Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
This past Sunday I landed in Cleveland, Ohio, my home for 22 years before moving to Philadelphia six years ago.
In Pennsylvania I lived in a suburb oddly designated “King of Prussia.” KOP, as locals call it, is named after a 1700s tavern where George Washington once stayed.
KOP has a healthy respect for the Revolutionary War. Generals are honored with roads named after them, Valley Forge National Park sits at the edge of town, and everywhere one can find revered sites where George Washington stood or slept.
On one busy road, if you are driving north, a boulder juts out into your lane. You have to go around it, no one slows or scoots over to make it easier, and I’ve often wondered what truck drivers do as they approach the spot. Why doesn’t the county remove the boulder? Because George Washington once stood on it, addressing his troops. History over safety.
My stay in Pennsylvania was a lonely time where I experienced the worst major depressive episode I’ve had and attempted suicide. A fight against an eating disorder also began. In KOP, my marriage of over three decades ended.
In my weakened emotional state, it seemed I could barely stand as wave after wave of trying situations came along. However, stand I did, with the help of answered prayer and professional support.
I grew. Sad and hurtful events taught me powerful lessons to apply new relational and coping skills. I fell, got back up, fell, and got back up repeatedly. How’s the saying go? If you fall seven times and get up seven times you are winning.
Cleveland is greeting a new person. I think differently, relate better, communicate in a healthier way, do not apologize for being me, and celebrate a closer walk with my God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday I slipped into an old pattern with my oldest son. It was no surprise to find I had fallen into “mother-mode,” something I promised would not happen. This situation created an opportunity to open a helpful dialogue. Emotional safety over history.
I’ve come to understand life is hard, and it is normal for conflicts to arise. Yet there is so much hope as I apply my new-born wobbly legged ability to accept life on life’s terms.
History is history. Near KOP, Washington’s troops were probably glad when their trips over the icy Delaware River were over. For me, it is a relief to spot land after a toilsome passage in a foreign sea.
It is true, one can go home again.
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.