A couple of years ago, I was helping to lead a teen retreat. I gave a talk that included some of my background with anxiety and depression. Two things happened after that. First, the teens on the retreat said that the talk made a significant impact on them. Second, I had a strong inclination toward giving the talk again. Since then, I’ve given that talk in different forums – our Diocesan Youth Conference, parish teen programs and parish adult events. I’ve continued to refine and improve the talk since that retreat.
I want to help as many people with anxiety and depression as I can. It is something that has impacted me and a number of my family members. I understand how it can impact a person. In the midst of terrible anxiety and depression, we feel alone, defeated, weak, and hopeless. The hopelessness is the worst part of it. There is a strong feeling that the darkness and suffering will never get better. They feel like they will only get worse. That is a lie, but even at times when I knew for certain that a depressive episode would end soon, it still felt like it would continue forever.
We need hope, and we should maintain hope. St. Ignatius of Loyola advises that we should consider periods of desolation as being short and soon to end. This advice applies to anxiety and depression. We need to trust that the duration of a period of intense anxiety or depression will be short. It will end soon. The longer we remain in despair, the longer it seems it will last. The opposite is true. Every moment brings us closer to relief.
This talk is something I am continuing to give at parishes, retreats, and conferences. If you are interested in having me speak at your parish or conference, please contact me.