Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
Yesterday it happened again.
When I have a table event there are signs and, of course, titles on display informing passers-by that depression and suicide are my topics. Some people glance and look away, others ignore, and there are always those who stop to talk. Repeatedly I hear stories and confessions of pain, sorrow, and guilt.
I also hear tales of great courage.
One older woman picked up a card listing the warning signs of suicide. She and her friend talked awhile out of earshot, then before walking away she turned to me and said, “Thank you so very much.”
A middle-aged man stopped to tell me he had lost his dad to suicide when he was a child, and more recently had found the body of a friend who died by suicide. He said he lectures on the same topics as I, and uses his pain to teach others to put their trust in Christ as the only source of strength that will last.
Another woman took a warning signs card. “This describes my sister. I’ve told her she is not dying on my watch. Thank you for this, it will help our mother to understand.”
And so, not only depressed and struggling people come to me. It is the supports, the friends and families of hurting loved ones, who steadfastly and courageously give what assistance they can. Despite their own fears and limitations, these people learn about depression and suicide, teach others, and bring hope when they can to despairing persons.
It is a humbling privilege to meet so many who are in the middle of this stigmatized disease. Whether they are suffering or know someone who is, they shed light and fight ignorance wherever they go.
****************Comments are always welcome. 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.