Jump to content
BarbaraTherese

Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality

Recommended Posts

BarbaraTherese

The point of view and inclusion in ALL discussion re mental health by persons having a lived experience is essential.

 

A few years back the UK govt began paying for the time and effort put in by people with a lived experience and various projects began, especially the 'Let's Talk About Mental Health ' and Time to Change. Now that they are both off the ground the govt has said that this sort of inclusion is an example of good practice, but has stopped paying anyone for their input.

 

This has radically affected how many and what sort of people can manage to attend Commissioning Strategy meetings etc and has devastated the expert by experience input.

 

There is nothing like having it from the horses mouth..................

 

I agree - "nothing like having it from the horses mouth".  The problem with sufferer input along with the professionals seems to me to be one of language.  Sufferers do not have the language at hand most often to talk directly to the sciences (including theology).  Emma does go into this in her submission.  She is (or was) quite a 'loud voice' for sufferers of MI, but then she had to study theology and get a PhD to be able to speak as a sufferer to the professionals.

 

I don't have anything to do with Public Mental Health here in Australia as a sufferer any more, but it used to seem to me that any input by sufferers was not regarded as particularly important to the whole conversation about mental illness in general, rather it was regarded as potentially helpful to sufferers only - not professionals (includes theology) who, it almost has seemed, have the answers, while sufferers still grope for them. This is a fallacy of course, but an underlying message nonetheless which comes across to the sufferer.  Also, here in Australia, the subject of mental illness will crop up for some brief reason and be equally brief  - and then silence once more particularly in The Church. Statistics for their worth state that one in five will suffer some form of mental illness in their lifetime, while I have read that in the USA it is upgraded to one in four, hence it is an important subject since so many are or will be affected.

 

Perhaps similar has happened in the UK where MI hits the headlines for some reason and it seems that things are moving.  Then media looses interest hence the professionals seem to do so also.  Because research into MI is complex and slow moving, reluctance is experienced to invest money if whatever might have been invested cannot show corresponding positive results,

 

There was much about Emma Pierce's PhD submission that struck me as having real value, but then there were things stated which left me wondering and questioning.  I cannot agree that mental illness in all instances does not have any sort of physical cause as cause rather than the physical aberrations being a result and that medication is always harmful.  Medication can be helpful in assisting the sufferer to arrive at a mental state where therapy can be productive and Emma's theory that there is no physical cause for mental illness is just as much a theory as that there is a physical cause.  Also, I think that in some sufferers the underlying cause of MI is not physical and therefore there is reason to aspire to overcoming and cure.  With other sufferers, I think there is an underlying physical cause as yet unidentified and persisting and in these sufferers, medication can be helpful in permitting them to live a 'normal' and productive life.  The problem is that as yet there is no way to identify where there is an underlying physical cause and where there is not.

 

But my theories are just as much theories as all the rest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

A few years back the UK govt began paying for the time and effort put in by people with a lived experience and various projects began, especially the 'Let's Talk About Mental Health ' and Time to Change. Now that they are both off the ground the govt has said that this sort of inclusion is an example of good practice, but has stopped paying anyone for their input.

 

This has radically affected how many and what sort of people can manage to attend Commissioning Strategy meetings etc and has devastated the expert by experience input.

 

 

I think that if professionals are paid for the expertise and input, then why not sufferers paid for their own unique expertise (drawing on their unique experiences) and input.  I think probably governments everywhere are under financial strain and sufferers of MI are not high on their priorities.  Where research funding might be available, I don't think that sufferer input is regarded highly enough and sufficient to be paid from available research funds.

Where sufferers might be paid for input, I think that it looks good to the public in media outlets, but is not truly valued as a form of unique expertise, even invaluable expertise, by research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
maximillion

Theories as to 'causation'.

 

I am one who thinks that there is probably an underlying situation (maybe genetic predisposition) which when coupled with make up and personal experiences, all add up to MH problems.

I have also seen situation in which people with the same Dx respond very differently to the same medication - some not at all.

We are all so very different from each other, which IMO is why we need multi-faceted approaches to helping people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

Re Post #21 - all is resolved and Peace reigns and my dread and fear of another Bipolar episode has been allayed and Bipolar itself gone completely quiet once more.  It is the weirdest of phenomena (outside of the miracle of Grace) that so much disturbance, stress and temptation can almost suddenly vanish completely.  However, now I am alerted by experience just how quickly and unpredictably Bipolar can be disturbed and the type of life experience(s) likely to disturb it.  The lessons of history unlearned are often indeed bound to be repeated.

