Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness Nancy Virden (c)2013
Assuming our intention is to help and not hurt, here are some messages we would do best to avoid sending to a majorly depressed person.
“I’ll come and visit/ call tomorrow/ meet you there…” (If you won’t follow through) Broken promises are hurtful in any setting, however for the majorly depressed they are poison. A hopeless, lonely, and extraordinarily sensitive to rejection person is cut through the heart by broken assurances of support. We must think before we blurt out good intentions or even devious ones. Will we visit/call/meet up with that person?
“You’ve been doing this stuff for years.” Accusations of game-playing or manipulating for personal gain is unfair. Each of us has a hard enough time understanding our own motives; questioning those of someone who is confused, not in their right mind, and irrational is to assume information we do not have.
“I’m determined to fix you.” This may not be verbalized as much as expressed through attitude, demeanor, other comments, and demands. This is condescending, and while we hate it when anyone treats us like they are superior, so does the majorly depressed person. The hurting adult is not a child regardless of any one else’s opinion.
“My problems are because you are depressed/bi-polar/unstable…” No one is a diagnosis. When referring to a disease we say someone has it. Shifting blame is a temptation for most of us at some point or another because we like feeling good about our choices and to not always face our mistakes.
Truth is, we have problems because of our decisions. Can another individual’s struggles make life more difficult for us? Of course. We retain some control over how we deal with it. At the very least, blaming the sick is not helpful.
“Don’t you pull the suicide card on me!” Talk of suicide is serious. No one thinks about killing herself when all is well and the mind is whole. People who say something about it are in deep pain. We cannot judge who means it and who does not, that’s why emergency professional mental health care workers exist.
“You’re too much of a bother.” Dismissal is harsh, I don’t care who or in what situation it takes place. I’ve observed that no one who is struggling appreciates being dismissed. Validation of our experiences and emotions concerning them is vital to recovery.
If anyone is uncertain how to remain involved in the life of a majorly depressed individual without being overcome, read my series of blogs on Boundaries*. There are kind ways to express, “I’ve had enough.”
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. 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.
*picture from qualityphotos.com