Category Archives: What to Do-Say for Depressed Loved One

Suicide Prevention – What NOT to Say or Do

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Attention:  (If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I recommend you not read this particular article. Instead, go to a survivors of suicide support site.)

If you are reading this because you want to know the best possible ways to prevent suicide, you are not alone. Many family members and friends, if not most, who find that a loved one has fallen into a deep pit of despair, try their best to help.  Love is not the only solution, however.  Stigma guides most people instead of facts.  For that reason, I am glad you are here.

Suicide prevention is a recurring theme at Always The Fight Ministries. After seven years, my point of view on suicide prevention has not changed. We prevent attempts and deaths by increasing effective support for those who hurt. The key to providing effective support is knowledge.  

This is Suicide Prevention Month in the U.S.A.  Suicide is scary as a topic and reality.  Fear can lead us to a thirst for knowledge, or we may hide, or try to make difficulties disappear by using anger.  Here are some of the UNhelpful reactions to severe depression and suicide that I have witnessed or heard, or heard about.   

What to Avoid:  Vitriol, Distance, Distrust, and Bewilderment 

Vitriol

A suicidal person asked a family member to dole out their sleeping pills for safety reasons. Instead, the family member placed the full bottle on the night stand next to the one who was struggling to stay alive.   

“Why save lives? If someone wants to die, why not let him kill himself and decrease the surplus population?” 

“[He] was weak. With all that money, he could have got help. He was totally selfish.”

Distance 

“It is none of our business.”

“Don’t you play the suicide card with me!”

“I don’t know what to say or do.  I’ll leave him alone – he needs his space.”

“If I mention suicide,  I might push her toward it. We won’t talk about it.”

Distrust 

“If someone can hurt himself or herself,  he or she must be capable of violence. This same person might “snap at any time”  and harm someone else!”   [I cannot count how many times I have heard this misinformation.] 

“I do not believe in mental health disability. I just don’t!”

“Depression is not an illness. It is just self-pity.”

“Suicidal thinking is caused only by demons that have to be cast out. Then the person is fine.”

“People who attempt suicide and don’t die, didn’t mean it. They just want attention.”

Bewilderment

One spouse pleaded and shouted in frustration because her husband was hiding in a closet, too depressed to face the world. 

“How can I fix my depressed husband?”

“She attempted so many times, it’s just manipulation.”

Misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the facts are the basis for the above reactions and comments.  For helpful reactions that go a long way toward prevention of suicide, click here.

Today’s Helpful Word

Job 16:

“I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”  – Job speaking to his friends while he is suffering

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*speech bubble by STARISOB of rgbstock.com; two woman from kozzi.com

 

He Did Not Know How to Stay Alive

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

TRIGGER ALERT – This article discusses a recent suicide

Two weeks ago, a pastor died by suicide. People first noticed his struggle with anxiety and depression (which often come as a pair) in April, and the church board gave him a four-month sabbatical.

After a breakdown, the same denial that led us to keep pushing through difficult emotions in the first place,  is there to push us out of them in a hurry. We desperately want to be well and meet our obligations.  We want to feel normal. Others around us feel better when we are well, too.  We move too fast.

This pastor pushed himself to death.   ‘I’m OK. I can keep going,’ he said.  I do not have details. Did he suffer from delusions?  Did he momentarily lose touch with reality? Or did he come to believe everyone is better off without him? Listen to his introduction in his last sermon. This young man needed much more time to get well.

I love that he  tried to raise up other people,  but intimately understand how he missed the point with regard to his own health.  I’ve been there!  I hope no one is condemning him, because he was actually trying his best.

Hear how much he wanted to stay alive. Depression and anxiety stole his ability to do that. There had not been enough time, enough counseling, to reach the core of his needs.  One can question for infinity his mindset, yet I know he did not know how to survive what was happening to him. If he had known, he would be here.

Mental illness deserves understanding, mercy, grace, and patience. It is no one’s fault he died. May God bless his family and church. There are many broken hearts.