 

I was hoping that I could participate in parish life here without stigma in this relatively new suburb but it seems that I can't and probably due to Bipolar and stigma, since nothing else is present and talk/gossip can travel quickly across parishes.  Nothing can challenge what The Church teaches in Faith and Morals, but some things can challenge how Church Teaching and The Gospel is lived out on parish level and can highlight faults and failings.  I just need to strive to be bigger than stigma and not an impossibility since I have managed, with unfailing Grace always, to achieve this in the past.  It is a disappointment only since I did hope things would be different in this parish compared to my last.  Not so and disappointment is not a heavy cross nor trial at all. 

 

Jesus Himself was thought to be quite mad and there are instances in the lives of the saints where behaviour was suspect and assessed as quite crazy.  Two saints that come to mind are Sts Angela of Foligno and Francis of Assisi, both of whom early in their journey to holiness did exhibit quite strange behaviour.  doubtless had they lived in our times, they would have been raced off to psychiatrists perhaps to psychiatric wards.  I am not contesting, however, that I have a mental illness, because I think that I do.  Mental Illness, however, is not morally questionable - not sinful.

 

Fears by leadership in a Church community related to sufferers of mental illness are completely understandable, but understandable cannot ever make it right and justified in the light of  Church Teaching, of Jesus and His Gospel.  In other words, fears of sufferers of MI is a reason, but not an excuse, where a sufferer or sufferers must walk with their(not sinful) past an ever present reality forced on them through stigma.

Edited by BarbaraTherese

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TheresaThoma

BT- thank you so much for your insight on this. I work and live with pregnant women in need,it is a home of hospitality in the Catholic Worker tradition. Many of them come with mild MI (we can't take women with severe mental illness because we are in no way equiped to handle that). Its very helpful to hear what it is like and helps me understand a bit more about what they go through.

 

As for my own journey with epilepsy I was fortunate to find a medication that completely controls my seizures. I haven't had one in about 7 years now. Thanks be to God!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

BT- thank you so much for your insight on this. I work and live with pregnant women in need,it is a home of hospitality in the Catholic Worker tradition. Many of them come with mild MI (we can't take women with severe mental illness because we are in no way equiped to handle that). Its very helpful to hear what it is like and helps me understand a bit more about what they go through.

 

As for my own journey with epilepsy I was fortunate to find a medication that completely controls my seizures. I haven't had one in about 7 years now. Thanks be to God!

 

I rejoice truly that medication is completely controlling seizures!  And thank you very much for being interested in the problems of sufferers of MI and supportive of them.  Wonderful too that Grace and medication has enabled you to be an important and contributing member of society and in an area of need.

 

It has been 10 years since I have had a serious episode of Bipolar manic psychosis exhibiting bizarre and weird behaviour - as I said, talk/gossip can travel quickly across the parishes in a diocese and I think what has happened in this parish, is that such incidences from the past may have travelled into this parish - hence I am forced to live with the past as an ever present reality...........and this is completely inaccurate.  I went back to college as an adult student probably around 10 years ago or so now and received high marks and an award of merit for outstanding student in Journalism 1.  I remained a successful student for 7 years. I also nowadays work voluntary in the offices of two charities outside Catholicism, who nevertheless do very worthwhile and needed work in the community.  I am accepted in these charities as a valued worker.

 

It is well known in MH circles by the experts that after stigma, the next most pressing problem and concern for those who do suffer MI is isolation and loneliness.  And these two latter do come about because of stigma.  I don't have these problems in my life other than stigma, because I do take steps so that stigma will not lead me to be isolated and feeling lonely in a human sense.

 

The important thing, I think, in the life of a sufferer of MI is to accurately identify their problem and then seek help to overcome it - and to be content with small steps and goals leading to a bigger goal and to be quite conscious of what those small and large goals might be.  Some sufferers of MI because of their confused state of mind often or even continually, do need assistance to identify what exactly their problem is and what appropriate goals might be.  Possibly too, they will need assistance and support to strive to attain goals.

 

Mental illness is a really 'hobby horse' of mine because I do understand and have experienced the problems of sufferers of MI and especially those problems which can come about through stigma.  Hence I often write about it all as I am more confident with writing than verbal communications.

