Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
Surprise! It’s true.
If one of your life’s battles is depression, like it is for me, I know you are an optimistic person. Those on the outside of our struggle use terms like negative and scary to describe our mindset. That’s ok, they do not see.
According to the Cambridge online dictionary, optimistic means “hoping or believing that good things will happen in the future.” How can this term describe us in the middle of a major depressive episode? What relevance has optimism to our recurring mood disorder?
Optimism is not dependent upon whether we succeed at reaching positive feelings. In total absence of hope, we are in despair. Yet even then we can cling to the hope someone else has for us. I remember hoping for hope during some of the worst weeks of my life. That is by definition, optimism!
Depressed is how you feel. It is not WHO you are
I know you are optimistic because…you are reading this and maybe other sources of encouragement and information hoping to discover something different from typical rhetoric about keeping your chin up. You know you need more – a reason, a rescue, a reminder – whatever it is, you are looking for it.
I know you are optimistic because…I too have walked that mile to the shower and the second mile to a pile of clothes, searched for the least wrinkled ones and lifted those weighty garments over my head with arms made of rusty iron, when all I wanted, what I thought I needed and should do, was lay back down under the covers and disappear. You dress because you know or want to believe it matters.
I know you are optimistic because…you run sprints in your mind and use every effort to slow down. You are a bouncer in-the-making, as day and night you try to throw out painful thoughts and memories that bring anguish to your soul. You believe peace of mind exists and work hard to snatch it for yourself.
I know you are optimistic because…you are still here. You are not dead. Your hope has perhaps faded and may not look like light anymore. Possibly it seems a mere shadow, stalking and teasing you, trying to trick you into believing it is real. Yet doubts hidden deep linger, causing you to hesitate, choosing once again to stay alive.
I know you are optimistic because…you wanted so much more out of life, and your entire being is disappointed. This is because you sense there could have, should have, been more. And you are right! There is more!
I know you are optimistic because…you recognize happiness exists. In your perception, maybe “more” and “better” are for other people. You wish you were happy as everyone else around you seems. However, everyone suffers, and you are acknowledging that all is not hopeless for everyone. This evidence that others can come through suffering to the other side proves it is possible for you.
I know you are optimistic because…you listen to survivors of trauma and abuse as they talk about the joy and meaning they find in helping other people. A great camp of survivors of suicidal thoughts and attempts surrounds you with a united song – it’s not over, there is hope, darkness is not all there is.
I know you are optimistic because…you are reaching out for treatment or thinking about it. Mental health professionals have devoted their education, careers, and daily lives to helping. They find satisfaction in watching thousands of clients go from despair to experiencing full lives. You can be one of those success stories, and at some level, you know it!
Depression is how we feel, it does not define who we are. You are an optimist with a fighter spirit. Look in the mirror and say “I am worth it. I will survive. I will find joy.”
Today’s Helpful Word
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.
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.
*sky pic by JOHNNYBERG on rgbstock.com; girl pic from kozzi.com