Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden Edited and reposted (c)2017. Excerpt is from Called To Live.
Tough. One of the reasons I ignore red flags is because I want to either fix or handle the problem. Then I put off getting help in all kinds of situations because it seems a sign of weakness to ask. Realizing a few years back that I am not tough was difficult news to take. Nevertheless, I can still pretend I am.
People praise strength as a virtue. An individual who has a strong back, can take burdens without buckling, knows how to avoid being hurt by words, and never complains while in physical pain, is admired. Toughness in my interpretation is the ability to stand against life’s pressures. It is holding one’s head high, beating the odds, being a conqueror.
That is not me.
Perhaps toughness is just what the so-called strong put forward. What if pretending to be strong is a normal way of life for everyone? In support groups the truth us not obscured. Obviously, the not-so-tough are not alone.
I believe if my strength is not in all areas then I am altogether weak. The question has been asked, can Nancy be somewhat strong, or strong in one area and weak in another? Could it be okay not only to be weak, but also to allow it to be seen? Is that what is called, “being human?”
The above excerpt from my first book, Called to Live: A Chronicle of Recovery After Attempted Suicide, reminds me how far I have come in both mindset and behavior in six years. It was frightening talking in therapy, in support groups, and to friends about true feelings. The idea of publishing my story was terrifying. I said I would live in a bunker after it came out, and sometimes still wish to do so.
Compassion for people who hurt like I did causes me to talk about major depression, mental illness, suicide, and emotions freely. Hiding remains a selfish preference. However, in any size group, I will answer questions even if the one bringing it up is trying to put me down. That is because I never know who is in the room. People questioning the value of living are everywhere. Even pompous blowhards might be in grave pain.
I want to spread hope by being real, honest, and open to listening. I am not a therapist, however hold a PhD in my story. Millions of agonized voices are trying to be heard above the din of ignorance. To be one of them is an honor, and to encourage some to walk out of darkness with me is a privilege.
I am still not-so-tough, yet pretending is over. Admitting to weakness saves lives. Yes, it is worth it.
Today’s Helpful Word
2 Corinthians 1:3,4
“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
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 can be yours.