Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
I have to admit, I’m angry. Someone I love is depressed. This person is getting lambasted on Facebook to increase his faith, give it to God, fight the devil, and step up his game.
It’s been suggested not so subtly that failure to feel better is equal to losing a spiritual battle, and that he might not go to heaven.
I write so would-be supports may learn how to lovingly support a majorly depressed person. It’s discouraging to see how many people insist their way is right as they go about causing more pain.
So, here it is once again.
- A young woman jilted a young man I know. He grew despondent and spoke of suicide. His mother told him, “Don’t play that suicide card with me!”
- Tamarra attempted suicide again. According to her father it was only a gesture and didn’t mean anything.
- Henry thinks he’s a loser because his attempt at suicide “failed.” Nevermind no suicide is a “success.” His depression runs dangerously deep.
What responses might be more helpful for these hurting people?
The mother told me she knows her son and what to say. I believe she knows her son; I also believe she does not have a healthy respect for the dangers of depression or suicide. Telling someone to basically be quiet when they express such despair is insensitive at best. People in emotional pain tend to shut down when their feelings are dismissed.
Tamarra’s experience is an example of this truth. Being ignored drove Tamarra deeper into hopelessness and frustration. Like each of us, she longed to know she mattered.
Henry is freshly retired. He feels pinned to the couch by his major depression. Negativity in his ill brain distorts his reasoning. His wife demands more than he can give, and this reinforces his belief that he is a write-off.
Being with persons who are in severe emotional pain, without judgment or answers, is the best way to let them know they are wanted. Platitudes and lectures are not encouraging to a majorly depressed person, and can sound like condemnation. So if you are doing these things, quit it, please.
When the person I love becomes healthier is when he will be able to address spiritual issues. Right now, he needs to be embraced as-is both for his safety and to prevent him from isolation. His life depends on having someone around who he can trust will not accuse or verbally attack him.
People in pain hear the language of love when logic has left them dry. Sigh. It’s frustrating. Many supports will not learn this lesson and will go on their merry way telling deaf people what to hear.
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 can be yours.
-pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com
*names have been changed