A man commented on an article following this pastor’s suicide:

I have read the comments, and feel compelled to respond. I have been a pastor of 32 years who has ministered to many people dealing with depression and anxiety. But, I must confess that I never really understood depression until my wife suffered through suicidal depression for 3 years. What people need to understand about depression is that people with severe depression struggle to think rationally and logically. One of the comments below was about someone kicking his butt & telling him how selfish he was. In other words, someone just needed to talk some sense into him. Depression doesn’t defer to rational thought! My suicidal Christian wife actually believed she would be helping our young boys by taking her life. She convinced herself that she was causing undue harm to them. Yes, suicide is a selfish act. However, that is the core issue of depression. You are stuck in an isolated, self-absorbed world of darkness and despair so deep that suicide literally seems like the only logical option… 

I hope you will listen to the deceased pastor’s last sermon, if you can do so safely.  He has much to teach us.  If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-231-TALK, or call 911. Then follow the process to get well. Don’t rush, give God time to renew your mind.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 2:2

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Strong Support is Simple: Be There for Your Friend

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Importance of strong supports cannot be over emphasized.  

Neither can your value as such a support.

If you have a friend, co-worker, family member, or even an acquaintance who struggles with depression, you have  opportunity to play a vital role.

There are posts on this website that offer practical ideas on how to be effective and helpful. I am not going to repeat all that today. There is one point in two sentences I am asking you to hear:

The most valuable gift you can offer is sincere, non-critical acceptance. 

The best means of giving this, is through your presence. 

People suffering with depression, especially severe depression, already know they are not living the life they want and that you want for them. Criticizing or in any way implying they are failing somehow to measure up, heaps fuel on that flame.  Maybe there is a time for that type of lecture – I do not know – but in the middle of a major depressive episode is not it. 

Neither is that when to ignore people and give them their “space.” In depression, a person is feeling unworthy. This is why you may perceive his or her withdrawal as a lack of enthusiasm for you.  In fact, it is much more likely that every fiber of your loved one’s  being is crying out for you to show you care.   

In essence, the finest, kindest, simplest act of meaningful support you can give is two-fold. (1)To listen, without teaching or offering advice. (2) To express that the one with depression is worth your time. 

Your presence does not have to be physical.  If you do not live in the same house, smaller gestures are more sustainable and you are more likely to repeat them. Texts, emails, instagram, Facebook, snail mail, phone calls… these are some options that are very valuable in the moment.  

Personal visits are nice as long as you do not go expecting to “fix” anyone. Be pleasant, avoid criticizing, and let the person know you are there. You may even sit in non-judgmental silence.  

If I could pull one common sentence out of the mouths of everyone I have met who was currently  fighting depression, it would be this. “No one gets it.” 

Here is your chance to get it. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians 5:1,2

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*jetty supports by TACLUDA; old bridge in Wales by MICROMOTH, both of rgbstock.com

Help Hurting People Without Hurting Yourself: Summary of a Plan that Works

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Your family member, co-worker, spouse, romantic partner, friend, employee, or student is depressed. Majorly depressed.  You wonder how you can help, if you should become involved, and when life will return to normal.

What can you do with all the mixed emotions you are experiencing? You fear too much stress, and perhaps even a case of your own depression. The key is insight.

Insight guides your compassion 

Before we can operate in a meaningful way, we have to start with knowledge. Depression is one word with two definitions. You may hear, “I am so depressed, this weather makes me want to stay home in bed.” That is an example of the first definition: a state of being sad, low mood, feeling down.

Depression under the second definition is a potentially disabling or fatal condition. Several serious, combined symptoms, causing observable struggles with daily functioning, will occur most of the day most days for at least two weeks before a clinician will diagnose major depression.

Every one of us has nights we wish we did not have to wake up in the morning. Grief, burnout, and bad days are part of life.  Yet most people will never experience anything more than these blues. This is why  understanding the difference is beneficial as you care for your loved one who is majorly depressed.  

Insight into personal boundaries helps you and your loved one cope

Thoughtfully established boundaries protect you from losing peace of mind. Contrary to a familiar definition of “lines in the sand,” boundaries are not about stopping someone else’s negativity or demands. Think about it – you have no control over other people’s choices or over external events. None.   

Your power begins when you draw a circle around yourself. Ask, “What will I allow in here with me? What will I accept from others? What will I carry, and how will I respond?” 

Healthy boundaries are not selfish! They are doable and successful. Compassionate Boundaries, a nine-part series of posts, shows the way.  As you develop your yeses and nos, freedom will surprise you.

Meanwhile, boundaries based on realistic limitations protect you from burnout. You remain present and able to help your depressed loved one without resentment.  

Insight into what to do or say heals your fear

We want to do what is right. Stigma and myths cause us to hesitate out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. The gold standard of support is letting  one who struggles know you care. 

