Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
It’s funny. In going through my draft file of potential posts, I ran across this title. The memory of writing out “It Can Take a Long Time to Change” is still clear. I was convinced my metamorphosis from depressed, relationship-challenged, scared, and confused gal to joyful, surrounded by friends, fearless and wise woman was taking much too long. I believed my goals (or fancies) had to be reached soon, or else.
Or else? Others said I was being much too hard on myself. Therapists said I was actually improving at a significant pace. This did little to lessen my negative self-view. I remember a sense of doom, a guarantee of utter failure if this process would not speed-up.
That was a full three years ago. An addict in treatment once said, “I want the crazies to stop now. Somehow I thought that one morning I would wake up and be a different person.”
If only. Change is hard, and it takes much effort to swap out a worldview. Self-esteem is not going to hop up and grab us; we have to build it. Wishes do not make dreams come true – hard work does.
“But it’s not fast enough! I want my problems resolved now! Why can I not be a normal (aka: perfect) person right away?” This frustration is common among those suffering with the symptoms and fallout of major depression. We do not want anyone kicking us when we are down yet are so willing to do it to ourselves. It’s counter-productive. If our goal is to be up and running, self-affirmation is more helpful.
For me, healing was slow with extreme mood swings. A woman on a crisis line told me I was flirting with death, but also flirting with life. She was right, and months of ambivalence caused more heartache. This was one massive, burly major depressive episode, and it took me 16 months until I was able to thank my psychologist for the phone call that saved my life.
Time was necessary to practice new ways of thinking, to grasp uneasy truth, and to learn to walk within my evolving worldview. There were many significant forward steps, a few missteps, then a fall back to old behaviors followed by try, try again.
It was worth it.
I was in a treatment Center once with about 35 other women, many of whom were trying to recover from eating disorders. Some of these brave women suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder which is a fancy term for what you see is not what you get. Whether gaunt, obese, or anything in-between, women with BDD saw something different from reality in the mirror.
The treatment center had funny mirrors in each room, like the ones you find in fun houses. No image was true to form, so in this way those obsessing over their weight could take a break. This allowed therapists an opportunity to teach truth to clearer minds.
Perhaps you too want your paycheck, children, friends, function, and anything else mental illness has taken, returned NOW!
Purpose to ask each day, “What kind of person do I want to be? What steps will I take today toward becoming that person?” Remember, slow progress is progress. Your stride will get longer, steps more frequent, and you will accomplish the unexpected.
And that’s good enough in any stage of recovery and healing.
Comments are always welcome (see tab below) 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.