We’ve all been depressed at one time or the other in our lives. The vicissitudes of life necessarily present us with several highs and lows so we sometimes sink into depression. This is normal, natural, however, when this is prolonged it becomes a problem. Aside from clinical depression which will need the help of a psychiatrist, a prolonged “low” could be because of a bad lifestyle or from guilt resulting from unconfessed sins.
What to do
Moral struggles can cause the mind to be weary and gloomy. What to do is begin slowly to pull out of sinful habits. It will definitely be difficult and even slow, but eventually, you will achieve the joy and happiness you crave.
The Powerful Name:
When you wake up in the morning, invoke the name of Jesus. I have found that saying the name of Jesus and meditating on his love and power has a hold on us, keeps us from sin and helps us with the grace necessary to keep our resolve alive. Just close your eyes for a few minutes, and repeatedly say “Jesus Christ”, slowly and with your greatest affection. Believe me, a few minutes of this in the morning everyday will do you more good than hurrying to check your Facebook notifications (which you should not do until around 10 am to allow for a more detached use of earthly things. Refer to our previous article on things to do in the morning for more guide).
Then say your regular morning prayers. If you don’t have any, I suggest you run to a Catholic book store and get a prayer book to help you. Get both morning prayers and Novenas to keep you praying for consecutive days.
Recourse to Mary every day and especially at the hour of temptation.
After my initial conversion, I’d call to Mary anytime any violent temptations presented itself. I would pull my Rosary and pray as much as needed to perfectly quench the hunger to commit sin.
Carry your Rosary in your person at all times so you can recite it every chance you get. On your way home from work, you could consider paying Mary and Jesus a visit (in Church). Kneel or sit depending on how tired you are and let your heart move in love and awe for God’s many graces. Let this become a regular thing and consider it a “date”.
It mustn’t take you too long. Start from something small and work your way up. Five minutes a day isn’t bad, from there you could extend to longer minutes when you have more time and energy. Just remember to keep quiet after each visit for God to speak to your heart through inspiration and more resolutions.
Rid yourself of any sinful relationships, no matter how difficult this might make your life. You needn’t break up with your significant other if you honestly are working on getting married. If so, then do so quickly to enable your prayer life flourish the more. If you have a job and are made to commit mortal sins every time, then either change positions or quit. Do anything necessary to ensure that all occasions of sin are far away from you. I suggest consulting a priest for advice to discern your particular situation to know what to cut out of your life and what to keep.
Get new friends.
This particularly helped me during my initial conversion. I had a couple of friends with whom I discussed several heavenly topics, shared books with, and exchanged ideas. What this did to me was: it reordered my goals and priorities and changed the meaning of “appearing cool in front of my friends”. (lol, I know this might not mean anything to you, but at the time it meant a lot to me).
What devout people consider good and admirable is different from what worldly people do, so when you mingle with people whose goals are either sinful or just mundane, you’d either be tempted to wish you were them or behaved like them, or you’d end up being tempted to judge them. The better thing to do is keep your formal relationships but mingle more with people who share your new ideals. Never judge anyone even slightly or feel you’re better off, this is a terrible way to remain in sin while struggling to combat more obvious ones.
Heavenly friends too:
Reading about the lives of Saints does a lot to lift our hearts from our earthly worries to heaven. Learning how ordinary people did ordinary things extraordinarily can be an inspiration to us. I advise focusing on non-miraculous things so we do not expect to see visions or work miracles too just because we say a few hail marys every day. Building your spiritual life around supernatural gifts like vision, tongues, prophesy etc can be dangerous and even might increase rather than decrease confusion and depression. It is not bad to read such stories as they can marvel us as to what God can accomplish through men, but we should not build too much on them nor even consider asking God for such gifts.
Make friends with the Saints, call on them for help and guidance. And I encourage you to purchase and read the book: Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales. It helped and continues to help millions of people find the rational path to holiness and dispel doubts and worry.
The Sacraments, your center.
You cannot talk about conversion without talking about the Sacraments. Confession is so important, so important that you should have a confessor who will also serve as your spiritual director to whom you should regularly confess. This person will help you figure out what God wants you to do; in general and in particular situations.
The Eucharist deserves particular attention since God helps fortify you with the necessary graces to keep fighting. Receiving the Eucharist more than just weekly can be very powerful in our lives. I would suggest daily but many people cannot make daily mass. But shoot for daily, or at least any opportunity you get during the week. However, the very necessary one is to ensure to receive every Sunday to renew your resolve and receive fresh energy for the battle.
Your disposition is what gives your external acts meaning and value. If your dispositions are bad, your seemingly good actions can become empty or even dangerous for you and others. So, be sure to have the right disposition in the race to freedom.
- Believe that God loves you and wants you to be saved.
- Believe that he has given the Church the power and command to save you by applying the merits of Christ’s passion to your soul through the Sacraments and her many rich ministerial acts.
- Believe that you cannot possibly save yourself. You need God and his Church, you need help from priests and Theologians to counsel you towards making good choices.
- Never look back at your past sinful life with longing or say things like “If it were not God, I’d do this and that”. Never let your affection remain on sinful things even if you no longer do them.
- You need to trust in God’s goodness and never doubt that his ultimate desire is your eternal good, not just your physical or temporal good.
- Trust in the help of Mary, the Mother of God and our mother who will always be there when you call on her, to give you the graces of her Son and ward off the temptations of hell.
- Finally, never forget that becoming holy and free of depression or worry isn’t an instantaneous thing. It takes a very long time to achieve in ordinary cases. So the right attitude is: never willfully fall, and if you should fall, never remain on the ground. No matter how bad you’ve messed up, never stop. As long as the devil keeps tempting you, there’s still God in you, and as long as there’s still God in you, you’re still alive, and as long as you’re still alive, there’s still hope.
Once you begin the struggle, you will definitely find peace. Continuing this very tasking battle ensures your freedom from depression, anxiety and all forms of worry since your eyes will be fixed on Christ crucified from whence all good things come. May he reign in your life and transform it, amen.