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Gospel Q&A: How Do I Feel the Spirit When I Have a Mental Illness?

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Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “How do I feel the Spirit when I have a mental illness?”

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The words we use to discuss communication with the Holy Ghost illustrate a close tie to how we expect to experience the Spirit—we say, “I feel the Spirit.” I feel my Savior’s love. I feel impressed to…the list goes on and on. But what do you do when the way you feel is altered by mental illness? These severe diseases can affect the emotions we feel and the way we process them. They can distort the way we see the world and our reactions to various circumstances. In many cases, the most disturbing side effect is that we cannot feel anything at all.

So, how can we experience the abundance of God’s holy Comforter when faced with such blocks? The answer won’t be the same for everyone. It’s as individual as our relationship with God is. However, there are some principles that can give us hope and facilitate more connection.

Simplify & Be Still

Sister Patricia T. Holland recently taught, “Please stop running to the point of exhaustion. Be quiet. Be still. Simplify. Be meek and lowly of heart and pray. I testify that miracles will come when we slow down, when we calm down and when we kneel down. All that the Father has can one day be yours. What a truly hopeful way to face your future.”

When you have a mental illness, the well from which you draw likely feels dramatically diminished. It’s important to do all you can to slow down and allow yourself to heal. This can be difficult when accomplishing tasks is often presented as a sign we are succeeding against our mental illness.

Slow down. Simplify your life, whether that’s getting rid of things so you can have a clean, sacred space or cutting things out of your schedule that are particularly stressful. Sit with God and talk with Him in the stillness. He can more likely reach us when we do so.

Look for Unexpected Signs of Connection

We often put God in a box. He must only be able to communicate with us in a short list of ways that are as we dictate and expect. Open your mind to unexpected signs of connection. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Suddenly thinking of a happy memory
  • Finding beauty in the world around us
  • Connecting with a loved one
  • A lightbulb moment of understanding
  • Having the self-control to act
  • Seeing something in a different light

This is why pondering on what you’re grateful for can be so important. It’s not about negating the hard things in your life; it’s about looking for ways God may be trying to reach you. Don’t put limits on how God can speak to His beloved child.

Read Your Patriarchal Blessing

Quick Tip: Requesting a Digital Copy of Your Patriarchal Blessing ...

Your patriarchal blessing can bring clarity to your relationship with God. It may include ideas on how to strengthen that relationship, ways you can overcome your challenges, and a glimpse of your eternal nature. Study your patriarchal blessing often and use it as a guide for how to live your life on a daily basis. Allow it to strengthen your heart and boost your confidence when a mental illness tries to burden you with shame and doubt. When you have more faith in who you are to God, you are more likely to experience the Spirit.

Give Yourself Your Best Shot

There’s no doubt about it. Better health improves our ability to feel and experience everything, including the Holy Ghost. Give yourself your best shot and do all you can to treat your mental illness. Seek professional health and talk to a therapist. If appropriate, explore medications and treatments. Strive to improve your health in a way that makes sense to you, whether that’s getting enough sleep, moving your body on a more regular basis, or eating healthier.

God can always find us, but taking some responsibility for our healing is important. Not only does it facilitate healing, but we gain confidence as we empower ourselves.

Be Patient With Yourself

Having a mental illness is no small thing. Sometimes, just getting out of bed and doing the basic tasks of life is an amazing feat worthy of recognition. God knows what you are walking through. He loves you and is with you through all the experiences of your life. Be patient and kind to yourself through your tough moments. You’ll be surprised at how you find God when you do.

Want to connect more with disciples of Christ who have mental illnesses and find more help like this? You can follow The Depressed Disciple on Instagram here.

Disclaimer: While all of our answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, we do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe any of our answers are comprehensive.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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