Courage in the Fight (Bengals v. Steelers Among Other Things)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2016 Nancy Virden

photo-24714732-stressed-businessmanLast night was a disgrace. That is the consensus on ESPN, Social Media, and in my living room.

Throughout the football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, commentators made repeated mention of a ticking time bomb named Vontaze Burfick (Bengals). Tension throughout the evening was felt in my house as we watched. It ruined the game, and made an ugly mark on the sport.

On-field, the atmosphere of animosity began with a pre-game scuffle between the teams and ended ingloriously with personal fouls causing the Bengals to lose.

This was an important contest, the first of the playoffs. Each team no doubt brought passion for the win which theoretically could lead to the Superbowl. I’m no fan of either team (go Browns!), yet it was a cliff-hanger as the Bengals held a small lead with about a minute left in the game.

They were so close.

Then Burfick decided to take matters into his own hands. With a hard, vengeful, illegal hit against a defenseless opponent, Burfick earned a suspension and almost single-handedly lost the game for his team.

photo-24747118-courage-word-inscribed-on-soap_In one episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, Captain Piccard chastises a villain for transferring his strong emotions onto other people in an effort at not having to feel them. As the man bragged about this ability, Piccard called him a coward and added that true strength is proven in learning how to function well despite intense feelings.

I know numerous persons who regularly engage in heroic acts. Men and women in treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals and therapy groups face devastating emotions every day. We support each other in-person, over the phone, and on social media. We are survivors of abuse, addicts in recovery, and underdogs in battles against mental illness. On the outside we may not look like winners, yet are.

We are the brave who square off against immeasurable fear. Anguish is as familiar as the sunrise. Sometimes thoughts of defeat pummel us until it is too difficult to function normally. We are the honest who admit powerlessness and reach out for help. Rebound after rebound follows temporary derailment. This tenacity is inspiring to others who confront the same dangers.

Soldiers of inner wars are clearly imperfect; human weakness can prevail. It takes courage to wake up in the morning knowing yesterday’s perceived failure has injured us further. How does that saying go? If you fall seven times, stand up seven times.

It may not look like an NFL star taking home a trophy, but unlike Burfick or the Star Trek bad guy, we are not simply allowing  emotional burdens to decide the outcome.

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Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  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.

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