I was totally going to post something more light-hearted today about my “many forms of therapy.” I’ll definitely post about that later, however, the seriousness of mental health problems and the way these issues are so often dealt with often weigh heavy on my heart and mind.
From my own experiences in life, it seems as though mental health disorders are treated by many (not by all) as one or more of the following:
- not real, all in someone’s head
- not an illness or not having a physical/physiological cause
- indication of having a spiritual problem
Not real/all in someone’s head
I’m sure I’m leaving out some points, but the thoughts listed above came to mind first. Why would the average person say that they had a mental illness? They know stating this could possibly cause others to label them with all sort of hurtful words. They know it could cause some ostracism. Yet, they admit they have a mental health problem. (This is not referring to someone who might claim a mental health illness to receive financial compensation or to “get off the hook” for a crime, but just the average person.) Why would they admit to a mental health illness? Probably because they have one.
On the other end of the spectrum, some individuals with a mental illness may never admit to or discuss it for the very same reasons-ostracism, labels, avoiding negative reactions from others.
I’d rather take someone seriously about this issue than not, and have a tragedy occur. I would rather believe them and offer support or point them in the right direction for help, than to disregard a mental health issue. I would hope those I know would feel comfortable knowing they could come to me to discuss mental health without negative reactions.
If a mental illness was a different form of illness, how would it be treated? If, for example, someone stated that they had an ongoing heart condition and weren’t feeling well, that person would be taken seriously by most. They would be offered medical assistance/support. Prescribed medicine, sympathized with, helped, comforted. They would not be given labels. They would be taken seriously. So why the difference?
To me, Christians, should be the first on the list at offering support and love regardless of the illness. This isn’t always the case. (Again, not saying this goes for all.) We aren’t called to judge or determine what is “real,” we are called to love, regardless. To be like Christ, we should care and extend love and grace.
Some groups of people are excellent at providing this type of support and others, not so much. I pray I’m always one to offer support, love and help, judgement free to those I know who are struggling in this way. This world can be harsh, hard, and cold. To me, those who have an illness of any sort need extra compassion and kindness shown to them on the regular. I hope to sow the qualities St. Francis so beautifully described: love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy. You just never know if the kindness you extend is exactly what someone needs at a certain moment in time.
I plan to most more on this soon! Hope your day is blessed. 💕