FYI Wednesday: Dull Shades Of Gray

It’s FYI Wednesday and I have asked fellow Catholic moms for questions that they might have on such topics as motherhood and spirituality, children’s spiritual development, finding time for yourself, or just to learn more about Spiritual Direction; here is the latest question asked by Everyone:

“What can/should you say to someone with depression, and what shouldn’t you say.”

My father-in-law, God rest his soul, was a lovely man and hated seeing me depressed. Whenever he saw me looking down he would smile and tell me: “Smile”.  I know he was only trying to help, but to me, and millions who suffer along with me, saying that almost sounds like a command, or condemnation. It sounds to us like: “Why aren’t you smiling, there’s nothing wrong!” Or: “You should be smiling, you are ruining it for everybody else!” Both of those driving us deeper into our depression with thoughts of, “great one thing more I do WRONG!”  It also drives us into isolating ourselves from those who love us.  We feel a burden already so we want like anything to not disappoint, or sadden, or anger anyone; so we hid under masks of humour, smiles, just so you, our loved one, won’t be upset in anyway.  That is how depression is, it makes us people pleasers so we don’t rock your emotional boat.  This makes “lairs” of both you and us.  Lairs because we feel trapped telling the truth and so we tell you liars to feel safe, safe as in you not hurting us, and you so you see us as “all right” so you don’t worry, this is especially true of children/teens/young adults.

It can also drive us to lash out when we just feel as if we can’t hid anymore.  We lash out because we feel we can’t be truly who we are, even through being truly who we are is an ever changing thing.  Many of us are dealing with emotional issues from abuse of all kinds.  With those of us who have been abused the lashing out stems from a time when our voice was not heard or if it was it was ignored.  When our truth was mocked, or silenced.  We have learned that what we feel and how we feel it is of NO importance.   It is the anger turned in on ourselves.  We beat ourselves up because we can not beat up the one/ones who hurt us.  And this leads to another personality trait: lack of communication, ineffectual communication.  We were never taught, show, or allowed to communicate in a healthy way so we have a hard time with it.  We can learn but it takes a partnership:  you willing to let us know how you would like to communicate and us describing how we need to and learn to communicate.

Lastly, know we aren’t being depressed because we want to punish you, because it’s something we “do”, or for women especially, it’s our time of the month.  Depression isn’t fun.  It’s not something we do just cause, it feels as if we are so overwhelmed by darkness that it covers us like a black wet heavy blanket.  It is suffocating us emotionally, making it hard for us to think, feel, sleep and eat.  It is as if we are looking out the window and where you see butterflies and colour, we see dull shades of gray.



Is a spiritual director working helping moms find God in the everyday. She has been a spiritual director since 1998: worked as a Director of Religious Education for Holy Cross Parish(2000-2005), was Director of Project Rachel, a healing ministry for Post Abortive women(1999-2000). Patty worked a social worker for Catholic Social Services (1988 - 1995) Then studied for spiritual direction at the Dominican Center of Religious Studies, DeWitt Michigan

She is married 20 years and has four children

She has a BS/BA in social work from Aquinas College, CSD Certified Spiritual Director


  1. sarah soriano

    well patti as you know I suffer from anxiety and depression it is hard sometimes to deal with the everyday things believe me I know with my life it self in a turmoil and jobless and medical issues it is hard to stay in a up mood people can usually tell when I am in a down mood but you know I just try to say a prayer and try to keep my faith strong and not let it get me down you had said it would be a good idea to keep a prayer journal and just a daily log of ups and downs I have yet to do that but at the end of the day I thank god for letting me get through the day and in the morning I thank him for giving me another day I am blessed to have a good support group in my church family and I do believe that prayer works I feel that is the best medicine anyone can ask for and of course family support well that is my rant for the night just thought I would shard my feelings good article and thank you


  2. Hey patty, I think sometimes, as Freud said, “a cigar is just a cigar.” Sometimes someone saying to “smile” just means, “hey, I’m trying to uplift your spirits.” Maybe I’m taking a too simplistic approach, but that’s just me. I try not to overthink things. I’ve found when I do, I can become depressed about it. So maybe when someone says to you to smile, think of it as an encouragement. Just a thought to ponder.

  3. Pingback: So What Do I Say To You | Spiritual Lives Of Women

  4. David, what you say is very true, but both of us know that what is said is not always received as those who said it thought it would come across.

    It is best to be able think of an expression of support that is Christlike, a love message, one that speaks more to the true nature of the person we are supporting and not to our perceived/prejudging thoughts of how that person should behave, react, think, project.

    Consider Christ’s encounter with the woman at the well. Christ identified what she was doing but did not condemn her. He simply told her to go and sin no more. The woman with a hemorrhage who touched his hem, she was not yelled at by Christ, he only questioned who touched him, not angrily, just questioningly. Again he was focused on her needs, not his prejudging thoughts of who she was. And no where in Scripture is it said and Christ went back and nagged them one more time.

    We should try and do the same.

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