Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Depression and Pain-Healing Broken Bones, Hearts, and Minds

I have lived up close and personal with depression. Not mine, but other people I love and care about. I have also been living with someone who has suffered from broken bones. I have come to realize that the lesson learned from dealing with broken bones can be applied to dealing with broken hearts and minds. Here are some of the lessons I've learned.

Don't take anything personal. When people are in pain, they are not always their best self. They don't mean to be rude and it doesn't mean they hate you. They hate the pain and will sometimes take it out on the ones closest to them. That applies to physical and emotional pain.

People often do stupid things when they are in the depths of depression. Forgiveness is healing--for everyone involved. Again, don't take things personally. Resist the naturally tendency to want to punish. Remember the pain of their circumstance is punishment enough. Natural consequences punish, people shouldn't and don't need to. It is simply not our job to punish but to try to understand the pain, love, and forgive and be the loving support that can lead to healing practices that help.

When people are in pain, whether physical or mental, they need someone to be close to them. Touch is extremely healing. The last thing someone needs is to be punished or rejected. Punishment and rejection doesn't heal. Only love and tenderness does. Touch releases the same kind of feel-good chemicals that opium artificially delivers to the brain. With lots of love and tenderness, we can displace the desperate need for illegal drugs or any other artificial and harmful means for comfort or pleasure. It was interesting to discover that the person suffering from a broken bone didn't need as much pain medication when they had someone close to them holding their hand. The pain became greater when left alone. Unfortunately, it is a natural tendency for those that are depressed to pull away from people, and us from them. Don't do it.

Don't be a doormat. Set your expectations and boundaries in love, making sure that they understand that it is to benefit you both. I love the admonition that sometimes it is necessary to "reprove betimes with sharpness," but making sure we understand the meaning of each word. Reprove means to correct, betimes means early, and sharpness means with clarity. Snide remarks, bitter comments, and the silent treatment only increase the pain, but correcting early with clarity, especially when "moved upon by the Spirit," can help give direction and purpose that is based in love and genuine care. Tell the truth with love.

It is always important to do a self assessment. Ask yourself and ultimately ask God, what am I doing that might be making it more difficult for the person who is struggling? What can I do to make it better for the other person? What am I to learn from this? Pray for God-like understanding and compassion. Always remember that if you are the healthier person, that it is always easier for you to make better choices for both of you. You can have the most power. Don't give that power away by trying to control, blaming, scolding, getting even, etc. 

Healing takes time and a lot of patience. Broken bones and broken hearts and minds do not heal overnight. Depression isn't something that can always be cured but must be maintained and delicately handled--just like diabetes. Depression can benefit from wise medical help, good counseling, and healthy exercise and eating habits, in addition to the loving support of family and friends. 

I have often felt like the greatest test isn't necessarily for those that suffer from depression or any other genetic tendency that is difficult. I feel like the greatest test is for those who love someone with a difficult challenge. It is our test to see how we handle it. It is our opportunity to develop the capacity to be understanding and to have a greater dose of Christ-like love. Patience and long suffering is sometimes the only road to greater understanding of what our Savior did for all of us. This journey isn't for the faint of heart but it has great rewards.

1 comment:

The Happy Howes said...

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