Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2013 Nancy Virden
The closet in which I confined myself was named “Privacy” and “Image.” It is a popular type of closet.
Few people recognize when someone else is in a closet, and most never know when they’ve made a home of one for themselves. The nature of a closet is darkness. It’s tough to see or hear once inside.
From the outside, an onlooker may see a pristine showpiece; light on the inside is assumed. The closet-dweller’s eyes have grown accustomed to the dark, and he or she fails to understand the reality of the situation. What are people hoping no one else will discover?
For me, privacy and image were so important I rarely allowed honest emotions to show. In fact, I didn’t know them myself. In the last twelve months, I inched my way out of that closet.
America too is, at least on the surface, becoming more aware and willing to talk about mental illness. A few old stereotypes are failing to hold up under increasing scrutiny. Stigma is rampant, however, and a high percentage of those who struggle do so behind closed doors.
This past week, I heard from a few readers of my second book who each stated their appreciation for my honesty and openness. Me? Open? That is flabbergasting, but I can look back and see my old closet is further behind me than even a few months ago. My desire to remain free has so far counteracted a continuing temptation to return to safety.
Until we open our doors to listen to, learn from, and invest in those who are different from us, our country, schools, and churches will be shrouded in misunderstanding, polarization, stigma, and denied blindness. Compassionate love leaves its closets behind, shining its light of vulnerable realness in order for everyone to be encouraged.
Here’s to being free in America. Happy Independence Day!
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or if you are concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
*photo from qualitystockphotos.com