Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
I guess it is simple enough. People struggling with depression want it to go away. People watching others struggle with depression want them well.
So, we all agree.
Depression is yucky.
Bryan wanted to return to work. His boss was growing impatient. His wife was arguing for him to get off the couch. His therapist warned him moving too fast could cause a set-back. Bryan was sick of it all, and especially sick of himself.
Why couldn’t he work like normal people? He hated the stupid mistakes he was making – like drinking too much last night and fighting with a friend. He was neglecting his wife and children, staring into the television 14 hours a day. In his negative thinking, fueled by fierce major depression, his life was a waste. Maybe everyone would be better off if he was gone.
Bryan never attempted suicide. If he had, it would have been no one’s fault. His boss, wife, friend, children, and Bryan had reason to feel frustrated and impatient. A sense of normalcy was challenged. Their needs were unmet. It hurt to suffer and watch suffering, however they did not know what to do.
The therapist encouraged him to take small steps forward. “Go ahead, get off the couch and eat dinner with your family. Then the next day, maybe do the dishes or go for a short walk.”
In the midst of a major depressive episode even little tasks can seem overwhelming. Exhaustion comes quickly. Eating dinner or taking a shower can, in many cases, be all a person can handle each day for a while.
Bryan tried. I saw him begin to feel more like himself. Eventually he worked half days, and then returned to his old schedule. Here’s the truth – no one was able to make his depression heal faster. Depression ran its course, and Bryan had to take it slow.
Another man pushed himself too hard and ended back in the hospital. I too tried to sign up for too much too soon. It is frustrating being so fragile. All the while, depression is fueling negativity and self-loathing.
When you want to “fix” your depressed loved one, or express anger at someone’s slow recovery, take a step back. Maybe go for a walk yourself. Learn about depression; ask your loved one what they are feeling. Practice careful acceptance and avoid judgment.
Anger does not produce what we all agree is best – putting depression behind us. Yes, depression is yucky. It challenges all involved. Patience is how to beat it.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral 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 are yours.
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