Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
Sound familiar? Perhaps they have been in your unexpressed thoughts. They are old foes in my brain. Nursing them has never been helpful. Yet in the midst of great pain and loneliness, rejection (perceived or real) makes them seem true and terminal.
When I first moved to where I am now, I knew no one. The following year I grew majorly depressed. Because isolation is a symptom of depression, the few people I’d come to know I was turning away. The day I chose to end my life I was invited to meet a woman for tea. No kidding, I canceled the appointment in despair thinking, I am so lonely! I have no one! Where is my support?
Major Depression robs us of reason. In the throes of it we can see only a minute part of the world around us. We may be dismayed at how much we do not care about anything except our suffering, but Major Depression turns even that to self-hate, I’m a horrible person. This focus is tough to challenge when the very nature of our problem is illness of the brain.
Over the last three and a half years professionals have encouraged and prodded me to reach out, build support, find safe people, pursue those who pursue me, and leave others behind. Regardless how I feel, one tiny step leads to the next. One small decision makes way for another. When I am lonely a step toward people is hard but doable. Fear of reaching out drives me to take that step toward safe people.
There are and always will be people who erroneously consider themselves supportive, yet make us feel worse. Their best efforts are useless because they focus on “fixing” us. In worst-case scenarios some people actually do not care about our struggle.
Compassionate love is out there and by taking a step toward it, it will take a step toward you as well. Give it time, and keep walking.
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.
*picture from qualitystockphotos