Wouldn't it be nice if we had a remedy for mental illness? Most people don't understand much about mental illness. But our response to those who suffer makes a huge difference. #stopthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #anxiety #depression #autism #addiction #eatingdisorder #BED #anorexia #bulimia #bipolar #gamingaddiction #compassion

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!

Wouldn't it be nice if we had a remedy for mental illness? Most people don't understand much about mental illness. But our response to those who suffer makes a huge difference. #stopthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #anxiety #depression #autism #addiction #eatingdisorder #BED #anorexia #bulimia #bipolar #gamingaddiction #compassion

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.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had a remedy for mental illness? Most people don't understand much about mental illness. But our response to those who suffer makes a huge difference. #stopthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #anxiety #depression #autism #addiction #eatingdisorder #BED #anorexia #bulimia #bipolar #gamingaddiction #compassion

If You Have a Story to Share…

Come back tomorrow for a month-long Stop the Stigma: Tell Your Story link-up.

20 Comments

  1. Mental illness is so complicated. My husband suffers from chronic depression so I’ve learned to live with his. But it’s still hard because mostly he looks and seems fine. But part of me has to be reminded to treat him like a fully autonymous adult, not like one of my kids. The stigma is real. Not all mentally ill people are unhappy or dangerous, though some are at times. But all deserve compassion and respect.

  2. There’s no cure for some things
    in function or in fashion,
    but a heart can yet be given wings
    when it’s shown compassion
    by a caring friend who’ll listen
    through the harrowed years,
    and meet the tired eyes that glisten
    with acid unshed tears.
    Perhaps the sun will rise again,
    perhaps the wind will moan,
    but in the midst of aching pain
    not to be alone
    can be the greatest saving grace
    to help a soul survive this place.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Drifting AwayMy Profile

  3. Anita, you are so right…I have multiple diagnoses in regard to mental illness, but really my husband reminds me I’m just “Jennifer.” It is so hard to find the acceptance in today’s society. Many still have a stigma to the aspects of mental illness that are just plain hard to accept or deal with. I’ve been writing a book about my struggles and including quotes from fellow Christian authors, the CDC, scripture, and prayers. I’d covet your prayer today over that book. I’m determining how to edit and add to it presently. It’s a labor of love, and I have felt called to write and then share it with others vs. keeping my journey to myself. I think more and more books are coming out to share more about the highs and lows of mental health. I’m thankful for that! Jennifer

  4. So wonderfully spoken Anita. I couldn’t agree with you more ” Let’s stop the stigma about mental illness and come alongside those who suffer.” Before my retirement, during my Social Work career, I worked with dually diagnosed adults. And my compassion was genuine. I looked at my clients as themselves not labeled by their diagnosis. Blessings.
    Visiting from FMF#5
    Paula Short recently posted…Good Old Fashion RemediesMy Profile

    1. I’ve noticed a difference in people who say they are ‘diabetic’ as compared to those who say they ‘have diabetes.’ Those who see themselves as humans with diabetes do more to proactively control and manage their illness. Whereas, those who sigh and say, “I’m diabetic,” tend to do nothing to manage their illness. I think it’s the same with mental illnesses. If you have something, you can do something about it. If you are something, there is little reason to strive for change.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…SCH 048 Five Self-Care Hacks to Improve Your Health TodayMy Profile

  5. I have a daughter who checked into a mental facility last November just before Thanksgiving. My husband and I knew she had anxiety, and she had been on medication for four years. Still, we were shocked that she checked into this facility. We learned to embrace her situation through compassionate listening. Thanks for the reminders that listening first is always the best remedy.

  6. Mental illness has been a big part of my life as several of my family members struggle with it…my friend’s husband also took his life last month due to mental illness. Thanks for this post and the reminder to treat others with compassion; we never know what someone else is going through.

    1. I am so sorry, Kara. You are so right–we never know what others struggle with or how much they may have perfected their facade. Stop by tomorrow for a month-long link=up where we can share our stories and help stop the stigma.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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