Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
Cleveland is terrific when it comes to garbage pick-up. Clearing out a home during a major move can create what appears to be a ton of garbage. You know what it looks like – the boxes, dust, cleaning and sorting, and piles of throw-aways. My recent move involved clearing out two houses. You can imagine the full-to-overflowing trash cans.
This morning it took seven men to empty two large garbage cans, pick up a box spring, mattress, and another heavy box from my tree lawn. Last week was similar.
Not all seven of the men arrived at once. First, two stopped their massive garbage truck in front of my home. The driver took a look, wrote something down, and left. Nothing was picked up.
A single driver manned the automated truck with its fork-lift type arms, grabbing cans up and down my street, shaking their contents into the truck, and setting them back in their places. It’s a simple procedure when garbage cans are lined up in a neat row.
Today, however, I could see the struggle as gigantic metal bars reached for their target, almost knocking over the box spring leaning against it. The driver raised the lift and brought it down hard, snapping the obstacle in several places. After retrieving and returning my garbage can, he left a mess.
Four men, squeezed into the tight cab of a third trunk, jumped out and gathered up that mess. I felt relief looking out at the almost normal lawn. Hauling two empty garbage cans into the back yard is all the responsibility that remained of what would have been a difficult task without help.
Recovery from an episode of major depression compares to these events. Piles of negative thoughts and thought habits collect in the brain until it is nigh-impossible for one person to overcome on her own. The physical component of the disease kicks in, driving hopelessness and a sense of worthlessness into one’s core. When this has happened to me, I have needed kind support.
However, not all support is the same, effective, or timely. People who I wish would come alongside me sometimes stop, stare from a distance, and go away having done nothing. Others try to get involved, yet discover my struggle is too much for them.
Obstacles like lack of insight, ignorance of the facts, and limited know-how can cause some people to leave or hammer me with hard accusations and a command to just snap out of it. In a few cases, friends have backed-off for the sake of their own mental health and wellbeing.
It is mental health professionals who effectively led the way toward change. One more investment I am making is openness, making room for that figurative village in my daily priorities.
You can too.
Ultimately, it is our responsibility to clean up our yards. Accepting available support is the primary way emotional overloads and false core beliefs are cleared away. Personal inner power to overcome is freed to do the rest.
In faith, Jesus is my ultimate provider of strength and utmost support.
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.