 

I think it is very important for the various helping agencies in the community to be aware when a mental health problem is more than they can handle and to be very aware of where sufferers of quite serious MH problems may receive the expert help they need and to assist, if they are able, in helping a sufferer make the needed contact.

 

I was quite some time ago reading about detachment as a spiritual quest and thought to myself, one really knows when one is being stripped of EVERYTHING when one no longer has their own mind and the experience at times (or always) of MI sufferers.  Sadly, MI 'on the ground' (in parishes and other communities) can be thought of the same as moral failure or being morally reprobate and somehow the fault of the sufferer - that is,  sinful -  and this is the compartment in which they can 'drop' sufferers of MI.  Mental Illness is a complex and difficult problem but complexity and difficulty are reasons - not an excuse to abandon sufferers in any way.

 

I was watching a TV program earlier about one of our celebrities who suffered depression and recently committed suicide.  The guest on the program stated that to support a sufferer of MI it is not necessary to be an expert (that is someone else's department) but one can be a friend and supportive and this type of friendship in acceptance, friendship and support is probably essential to all, including sufferers of MI.

 

Thank you, TT, for giving me the opportunity to continue to rave on about MI and Mi sufferers! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

I was watching a TV program earlier about one of our celebrities who suffered depression and recently committed suicide.  The guest on the program stated that to support a sufferer of MI it is not necessary to be an expert (that is someone else's department) but one can be a friend and supportive and this type of friendship in acceptance, friendship and support is probably essential to all, including sufferers of MI.

 

 

One of the panellists on the above programs said that she was quite frightened of people who suffered mental illness - but that she was going to try very hard in the future to overcome that fear.  I really felt then that the program had been a success.  She identified her problem and set a larger goal (overcoming fear) and between now and then, if she is successful, she will be taking small steps to her goal.  Sometimes we can set a larger goal and seem to work and work and work and never quite achieve it.  The far more important matter than attaining larger goals, is to be continually striving towards them having identified them as worthwhile and as The Lord's work, not ours.  Of course, we co-operate with Grace and The Lord, but victory is always His whether to human reasoning one is victorious or not.  "My Ways are not your ways".

 

One thing that panellist will not be doing if she sticks to her goal - and that is rationalizing her fear of sufferers of MI and condoning it.  That is a very big step indeed in my book and she has 'changed direction' or been on one road and switched to another diametrically opposed to it, challenging it's existence.

 

Success is always The Lord's realm - and mysterious can be His Ways as to why success is granted or withheld seemingly.  We can define success according to fallible human reasoning - but The Lord knows always what is best and actual success in Truth and He is continually orientated to Success in Truth - often mysterious to we mortals.    I posted into Transmundane today an extract from the writings of St Julian of Norwich http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/133208-julian-of-norwich-the-lord-guides-all-things/#entry2657654

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

The date for the Home Mass for receiving and renewal of private vows, plus blessing of "Bethany",  has been set as Monday 8th September 2014, Feast of The Nativity of Our Lady.  The invitations have arrived from the printer but I won't be posting them out until probably early July with a RSVP 31st July to allow me to organize.  The Home Mass will be at 10am followed by Morning Tea.  More than this I don't know until I see Father again in a few weeks mainly re Readings - I am unsure if we are going to use the Readings for the Feast or something else and I would like to print an Order of Mass (with responses) for those attending, some of whom are not Catholic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

Thank you, Immanuel. :) A very happy Easter to you and yours also..........and to all. :)

 

Besides updating my own journey as it unfolds, my hope is that the posts will provide information for those who might be considering private vows.  I have noticed on Catholic Discussion sites that quite a few do have impediments to religious life and other currently existing Church organizations or they may have no attraction to them.  They are often unaware of private vows as a valid and recognized way of life in The Church, as a potential call and vocation - while the lack of formal recognition and other "fixtures" of the formally recognized vocations are a distinct feature of private vows.  

 

               It is no easy vocation and I think that a good spiritual director is probably absolutely essential.  Like all vocations, it has its up times and its down times and the Grace of the vocation is essential and does make things easier to negotiate faithfully.  Some can think that it is a 'walk in the park' and an easy way of life.  Not so in that The Cross is ever present but borne with a certain spiritual conviction lightening any burdensome factors: "Come to Me all you who are burdened and I shall give you rest". For myself, I know I could walk no other road which does take a firm knowledge of vocation, dedication and perseverance, come what may, and Grace is ever present never failing. As Jesus promised, His Rewards are one hundredfold - far more than one hundredfold in fact.  Not the least of His Rewards are Peace, Joy and fulfilment.

