Disclaimer: It is vital to see a mental health professional when you are experiencing symptoms of mental health issues. This article should not be construed to advise against that, and merely intends to help people distinguish between mental and spiritual wounds.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
In order to love the Lord with our entirety, we must ensure that we are caring for the distinct aspects of ourselves: our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths. While all of these compose the entirety of who each unique human person is, they each require distinct forms of care.
Distinguishing between the wounds of your soul and mind can sometimes be quite difficult. As the human person is a body-soul unity, there is significant overlap between the two. It is essential that the proper diagnosis is made in order for complete and authentic healing to occur. Below are some practical tips that may help you in discerning whether an ailment is coming from a spiritual or mental wound (or perhaps both).
Don’t Discern Alone
The worst thing you can do is attempt to discern the cause of your ailment on your own. Due to our biases and human propensity to fall into error, consulting trusted and experienced individuals helps us to make a clear judgment. You should speak with a priest or lay spiritual director regarding the nature of your symptoms, and also with a mental health professional, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.
Think About What Treatments Have Already Been Pursued
As you seek healing, recall how you have already attempted to address the particular wound or ailment. Have you sought primarily spiritual aids and are still hurting? This could mean your wound is coming from another aspect of yourself (such as your mind), or that you have not sought the proper spiritual means. Conversely, if you have sought mainly assistance from mental health resources and are left unchanged, consider doing more to address your wound spiritually.
Consider Your Medical and Mental Health History
Oftentimes, health issues of body or mind can seem to come out of nowhere. When this happens, it is important to consider your health history and what changes have occurred in your life that may have brought on the symptoms you are experiencing. If you have a history of mental health issues, analyze how you have cared for these issues and consider if anything has changed. You’ll also want to consider how any of your spiritual practices have changed, like daily prayer or mass attendance. Oftentimes, changes in our treatments, habits, or environment can disrupt our body and mind. Again, involving professional and spiritual experts in this discernment is vital.
The health of our soul should be our primary concern, but this does not mean we should neglect our mind. Good mental health often follows from good spiritual health and vice versa. God wills us to be fully alive in our entirety! It is up to us to accept his healing from both natural and supernatural means!