Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32


This is not one of my regular devotionals, but I’m sending it today, because I think it’s important for those with mental health issues and those who support them.

There have been many times – extremely painful times – when I was moved to ask myself: “What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why am I not treated like others?” I started feeling like an outsider, a person who didn’t belong, a person not as normal as others, not good enough.

Although I myself have been a caregiver for people with mental health issues for many years – in groups and one on one, I myself also need care. My needs have at times become greater than friends were able to bear. And so, when at some point they decided they could no longer be there for me in the way they once were, I felt rejected. I didn’t only “feel” rejected, I “was.” Questions about what might have happened went round and round in my head. But no one gave me an explanation. And without a clear explanation I wasn’t able to understand. The pain became even harder to bear.

I had a long visit with someone from my church yesterday. She clearly showed that she wanted to be there for me as a friend. The beautiful thing was that she spent time openly and patiently expressing her worry about hurting me if she wasn’t always able to be there for me. She told me about her life – how very busy it is. Before coming she had asked herself how getting close to me would affect her life. She had hesitated meeting with me – a person who she knew had needs.

In those couple of hours spent with this caring person, I got a good picture of how a supporter feels. She treated me with love and respect, realizing the importance of my need to understand. I wasn’t treated as a person with disability, but as any person would be. I was glad she was so honest. This helped me know  how I need to do my best to give her space.

I came to understand rejections of the past. Amazing how hard it is to understand two different points of view, especially when one has mental health issues and the other doesn’t! And yet, both the person with disability and the supporter must try. Though it may be difficult, we must be honest with each other and tell the truth when the relationship becomes difficult. People like myself needs to hear why support is being withdrawn. Although it might hurt when hard truths are explained, I believe the pain will be far less than being left with a never-ending “Why?”

At the end of our visit we prayed. I asked God to help us develop a good friendship, respecting each other’s need to be free.

Several days ago I wrote DIGNITY AND WORTH. I wanted to send it out this morning. But since my visit with my new friend yesterday, I’ve decided not to send it, suspecting that I was being too harsh on potential supporters. The writing is still on my blog if you’d like to have a look: