Sinead O'Conor's latest video from a motel in New Jersey USA which she published on her Facebook page has made world news and has been watched by many millions of people.
Some large newspapers have praised her for highlighting the problems and stigma around mental illness.
I found the video disturbing and my heart went out to Sinead.
In spite of what many believe I have never met Sinead O'Connor and had absolutely nothing to do with her ordination as a Catholic priest in Lourdes many years ago.
Around that time I did speak to her by telephone and we had very interesting conversations.
I had no problem with Sinead being ordained a priest if her motives were "pure" which I'm sure they were.
But I do think that EVERYONE who wants to be a priest needs to spend a serious amount of time in preparation for ordination.
That preparation involves spiritual, personal, psychological, intellectual and psychic formation.
It was only when watching the above video that I learned that Sinead suffers, as she said, from THREE mental health issues. She did not tell us what exactly their nature.
Any person who has truly lived life will have experienced mental health challenges at various times.
Thank God I have never suffered from depression - but I have in the past suffered from anxiety and panic attacks - and these were frightening moments for me.
But I always believed in the power of both TALKING and CRYING as part of managing one's mental health life and I have talked to many people about my own challenges and I have often cried.
In the late 1980's I made a very firm decision to enter psychotherapy as a client. This time coincided with my dismissal from the Catholic Church by Cahal Daly.
I managed to do great work with one psychotherapist and through that work, I explored many unexplored areas of my life and that work was very, very healing.
I also went to England to work, as a client, with the famous Primal Therapy psychiatrist Dr. Frank Lake.
|DR. FRANK LAKE|
The result of all this was that I resolved many issues and came to a place of great self-acceptance, great peace of mind and the freedom to be - both in private and in public, MY REAL SELF.
I have never looked back thank God and I am so grateful that I had the wisdom to engage in this work and the opportunity to see it through.
In fact, through all of this, I came to realize what the FREEDOM OF A SON OF GOD really means.
I have a peace of mind and contentment today - and for many years now - that is a great blessing. But this blessing only comes through suffering, pain, perseverance and hard work.
CAN SINEAD BE "CURED"?
I'm not so sure that "cure" is the right word when talking about these issues.
Life is tough and very unpredictable and I think it is far better to think about GOOD LIFE MANAGEMENT than it is to talk about "cure".
If Sinead asked me to advise her what would I advise? I think I might advise the following:
1. Find a good psychiatrist/psychotherapist and stick with them especially at those painful times you want to run away from them and appoint a new one.
2. Do not be afraid to take medication as a temporary crutch if you are advised to take it. In fact, some mental health issues require life long and well-managed medication.
3. Make a decision to trust in God / A Higher Power - and stick with that decision especially when you FEEL that God is not there or does not really care.
4. When you do not feel "normal" make yourself behave "normal" and you will begin to feel "normal".
5. Force yourself to go out - shopping, walking, exercising, going for a coffee, and you will feel the better for it.
6. Join a gym and exhaust yourself physically. Physical exhaustion and exercise have a calming effect on the mind. A lot of mental thunder and lightening can find an earth in physical exercise and exhaustion.
7. Finally throw yourself at the feet of God and cling on there until the storm passes.
I think that the 12 Steps of AA offer a good spiritual framework for tackling any addiction or any issue:
- We admitted we were powerless over xxxxxxxx - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to OTHERS and to practice these principles in all our affairs.