(June 28, 2010)

Do you think that people with mental illness feel rejected more than those who do not deal with such illnesses? What I’m talking about is a feeling of rejection from a group that in general aren’t harboring stigma. I believe very much that they do, though a friend of mine doesn’t understand that. She says that everyone suffers feelings of rejection sometimes.

I belong to a loving, accepting church, and yet I often find myself going home with a cold, awful feeling. A feeling of having been ignored or rejected. I’m sure much of this is only a perceived feeling. I’m sure people at church would be quite surprised that I would feel that way. These feelings often trigger a depression that takes a while to get over.

Is it me? Is this the lot of people who live with mental illness? Is it easier for us to feel rejected? Perhaps due to having an illness that is generally stigmatized? Perhaps due to our over sensitivity and insecurity?

A friend of mine is in hospital. I’ve talked about her in previous posts. One of the major triggers for this episode was her perception that she was being ignored at church, excluded, rejected. She had needed someone to connect with her in a real way. She told me that all she had needed was a hug. A friend told me that someone had talked to her. Yet apparently that wasn’t enough to dissolve her feelings of lonesomeness. She was a really needy person that day.

I wouldn’t fault anyone though. How are people to know of her need? Perhaps all they saw was a withdrawn person who didn’t seem to want to talk. Someone who was hard to approach. How are they to know what’s going on inside her?

I want to bring this topic for discussion at the next Living Room meeting. Do others experience this? How does it make them feel? What do they think causes it?

And we need to search out what we can do about these feelings. The important thing we need to remember is who we are in God’s eyes. I think part of our problem is an insecurity. We need to learn to be secure in the knowledge of God’s love…and secure in the knowledge that God’s people do love us, even though they don’t always understand our needs.