Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Mental Illness : A Prayer – January 22, 2012

Spirit matters logoCFN – Mental illness is a subject that seems to be one of the most difficult problems our society is dealing with today. We all know someone who suffers from mental illness, and we may relate to this issue ourselves if we have ever personally suffered from a bout of depression.


I have had two postpartum depressions which I was fortunate to overcome. At the time there was no such language in society; it was just considered shameful not be in a state of happiness after the birth of one’s baby. I concealed the pain I was in and soldiered on. After about six months had passed after the birth of each child the cloud just lifted off and I was able to be normal again. What a relief! Nowadays people can go to their doctor and receive a diagnosis and treatment. What an improvement over the silence that concealed these issues only 25 years ago. I know that we do have a long way to go, and I want to contribute to helping anyone with whom I come into contact to feel supported and cared for.

The reason I wanted to focus this column on mental illness is because I have a number of people whom I dearly love who are experiencing its clutches. As I see them struggle and stand witness to their pain, it came to me to offer some comfort by way of a prayer that has provided me with solace for many years. The reason that I love this prayer so much is the reference to the concept of God being a friend. About eight years ago I realized that this concept lies at the heart of healing – to learn to be one’s own friend.


As I have found ways to be my own friend, gradually my life has improved and seeds of joy and contentment have found ways to sprout inside my being. So, in the spirit of friendship and to bring light into the gloom of this long, cold January I offer this gift of prayer. May it bring you serenity and calm. May it light your way to a better relationship with yourself. May you realize that any form of mental illness can be treated and remedied, and that you are not alone ever, because you do, indeed, have a Friend.

“O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.”

–          ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Shirley lives and works in Cornwall, Ontario and is a member of the Bahá’í Community.


  1. Very nice….it is soooo evident you know what it’s like to be stuck in the muck of the Dark Place. And I just love that Prayer……I love how it helps the Spirit turn one’s Will and Life over to the care of God….which for me is always the crossroads I’ve had to deal with to turn the corner back to the Light Place. Thank you!!

  2. Hello Shirley, I like your article and the prayer you posted. I agree with you about postpartum depression, it was never spoken of or acknowledged back in our day.

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