy Spirit. Sanctify my imagination,” and invite the Lord to walk with me through the hurt in my life. Some days I’m being rocked in God’s arms like a baby as He sings, “He’s got the whole world in His hands” and other days I’m gifted fields of daffodils.
There were times growing up when I felt alone and that God wasn’t with me. Inviting the Lord into those moments of loneliness has revealed that He was always there and helped me through the pain even when I didn’t realize it.
When the storm of depression feels strong, I pray a quick prayer like St. Peter did during the storm when he tried to walk on water: “Lord, help me!” I ask Jesus to calm the storm raging inside of my heart. Jesus reminds me to look up and keep my gaze focused on Him instead of looking down and sinking.
When I look into his eyes, I can walk on water.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, how do you draw spiritual strength from the Lord?Turning to Jesus When Struggling with Depression #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Amy Heyse is an artist and mother who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her graphic design husband. You can often find her trying to squeeze in time for personal art-making between motherhood and working as an art instructor at a local paint and sip studio. You can find out more about her here.