Thursday, July 03, 2008

Giving support

Earlier this week Susan of Bipolar Wellness wrote about the importance of wanting wellness if we want to be well. "As far as I am concerned, the most critical component of achieving wellness is wanting it....Wellness doesn't occur in a vacuum. Whether you believe that bipolarity and/or clinical depression is a biochemical condition--or not--the only way to achieve wellness is to be willing to ask the difficult questions, and live a life that matters."

I wrote a comment expressing my frustrations with someone I'm giving support to who doesn't seem to want that wellness. At least she doesn't pursue it as I wish she would. I wondered at what point I should back off. Susan followed her initial post with one she titles When to Let Go. Susan talks about her feelings on the issue: "So, I guess my answer is that I believe the woman you're talking about needs to find professional help. And she needs to "step up to the plate" so to speak. If you continue to allow her to "take" from you, you'll have nothing left. And if she decides that life isn't living, ultimately that's her decision."

But, when I think back to what I felt like when I was depressed, and how difficult it was to be well, and how important it was for me to have the people I loved not give up on me, I can't see myself giving up on others. Perhaps backing off a bit and not staying too close is good for my own health, but I feel I need to stay available.

In his book, New Light on Depression, Harold Koenig wrote some things that I have taken to heart. He wrote: "Love - unconditional love - is the ultimate long-term antidote for depression, for at its core love is connected with faith and hope."

I feel that we need to always remind people they are loved and not withdraw that love from people when they're going through hard times. One of the most important things a person with depression needs is to know that there's someone always available. Knowing that someone is available who understands - because she's been there herself - is invaluable.

Since starting Living Room, I've given support to quite a few people. While it isn't easy, it can be rewarding too. Though I walk with them through their valleys, I also experience with them the relief when they climb out again. When they call me and spend some time expressing their feelings to me and I have no answers, we can always turn to God at the end of the call. When I feel helpless and don't know what to say, we pray together. And those prayers are powerful. I feel the presence of God's Spirit. We call on God to give the person strength and patience. We ask him to embrace her and to help her feel his love. We turn everything over to God. When we hang up I feel I can leave it all behind because it's in God's hands, not mine. This is how I can usually manage to support people without it getting myself down.

As a Christian I need to be a conduit of Christ's love. And I've found that it's a joy to be that. It's rewarding to be that. And to walk with someone through their depression - to talk with them and to help them go to God with it - is a privilege.

I don't expect that everyone should be able to do this. I don't judge people who are not able to do this. We all have gifts that make us unique. This just happens to be mine.


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Thanks for following up on this. I believe it's a very important topic.

I'm not sure if the quote you use from my second post truly reflects what I wrote. It would suggest a readiness to "give up" on people without putting it in context.

What I said was that in the past I allowed people to take and take from me until I had nothing left to give--and ultimately that resulted in my sliding into a depression. And I will no longer allow that to happen.

But, overall, I must admit that there is a point when I do tend to back off from people who are very needy. Since I have survived 120 depressive episodes, and I've spent years working for wellness, I have no problem admitting that my health is my top priority.


marja said...

Hi Susan,

I'm sorry if this quote doesn't accurately reflect what you meant to say. And I'm glad you've corrected it here. Hope everyone will read your comment here.

I can understand how you can't allow people to take and take from you if what that does is affect your own ability to survive.

Thanks for your putting this into perspective.


Mariposa said...

I like this topic and I'm following through it here...I have said clearly my stand on this at Susan's say is never give up...never quit...but make sure you are not harm in the process. If doing it becomes a burden and a source of stress rather than radiating goodness, then maybe you are not ready for it...we all have different levels of strength and we can only take so much at a time.

I just have a very high tolerance to things like these because I've been there and I know hard it is to see the light when you are in the only take one meaningful moment for you to see the light and to defy that darkness forever...I'm glad my friends and family kept up with me in those now, I'm passing that grace to anyone whom I feel is in need. That person may or may not see the light soon, but it will get there...that is what I believe...and the law of attractionn tells us that thought becomes matter or thought can make things I chose to visualize all that is good. The problem is when the person shuts down and does not want anyone at all...because it will be harder for us to be there for them.

So we go when are needed...not just when we are wanted.

Hugs and Blessings!

Coco said...

Yes, not giving up on up on people unless it starts to take away from your own wellness. Sometimes people are not in a position to help themselves, and just need someone to walk along side them. It's a beautiful thing to have someone do that for you when you need it. My mom is that person for me. Thanks for addressing this Marja.

marja said...

Mariposa, Thank you for your comment and your understanding of this issue. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to you.

marja said...

Hi Coco, Yes it IS wonderful when you have someone who you can cound on being there for you, no matter what.