Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
Tammy* stretches her legs. Sharp pains course through her muscles. Collecting steely nerve, she continues to get dressed. Each day she has only so much energy to use for basic duties like preparing to go downstairs for breakfast. Making her meal will cost her, so will cleaning up.
She’s been invited to a social gathering of friends and acquaintances this afternoon. Her choices are limited – will she vacuüm her neglected carpet? Perhaps answering emails is more important. Her goal to attend the gathering strongly influences her decision as doing all three is not an option.
Robert* is highly anxious. Knots in his stomach bring about powerful feelings of nausea. He fights for control over his greatest fear- vomiting in public. It’s a wonder he has ventured out at all this morning, but no one is holding his job for him.
His boss has permitted a few hours off to visit his psychiatrist. The idea of seeing the doctor is an overwhelming proposition that brings about another wave of nausea.
Sally* has done it again- swallowed a bottle of pills and called 911 immediately after. Why? Her mood spirals up, down, and up again. She smiles at hospital staff, and they greet her by name. This is routine.
Her family comes without her brother this time. He is angry, and last time told his sister if she repeated this behavior he would never speak to her again. Sally realizes he may be gone forever and overwhelming depressed feelings once again master her spirit. She is certain that next time she will not call for help.
What is your response to the above three scenarios? Anger? Sympathy? Tolerance? Do you experience a greater pity for one person’s circumstances than the other two?
If you said yes to any of the questions, welcome to the human race. We tend to empathize more with struggles we have experienced than with those we have not. Let’s ask a different question. What scares us about what we do not understand?
Knowledge is power in part because it squelches our fear of the unknown. Fear feeds judgment because we avoid learning more. By sincerely and openly discussing issues with a hurting person we may discover a beautiful opportunity to grow in love and truth.
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 is yours.
*not their real names
* pictures from qualitystockphotos.com