Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
We all walk around in figurative cylinders, our inner ‘casas’ behind solid walls.
As we wander through our workplaces, schools, and churches, we are blind to each other. With our families and in public spaces our cylinders bump, and we are annoyed. Oblivious to the wants and needs of anyone outside our private, opaque cones of silence, focus is a constant me, me, me.
On the inside of each cylinder is everything pertaining to a person’s understanding of self and the world. Material possessions such as a phone, car, and dream house are in there. Personal goals and wishes are held secret there where we can decide to pursue them or not without the input of outsiders. All of our assumptions, knowledge, wisdom, and ignorance fills our cylinders.
We are happily unchallenged as we eat, drink, spend, and lust however and whenever we like. Time belongs to us, and no stab of conscience disrupts our contentment as we breathe-in our own existence day after day.
Only, what we long for most is not in the cylinders!
Deep yearning for the “one thing” drives people to take scary risks and ignore red flags of danger. Men, women and children self-medicate with substances, sex, television, sleep and busyness. I’ve known those who abuse themselves terribly out of sorrow for not having this, while others die having never found it.
What is it? What could be so important that nothing in our cylindrical worlds comes close to matching it?
Each cylinder needs a window so we can look beyond what we have and think we know, to learn what else is in the world. By peering out it becomes clear that ‘me, myself and I’ is not the only view. We can see what causes the abrasive bumping and notice that we cause half of it ourselves. Blindness and ignorance begin to give way to understanding the value of compromise and self-restraint. More windows mean a greater increase of knowledge, and old assumptions fail.
For example, concerning major depression and suicide, we can put down what we’ve always heard from our parents, church leaders, teachers, and gossip, and purposely pay attention to what those who have been there describe. Thanks to our windows, we can choose who and what to believe based on science, long-term studies, our own research, and first-hand reports.
However, facts and improved vision still fall short of meeting our greatest need. You know from experience it is possible to feel alone in a crowd. Carefully designed fronts cover our windows so no one can see in. We want unconditional love but conditionally offer our true selves. This keep us lonely, and tightly wrapped up in our protective cylinders.
Meaningful relationships need doors. With entrances built into our cylinders we can invite people in to our inner ‘casas’ to get to know us, and we can step out to connect with them. This requires honesty, bravery, sacrifice, and committment. The price can run high because humans are human; sometimes we cause harm or get hurt.
Gaining insight into another valuable individual frees us to love them well, and openness welcomes that love when it is returned.
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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 is yours.