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

Just by way of bumping this thread really - a short update.........short, for my usual that is :

 

With the shock of the budget our new liberal government has proposed (shocking in the main not only to the public, but the far greater bulk of political and economic commentators too), if it all should go through our upper house without amendments, I am not reducing charity donations monthly nor my insurance policies (funeral and also contents).  All I will be reducing is the amount I can put away for emergencies and 'luxuries', and quite minimal anyway.

I have given consideration to disconnecting my home phone and the internet but have decided to leave them in place at this point.  Should I find that I just cannot manage adequately, then it will be the internet and home phone that will be eliminated rather than my charity donations and/or insurance covers.

 

I'm hoping this thread will not degenerate into political discussion and/or debate and another thread could be initiated, if necessary, in the debate forum for the purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perigrina

Thanks for this thread.  People do not talk about mental illness enough, which contributes to all the fear and stigma around it.  You are providing a great service to us all.

 

If you have an opportunity to read The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge http://www.amazon.ca/The-Scent-Water-Elizabeth-Goudge/dp/1598568418 , I think you will find it helpful and enjoyable.  It is a work of fiction that involves a woman dealing with mental illness in a Christian way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

Thanks for this thread.  People do not talk about mental illness enough, which contributes to all the fear and stigma around it.  You are providing a great service to us all.

 

If you have an opportunity to read The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge http://www.amazon.ca/The-Scent-Water-Elizabeth-Goudge/dp/1598568418 , I think you will find it helpful and enjoyable.  It is a work of fiction that involves a woman dealing with mental illness in a Christian way.

 

First, thank you very much for the book recommendation.

 

My prognosis almost from the time I fell first ill with Bipolar gave no real hope at all to live a life free of it.  The best I could hope for would be to lead something of a normal life between episodes which were frequent and involved serious psychosis.  Between episodes I was regarded as 'normal' whatever that is and not even psychiatry knows - but at least I could live an ordinary sort of life until the next episode.  My life in the community would totally come apart during an episode - once it was over, I could leave hospital (psychiatric) and return home and I would start to try to put my life together again.  Most often, an episode would onset again before I had time really.

I had resigned myself to the rest of my life being what I called "God's yo yo" ........ in and out of hospital.

During that time I never lost my Faith.  I struggled and argued with it quite often, but Faith never left me completely.  At times, I would really wish that it would and psychiatry did regard it as a pathology and symptomatic of Bipolar.  It was something they felt they had to cure.  I believed that God could and did work miracles, but I never ever asked for one and a cure since I believed and still believe that I did not deserve it at all.  The innocent (not that I was innocent) can and do suffer dreadfully in life, then why not me was my reasoning.  What I did hope and pray for was the gift of living some sort of normal life free of serious psychosis and hospitalizations.  But I certainly never for a moment anticipated that my prayer might be answered.  I just had a desperate little hope deep down somewhere that I never really gave voice to since it was too distressing as one episode after another occurred putting me into the rapidly (for me) revolving door of hospital.

Psychiatry even asked me to leave Catholicism since the attitude to mental illness was (and still is to my knowledge) regarded as not very good at all.  I was advised to join the Anglican Church which has an excellent attitude to mental illness - a correctly informed attitude apparently.  I refused to join the Anglican Church and was labelled as having an irresponsible attitude towards my illness.

 

Then around ten years ago, quite suddenly my brand of Bipolar seemed to lessen in severity and then was quickly followed by the lack of any indication of an episode whatsoever.  Since birth, The Lord has always seen to it that I had some outstanding nun or priest in my path.  And during the severity of Bipolar, there were nuns and priests who were correctly informed re mental illness and were willing to take me totally under their wing despite the often quite socially distasteful matters that can be and were associated with my brand of Bipolar with serious psychotic episodes.  They never abandoned nor rejected me, rather they supported and encouraged me as I stumbled, fell and got up again with my Faith along my journey.

 

I can very honestly state that my Faith which was well informed in theology through my Dominican nuns education and my Faith with an informed theology was a constant guide and support throughout my illness, along with the priests and nuns whom I have mentioned.  That might sound a bit strange and I cannot fully explain it, since I really did fight and argue with my Faith and very often, but I never lost that Baptismal gift.  Though I struggled and argued with my Faith - at times feeling desperate and at times totally abandoned, I always knew that The Lord was there no matter what my feeling level might be.  And during those desperate times, I always knew beyond doubt that hidden under the species of bread and wine was Jesus, Second Person of The Blessed Trinity, Truly Man, Truly God.  At times I felt absolutely nothing, cold and dead inside - yet His Presence in The Blessed Eucharist was very real and concrete to me.  There is a line in the Psalms "Truly, You are a God who lies hidden".

