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Chaplaincy News

Richie Sadlier: Saying you have depression doesn't mean you do

C MacCuibh

It’s good to talk, but often it’s not easy. You could be judged, mocked, ignored or not believed. 

Few areas are as stigmatised as our emotional wellbeing so there are risks involved in choosing to say a word. It’s been this way for decades, which explains so much of the silence that has oppressed and isolated people who needed support. 

There’s been a noticeable shift on this front in recent years, but we’re still figuring out for ourselves how to have the conversation. We’re told to be understanding, compassionate, patient and helpful. It takes courage to come forward, so be respectful and kind. But we also know that people can be deceitful and dishonest, so there must be times when it’s right to call them out. But when is it okay to challenge what someone is saying? 

Howdo you spot a teenager who just wants a lie-in from the one whois genuinely anxious about going to school? 

Surely the decent response in all circumstance is to act with compassion? After all, if you reacted any other way you’d be accused of being part of the problem. You’d only be adding to the resistance people feel about speaking up, something I suppose I could be accused of now by writing about this. 

How, for example, do you spot a teenager who just wants a lie-in from the one whois genuinely anxious about going to school? Or the employee who fancies a break from work from the one who medically needs it? Sometimes people are genuinely in the dark about the nature of their issues while others will deliberately mislead you for their own personal gain. It’s a tricky topic to discuss in a climate that promotes compassion and understanding, but dishonesty, delusion and deceit exist here too. 

Often people are unaware of the nature of their suffering, so they grab the nearest label that seems to fit. Google has a lot to answer for in this area. It’s not done to deliberately mislead anyone, but they come away with an inaccurate sense of what they’re dealing with. It might seem fairly harmless, and in many cases, it is, but it’s hard to find a solution to a problem you misunderstand. 

Richie Sadlier: ‘Clients say regular, excessive 

drinking is the only thing that helps them with their depression’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne 

I have friends who have openly admitted to lying about depression to get extended time off work. It’s easily done too. Just convince your GP and she’ll sign you off. Job done. There’s nothing your boss can do about it. But I also know some people, and I’ve had several clients too, that are oblivious to what’s actually affecting them. 

Saying you have depression, for example, doesn’t necessarily make it so. Not in therapy anyway. It’s a starting point in the conversation. When clients arrive for a first session with a self-diagnosis, rather than rattle through the clinical symptoms of the condition they believe they have, I want to find out what it’s really like to be in their shoes. I want to understand their inner world and their outer world. And once they openly engage in some honest self-exploration, they often abandon the use of the label they originally came with. Sometimes it’s because they begin to appreciate the impact of recent experiences, but often they’ll realise that it just doesn’t fit anymore. 

It’s usually like this when alcohol and drugs are involved. 

I remember getting a call from a friend in great distress several years ago. She was concerned about her mate who had just had what she described as a panic attack. They were abroad at a festival somewhere in Europe. No obvious cause, she said. It came from nowhere, she said. She had no history of this before now. She wanted suggestions on what to do and how to help her out. She was determined not to let this lie and get her to see someone when they returned home. She wanted names of therapists who were experts in anxiety because that was obviously the issue. 

You can’t get certain answers if you don’t ask specific questions, and you can’t help a person if you don’t have handle on their problem 

We spoke for a while, so I learned a little more about how they had spent the previous few days. They hadn’t skipped every meal, but they just weren’t hungry given the amount of drink and cocaine in their systems. Eating is cheating and all that. They were on day three of festivities and had barely slept. I felt confident I had cracked the case of the mysterious panic attack, but I said nothing to my mate at the time about what I was thinking. Some people can’t see the thing that’s staring them in the face. 

I’ve had similar experiences with clients who came to therapy looking for help. They describe the daily grind of having a mind that seems to work against them. You wouldn’t want it for a moment but it’s their reality all the time. They say regular, excessive drinking is the only thing that helps them with their depression. Maybe they smoke weed a few days a week to help with stress levels. Maybe they rely on cocaine to reduce their social anxiety when they’re out. They describe drugs and alcohol as their solution without realising it’s their problem, totally oblivious to how it’s impacting their mood and their thinking. 

You’d be amazed how many people refuse to consider there’s a link, but you can’t help them if you collude in their denial and their avoidance. 

Given the complexities of these issues and the uniqueness of everyone’s mind, there isn’t a sweeping statement to be made about all of this. But you can’t get certain answers if you don’t ask specific questions, and you can’t help a person if you don’t have handle on their problem. And if they don’t acknowledge the issue themselves there’s really not a great deal you can do. 

