CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden
Your covers wrap around your body as tight as you had the energy to make them. Except for a small space between your nose and air, you are separate and safe from the rest of the world.
If only intrusive thoughts and percolating memories would go away; they do not. Numbness, agony, emptiness, and desperation are familiar terms, yet you do not actually know how you feel. Your lungs strain against an inflexible wall of pain.
Sleep comes and goes. The calls of nature pull you out from under your homemade cloaking device. When you return to it, there is no small debate as to whether the air hole is necessary.
Your depression cannot compare to the blues or a bad day. Everyone wants you out of bed. Your spouse, children, parents, minister, friends, and boss – all are clamoring for you to be yourself again. Come, be normal. Come, make us happy again. Come, meet your obligations. Come! Just try to come.
You are aware that what they say makes sense to them. It is not so easy for you, however. No one sees your inner fight-to-the-death as despair pins you to your bed, further muffling near silent screams for relief. You fall into an empty cavern deep inside your torso, and there guilt crucifies you for failing to be who others need.
Just how are you supposed to move at all, let alone function normally?
Your limited participation in life is okay! Maybe one tiny step forward is enough challenge for today. Here are some possible ideas:
- If you are in danger of harming yourself, go to your local emergency room or call 911. I’ve done this and so can you! Ask someone to stay with you until help comes.
- Allow yourself to be weak. Present limitations do not define you, your character, or your future. It’s ok to be unable to do today what you wish you could. It’s ok to need help.
- Set your own goals to challenge depression and isolation. Today may be the day you sit up on the edge of the bed for a few minutes. If you are afraid to leave your room, perhaps you could stand outside your door awhile. Do the noises of family life irritate you? You can choose to sit in the living room where people are.
- Praise yourself for every accomplishment. You read this post? You sat up? You ate? Good for you! I know each of the tiniest moves are hard and cost you. One foot hit the floor this morning? You are thinking about setting a goal? You are being brave, go ahead and appreciate your efforts.
- Reach out for support from people who “get it”. In the U.S. call 1-800-273-TALK and a kind volunteer will be there to listen and help. Make plans to talk to a therapist. If one mental healthcare professional does not seem a good fit, feel free to find someone else.
- Pace yourself. I’ve made the mistake of beating myself up because I wasn’t becoming “normal” fast enough. Just do what you can at this moment. Tomorrow and next week you can reevaluate and set new goals.
- Involve God. He is already involved, so cry out to him. In my worst moments my prayers were , “Help”, and “Please use this for good.” I knew Jesus was with me throughout the healing process.
You will get better! The road to recovery can be long and arduous, but it leads out of the forest of fear, helplessness, stabbing pain, and loss of hope. The weight holding you to your bed now is temporary. You WILL rise.
Practical strategies: How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope
Today’s Helpful Word
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call in the U. S. the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
*picture a from qualitystockphotos.com
*picture b from rgbstock.com