 

It is approximately ten years or so, more or less I do not know, since I suffered an episode of Bipolar.  However, my doctor did inform me that I am a marked eccentric and people can and do mistake my eccentricities (which are just normal to me) as symptoms of Bipolar. They are not.

 

Hence, I now feel that I am ready to have Father John receive my private vows in September 2014 coming.  I made private vows over 30 years ago now, but I kept them in the main between The Lord and I alone, because I knew (and still feel that I was right) that people would not understand at all and right the vows and me off as completely mentally ill and not really knowing what I was doing.  I did know what I was doing, and I knew that if the whole wide world did not understand, it did not matter one iota to me.  I knew that The Lord understood and never ever doubted it.

 

Most all the people around me (including family) consider me as single only because no one wanted a woman who suffered serious mental illness or similar thinking.  I rather often can be regarded as tuppence short of two bob and someone to be smiled and at and say "Hi" and then best ignored.  Though I am renewing my vows at a Home Mass, it will be a very small gathering of family and friends...........and I'm laughing now because most still will probably regard me as they always have done.  But seeking a change of attitude is not my objective in having my vows received by Father during a Home Mass.  Oh not my objective at all - my objective is very far beyond that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

I don't know how many times I have (and still do) prayed the prayer since my illness onset at 28yrs (I am now almost 69yrs old) and prayed it with absolute determination of my will and with real true grit and totally ignoring my feeling level no matter how dreadful - and I went literally from riches to poverty, homelessness and very real illness, abandoned by family and friends : "Lord, I do not care how You permit me to be treated at all, and I do not care not one little bit, I am never ever going to stop loving and serving You if You will but grant me that Grace. Amen".

 

If all I have written just does not fall into place, does not make sense nor logic.  It is as is anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BarbaraTherese

Had appointment with my SD this week.  He will be away interstate at the end of August for a few months.  Father has reset the date tentatively therefore to 15th. August, Solemnity of The Assumption.  Time of day as morning, afternoon or evening is as yet unknown.  He hopes to be able to confirm at the end of June.

 

I have already had invitations printed which were not costly.  These are now headed for the 'round file' and what I will be doing, which I should have done in the first place I think, is buy some really simple yet good printing paper and making my own invitations and running them off on the printer just prior to actual posting.  Father John rather regularly is called interstate.

 

Father gave me the option of choosing my own Readings or the Readings from the Lectionary for the Feast of The Assumption.  I will be choosing the latter.  He has not received an answer as yet as to where in The Mass I am to renew the vows and he has suggested at the Offertory but it is not yet confirmed from diocesan offices and appropriate authority. I am surprised Father has suggested the Offertory as I thought it would have to be either before or after Mass, but higher authority will advise in due course.  Although, if it is the Offertory, I will be again overcome.  As it is, The Feast of The Assumption was a real surprise and a great Joy.  These sorts of matters do fill one with great Joy but at the same time are entirely humbling.  It makes one feel very small indeed and the distance between self and the Glorious Goodness of The Lord even greater.  It does make one wonder with St Paul (see quote below)- who indeed are we?  Nothing is earned, nothing is deserved....a nothing simply is everywhere.  Yet The Lord bridges that immeasurable distance, in fact all of Scripture is the story of God seeking out His creatures longing for their friendship and to understand Him as Friend (reflecting today's Gospel).  Who indeed are we?  And one comes to insight something of just why we do have the gift of free will.

 

I think I am very blessed in my SD being a priest and religious and one who is totally loyal to Rome and thus our Archbishop.  Father is not making any move at all without consulting higher up first and this is very reassuring for me, although initially I was quite surprised.  I had no idea of the formalities Father would adopt.  And our Archbishop too is entirely loyal to Rome and very strictly so. 

 

_____________

Hebrews Ch2 http://www.drbo.org/chapter/65002.htm "What is man, that thou art mindful of him: or the son of man, that thou visitest him? [7] Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels: thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and hast set him over the works of thy hands: [8] Thou hast subjected all things under his feet. For in that he hath subjected all things to him, he left nothing not subject to him."

Edited by BarbaraTherese

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×