Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2014 Nancy Virden
I titled this Story 6 because it is doubtless not the last. There will be more to say on this topic in the future, however I expect it to be positive. Why? Because great mental health care is available and can be found.
We are all “abnormal” in the sense no one is like another; our needs are unique. In the earlier parts of this series my point is we can avoid pitfalls in searching for professional mental health care that is right for us.
For example, I may struggle with vulnerability if a therapist is very disorganized. It affects my trust level. How about you? What characteristics in a therapist might have detrimental or positive influences on your healing?
It’s an understatement to say I was not in my strongest emotional condition as I looked for help. I had waited until desperation set in before reaching out. While it is ideal to hire a therapist when healthy, it is not common. Professionals know this about clients, and are responsible to act accordingly. If one does not, keep moving.
This is where a friend or family member can get involved and be effective. Tell them what kind of person you hope to find. Your support can make calls, search out the information referred to in this series, and lead you to your first meeting.
One of my initial criteria was that I wanted to see this person twice a week. Unfortunately I had to settle for once per week which was difficult for me at the time. Compromises are ok if you can live with them.
Gentleness is most important to me. Yell, and I will likely not trust you again. Same with scolding – it’s all in the tone. Affirmations like, “Proud of you” and “You’ve come a long way” stir my confidence. What do you need?
My son asked me recently, “Don’t you get tired of working on yourself?”
That made me laugh and still does. Fact is, I do grow tired of working on myself, extremely tired, and want to give up often. However, these people are teaching me how to live in the present. I’m learning why I want to stay alive and how to experience that abundant life Jesus talked about.
The success of a therapist is a client who leaves their care able to carry on in a healthy manner. Maybe you will not need so many years to reach this goal, or perhaps you will need more time. Remember, all that is required for forward movement is one step at a time. Slow progress is progress.
Maybe you or someone in your life believes psychology and therapy are for weak losers. Here is the good news I promised in the last of this series. Since completely giving up on life…
- I have had two books published with a third going to the publisher this week.
- I am traveling and sharing my story of recovery with young adults who have largely been marginalized by society.
- Opportunity to teach at church and in seminars has come my way seven times so far.
- There is a small group of women who consider me a support and friend.
- I’m more honest, working on being both honest and gentle simultaneously, and learning how to be a true friend.
- I’ve forgiven persons who caused me harm, and am creating distance between me and those who would continue to do so.
- I’m slowly learning I count.
Is this weakness? Your opinion is up to you. I see it as the fight of my life, and that is saying a lot. The bravest thing I have ever done is stay alive when I wanted to be dead.
I do this for God, for my sons, and hope one day to do this for me. That is why I still get help, and am so grateful to have found it even though it took so long.
You don’t have to have my experiences. Pay attention to the guidance in this series. It will lead you to good counsel that fits you just right.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences 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.