I’ve written a little about the fact that when there is a person with some form of mental illness how the people around can help them. But this is about the fact that maybe one of the most important things that a spouse, parent, sibling, friend or anyone connected with that person can do is to ‘be patient’.
That one thing while it seems so simple is anything else, ‘but’. It is something that must be demonstrated over and over again…and in many cases people just can’t do it. It wears thin after awhile. For me, it took my family and friends years of patience. Some couldn’t handle it and slowly pulled away. I don’t blame them really as it can be an exhausting situation. After all who wants to be around someone who is more often than not in a negative mood, and really can’t participate in an every day conversation.
I wanted so much to be able to be what others were...happy and content with life, but in the frame of mind that I was in I just couldn’t fake it. Avoidance was something that I learned to do. Just don’t go to places where there would be laughing and happy people, but if you found yourself there find a corner to sit in and try to be inconspicuous. If you are married or with someone who likes to be around people this is a definite area of concern. The other person can only take your attitude so much before their patience is tried very much.
Living daily with someone who walks around the house with a long face and a lot of sighs can try the patience of all who live there. My children loved me dearly but I know eventually their patience, while never gone was severely tested. They tried so hard to lift my spirits. I remember coming home once on a ‘pass’ from the hospital and them expecting me to stay long enough to have dinner with them. But unfortunately I wasn’t prepared ’emotionally’ to give them what they wanted. All I could think about at the time was to go back to the ‘safety’ of what I felt was a cocoon of protection offered me back at the hospital. There weren’t the same expectations of me there. I could be and feel what I wanted to and not disappoint anyone.
There would of course be times in between the episodes of depression where I could and did react on a ‘normal’ level and during those times I would try and make it up to those that loved me so.
But inevitably another time would come to challenge them once again. I was unreasonable sometimes and acted irrationally and when I think now of my behavior it saddens me terribly to think what I put my family through. But yet again they would persevere in their love for me and while I don’t think they ‘accepted’ my behavior…they tolerated it.
I can remember apologizing again and again when the realization of how I was acting became overwhelming for me. They were loving and forgiving and in a way I felt worse than if they would just ‘write me off’…which on many occasions I suggested they do because I had written myself off.
Patience is in effect tolerance. That’s what they did…tolerate me.
If a person with depression or some other kind of mental illness or crisis that they are going through, does NOT have those around them with a commitment to help them work through their issues, it is very difficult to heal…in fact sometimes, to survive.
I know that I would have never made it through the many years of what I called ‘The Darkness’ but I did, thanks in large part to people who emanated love and patience.
In case there are those out there who are now living or connected in some way with a person such as I ‘was’ please just remember that this time can pass but it may require a lot of from you. My hope is that you are able to give it.