Prayer for people with mental health is an issue we need to address as a Church. I’ve been covering prayer for autism and related conditions a bit. I did an interview with the Catholic Mental Health Blog on this. (It was a while ago but only published this week.) We covered a bunch of topics, but most would be familiar to regular readers here like my vocational story and helping autistics in Church In this interview questions on prayer and mental health stood out.
How do you think your approach to spirituality differs from a neurotypical person?
I think there are a number of factors. I have a book coming out with Pauline Press sometime (hopefully second half 2021) that goes much more in depth so I’ll just summarize here.
I think two of the biggest factors have to do with theory of the divine mind and the linguistic communication circle. Autistic people tend to struggle at earlier stages of prayer because we find it difficult to imagine God’s mind or put our prayerful thoughts into words. But, as we get deeper in prayer, that lack of theory of mind and linguistic filter can make our prayer go deeper faster. The deepest prayer does not rely on verbal expression, so we can find deeper prayer more easily than non-autistic people.
A lot of other factors depend on specific aspects, like stimming* in prayer and finding a way to participate in the liturgy without sensory overload. We also often tend to communicate with God more in rational discourse than emotional expression, just as we often tend to communicate to our fellow humans. […]
What does mental health mean to you? How do you care for your own mental health?
I think that term can mean all kinds of things. I think that self-care is valuable for autistics like myself as I know we tend toward both depression and anxiety at higher rates than the general population. I try to practice some general self-care like sleep, exercise, etc. to avoid these. I also think sometimes I can hyper-focus for a certain amount of time and work faster than most but then need more down time than average.
You can read the rest on their blog.
I hope things like this help others pray. I really think am looking forward to the book which half has been edited already. Things like this can really help everyone on the spectrum pray better whether Catholic or not.
Note: I don’t get paid for these interviews. Please sponsor me on Patreon so I can keep making content like this.