CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
A young college student who has Bipolar Disorder, mentioned he needs his friends to ask him how he is doing, and to make sure he takes his medications each day.
Why? He was earning straight A’s in a major in science and a minor in a foreign language. He made it to our meetings on time each morning. He is capable of organizing and remembering his treatment regime.
Yet this young man had tried to kill himself multiple times. Just before we met, he had been hospitalized for another suicide attempt. His friends can play an important role by helping him follow doctor’s orders.
How are we to know when professional mental healthcare is in our best interests? There are clues. Keep in mind, not every person will show the same symptoms or intensity of symptoms. The clues discussed in this series are meant as guides, not diagnostic tools.
An article on VeryWell.com¹ claims one reason people do not seek or stick to professional treatment is denial of the problem.* Denial can look like brushing it off, and criticizing oneself (or a loved one) for having unwanted feelings and symptoms.
Only half of those who need treatment seek or find it; while an overwhelming majority of those who receive professional treatment go on to live more satisfying lives.
Yes, they “go on to live”.
Second Clues – Suicidal Thinking
Suicidal thinking is a valid reason to talk to professionals. When thoughts and inclinations have turned to suicide, or suicide attempts, keeping these a secret is dangerous. Every suicide starts with a thought. Not every suicide attempt is noticeable if the one suffering does not tell anyone about it.
If we have suicidal thoughts – or if we are afraid we might die by suicide – there may have been some earlier symptoms such as described in Part 1. Perhaps life has changed from participatory to hiding. Our usual energy level has sunk extremely low. We wonder if we are a burden to our families, friends, and the world. Wouldn’t everyone be better without us?
We think about death. Reasoning goes something like this: Sure, some people love me, but they will get over it soon if I die; My child deserves a better parent; If I’m out of the way, my spouse can marry someone else and be happy; I’m replaceable at work and in the world.
Thoughts circle around: I want to disappear; Nothing will ever change; The future is bleak; Nothing is worth this pain; No one can forgive or love me; There are no options.
Maybe we have sent messages, clues to people around us that we need help, or that we plan to die soon. Statements similar to, “You won’t have to worry about me anymore”; “When I die everyone will know it”; “I don’t want to be here anymore,” or any other form of communication. Writing, social media, art, songs, school reports… all are ways we may have tried to let others know.
When suicidal thoughts cross our minds and especially if they linger, it is time to seek professional help. If we are formulating plans, or when those thoughts turn to intent, it is time to call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room!
We are ultimately responsible for saving our own lives. One of the best ways to do that is to speak up clearly. No hinting.
Tell someone outright if you are considering suicide, and get professional involvement. Ask God to walk with you through this, and He will. There is help, there is hope, and there is life on the other side of this moment.
Today’s Helpful Word
“Blessed are those who find wisdom… She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” – King Solomon
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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.