And Then We Go Too Far… (Compassionate Boundaries Part 4)

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    Nancy Virden (c)2013

Hi everyone. My name is Nancy and I habitually go too far in trying to meet the needs of others.

What on earth does that mean? Some of you understand that statement because you do it too. We’re nice people, right? We feel deeply, and want to help. So why would we want to “recover” from caring for others?

Here’s a story from my week. In two days I had as many conversations with persons who were thinking about suicide. These people were already in good hands and protected.  If they had not been, I would not have talked to them at all. I would have called 9.1.1.  

What I didn’t count on were the aftereffects.  I couldn’t sleep, and my mental health suffered. Why were those two phone calls so challenging?

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A few days before these events, I was sick. I took a rare day off (complete with guilt), and of course the following day was a long catch-up one.  Tuesday rolled around with a doctor’s follow-up on a chronic condition, and then a social event.  

My support system was unavailable as I had to cancel appointments for a few days, and the friend I would normally pray with had a death in her family. I took care of the funeral dinner and tried to be there for her.  

I have difficult family issues,  and challenging emotions are bubbling their way to the surface because I do not know what to do with them. My recovery from a lifelong and unhealthy coping mechanism is only weeks old.  

My husband has been ill and off work for two weeks, so I have focused on taking care of him.  In meeting with my therapist on Wednesday, another boiling pot from history overflowed.

Then boom! Two people who are struggling very hard asked for my help.

You get the point.

I forgot to care for myself. As a result I’ve missed a duty and lunch with a friend today. This blog is a day late.  Stresses add upon stresses because of lack of self-care.

Boundaries protect us and our potential ministry to anyone else.  One extra yes leads to another and another, in part because situations are rarely as simple as they seem at first. When we go too far, we neglect God’s important and loved creations – us,  and who he actually asked us to help.

Why do we think everyone deserves a piece of us except us? If you read about my week and thought, “that’s too much for one person,” look at your days and measure all you are doing for others.

  • Is self-care on your agenda?
  • Do you have enough energy to care for your priorities?
  • Do you even have a life?

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my 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.

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