We are living in a culture that embraces intoxication which makes a topic like this difficult to discuss. It’s good to talk, but it’s even better if you’re talking about the right thing.
 

– Richie Sadlier is an accredited psychotherapist

 

 

An article published on the Irish Times website, Tues March 13 2018, 06:00am 

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/richie-sadlier-saying-you-have-depression-doesn-t-mean-you-do-1.3416735

February Resources

Jonny Somerville

Are we in danger of endorsing teen depression?

Jonny Somerville

In my work as a school psychotherapist, I have been alarmed by the increasing number of students coming to me because they are experiencing difficulties in their personal life.

Teenage depression seems to be reaching almost epidemic proportions. A UK study found that the number of adolescents prescribed anti-depressants rose from 6,000 in 1994 to 345,000 in 2003. This is a worrying statistic. But what has brought about this massive surge in the number of teenagers using strong psychotropic medication to ameliorate symptoms of depression and anxiety?

In this country, it is estimated that 450,000 people will suffer from depression at any one time. 

Common symptoms of depression in childhood include low mood, loss of interest in once enjoyed activities, psychosomatic symptoms and in severe cases thoughts of suicide. 

In my experience, teenagers often come to me with a self-diagnosis of depression. Or they will have ‘googled’ it and have all the facts about the disorder. 

Recently, one student said to me ‘have you read that a scientist in England has identified the depression gene?’. When I said I hadn’t, he went on to explain in detail how the gene was ‘the chromosome 3p25-26’. 

When I enquired what this new scientific find meant for him, he said, ‘well, I must have that so.’ 

What struck me about this conversation was how animated the student had become, which was unusual for him because he had come to me due to his low mood. As we explored this further, it seemed to me that the self-diagnosis of this ‘depression gene’ was something that helped his family understand him. 

This gave him a real sense of identity and purpose within his family. He proudly explained that his grandfather had depression and everyone said they were alike and that his grandfather must have passed it on to him. 

I often wonder, in some cases, does depression give a child a voice? 

Life for the modern teenager is remarkably different than any other time that has gone before. 

Couples are generally marrying later in life and for the most part are subsequently having children at a later stage, which further increases the age gap between parent and child. 

Up until the 1990s clinicians and researchers had assumed that children and adolescents did not experience depression (Rutter, 1986). 

However, it is almost impossible to traverse the floor of any reputable bookshop without encountering a plethora of self-help books on teenage depression. Pharmaceutical companies have developed a trillion dollar industry around pushing their products on a thriving market. 

I often question, with all this publicity, are we making depression attractive for our children? 

If they don’t have it, do they perceive themselves as ordinary? 

While it is very commendable and courageous that celebrities speak about their own experience of living with depression, it can at times create a scenario almost akin to celebrity endorsement. 

We need to manage our children’s understanding of a celebrity’s lived experience with depression. 

I am very cognisant of this recent trend when talking with a young adult. Often the clients I see come with a self-diagnosis of depression. 

And in this type of case, where there has been no clinical diagnosis, I am very slow to introduce the word ‘depression’ into the conversation. 

The family have often organised themselves around this label so I attempt not to join them in this. The social construction of depression is a very important consideration when working with adolescents. 

After all, concepts now used to describe human experience were invented, not discovered. 

“Where there is power, there is resistance” (Foucault, 1978) 

The system of the parents, the school, society, peer group and in certain cases the system of the state (social services) can at times press down on a young adult. 

This idea of ‘pressing down’ is an interesting one when working with adolescent depression.  

What commences as being described as depression ends up being delineated as a force pressing down on them or making them powerless.  

Spending time on the appropriate adjective to describe their lived experience is something I have found very important in my work. Often the adjective changes over the course of the sessions.  

In my experience, adolescents who feel powerless or without a voice often present with depressed symptoms and I have often wondered do these symptoms position the family in a certain way that give a voice back to the young adult?  

It is useful to think about what role the depression has in the family. Who is it serving? And to what end?  

Often as therapists we want to alleviate the symptoms but we get stuck because we meet resistance. 

We forget that sometimes what an adolescent presents with may seem like something they want to get rid of through our adult lens. 

However, through the eyes of an adolescent the depression might serve a function, they may indeed need it to survive. Resistance is therefore necessary and understandable. 

The prevalence of depression among teenagers is increasing. However, we must remain calm about it, and listen and avoid joining the hysteria. 

Most children who come to me exhibiting symptoms of depression, for the most part, leave therapy after they feel like they have met someone who has truly heard them.

