Lent is a season of repentance. It is a time for taking stock of one’s life, facing the personal lies we often tell ourselves about ourselves, confessing to a priest, and then proceeding to make changes, convert.
There are many objective sins that can be symptoms of depression or mania. So the issue of culpability, the degree of responsibility for committing those sins is always a consideration best discussed with a priest who hopefully understands the nature of the condition. But that is not the topic here. Here I will make some suggestions for a practical examination of conscience for those affected by depression and bipolar illness. Here they are.
1. Have I neglected to seek help even when I know deep inside that “something’s not quite right?” Have I refused to listen to the advice of a friend or family member who has stated, “something’s not right with you?” If so, is it because I’ve been too proud or too afraid to seek help?
2. Have I cancelled appointments with doctors or therapists because I don’t want to face that I may need to take medicine or actually engage in therapy? What excuses am I using?
3. Have I showed up for therapy but resisted engaging or doing therapy homework? How do I rationalize this?
4. Have I blamed others or situations for my deteriorating moods rather than take responsibility for them?
5. Have I avoided treatment for mania because I like the energy, in spite of the fact that mania progressively gets worse without treatment?
6. Have I minimized my children’s cries for help indicated through changes in their behavior, mood, and sometimes even their verbal requests for help? Is that because I’m afraid of being thought of as a bad parent or having to face that I may have depression? Yes, when a parent has depression the children are affected (as well as the marriage).
Giving up fear, pride, and avoidance are much better than giving up candy or coffee.
It is said that a good examination of conscience followed by a good confession is good for the soul. It is also good for the mind, emotions, and heart if that confession is followed by action.