Why We Might Be Failing Mental Health Warriors?
Updated: Oct 9
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
As a person dealing with mental health issues would tell you, mental illnesses are soul-destroying. Like, life wasn't hard enough, already! These people are fighting various battles all at the same time.
On top of that, they are all alone in their journey. They are continuing their lives, keeping plastic smiles with heavy burdens on their hearts. These warriors are amongst us; we meet them every day, and yet we act so indifferently.
We often are so full of ourselves, living our petty lies, chasing our paltry dreams that we happen to ignore their 'cries for help'. And then one fine day, when they choose to end it, we can't seem to believe any of it.
What is it that we are doing wrong?
Well, for the starters, we aren't listening enough. Let's be real, we are not well-versed with what mental illnesses are, and what they can do to a person. We like to believe we understand it when clearly, we don't.
Ask yourselves- how many times have you said things like, " 'Oh, it's just a phase', 'You're overreacting', 'Everyone goes through this', 'Ugh, don't think too much' " when someone came to you to vent their heart out?
The truth is that only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. We can not imagine the pain they go through, and we never will. Mental illnesses like depression aren't merely being sad, quiet, or a loner that can be fixed.
It is certainly not something that will pass or something you will 'get over', given the time. There's a reason they are put on medications, prescribed a professional therapy, and monitored by a licensed medico regularly.
So, the question is - what can we do to help, and not be a jerk?
Stephen Fry rightly said, "If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather."
If we can be a little humble, a little considerate, and a bit more open to people in need, we might be able to be an anchor for these warriors. Next time someone comes to you and tells you how they feel, please refrain from asking them why. Instead, try to listen without interrupting them in between, and be there for them by providing them the comfort they long for.
Mental illnesses make people shut themselves. They isolate themselves from the world cutting contacts from anyone and everyone. It may seem they are rude, distant or they have lost interest but the truth is they can't be bothered. They are battling their demons day in and day out. They are already drained enough to even get out of bed, at times. We can not always expect them to reach out to us. Often times, we have to be the bigger person and reach in. We need to shatter their walls, make them believe, and most importantly, give them hope. Make them feel like they belong, like, they matter.
Avoid using words mindlessly. You might still be able to make up for your actions but not for your words. Be meticulous and wise in what you say. You may not always have the right words to say to someone fighting for their life. In such situations, it's better to keep quiet. Remember, a genuine, tight hug can never go wrong, ever.
It's difficult to be friends with these people, which is understandable as no one wants unnecessary drama in their lives. However, it is equally important to understand that everyone needs someone to lift them up in the darkest of times. You wouldn't leave a person if they fractured their bones, will you? No, right? Then why treat mental patients any different. if anything, they need us all the more. Do not abandon them when they need you the most. That being said, try to be patient with them. Whenever you feel you can not do this anymore, make yourself remember that you can save a life.
Lastly, convince them to see a therapist. Although, there is no magical cure for mental problems, getting treatment can aid in huge ways. Many patients are resilient in seeking professional help. Some of them might be scared, some may think nothing can help them, while some might be tangled in the stigma associated with professional help. Make an effort to guide them through it. Politely, talk them into therapy. Let them know the pros of going to a doctor, and how would it help them. Be there throughout that process of them getting better, not only would you feel wonderful but also you will end up saving a life.