Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness Nancy Virden (c)2013
In their eyes is where you see it. Their exterior is smiling and laughing, yet you can tell something is wrong. Eyes don’t dance during hopelessness. The person you are observing is not saying what their dead eyes are screaming.
Emotionally struggling people see as if through a tube. Only a tiny part of reality is visible, and depression insists it is the negatives of life that are real.
A simple email or text, “I’m praying for you” or “Thinking of you every day” or “Haven’t forgotten you- hang in there!” may be to a hurting heart like water is to parched fields.
A hug, pat on the back, an arm squeeze, a warm handshake, and eye contact let someone know you care. Inquiring about their day, sitting with them… these are precious and kind ways to be supportive. If you see this person in public, cross the room and say hello!
If you fear you will be consumed by their needs, read my previous Compassionate Boundaries blogs. There are 10 in this series.
Here are some general guidelines for keeping yourself safe while supporting a struggling friend.
- Make sure you are not alone in this. Have someone to talk with about your experience.
- Have some fun, count the little joys.
- Speak up for yourself.
- Ask questions of the one you care for- believe their answers and don’t take on the job of interpreting or judging.
- Try not to figure out how much reassurance your loved one needs. If they need it and ask many times a day, give it when you can.
- Don’t take on a role you cannot fill- be honest about that.
- Maybe you are able to offer 90% of your energy some of the time. Don’t let that define the relationship. Thinking in an unhealthy way is, I will be here for you 100% (until I burn-out and probably will then avoid you and others who struggle.)
- Take care of your needs- YOU MATTER TOO!
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.