Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a remedy for mental illness? But we don’t. In fact, most people don’t understand much about mental illness. But our response to those who suffer makes a huge difference.
This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!
Angry Colleagues Drain My Compassion
“What are you trying to do?” my colleague shouted at me.
“I’m doing what the principal asked me to do,” I stammered, shocked at the angry words and accusations pouring out of my colleague’s mouth.
“I’m going to write a letter of complaint to her about the way you’re trying to interfere with me doing my job,” she declared.
“Do what you think you need to,” I said, “but I don’t have to listen to this anymore!” By this time the ball had risen on my anger, and I stormed out of the room. I had no idea why my colleague had suddenly created a giant scene over something insignificant.
Similar incidents happened over the course of the school year. One week, she would smile and act friendly. The next, she would send me scathing emails over something I had said or done. Things which hadn’t bothered her the previous week. As the tense school year drew to a close, I couldn’t wait to escape for the summer. The less I had to deal with my colleague, the better.
I asked my husband for advice, and he suggested I keep a record of each incident when it happened. Just in case my colleague got the bug in her head to start legal proceedings of some sort. He also suggested prayer might provide a remedy.
And so I prayed for my colleague. But her rantings didn’t stop until the school year ended and I no longer had contact with her.
A Remedy for Mental Illness?
At the start of the new school year, my colleague seemed like a different person. Cordial, friendly, helpful, and not a single rant. I heard through the grapevine she had discovered over the summer she suffered from bipolar disorder.
Her diagnosis didn’t surprise me. But I felt remorseful. In my righteous anger at her tirades, I failed to treat her with the compassion I could have. Instead of coming alongside her, I distanced myself from her.
May marks another Mental Health Awareness Month—a perfect time to think about mental illnesses and how we should respond to those who suffer. There’s no one remedy for mental illness, but compassion goes a long way towards helping someone who suffers.
We find it easy to have compassion on someone with cancer or appendicitis. But bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or bipolar disorder? Not has easy. We forget how wonderfully complex God created our minds. The American Psychiatric Association has identified over 297 different mental illnesses, including things like autism, drug and alcohol dependency, sleep-wake disorders, internet gaming disorder, and more.
There’s no one remedy for mental illness, but awareness and compassion can help those who suffer. Let’s do our part to come alongside those who suffer and not blame them for their illnesses. Blame does nothing to find a remedy.
When someone you know struggles, offer compassionate listening, ask how you can help, and offer to pray. Ask if they need help making an appointment with a mental health professional. Offer to pick up prescriptions, help with childcare, or do laundry.
Let’s stop the stigma about mental illness and come alongside those who suffer.
If You Have a Story to Share…
Come back tomorrow for a month-long Stop the Stigma: Tell Your Story link-up.