 

By Richard Hogan

An article published on the Irish Examiner website Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 12:00 am

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/lifestyle/features/are-we-in-danger-of-endorsing-teen-depression-823309.html

 

Useful Numbers and Websites

C MacCuibh

Aware 

10am - 10pm 7 days a week

Providing support and assistance to people whose lives are affected by depression.

1890 303302

www.aware.ie

Suicide Prevention

Turning the Tide of Suicide. Founded to raise awareness and funding to lower the suicide rates in Ireland through dedicated research, educational support and intervention in the problem of suicide in Ireland. 

www.3ts.ie

National Office for Suicide Prevention

www.nosp.ie

Pieta House

Pieta House offers a specialised treatment programme for people who have suicidal ideation or who participate in self-harming behaviours. 

01 6010000

www.pieta.ie

Grow

Community Mental Health Movement 

Grow runs groups for people with mental health difficulties.

1890 474474 

www.grow.ie

Bodywhys

Support for people affected by eating disorders.

1890 200444

www.bodywhys.ie

Rainbows 

A peer-support programme to assist children, youth and adults who are grieving a death, separation or other painful transition in their family. 

01 4734175

www.rainbowsireland.com

Teenline

Sometimes we can let things pile on top of us, it can be hard to figure a way out, talking may seem scary, but it helps when there's someone there to really listen. Whoever you are. Wherever you are from. Whatever the problem. 

1800 833 634 

www.teenline.ie

Parentline

Support, guidance and information on all aspects of being a parent. 

1890 927277

www.parentline.ie

Cura 

Offers support and help to those who are faced with a crisis pregnancy. 

1850 622626 

www.cura.ie

National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church of Ireland. 

Director: Mr Ian Elliott

01 505 3018

www.safeguarding.ie

Some Useful Websites 

Jonny Somerville

Youth Ministry and Prayer Resources:

www.catholicbishops.ie  - Irish Bishops - News and Links 

www.veritasbooksonline.com  – Veritas online resources

www.prayerandspirituality.com  - Archdiocese of Armagh prayer resources

www.sacredspace.ie  - Daily prayer online 

www.pray-as-you-go.org  - mp3 format daily prayers 

www.joycerupp.com  - Reflections, stories and poetry 

www.catholicireland.net   - News and links to live feeds 

www.faceup.ie  - Articles and resources

www.ceist.ie  - News and resources

www.lecheiletrust.ie  -  News and resources

www.appleseeds.org  - Inspirational quotes and stories 

www.wingclips.com  - Inspirational movie clips 

www.2u.ie  - Daily reflections and photographs 

Social Justice:

www.whycare.ie  - Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice 

www.trocaire.org  - Trocaire - development resources

www.bothar.ie  - Aid agency Bóthar

www.goalglobal.org  - Development resources - Goal 

www.svp.ie  - St. Vincent de Paul resources (See also -‘Youth for Justice’ programme) 

Wellbeing:

www.alustforlife.com  - Encouraging mental fitness

www.headspace.com  - Guided meditation app

www.goodnet.org  -  Inspiration for doing good in the world 

www.3ts.ie  - Resources - suicide prevention

New Year's Resolutions: The Pope Francis List

C MacCuibh

This is an amazing overview of Pope Francis' primary concerns. “He preaches against gossip, reminds us to finish our meals, and even tells us not to fear marriage. Described as the “world's parish priest,” Pope Francis goes beyond abstract theology, and gives us advice we can use daily. What lessons from him can we bring into 2018?” 

10 of the Pope's most memorable quotes in the form of New Year's resolutions. This is the Pope Francis list. 

  1. Don't gossip. It's one of our hobbies. For Francis, it's also one of the most evil activities. The Catholic leader denounces gossip as “murder.” He feels so strongly about it that in less than a year as pontiff, Francis has preached against gossip in at least 6 different instances. He says when we gossip, we “are doing what Judas did,” and “begin to tear the other person to pieces. Every time we judge our brother in our hearts or worse when we speak badly of them with others, we are murdering Christians,” Francis says. “There is no such thing as innocent slander.”

  2. Finish your meals. No leftovers, please. Named after a 12th-century saint who lived in poverty, Francis slams a “culture of waste” that neglects the plight of the hungry. The Pope says: “We should all remember... that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry!  I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.”

  3. Make time for others. Tending to 1.2 billion members, Francis seems too busy for anything else. That is, until he calls up strangers. Or entertains a random biker. Or sends a handwritten letter to a Jesuit he has never met. The Jesuit who got the letter, Fr James Martin, says “If the Pope can find time to be kind to others, if he can pause to say thank you, if he can take a moment make someone feel appreciated, then so can I. So can we.”

