Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2012 (edited 2016) Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
Sometimes truth has difficulty getting past all those double-locked doors and windows leading to our brains. We can be given information, observe its evidence, and even experience it firsthand – yet somehow remain convinced our opposing perception is correct.
When the Lord of the Rings Trilogy came out I told my sons I would never watch it. “Too violent,” I complained.
“You have to watch it, Mom,” they insisted. “It’s a great story. You’ll like all the people stuff.”
People stuff aside, it took over a year to convince me to give Frodo and Gandolph a chance. The only reason I did was to use it as leverage to get my uncultured family to watch what I wanted them to see – a live Ballet. The deal was set.
The movies were enchanting, after all. Tolkien’s characters came to life as Frodo and Sam made their treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. So captivated was I by the ‘people stuff’ I had to watch it all again in one day. All nine hours. I’d become a fan.
Taking our seats in Cleveland’s beautiful second-only-to-Broadway PlayHouse Square, I was the only excited one in our party. The boys were there to submit to the deal, and my husband had acquiesced to be a good sport. Sure enough, as if to further torture eleven and fourteen year old boys, the playbill told us we would be watching dancers spinning and leaping on their toes for three hours. No violence here, just a sweet love story between a servant girl and her adoring prince. A full night of Cinderella. In ballet.
‘Squirming’ is perhaps too light a term for what I saw out of the corner of my eye as the curtain opened. The magical atmosphere of lilting music combined with bright costumes and alluring dance failed to warm them to the experience one bit. Well into the evening, I glanced over to see how those two were faring.
Suddenly they busted out in laughter! There had been a choir of “oohs” by the audience. I turned to see Cinderella’s horse-drawn carriage slipping off the back of the stage! A coachman had ungracefully jumped off to save his neck, while other dancers-turned-heavyweights-in-tutus straightened the huge prop on wheels. Everyone back on board safely, melodious sounds and twirling dances resumed. Everything returned to as it should be at the Ballet.
Except now my giggling sons had reason to be entertained. For the rest of the program, I saw shoulders shaking, and subtle finger-pointing out of the corner of my eye.
Having been told about the movies, then experiencing them changed my opinion. Not so in reverse, as my adult sons continue to insist ballet is only interesting if there is a great fall. Hmm, maybe Humpty Dumpty?
This is similar to how I perceive reactions to the topic of mental illness. It is as if some people feel tortured at the thought of learning about it, have made up their opinions, and simply refuse to invite in any more insight. That is too bad considering a quarter of us will struggle with a mental disorder at some time in our lives, and depression is the number one commonality between all human suffering. The topic is too big to ignore.
Because of casual dismissal of mental health issues, stigma continues. People who need treatment remain fearful or ashamed. Just think, treatment that is 80-90% effective will not reach half of those who need it because depression, suicide, and other psychological matters remain taboo.
Keep checking back to this blog for insight, knowledge, and compassion. There will be no Prince Charming or Humpty Dumpty. There will be plenty of people stuff.
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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.
- picture from Kozzi.com