Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
Wendy was a customer service representative I met upon moving to the Philadelphia area. We knew each other briefly before she left her job.
The story told to me after she moved on was that she fell in love with a Russian man she met on the internet. He satisfied her loneliness and promised happiness-ever-after. There was one contingent; he wanted $19,000. Because of lonely desperation, she ignored the obvious and sent him the money so he could travel to the U.S.
The online lover may have been Russian, and perhaps a man. What Wendy now knows is that this person was a liar. Why was she so eager to believe the schemer? When I met her, she seemed chatty and full of spirit. She’d returned to school and was studying hard to move into a professional field.
Loneliness in its most acute stages does not have to look the part. We are ready to believe what others present to us. “He seems happy.” “She is lucky. ” “They have the best life.” We may be great at acting, however so is everyone. We are easily led by perceptions unless we try hard to avoid it.
Rationality comes from recognizing what is true. Wendy did not realize that loneliness cn be overcome. She is now ashamed, embarrassed, wounded, even more lonely, and minus $19,000.
What it is we are or have willingly given up due to lonely irrationality?
We have the resources to build safer support systems. We can and must reach out in real-time to people who are with us physically. Social sites like Facebook are dumbing us to believe everything superficial. We are giving away to strangers hours and days spent communicating through soundbites and memes.
It’s harder and more rewarding to ask hard questions in person. Let people see us cry. Allow empathy for the pain others feel. Laugh genuinely with friends who think our humor is endearing and who will trust us with their silliness. This takes time, and sturdy willingness.
The payoff is priceless. Avoid the false, and Invest in real life.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal 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 concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.