  4. Choose the 'more humble' purchase. The Pope preaches against materialism. “Certainly, possessions, money, and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. ‘Put on Christ’ in your life, place your trust in him, and you will never be disappointed!”

  5. Meet the poor 'in the flesh.' “It is not enough to mediate this commitment through institutions, which obviously help because
    they have a multiplying effect, but that is not enough. They do not excuse us from our establishing personal contact with the needy. The sick must be cared for, even when we find them repulsive and repugnant. Those in prison must be visited. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn't enough.”

  6. Stop judging others. In the same way he denounces gossip, Francis condemns prejudice. He reminds “intolerant” Catholics, for one, to respect atheists. “If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”

  7. Befriend those who disagree. “When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice.”

  8. Make commitments, such as marriage. The Pope says: “Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever,’ because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide.’ Have the courage to be happy.”

  9. Make it a habit to 'ask the Lord.' “Dear young people,” he says, “some of you may not yet know what you will do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, in the end he answered: 'Speak, Lord, for I am listening' (cf. 1 Sam 3:1- 10). You too can ask the Lord: What do you want me to do? What path am I to follow?” 

  10. Be happy. The true Christian, says the Pope, exudes great joy. He says keeping this joy to ourselves “will make us sick in the end. Sometimes these melancholy Christians' faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life.” Francis says, “The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy." This joy, he reminds us, should translate to love of neighbour.

Keeping you in Prayer today 

Jonny Somerville

IMG_3352.JPG

Holy Thursday

Jesus, I light this candle for my brothers & sisters: the kind, the brave, the tired, the scared, enfold your arms around them. So this Thursday morning, may they be blessed & bathed in love. Amen.

ADRIAN PORTER SJ - Keynote Speaker - S.C.A. Conference 2017

Jonny Somerville

Adrian Porter was born and grew up in Bristol.  He joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1978 and completed studies in Theology at Heythrop College, London (1980-83), and Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University (1985-87), and the postgraduate certificate of teacher training at Liverpool Hope University (1987-88).  He was ordained priest in 1988.  He has taught at Marquette University High School (USA, 1983-85) and St Ignatius College (London, 1988-94) and was Head Master of St Aloysius College (Glasgow, 1995-2004) and Wimbledon College (2004-2011).  He is currently the Provincial Delegate for Education, responsible for supporting the eleven Jesuit schools in the UK and also working collaboratively to develop the identity and mission of Jesuit schools in Europe.  He also works with state and independent schools of other religious congregations and in dioceses.  His interests include philosophy, music and the performing arts.

Take part in the next World Meeting of Families!

Jonny Somerville

WMOF2018-Logo-English.jpg

Dublin, Ireland, has been chosen by Pope Francis to host the next World Meeting of Families from 21-26 August 2018, guided by the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.  

Held every three years, this major international event brings together families from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of our lives, of society and of the Church. The event has at its heart the following key moments: 

  • 21 August 2018, a National Opening of WMOF2018, which will take place simultaneously in all the different dioceses of Ireland.
  • 22 to the 24 August 2018, a three-day Congress.  Each day will reflect on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World” chosen by the Holy Father and will include an enriching programme for adults of keynote speakers, workshops, talks, testimonies and discussions; an engaging and exciting programme for young people as well as fun activities for children. The Congress will also include daily celebration of the Eucharist, prayerful activities, exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances.
  • Saturday 25 August 2018, a Festival of Families, comprising a reflective concert style event within a prayerful and joyful atmosphere, in which personal stories of faith will be shared by families from all continents.
  • Sunday 26 August 2018, WMOF2018 will close with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration, that will gather thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world. 

Click here to sign up and volunteer! 

Student's Examtime Prayer

Jonny Somerville

The prayers of the School Chaplains'Association and it's members are with all students who are undertaking State Examinations this week. A candle remains lit for you as a mark of our solidarity and support.

Dear Lord,
Give me the spirit of calm to prepare well.
Give me the spirit of wisdom to choose the right questions.
Give me the spirit of reason to answer to the best of my ability.
Allow me do myself justice.
Help me be a source of encouragement for my classmates and friends.
Guide me through the days ahead and keep me always in your care.
Amen.

 

The Chaplain - Reflections of a Parent

Jonny Somerville

Enter the Chaplain! Who is this person? What role is played by the chaplain in the school community? Is there a necessity for this person? Is a chaplain, lay or religious? Likely to force 'religion' down the throats of our young people? What will the chaplain do for my child? Perhaps the chaplain has nothing to do with us anyway? 