No, talking about depression does not make it worse. No, your loved one cannot snap out of it.  Yes, professional treatment works for most people. Yes, you can confidently know what to do if a person speaks of suicide. Yes, you have many options. 

Non-critical acceptance is important. Scolding does not help. Invitations, gifts, acts of service and more, provide some water in the wilderness of depression. Anything you have to offer matters, even if you think it is little.

__________________________________________

BookThis Practical Seminar: How to Help Hurting People without Hurting Yourself

This seminar is designed to shed insight into depression and anxiety,  show practical ways supports do help, and provide necessary tools for healthy boundaries which protect everyone concerned.   
  • Analogies and stories
  • Interactive 
  • Practical answers to common questions 
  • Factual responses to stigmas and myths 

Please email Nancy at NancyVirden.hope@gmail.com, or use this convenient form.   For more information follow these links:   Testimonials      Bio       

___________________________________________

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*911* to Friends. Will We Respond?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

James* was withdrawn, irritable, and severely depressed. He mumbled dark  statements  occasionally such as, “My life doesn’t matter.”

He was under professional care, however his mood was growing worse. He was convinced no one cared about him (a symptom of major depression).  People in his life knew he was struggling but did not reach out.  He felt increasingly rejected and alone.

No promise versus an empty one

One day a friend said “I’ll come over. We’ll meet every week. How’s tomorrow?”

To James, that little bit was hope. He very much looked forward to this visit. At last, someone cared!  For the first time in weeks, James began to smile.

The next day came, and no friend. No call. No explanation. James felt devastated. This was the final proof he needed that his life was worthless.  His suicidal thoughts increased,  and he went backward mental health-wise. He suffered much from that broken promise – a promise he would have been better off never receiving in the first place.

In moments of sympathy or guilt, we want to offer impulsive promises. Empty, unfulfilled  promises are discouraging and harmful Please do not make them.

Instead, how about laying out a kind boundary that works for you?  “I care about you. You can call me Monday. I’ll be free from 6-7.”  Then be there.

A kind word

Another man texted several friends, describing his desperate loneliness and emotional pain. “I need a friend now. Today. 911” Four hours later he heard from a woman who  invited him to talk.  No one else answered his plea.

Why are we so scared to be real friends? It is easy to mix at social events, work side by side, or even talk about troubles.  When someone needs us to go to them, to reach beyond the usual, why do we hesitate?

We say we do not know what words to use.  Some of the most encouraging statements are uncomplicated. “I’m here.”  “I’m sorry to see you in such pain.”  Quietly sitting with a hurting friend can express nonjudgmental love and acceptance.

Actions are not so very difficult either. Pick up the phone, answer a text, let a friend talk, or tell someone they matter.

Major Depression is a lonely illness.  For more specific ideas on how to help, read articles on this website under the category “How to be an Effective Support.”

No one is to blame for a completed suicide due to not knowing what to say or when to say it. Keep in mind though, that suicide is preventable. A kind word really can save a life.

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral 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 are yours.

*Not his real name

Sloooow Dowwwwn. Your Impatience Will Not Help Someone’s Depression Go Away

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

I guess it is simple enough.  People struggling with depression want it to go away. People watching others struggle with depression want them well.

So, we all agree.

Depression is yucky.

Frustration

Bryan wanted to return to work.  His boss was growing impatient. His wife was arguing for him to get off the couch.  His therapist warned him moving too fast could cause a set-back.  Bryan was sick of it all, and especially sick of himself.

Why couldn’t he work like normal people? He hated the stupid mistakes he was making – like drinking too much last night and fighting with a friend.  He was neglecting his wife and children, staring into the television 14 hours a day.  In his negative thinking, fueled by fierce major depression, his life was a waste.  Maybe everyone would be better off if he was gone.

Bryan never attempted suicide. If he had, it would have been no one’s fault. His boss, wife, friend, children, and Bryan had reason to feel frustrated and impatient. A sense of normalcy was challenged. Their needs were unmet. It hurt to suffer and watch suffering, however they did not know what to do.

Fragility

The therapist encouraged him to take small steps forward. “Go ahead, get off the couch and eat dinner with your family. Then the next day, maybe do the dishes or go for a short walk.”

In the midst of a major depressive episode even little tasks can seem overwhelming.  Exhaustion comes quickly. Eating dinner or taking a shower can, in many cases, be all a person can handle each day for a while.

