Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The pain of being misunderstood

I have a need once more to talk about the need for understanding of people with depression. I've done a lot of writing on this topic, trying to build understanding for the sake of those who live with mental health problems.

Unfortunately, recent experience is showing me that it is impossible for a person to be fully understood by someone who has never experienced depression themselves. In actual fact, talking to such people about your pain is dangerous. It can lead to more pain than the depression itself. You set yourself up for rejection and we all know how painful rejection can feel. It can be worse than the depression itself.

The only truly safe people to talk with are those who have been there. Or - the very rare person who walks so closely to Jesus that he/she is willing and able to give himself fully and understand in the way He understood. To be compassionate, in the midst of not having been there themselves is a rare thing. It takes the person who is - for a little while - willing to put him/herself in the shoes of the suffering person and to suffer with this person - in the way Jesus did. Few people are able to do this. Everyone has their own life to live - their own problems. And, when we're depressed we do tend to be awfully self-centered - not a very becoming thing. In the midst of our problems, we do need to strive for other-centeredness.

This shows me how important it is for those of us who do understand, to comfort others in the way we have been comforted. To love in the way we've been loved by our most merciful Father in heaven. At least to remind each other of His great love for us.

We who live with mood disorders so badly need each other. We so badly need to encourage each other to go to that most compassionate person of all - Jesus Christ. He suffered greatly for all of us. He too was rejected by friends who didn't understand what He was going through. His disciples slept in the Garden of Gethsemane while He was suffering. Not willing to stay awake and be with Him. Not understanding the severity of what He was dealing with.

He knows what suffering is and knows the pain we feel. His pain was far greater than ours. He gave us His all. Can we give our all to each other? Kind of doubtful. We are human and self-centered, especially when we're in the midst of depression.

We need to turn to Jesus. But we also need our friends around us. As friends we need to show each other the love of Christ, because that's sometimes the only way we'll remember that He's there - through the hands of another Christ follower who will show God's compassion to us in real terms.

Let's reach out our hand to others who suffer, in the name of Jesus.

All the more makes me believe in Living Room, though at times it can be a difficult responsibility to bear. We who lead Living Room continually need to turn to God, the One who can strengthen us, in spite of our great weakness. It's God's work, after all. Not ours.

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

"His understanding no one can fathom." How wonderful to have Someone whose understanding is greater than we could ever imagine. We need to rest and find peace in that knowledge.


Eva Geranton said...

I really needed this post today! Feeling a bit down...the verse that came to me after reading this is
Eccl. 3: 11

"He makes everything beautiful in His time. He has set eternity in the hearts of man yet they cannot fathom the beginning or end."

You are such an encouragement to me (a Jesus lovin' SAHM, homeschooling 4 little boys and balancing my moods by God's grace)..I have your first book (roller coaster)..I am going to buy your other one (on a firm foundation)..much love to you! If you ever need a listening ear, I am a wonderful sounding board...

marja said...

Thank you, Eva. I was worried I was being overly negative on the topic of being misunderstood, but am glad that you found this post good for you.

And...when I talked about being rejected: It's rather a shame having to fear rejection when talking about such a common problem like depression, isn't it?

Eva Geranton said...

Yes..you are right! Within my church group it has taken a while for people to understand depression and bipolar. I've been very candid, sort of just laying it all out there. I know some have issues still (I notice it's the older men) who think I should be more self-controlled. I spoke openly that at one point I wanted to run outside in my front yard completely naked so my body could soak Vitamin D...this was a defining moment for me. I finally was able to identify mania. It was an important moment...I began medication!! I don't know about you, but the medication issue has come up with my family many times..they think it is unhealthy to have to take drugs for the rest of your life..that they somehow alter who I am..?!?!?!
I have come to embrace them..to the point that I thank God in prayers for them..

Sorry to ramble..:)

marja said...

Eva: Good for you for speaking openly. It's the only way we're going to be able to educate people. And we just have to pray that eventually they will come to understand us better - if not completely.

marja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz. said...

Thanks for writing this!
I agree with a lot of the things you wrote. Misunderstanding hurts a lot especially when you need support the most. Even Jesus went through loneliness and rejection and He expressed His sadness out loud!

At least it shows that we can be ourselves with Him and He never gets tired or annoyed of listening to us. Anyway we need each other. He wants us to be like Him to others.

If we never needed help, then others would be deprived themselves of the joy of giving themselves to others.

I sometimes just ask God to be able to comfort others the way I'd like to be comforted when I'm feeling down. It's not always easy. When I'm down I appreciate a lot more someone who listens, doesn't judge and comforts.

Anyway thanks for sharing this and I send you a big hug!

marja said...

Hi Liz:

I've done a lot of meditating on the topic of love today, trying to find healing, trying to fully understand the unconditional love of God. And I've come to realize that we can't expect that kind of love from our friends and family. Their love will always leave something to be desired, especially at those times when we're so in need.

I've been reading a bit on what Henri Nouwen had to say on the topic. He could identify. He himself dealt with a lot of depression and feelings of loneliness.

If we could only love God in the way God loves us, I think that would translate into us loving others in the way they need to be loved as well.