Helping others where they’re at

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.                                                                

  ~Momma Bear

Momma Bear & Lady D

The most exciting part of agreeing to do this blog alongside my daughter is that we can look back and see how different our stories are. I truly am so very excited about this… and I am also READY to ACCEPT that her story will be different than mine… her story IS DIFFERENT than mine.

Quite honestly… the story of us is a very difficult one… I was NOT a good mother…

My daughter was clothed… fed and sheltered… but I was emotionally absent much of the time… MOST of the time… I was in my own dark world… unable to give her the security and love she needed… Somehow… we got through childhood… the teenage years and then she left home… As I sit here today… I am shocked to realize that my daughter has been living on her own for 9 years… WOW… the time sure has flown by.

Two years after my daughter moved on her own… I left the city we were both living in and moved up North… The first time I lasted 3 months and then I returned… this time… I have been gone for 5 years… and I am staying here… I live in a beautiful little apartment on the edge of a lake… we visit at least once a year… which is not much… but we also keep in touch by email…  Her life is full… busy… and constantly changing… I am finally at a place where I can see the BEAUTY of that.

Now that everything is over… and done with… I am able to see very clearly that not only has my daughter SURVIVED a very difficult upbringing… she has turned it all around and made something positive of everything that was negative… I have no idea how she managed to do that as I WAS NOT able to… I am in AWE of her.

For all my life… I carried nothing but guilt and shame… and when I moved away from my daughter for the first time… for three months… that is when EVERYTHING changed for us… Once she was FINALLY free of worrying about me all the time… ONCE she tasted FREEDOM to simply be and do what SHE wanted instead of WHAT I NEEDED…. She began to blossom and I continued to DIE…

It is at this time… ( I believe ) and I think she will agree… that a deep ANGER introduced itself to her… Something had changed in our relationship… and I did NOT LIKE IT… IT PETRIFIED me… When I moved back after three months of being away… I became QUICKLY AWARE of the fact that things were different between my daughter and I…  I cannot begin to express the EXTREME FEAR and DREAD that I experienced at this time… It was like a constant feeling of being sick to my stomach… My daughter seemed so ANGRY with me… and although I knew it was normal… It was so deeply painful… It was at this time that I truly knew I had to return to the NORTH and give my daughter the FREEDOM she needed.

In these last five years… I have been able to learn how to cut those apron strings and let my daughter be her OWN PERSON… with HER OWN FEELINGS…

That my friends was NO easy feat!!!

There were so many things I had to learn… Because of my illness… I was not able to meet her needs emotionally… so she became the mother… the adult… This actually has a name… It is called Inverted Parenting… You hear about it a lot… children taking care of their brothers and sisters because mom or dad is an alcoholic or drug addict… and not around to do their job… well.. It also happens with mental illness.. When the sick parent simply cannot parent… Everything gets turned upside down and the roles get all mixed up… It’s part of survival and dysfunction… and it is the source of GREAT PAIN… Many families are NEVER able to break free of this… as it is a cycle that goes on and on… UNLESS someone addresses it and stops it.

I did a great many things wrong as a parent… but I also did some things right… Most importantly… I believe the fact that I was able to HONESTLY and COMPLETELY apologize to my daughter for EVERYTHING wrong I ever did… NO EXCUSES… NO BUTS…. NO EXPLANATIONS…. Just PURE ownership of the fact that I was WRONG in how I parented and a SINCERE… I AM SORRY… It is what laid down the foundation of FORGIVENESS and GENUINE HEALING… for both of us… I am certain my daughter will agree on this one.

It has taken years to change my bad habits… a lot of things I did were things that needed to change… Such as “dumping” on my daughter… Learning that when my life is out of control and a mess… it is NOT my daughter’s responsibility to FIX me or EVEN have to listen to me… That was a hard one quite honestly… I was so used to telling her EVERYTHING… but I finally got it right… and after many mistakes… I learned to keep my own life and problems to myself.

Another thing I had to learn was to ACCEPT that my daughter does things differently than me… she handles things differently than me… For example… if we had a disagreement… I had to take care of it right away… but she was one who needed to process things and work them through… OH my goodness… this would drive me crazy… I did not have a phone… and so I would wait and wait for that email to come in saying she LOVED ME… or that WE WERE OK…  and I would make myself sick… Those are only two examples of things that needed to change in me… there are many more things that I STILL need to work on… It is going to take a life time. I will say this… the hardest thing for me was ACCEPTING and BELIEVING that my daughter actually LOVES me and has FORGIVEN me… Oh my goodness… what a difficult journey that has been…. But… I am getting there… 

I am so very happy  to report that we NOW have a very loving and healthy relationship… despite all the trials and tribulations… we have overcome and we are closer than ever.

We have established boundaries and both of us have come to accept and appreciate the other for who we really are.

This blog is truly born out of LOVE… It is a testimony to what love… understanding and acceptance can do for even the most broken of people.

I am BLESSED… and I am GRATEFUL.

~ Momma Bear