Psalm 41:9 - Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
When other people find out we suffer from a mental illness sometimes they want to pretend it doesn’t exist so they pull away.
It’s easier that way, or so it seems. Or is it? But you don’t know what’s going on in their life.
Mental illness takes its hands and wraps them around the throat of the one suffering. It reaches inside and grabs a hold of our hearts. And when we see our friend pulling away, it can feel like the last straw. The last bit of hope is gone. The last chance to turn the corner and feel human again has slipped away.
You see, mental illness can also make you feel like a monster. Sometimes it causes you to act in ways that you wouldn’t normally. And when we feel this way, it isn’t our friend who pulls away from us; it’s us pulling away from all of the people who care about us.
How do we stop relationships pulling apart when we have a mental illness? Nami.org posts the article, “How to Love Someone With A Mental Illness,” in which they suggest to resist the urge to say, “Try harder.” If someone is having an asthma attack you don’t tell them to try harder to breathe. Also, let go of your time table as to how long it could take to find wholeness.
In addition to the suggestions in the article above, realize that the one suffering from mental illness could share much insight into what life is like for them, and provide help to others who are coping with the hard things in life that may turn into mental illness. By allowing them the opportunity to share their life, you can toss out your fears and let in the light of understanding. Then you’ll be giving them the chance to once again become your close friend. Someone they can trust with the difficulties of living with mental illness.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.