Bryan tried.  I saw him begin to feel more like himself. Eventually he worked half days, and then returned to his old schedule. Here’s the truth – no one was able to make his depression heal faster. Depression ran its course, and Bryan had to take it slow.

Another man pushed himself too hard and ended back in the hospital.  I too tried to sign up for too much too soon. It is frustrating being so fragile. All the while, depression is fueling  negativity and self-loathing.

No “Fixing” 

When you want to “fix” your depressed loved one, or express anger at someone’s slow recovery, take a step back. Maybe go for a walk yourself. Learn about depression; ask your loved one what they are feeling. Practice careful acceptance and avoid judgment.

Anger does not produce what we all agree is best – putting depression behind us.  Yes, depression is yucky. It challenges all involved. Patience is how to beat it.

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral 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 are yours.

*MOTORCYCLE by SULACO229 and SLOW by ALBION on rgbstock.com

 

Listening IS Doing: Be Effective Helping Your Depressed Friend

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

If you are a thoughtful listener, you are rare. Much of the time we consider what to say more than what to hear. 

Imagine you tell me your work day was difficult.  What response would you like?

“Oh, it can’t have been as bad as my day.”  OR  “Oh that’s too bad, what happened?” 

Likely, the second one leaves you feeling more cared for and heard.

There’s a third, best option

A mother of grown sons entered the support group room with about ten of us. She was anxious, and depressed. Her sons lived with her and their father, and refused to move out. Without jobs, they stole their parents’ money, mooched their food, and left messes for them to clean up. At one point, she had locked the refrigerator only to have them break it to take her groceries. 

She felt helpless because her husband silently endorsed and enabled their sons’ behavior. Her attempts at holding them accountable fell flat when their father consistently rescued them from responsibility. 

Frustrated, many times the mother tried to express her needs and valid concerns to her family, and was met with anger and insult.  When I met her, she was nearing her emotional limit. 

Surrounded by sympathetic  and empathetic listeners, her feelings were not dismissed. No one tried to fix her or compare her pain to theirs. Instead, members of the group nodded,  believing her  thoughts and emotions.  Whatever she said, her words were accepted without argument or advice.

It’s a miracle

She left renewed with strength to make and stand by decisions necessary to save herself. It is a type of miracle in my opinion,  when a person blossoms simply because they are heard. 

Thoughtful listening. It is selfless and effective. Perhaps the most powerful gift we can offer to a struggling friend is to listen without words. 

 

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral 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 are yours.

 

 

How Is Your ‘Helping’ IQ When a Loved One Is Hurting?

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

The other day I was looking at IQ information online.  There is some debate about what tests and measures of intelligence actually prove. They cannot provide insight into the character of a person or even how they perceive the world. For example, one report suggested that artists may not do as well as scientists on IQ tests because of their point of view. 

A woman who loved her forty-something year-old son, would mention his need for a better job  every time she visited. I believe she meant no harm. Her idea of helping was to try to control circumstances.

She asked me one day what she was doing wrong because her son was distancing himself. What I told her and have pondered since, is the basis for this post.

A world of difference between control and healthy concern

Are you concerned for a loved one who is struggling ? Take a moment to look at the following comparison. A higher ‘helping’ IQ will fall on the concern side.

CONTROL 
Knows the answer 
Desires results above all 
Expresses frustration, anger, disappointment at slow or ‘incorrect’ results, places blame
Seeks ways to “fix” the situation or person, manipulative 
Wants in on gossip or rumor, or spreads such 
May feel overly anxious at the prospect of situation or person not changing 
Feels guilty if they cannot fix the problem 
Does not listen 
Offers pat answers, quick-fix solutions, or false hope based on incomplete understanding of person/needs 

CONCERN
Humble, ready to learn
Wants to extend love above all
Patient, respects other person’s right to choose
Offers aid when asked, or asks before helping. Straight forward
Respects the privacy of others
Feels concern, some worry and anxiety, yet also feels peace by letting go what they cannot control
Feels empathy, pain, or grief, but does not have to own what is not theirs
Actively listens, validates, is genuinely interested
Does not offer what one does not have, is honest and realistic, offers hope based on wisdom

If you see the difference between control and concern, and if how you have tried to help falls more on the control side, you have time to change.  Talk to your loved one and let them know. Ask for their input and listen.

