Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
Recently, I went on one of those websites where they promise to give you a ton of rate quotes for health insurance. I was naïve enough to think I was just on a fact-finding quest, when in reality I was pinning a sign to my forehead that reads “I’ll buy anything if you call me repeatedly.”
One particular computer has a soft, motherly like voice. Comforting, you know? She (yes, I know it’s an inanimate object) tells me how much she cares about my health insurance needs, and that she wants to meet those needs. Initially, it felt as if I could curl right up in her lap and she would sing lullabies.
Something wasn’t right though; I sensed a set-up like when you know your mom is about to lay a guilt-trip. “Of course I want you to have a good time” (you better be back by 11:00 – otherwise I’ll worry.) Sure enough, there it was- the gentle request to call her back if I want more information. Oh no. So, I must respond to this computer or her feelings will be hurt?
She’s been calling at least three times every week for over a month, pressing me to return her call. I know I can block her, however (mischievous giggle) this is becoming a little entertaining!
In hopes of ending the harassment, I called her back last week. Instead, that ten second call may have jump started a quest. A second, perkier computer answered, and introduced herself with, “Hi! I’m Ashley! The manager of customer happiness!”
Could it be true? This computer can manage happiness? I might become a customer after all! Someone has to manage my happiness, right? The main symptom of major depression recurrent is that I rarely know happiness; it is enough to occasionally be content..
Each morning upon waking, a question and a decision confront me. Will this be the day this dread, this pull to stay in bed and avoid life, will drag me into a worse depression? This daily sense of worthlessness and hopelessness that can bring me to tears first thing many mornings- is this the day they take over and I begin the slippery slide to a more severe episode?
Or will I read the sign on my wall?
There is a sign near my bed purposely hanging where I can only miss it if determined to avoid looking at it. It asks me different questions. The first one is, “For what will you call on Jesus today?”
Reading the sign challenges me to address prayer. My initial answer is sometimes heavy with depression, especially if the battle has lately been fierce. I might say to God, “I don’t want to get up. Everyone would be better off if I never did again.”
Then, “help me.”
One needs a powerful motive to ask for help when the brain is telling you nothing will make a difference. My motive is to honor God with my life and with how I face death. It is my number one goal and passion. This motive has kept me alive when death was an option. It has driven me relentlessly to therapy, to do the homework, and try when I didn’t care because of any other reason. It takes me to my knees in prayer.
Unfailingly, God answers with the strength to start the day. Each morning the decision awaits me. Will I allow depression to drag me under without a fight?
Or will I read the sign?
I like the idea of someone being a manager of my happiness. How easy it would be to have a person greet me each day with coffee and the decision already made, to stand by my side in the struggle and turn the thermostat up on the happiness dial as soon as it grows cold. No person can do that for me no matter how much I wish. Disaster has been the result each time I’ve tried to force someone into that role. Certainly no marketing computer can do it even if its generated voice does sound sincere!
Some days depression wins. It is a difficult disease. This is essential for people who struggle with the illness of depression to understand. No one can rescue us; we are in charge of our recovery. To reach out for help, to call on Jesus, to take our medication, to work at changing our thoughts- these are our options. Equally, this is vital for supports to know. No amount of cheerleading will fix the situation, although your presence is of utmost importance.
As much as loved ones care about and invest in me, recovery will always be my decision to make.
Will I read the sign?
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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.