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Richard Howard wrote:

Hi, guys —

I know your words are not infallible but I'm seeking your advice.

I truly have trouble thinking that the Pope himself can speak without error on issues of faith and morals, but that is beside the point right now.

I suffer from bipolar, panic, anxiety, and depression disorders. This disease makes me think creatively and deep on topics, that others only skim across their minds; I tend to dwell deep in these thoughts. I have tried to be faithful to Jesus and the Church He created, but I struggle daily, especially with my mental illness and I often flip-flop daily in considering if I want to remain Catholic, become a Protestant, or just be ... well a believer in nothing, coming to a conclusion based on what Blaise Pascal once said,

"It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth."

This back and forth behavior becomes numbing at times and often I get frustrated.

I have been trying to pinpoint why I feel this way and I often change my mind on this issue.
Part of being bipolar is having impulses, being risky, and having extreme highs and lows.
For example, one day I'll think the doctrines of Mary are beautiful and understand them well,
but the very next day, sometimes the same day, I will think they are absurd! One day I'll believe all the teachings the Church expounds on, then that very same day or a week later, I'll change my mind.

This problem occurs especially when it comes to my spiritual life. There are times that I feel like
I need to go to Confession for sexual thoughts of being impure with myself, but have been told, multiple times, that my thoughts and actions in this area are not mortal sin because of my condition; others times I still feel guilty. I don't know what to do! I'm scared that I'm never going to be truly acceptable to God; others times I feel He is not even in there. I end up questioning, doubting, and cursing at him!

  • How do I truly know if the culpability of my sins are truly diminished and not mortal?

When I go to Confession or feel like I need to, instead of being at peace, it creates more anxiety and the cycle starts up again! At times, I feel like I have multiple personalities, one saying this or that, then the other saying something else.

  • What do I do?

Sincerely,

Richard

  { What do I do if the effects my illness, affect how I feel about remaining Catholic? }

Mike replied:

Hi Richard,

In these situations, it's important to find a spiritual director; a priest, who would be willing to give you advice and counsel on a regular basis. He would be able to get to know you and your background, both spiritually and medically, and guide you appropriately.

We have had a lot of questions from people with a background similar to your. I've searched our knowledge base using the key word "OCD" and created a list of postings (below) that may help you in your situation and give you some insight.

I think if you read them all, you'll pick up some helpful advice, but again, the best advice is to find a spiritual director to assist you.

I know there are a lot of postings, but you really should read through them all. Though hidden, some of them have some great advice. I've listed them from the earliest ones we answered to the most recent ones.

You said:
I'm scared that I'm never going to be truly acceptable to God

Despite your illness and other crosses, even the sinful ones, if you strive to love Him and serve Him, He will always accept you!

It's important to remember that despite your illness our Lord is with you, helping you to carry this cross/illness the best you can. Based on previous e-mails from people with similar illnesses,
too many people in your situation, end up being too harsh on themselves.

Remember, Jesus was a man like us in all things but sin. Remember this. He understands your crosses and will never give you a cross or struggle that you can't handle.

If someone struggles with sins of the flesh they should make sure to go to Confession every Saturday afternoon before going to Sunday Mass. It's easy! and the priest is their to advise and counsel us, not judge us.

This posting on the Pope may help clarify a very important concept people sometime have a hard time understanding.

Mike

Richard replied:

Thanks Mike,

The problem is mental illness, not spiritual illness.

It's not that I'm having these problems just with the Church, but in all aspects of my life.

Richard

Mike replied:

Hi Richard,

Right, but sometimes mental illness can effect the way we view issues spiritually, in addition to other life issues. Try to read the postings and find a priest that is faithful to the Church who would be willing to be a spiritual director for you.

You're not alone Richard. Nevertheless, as we state on our question page, we are not licensed counselors. Regardless, a good priest will be able to discern whether one needs more advanced counseling.

The Lord will never give us a Cross that is too heavy for us to carry. That you can count on.

Mike

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