I put this in my list of how to help someone who is suffering… I called it “Accepting Someone Where They’re At”… This my friends is the turning point where rubber meets the road… and it makes all the difference between truly helping and NOT helping at all or even harming.
Meeting someone where they are at “emotionally” perhaps seems like an impossible feat… especially when they are hurting deeply… HOWEVER…I believe there is indeed a way to communicate with someone… even in their most broken state. I don’t know when or where I learned this… I don’t think anyone taught it to me… I think I just learned it from dealing with so many broken and hurting people over the years.
I guess before I start… I should define the difference between sympathy and empathy… They are similar but not quite the same.
sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters.
empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another. It is a deeper level of emotion… It is what allows someone to “hurt and weep” with another who is suffering… It is literally FEELING THEIR PAIN.
I’m not sure what the world of psychology has to say about this… but I do not believe the emotion of empathy can be taught… I believe it is a gift. It is a gut instinct that occurs when you are in the presence of someone who is suffering. The ability to feel another’s emotions is sometimes a very overwhelming experience… I have often called my sensitivity to others a curse… so when I say a gift… I mean it was given to me…but… I did not ask for it… and sometimes I don’t WANT it…LOL
I need to qualify that I am NOT an expert on this subject… and so I may stand to be corrected. I am simply stating my opinion on the matter.
Suffice to say the world needs both sympathetic and empathetic people… It’s what makes the world a better place… One is not better than the other… it’s just that one is more effective when dealing with the suffering soul.
The ability to love someone where they are at means that you are usually able to accurately assess the condition of a person’s “mood” and their needs… and act in such a fashion that does NOT offend or irritate the person who is sick. It is not a science… and it is not fool-proof… there are always exceptions to every rule. I have mis-read certain situations when I worked on the streets… some mental illnesses are much harder to read than others… What I am focusing on is helping those who are deeply depressed. Again… I am not a professional… and my help has never included giving medical advice.
The use of empathy as a tool to help others is simply the realization of what that person needs without having to ask… It is an automatic response… which is why it is not usually offensive or irritating to the person who is not feeling well.
It is the most beautiful thing to be able to help someone who is truly in pain… empathy and sympathy are certainly precious lights of hope… that can brighten the life of someone who is drowning in darkness. The ability to love someone where they are at simply means… taking a big old comfy blanket and wrapping yourself and a loved one inside.
About Medication… If a person refuses to take medication that is proven to help them or has helped them in the past… or is not on any medication because they are not yet diagnosed… there is not much you can do to help…especially if the person is experiencing hallucinations… paranoia and/or hearing voices that are encouraging them to harm themselves or others.
Ensuring the safety of that person and yourself is perhaps the only thing that can be done in situations such as this. Sadly… some people think that when a medication is working and they have been on it for awhile… they are BETTER and are able to go off their meds. A chemical imbalance in my experience means medication for life. Getting the proper medication for mental illness is a PROCESS… and demands PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE.
This is from an article in Psychology Today Magazine and it basically says what I have just stated above.
Denial About Illness
One study found that 55 percent of people who refuse to take their medication do so because they don’t believe they’re actually sick. In some cases, people who get better on medication become convinced that they’ve been “healed,” failing to recognize that the medication did the healing. Jul 31, 2014
Also… I will take the opportunity to add this… and I will NOT apologize for it… it is the reason we made the joint decision to make this blog a NO RELIGION ZONE. There are certain religious groups ( especially within Christianity ) who will boldly claim that medication for mental illness is of the devil and that people don’t need it… they just “need Jesus”.
Let me tell you… I am a Christian myself… and I DO NEED Jesus… BUT… I cannot begin to express… how OFFENSIVE… APPALLING and DANGEROUS this belief is.
The anger that boils within me over this issue is not describable with words. I have walked away from many so called believers over this topic…. Don’t get me started… LOL.
MEDICATION is not a cure all.. It’s purpose is to help with chemical imbalances in the body and to help obtain and sustain proper balance so that someone who is suffering from mood disorders can function in a “normal” manner without the extreme highs or lows. There is no difference taking medications for mental disorders than there is taking an aspirin for a headache.