Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2015 Nancy Virden
Let’s get to the point: We are not in control of external events, however we are in control of our responses. Our responses will define who we are in the eyes of God, others, and ourselves.
So let me ask again, who do you want to be?
For two and a half years, a three by five foot handwritten sign hung on my office wall challenging me each day to respond to, What kind of person do I want to be? What step will I take today toward becoming that person? For about a year I read that with a bit of resentment and much negativity. I didn’t want to put up the effort to even decide who and what, let alone make changes. One memory is of facing the sign and sticking my tongue out at it! Many days its message was ignored.
Nonetheless, I’d placed it there. The same motivation forced me to confront it consistently regardless of how I felt. During what I believed to only be recovery from a major depression episode, it had become clear I was actually experiencing recovery from a much grander problem: life, and my responses to it. I didn’t want to repeat old behaviors that left me ashamed.
Specific goals came later. The sign is no longer up, not because I don’t need to consider the questions, but because they are now automatic in my thought processing. Both my wall and mind have space for a plethora of affirmative answers to who am I?
Taking those small steps toward who we know we want to be today is healthy and makes us stronger to develop and reach newer aspirations in the future. It’s a mistake to chase colossal ambitions that overwhelm and discourage our current strength. One day at time, practice will change our hearts, and give us momentum.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal 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 is yours.
*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com