Your life as parents begins with a little bundle of joy. As the first few years progress from babyhood to early childhood, this tiny infant depends on you totally. The process is one of learning, growing, and developing in an interactive way which affects both the child and parent. In the blink of an eye the first five years fly by and primary school beckons. Even if your child has attended nursery school, there is a tangible change between that and the child's formal education. 

The school years

At primary level the change in your child becomes keenly apparent. All you seem to hear from your 'baby' is 'teacher says this' and 'teacher says that'. Suddenly you realise that you are sharing your child with someone else, someone who is also special to the child. Nonetheless, you have to let go and that can be hard. You must remember that this is a time of adventure and development for the child which demands adjustment on your part. 

After the quickest eight years of parent/teacher meetings, sales of work, school trips, plays, sports days, first communion and, finally the 'big one', confirmation, you feel prepared for the next step - second level education, another chapter in all your lives. Yet, maybe you are not as ready as you thought. Instead of having just one teacher your child now has seven or eight excluding the guidance counsellor, remedial teacher and, if fortunate enough, the chaplain. Here you have people who are specialists in an array of subjects all mapping out your child's future. However, while all of these people claim a significant role in the life of your child, the chaplain is the one who might well have the most crucial part to play. 

The Chaplain

For example, the chaplain would have a greater awareness that some teenagers question the need for God in their lives. Many would seriously question institutionalised religion, finding it irrelevant and the liturgical practice of it boring. Religious parents often find their offspring rebelling against church teaching and authority, even to the point of finding attendance at Mass embarrassing because it is something that 'oldies' do. In this context, how many parents can indentify with the favourite modern teenage dictum, 'it's a waste of space'? Where the good chaplain comes in is to meet the young people on their terms. From a position of greater independence and objectivity, the chaplain is sometimes better able to provide the religious guidelines required for a life of faith. This can be very enlightening for a teenager. Yet, while pupils may get used to seeing the chaplain around on a regular basis, the parents, living and working in a different environment, are less likely to be aware of the everyday role of the chaplain. 

So what part might the chaplain play at this significant stage of life for both parents and students? Perhaps the most important things is for the chaplain to encourage parents to take a further look at their own development. It might be possible for the chaplain to assist the parents in the discovery of their own hidden, inner abilities. In certain cases, sometimes at an early age, the talents of many parents were set aside or suppressed owing to the demands of parenthood. As a result many parents suffered from a lack of self-esteem. Where this has been neglected, they might now have the time and inclination to pay greater attention to their personal, social and educational needs. It may even be possible that the chaplain might be the one to harness the energy of these considerations to the good of the parents and the wider school community. 

Accordingly, the chaplain might set up a Parents Resource Group. In time it would be possible for this group to run courses and programmes to suit the needs of other parents. For example, work done in areas such as drugs, peer pressure, bullying, personal awareness, assistance to teachers, bereavement, separation and home study timetabling, might accomplish great results. If parents were to be recruited annually to the resource group it would give the necessary injection of new ideas and energy. The success of the group would depend on the enthusiasm and interest of the chaplain, with the added advantage of leaving the chaplain free to explore fresh avenues of development for the future.  

What is most encouraging for parents is that, in a society which places a great deal pressure on young people, the chaplain is a sensitive, caring, reliable and available resource for all connected with second level schooling. Where the chaplain works together the parents, it is possible that our teenagers will emerge well adjusted after five or six years of the school cycle. This working together will contribute to the self-esteem and confidence of the young people. In turn they will become persons who will be capable of giving to, rather than taking from society. I read once of the parent-child relationship that, 'our children are like arrows and we are the bows'. It is up to the parents to send the 'arrows' out into the world in good condition. Undoubtedly, it is up to the chaplain to remember that the 'bows' also need tending.  

Pauline King (parent)

'Reflection of a parent - Pauline King' used with permission.

'The Chaplain: a faith presence in the school community', by Luke Monahan SM and Caroline Renehan. 

Darkness Into Light, Saturday May 6th, 2017

Jonny Somerville

Darkness Into Light (DIL) is Pieta House’s annual fundraising and awareness event. It started with approximately 400 people in the yellow DIL T-shirts walking the 5km course in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2009. This year, they will have roughly 150 DIL venues across Ireland and worldwide. Last year they had 130,000 people sharing the light and helping to promote suicide prevention and to tackle the stigma that leads people to the doors of Pieta House centres. Join in this Saturday 6th May!