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

 

Ask, Listen, and Save a Life

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Imagine for a moment, you are in a pitch-black room.  People you believe to be in the same room are speaking in your direction. However, you cannot understand what they mean; some of the language is foreign, and then there’s the gibberish.

They say, “We love all this sunshine! Isn’t this wonderful?”

You incredulously mention the room’s darkness. “Do you understand where we are?”  

You hear, “It’s bright, you are just refusing to see it.”

True story

The doctor’s blurred face hovered above mine.

Click. Click.

My vision was doubling at a fast pace. Due with my first baby in two months,  I wondered what this ophthalmologist could add to the various diagnoses and advice I had already received.

Click. Click.

He stepped back. In a brusk, commanding voice he said, “Nothing wrong.”

Surprised, I realized this was the first doctor to deny the problem. Birth control pills, a need for prism glasses, and even stress had been blamed for the worsening double vision I first reported five years earlier. But not this. Not “nothing wrong.”

“Everything in this office is double,” I said. “The machines, your face…”

“You just imagine.” His broken English was angry. He glared at me. I was intimidated, and afraid to say more.

“But it’s worse than a month ago…”

“It not worse. You just notice now.” He was raising his voice. You leave, come back see me in six weeks.”

His confusing words drove me to seek yet another opinion. Two months later, newborn in tow, a neurologist announced the news.

“You have a giant aneurism growing behind your left eye. Let’s do surgery today.”

Saving a life starts with listening

It is frustrating when one’s feelings and experiences are invalidated. Whether by a misogynist doctor or a good friend, it is not fun being ignored. In the world of mental healthcare, dismissal is dangerous.

If a person is showing signs of depression, and perhaps you have picked up on some dark thoughts, do not walk away. I know it is hard to face the idea that a loved one is suicidal. I know it is awkward and potentially embarrassing to bring it up. I know it is scary to think of frustrating that person even more. But do not walk away. 

A simple question can cost us emotional energy. It does not have to. Ask your loved one non-judgementally, “Are you thinking of hurting yourself? Are you considering suicide?” By doing so you allow them to feel accepted, safe, and loved. You show you care enough to be involved. In this world, that is rare. 

Be special. Be the one who listens. Save a life.

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 3:18

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; 

let us show the truth by our actions.

************

Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  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.

Wisdom from a Wheelchair

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

I am in a wheelchair temporarily due to a foot injury.  This confinement has unique challenges.  Blood circulation cuts off at the edge of the seat. It is easy to go too fast down inclines. From steps to doorsills to sinks, homes are built for people on two feet. Grabbers are essential, yet finding low storage for necessary items is too!

Because my foot will heal in a few weeks, this experience is void of the emotional trauma that must accompany learning one’s legs will never work. However, to a lesser degree I can relate to the financial, social, and physical limitations of life in a wheelchair.

Our Challenge: Be Braver than Most   

Relatability, or rather lack of it, is one reason people stay away from those who struggle with mental disorders.  Jesus is our example of love and acceptance no matter the circumstances.   

As we read in the gospels, he met with those on the outskirts – people society had deemed unnecessary and a waste of skin. He talked with the fearful, faced head-on the demon-posessed, touched the unwanted, and loved them. 

I heard a pastor express from the platform his relief when emotionally unstable people do not call him. Another minister completely ignored a suicidal church member. Someone close recently told me she does not like people with mental illness.  That hurt.

What these responses mean is that potential supports do not know what to do.  As humans, we fear the unknown. Our comfort is important to us. The bravest among us face those fears and refuse to balk. 

People are generally not proactive. In churches especially this is a problem because God’s house is where hurting souls will often look for answers. We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.  Yet too often we make the excuse, “They’ll call me if they need me.” Isolation adds to the suffering of those in emotional pain.

How to Be Braver than Most

Following the example of Jesus is not our idea of comfortable.  “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges… was born as a human being,” and lived and died in service to God and people.* 

If you want to live as Jesus did, your number of choices shrinks. Loving your neighbor as you love yourself is not optional.   

This blog and entire website teaches practical ways to do that without losing sight of who you are and growing overwhelmed. You can know how to relate and react when someone near you struggles with mental illness.  You do not have to be afraid. You can be an effective support while maintaining your own peace of mind.

Jesus sat in our wheelchairs so to speak, experiencing human limitations.  He reacted with love-in-action, and still does.      

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 3:18

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

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.

*From Philippians 2

*wheelchair pic by BETACAM on rgbstock.com; women pic from kozzi.com