I have to admit it, there are times when I do not know if I am the right person to write as an expert on this subject, but this is only because I am not a master, I do not have all the answers, I only have experiences. Yet then, as I think about it, there is one subject I am a master of, and that is myself.
As I have been writing on Therapeutic Magic for Mental Illness, I faced an emotional block that has delayed me reaching the next parts of that series. Not writing about this block, telling myself that it’s too personal of a subject, and that pointing out my woes will only draw more attention to the problem and not a solution, well, that just made it worse. I have to acknowledge that what I feel is happening to me, like extracting a poison dart out of my heart, and then examine what components created the poison CSI-style, recording my findings in detail, all while I recover from the wound.
These things replay in my mind. No matter how often I distract myself, I accept what happened and how it made me feel. I have a father who does not support my efforts to heal myself. My brother is estranged from me. I have too many painful memories to remind me of the many times I have lost friends, too. Some of those ex-friends aren’t bad people, they just didn’t understand, and they remain friends with my closest friends. I am occasionally reminded people don’t like me, even my closest blood relatives have a hatred for me that is beyond my understanding, especially when all I do is love them. My father considers me pathetic; the last time he browbeat me over this in public, I told him I would not tolerate him calling me that anymore. He hasn’t talked to me since I told him to back off. Frankly, despite my concerns for his health and well-being, dealing with him is too much stress. He has never told me he loves me. He’s been a constant critic of my body, behavior, everything. The same goes for my brother. Nothing pleases those men! I don’t believe I’m to blame for their problems. I still feel paranoid that other friends will reject me and false judgments could be made against me unfairly. There are nuggets of “loser-li-ness” pasted on me from the way I’ve been treated by my father — a weakness that is sniffed out by other people when I deal with them socially — I must exhibit this self-esteem deficiency even in my words online, as if I am apologizing for my own existence. There are times when I sense an apprehension in the air about people around me, so I am compelled to do all I can to please them, all the while worrying if I am going to end up spending the rest of my life under scrutiny. At times I am stuck in the mucky-muck of wondering if maybe my father is right, or if those ex-friends were right about me…
They should know better. Because I know myself better. Why won’t they believe in me? Especially because I believe in myself.
Yet am I backing up my belief with action? Am I doing enough? There are times when I am very inspired by the examples of others I read about, my creative passions hurt me into motion when I view a delicious painting, and I’m excited to tears whenever a friend shares with me a good story. Then I consider: why am I not doing anything? The only answer is: I’ve been too busy battling depression, but this is not what I’m all about… but… but I can’t stop talking about it because I’ve found out so much about it, so much I want to share.
I forget that most people find the subject disturbing, that it makes them nervous around me. If I had not shared with them what I go through, they’d see me normal and never give a doubt about my character. Yet if they knew and understood more, they’d find the key I found; a better way of relating and overcoming, a way that can be made even better if only more masses of people cooperated with it!
The worst part of having a problem is the way other people handle it — I’m already doing my part to take care of myself, what’s their excuse? They will often take the stance to not understand, or not want to understand, preferring to believe that I am making excuses or producing lies and justifications during the times when I am out of balance. In my practice of silence and contemplation, I asked myself how I have contributed to the opinions against me. My attempts to make things better by explaining what’s wrong with me were made worse by me explaining and describing myself as being a problem.
Ever experience a time when someone points out that you “have a problem” and need to “get help” and yet they do nothing but point it out? It’s easy to point at the problem, like pointing out that there is a dirty diaper in the middle of the living room, yet no one is picking it up or putting it in the trash because the only person in the room who was told about the problem has no arms to do anything about it. Sure, they definitely DO need help, yet pointing out the dirty diaper in front of them when they can’t pick it up to throw it away doesn’t help at all.
There are things we can do for ourselves, but then there are things we do need help with, and the best help you can give to someone who is suffering from a mental illness as common as depression is to JUST BE SUPPORTIVE and being supportive DOES NOT MEAN FIXING THE PROBLEM it just means REMAINING A FRIEND!
Just being a friend makes a major difference in the life of someone coping with mental illness, in fact it plays an important role in the efforts to help suffering end. Instead of pointing at someone’s problems, why not stop and try to understand them? There is always more to the story. If you want to continue to make the lives of the mentally ill a living hell, then keep pointing at them and pushing them aside, tell them how awful they are… But isn’t it better to stop the cycles of misunderstanding and abuse?
For help on how you can be a better help to your friends check out the following:
Mental Illness: What a Difference a Friend Makes an initiative started by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a wonderful program that provides answers for friends who want to help.
The NAMI blog‘s coverage about the award-winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s series titled “Imminent Danger” featuring the VERY moving article Can adult siblings connect when mental illness is part of mix? MJS reporter Meg Kissinger, like me, has mental illness in the family. This article especially touches my heart because it reminds me of some experiences with my relations.
I’m glad I got these thoughts off my chest because now I am free to move forward, write on, and get back on track. I hope the above links provide some helpful information. As it comes to me, I’ll provide more as I continue to piece together this series.